How to introduce setting in a story

So I think you’ll agree with me that one of the most important things when building a story is the setting, sure you need characters and you need plot, but for those to be believable and have context, you need to have setting.

You need to be careful though, you want the setting of your story to feel organic. Be too heavy handed and you risk firstly, just expositing to your reader rather than letting the words form ideas in their mind, and secondly, you’ll end up with something that seems forced, like a bad accent.

So what is setting exactly? It’s the time and place where the story is set, the time is usually fairly static, although events in a story can take place over an extended period of time. The place is usually more fluid: numerous locations that build up a rich backdrop of the world your story takes place in.

The backdrop to the story is equally relevant but not always important. If your story takes place in New York, in the 1940s, then that should be clear through the setting, the dialogue and the characters. However, if the period isn’t relevant and instead you want to create something timeless or just analogous to the present then the backdrop isn’t as important.

So let’s answer the question, how do you introduce setting into a story? Well firstly decide on the setting. Using the example from above, if you set your story in the past, in America, then you need to write in a way that is organic and realistic to that time in history, unless of course your intention is a diverging or alternative world history. Assuming it’s not however, you want things to seem real. Characters in 1940’s America are going to have a specific world view, access to specific technology and be aware of or unaware of certain events.

Once you’ve decided on the setting, you need to execute that organically in the way suggested above. However it is your story and if you want little green men, or mobile phones in Tsarist Russia or puritans in the 23rd century then that’s your choice. Follow that dream and make it happen but make sure that in whatever your write, fiction or not, the setting reflects the plot and helps to bring everything together in a cohesive fashion.

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One Comment on “How to introduce setting in a story

  1. Pingback: Creating an Outline for Your Novel – Undiscovered Publishing

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