Setting is often overlooked by writers despite the fact that it is the skeleton for our stories. Our plot has to happen somewhere and be grounded into existence in space and time or our readers will be lost in the vague abyss of nothingness. You must answer where your overall story takes place as well as where and when each scene takes place. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Weave description throughout the scene and the story. Many writers remember to give a brief description of the setting at the beginning of each scene but never touch on setting again. It’s important that the rest of the scene is also grounded in setting, so refer to it briefly throughout. But remember to sprinkle it in. Readers skim past large chunks of description and heavy-handed descriptions kill the action and pacing. Weave it throughout.

It is also important to use all five senses when describing setting. Use vivid imagery to immerse your reader into each scene. Also, use concrete or specific nouns in your description. Instead of “he sat in the chair” use “the middle-aged man collapsed into the worn leather armchair.” Be specific and watch your descriptions come to life.

Use your POV character as a filter for your setting. Different people notice different things based on their upbringing and personality so make sure your descriptions match the POV character giving them. What would a rich person notice compared to a working class man? Or a middle-aged mom versus a 15-year-old teen boy? Describe accordingly.

Setting descriptions build the mood for each scene. Is a storm raging outside, causing the shutters to bang against the house? Or is the perfect day in May for a picnic with your protagonist’s love interest? Set the tone for each scene.

And keep in mind which details you describe or choose not to describe. If you let the readers know the main character has a gun, readers will expect it to come into play later. This is known as Chekov’s Rule and is great for foreshadowing, but also means don’t spend time describing objects that have no significance to the story. Your readers will feel cheated when it doesn’t pay off.

Keep these tips in mind as you create your story world. Blend your setting into your scene and ground your story in reality. Do you have any tips for setting? Share below and happy writing.

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