Believable Settings

Settings are important in any work of fiction. Stories can’t take place in a void, there has to be some place for the characters to interact. That place is the setting. There are many facets to a believable setting, and believable is the setting authors should strive for. A setting is more than the stage setting. It is the sights, sounds, scents and other tangible items around the characters. These items are the same things around everyday people. We are surrounded by phones, furniture and other things. Even this is not all a setting is. Setting includes the nameless people around your characters. The climate and weather also contribute to setting.

A setting is more than the stage setting. It is the sights, sounds, scents and other tangible items around the characters. These items are the same things around everyday people. We are surrounded by phones, furniture and other things. Even this is not all a setting is. Setting includes the nameless people around your characters. The climate and weather also contribute to setting.

A good setting is comprised of all the things that a person would encounter in their everyday life. There are people that characters meet on a daily basis, like police or mail carriers, cashiers and wait staff in restaurants. One could consider these people as characters, but they also make the setting seem more real. There should be other people in the restaurant if characters are in one eating a meal or about to. It’s a rare restaurant that has no one in it, even if it is only the waiter, or waitress, and the cook. These people are not characters that are present to move the story forward; they are there to ground the story in reality.

Weather and climate are also important aspects of setting. Weather is something that is all around us. We don’t always note the weather, but we do note when the sun is blazing down on us on a summer’s day. We also notice heavy rain, snow and sleet. Characters should also experience weather. There’s an old saying that "everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it." Authors can do something about it in their fictional work, if not in the real world. if a character steps outside, a cool (or warm) breeze can brush its face. A gale could almost knock it over. It could slip on ice or step in a puddle. This is the way to insert some realism in fiction. Done well, it goes unnoticed by readers. The tangible setting is the one that makes the work breathe and live.

Bad authors describe every aspect of the places their stories are set, but good authors make the reader aware of the location, all of the sights, smells and tactile sensations almost without describing them. Just by using a few judicious phrases or sentences, truly great authors can immerse their readers into their fictional world. This is why setting is just as important to a work of fiction as plot and characterization.


 

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About

I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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