Questions 3: Setting the Scene

Dorothy Gale

Element two is setting, which is what the picture above mentions.  If characters are the who then this is the what and when.  Setting is always more than just a location, but the time of events as well.  Is it morning, noon, or night?  Are they in a city or the country?  Even a character’s background has to touch on setting to give them depth.  For example, what kind of place did they come from?  None of those are the questions from this post, so here we go:

  1. What is your favorite setting to write/read?
  2. Do you think setting should evolve like characters?
  3. What is one piece of advice you would give to a new writer about setting?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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12 Responses to Questions 3: Setting the Scene

  1. My favorite setting is one that I have to do research to get right. That sounds pretty general but I love to go back in history and design a setting that will challenge the characters.
    Regarding a setting that evolves, I never have given it much thought. I tend to think of a setting as pretty static. It is a backdrop and like a stage, it should only change with the passing of time. I can see an evolutionary setting in fantasy for sure.
    One piece of advice about the setting is to get it right. By that, I mean wherever the setting is make sure it conforms to time-appropriate elements. If in the future the sky would be the limit. If in the past historical constraints should be honored. A skyscraper in the 1830s would need a lot of explaining to make it fit and probably not worth the trouble.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    1. Though I am not an avid hiker (I enjoy a walk in the woods every now and then), I love reading and writing forest scenes. I guess this is because I love being near trees and I love fairy tales, many of which have forest scenes.
    2. Yes, since that’s what happens in our world, with changing seasons (in some parts) and climate changes. I also like fantasy stories where odd things happen to change the setting. For example, in a middle grade series, a hotel magically changes its own rooms.
    3. Please add setting details as early in the story as you can. I’m not suggesting info dump—just some information. I’ve read manuscripts in which I had no idea where the story took place. Characters moved around and talked, but didn’t really relate to anything in the scenery (other than, say, gripping the steering wheel of a car) which would have told me where they were. No one should have to get twenty pages into a book to learn about the setting. Also, include sensory details if you can. They really enhance the setting.

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  3. I’ve written all over the board, so I don’t really have a favorite. Evolution of the setting depends upon your definition. Day turning into night, absolutely. If the evolution is part of the story, then absolutely. An old west that becomes a new west as part of the tale might note disappearance of the buffalo, or how safe to travel a formerly dangerous route now is. I think it’s important to note enough setting to ground readers. This includes scene changes. I don’t care for too much setting unless there is an absolute reason for it.

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  4. Re Q.3, I’d say a few key details are enough. It’s a personal thing, but I find dense descriptions of setting tedious to read.

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    • I think it depends on the genre too. Fantasy requires a lot of setting details since it’s not reality. Leaving it up to the reader can create one world in their head, which doesn’t fit with what the author does down the road.

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