Setting: Not just for tables


The best kind of setting?

A couple of weeks ago, I took an online class about setting in fiction, and since then I’ve been thinking a lot about this red-headed stepchild of story.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about setting as you create your main character, antagonist, and plot. Setting is something that just, well, happens. But making setting a more active participant in your story can heighten conflict, enrich characters, and even drive the action.

When I think about setting, my mind immediately turns to epic fantasy: Tolkien’s Middle Earth, LeGuin’s Earthsea, or Rowling’s Hogwarts. But what I’ve been thinking about recently is that setting doesn’t necessarily mean epic fantasy world building.

What other sorts of settings could you have? Here are just a few ideas:

  • House. In Ray Bradbury’s story “There Will Come Soft Rains,” not only is the house the setting, but the main character.
  • Hospital. In J.J. Johnson’s Believarexic, the main character’s world is primarily limited to a hospital’s eating disorders unit.
  • Family. Family’s always important, but in Sarah Dessen’s St. Anything, the two families at the core of the book are different homes for the main character, and do all the jobs a traditional location normally does.

I’m sure you can think of a bunch of others.

Photo © Chris Hoerter 2016. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without permission.
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