A strong setting grounds the reader and gives them a place to imagine the action, and your characters a place to live. This is sometimes called world-building.
A good setting also creates the mood, can help your plot, and can become a character in the story.
The best way to achieve this as a writer is to use all of the senses in your descriptions of the character’s world. Consider not just what your characters can see, but also what they smell, what they hear, what they can touch and feel, and even what they can taste.
It’s all about SPECIFICS
The key to really good world-building is what’s know as specificity (i.e. the specific details). Don’t be general or broad in your descriptions. Research your ideas and use highly specific details to make your setting unique and memorable.
Say “jacaranda trees lined the street”, instead of “tress lined the street.” That kind of detail distinguishes the setting of your story from, for example, a story where “oak trees lined the street.”
Caution: less is more for descriptions. Don’t let the descriptions of the setting overpower your story. It’s tempting to spend paragraph after paragraph decorating your story with beautiful descriptions of the landscape. That can be interesting, even necessary if the setting is unusual, but consider the value and power of the description. Too much description of the setting can really slow down the pace of your story.
Use very specific details and your descriptions will be much more vivid and concise. Sprinkle setting details lightly here and there, instead of large chunks of description.
Setting a scene
In the Setting a Scene forum, we’re going to work as a group to brainstorm a list of sensory details to describe a number of settings.
Use this exercise to inspire the settings in your own work
This week provide a short excerpt (no more than 200 words) about setting that demonstrates the five senses.