Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Developing Your Setting

How do you choose and write the setting for your story. They always say write what you know. Do you use places you’ve visited or lived? Do you use your imagination?

For my contemporary Hawkins’ Family series I set it in Montana. I’ve driven through the state but don’t know it well. I researched maps and cities, check mileages, researched small towns and hospitals, prisons, etc. in the area. I also check weather and information about running cattle ranches. The internet is a marvelous tool for research.

I found this article on developing your settings. These are a few of the suggestions.
-                 Spend a few minutes daydreaming about the world of your novel.
-                 Once you have a few ideas about your setting, start writing your ideas down. It can be single words that you think of.
-                 Make your setting vivid. Your animals need to roar and shriek and squawk; you need to smell the cloying scent of exotic flowers, feel the wind and the rain against your skin, taste tangy juice. Take all five senses into account.
       By now, you should have a pretty clear mental picture of the world that your characters live in.
-        Show what you've written to someone you trust and ask them if your scene building is effective enough, or join an online writing forum.

To read the whole article go to


  1. Sadly I'm not allowed to go where my characters have gone: North Korea and Cuba. However I was able to research those places in detail. I studied the historical archives of both nations all the way back to the arrival of the first humans and from there forward to present times so that I could understand the people. I studied British cruising guides of Cuba. I studied books written by missionaries who plied their faith in North Korea before it was closed to them. Then I took to satellite images and maps to study the geology and the geography. In the end, I might just have garnered a better understanding than had I set boots on the ground there....

    1. Wow, Jack, I agree. I keep forgetting about satellite images. Thanks for sharing your extensive research process. Got to love that internet.

  2. The setting is as much of a character as any of the people in your story. The setting can determine what life will be like or provide challenges or comforts for your characters. Love to get lost in my setting.

  3. Thanks Melissa. You write great settings.

  4. Hi, Beverley! Mostly, my stories are set in my small town I created. It resembles a place I know and love. I have done other settings, but usually it is a visit for a vacation, work, etc. I like to take notes if I have a chance because you never know....

  5. I like that. your setting sounds perfect. And that's a great idea about taking notes everywhere you go. I haven't been doing that. I always think I'll just remember it.