Much like planning characters, I love spending time choosing the right settings for my WIP. There’s an infinite amount of places that you can choose, or even completely make up your own alien or dystopian landscape, but picking the right one might be tricky. Here’s how I choose my settings, and put them to work, which might offer some inspiration!
*disclaimer: as always with these posts, by no means am I the be all and end all of writing advice. I’ve never had anything published but I have had some good feedback about what I have shared so this is all just for fun!
First things first, think about whether there’s an aspect of your story that calls for a certain setting. Is it based on a myth relevant to a certain part of the world? Do your characters need to be able to speak a certain language? Do events require a specific climate or environment? This can help narrow down a general location which is a help when deciding on more specific settings.
Write a brief list for each setting of what you’d like to accomplish with it. There’s nothing worse from a reader’s perspective than not understanding why something’s happening or where it is.
What vibe are you trying to create? What kind of aesthetic do you envision?
Is this somewhere that the characters feel safe? Or is it designed to invoke a feeling of danger?
Where is this place in relation to the rest of the story? Is there a lot of travelling between places involved?
What importance does the place have to the characters or plot?
How are you going to use the setting to advance the plot?
When I first start working on an idea for a WIP, I try to imagine my characters in a series of settings to see which ones feel right. The more of a connection you have with a setting the better your description will be for the reader, making it much easier for them to picture the scene in their minds. From what your character can see to what they can hear and smell, build a picture in your mind early on.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, I’d recommend heading over to Pinterest to find some images that might help you better imagine your story taking place. (You can find my Pinterest tips for this here!)
If you’re choosing to set your story in another time period, do your research in regards to what went on then, what was in the news, what was current. Not only does this show that your characters are connected to a place and time, but is a brilliant way to advance your plot. It gives your characters something to talk about and should influence how you write them and their actions.
Weaving your setting into the plot seamlessly helps everything fall into place. Whether it’s interacting with the scenery (picking herbs, walking through rooms or building shelter) or using it as talking points, use it as a chance to remind the reader where they are and why it’s important. This helps the reader to understand why you’ve chosen a setting, allowing them to be sucked into the story without questioning what’s going on.
What do you think? How do you plan your settings? I’d love to know!