I’ll be honest. One of my ongoing struggles as a writer is perfectly describing the setting. It’s mainly because I like to keep things simple and get straight to the point. I’ve read works in high school and in college that has writers describing the setting for pages before saying anything that moves the plot forward. This bring me to my first point:
1. Don’t Over Do It
Remember the reason why you’re writing your story. Tell the story. Don’t pull your hair out because you can’t find the right words to perfectly describe how your character’s house looks or how dirty their school is.
Keep the story going and remember why you’re writing.
2. Less Is More
A good writer should be able to sum up the setting in a few sentences or a paragraph and then go back to storytelling. The more you write about the setting isn’t nessaraly going to make the setting more clear to the reader.
In fact, the reader should be able to picture what you’re talking about relatively quick if you do a good job. (I think I’m definitely team direct and simple)
3. But I’ve Never Been There Before
I’m writing my book based in Chicago and even though I’ve visited, I’ve never lived there before and can hardly describe any building or areas other than historical landmarks. My solution? Research, of course.
You have to ask the right questions though. Even questions you wouldn’t think you’d need answers for. Think of:
-the average age for the people in that city
If it’s a high retirement location than the age might be higher and that can be useful if you think your character is supposed to meet younger people
–the laws of the town
-how the houses look.
Things elements all give to the setting but you should not throw this all on the reader. Only tell the reader of this on a need to know basis. This would be back information for you so that your story becomes as close to real life and believable as possible.
Think about it. If an author wrote about your home town and she got it all wrong wouldn’t you think the author was lazy or didn’t care enough to find the real information out there? So take that extra step.
4. What I Do
In my stories I like to bring the setting in gradually as the character goes through action. I think it accomplished the job of keeping the plot moving forward and giving informative information that the readers need to know at the same time.
I also like to show the character’s reactions to a setting just to set the tone and give more insight to what my characters like and don’t like.
Thanks for reading this post and please share how you create your settings. Keep writing.