The Setting

Some authors love to spend time on the setting, using rich words and covering a whole page as we get to experience the rural property of the good guy. Others (like me) are minimalist, barely spending a sentence on the setting. (Our hero lived in the country. Period. Enough said.)

Neither approach is correct. The reader needs enough information to evoke a feeling about the place. The rule that everyone agrees on is: Include the setting in the action. Here’s a way to do that for practice:

Your heroine is a detective. She’s got a search warrant for the killer’s house. She’s looking for the killer and the murder weapon, both of which are in the house. The house is a mess. Describe the scene while keeping the story moving forward. (Good police procedure, I assume, would demand two detectives)

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6 responses to “The Setting

  1. I love to use action to set up my scene and use scene setting to reflect my character’s mood because she will be looking at a blue sky different depressed than she will happy.

  2. Way to go, Ed, I think describing on the run is by far the safest way to add setting. Having said that, I’ve read writers who are so amazingly good that I lapped up their straight descriptive bits like a cat with cream – but such writers are pretty rare.

  3. Thank you, Ed for talking about setting; I can see the scene with the police allowing the setting to become more prominent but still being woven into the story. I also like your way of leaving it up to the reader to imagine the setting (hero lives in the country) but a bit more information as to what the country looks and feels like would be welcome by readers like me. It’s important to find the right balance so as readers, like you said, we get a good feel for the place.

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