Writer's Digest

SETTING THE STAGE

Settings are as varied in fiction as they are in the world: a humid Southern bayou; icy Norwegian fjords; a crumbling Victorian mansion; a stable, pungent with the stench of animals. These are just a few of the infinite number of places in which you might set your characters. Though they may seem like merely the backdrop to the action and drama of your narrative, they are more like the rich soil in which you plant your seeds. Do not forget to set the scene. Unless you have a good reason to set your novel or story in a vacuum, establishing a physical setting is one of the most important and literal ways to ground the reader and keep them from visualizing your characters as floating heads.

There are so many details to consider when writing fiction that setting can seem like the least important aspect and, therefore, an obligation—something you dread or do only because you have to. Yet

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