Thursday, March 4, 2021

Setting in a Story

 


As I continue to learn about writing and story structure in my classes at MSU, I’m amazed at how often I’ve taken the setting in a story for granted. I’ve been tasked with assignments that asked me to write scenes in which the setting affects the character and it has changed my outlook on its importance. Before now, setting has always been something of an afterthought for me. I put my focus into character and storyline, relying on dialogue and plot points to carry the story. What I understand now is that setting can be just as much of a character as the protagonist. A dark forest and a sunny beach are tonally different. Each might allow the theme of the story to change in fundamental ways or cause the protagonist to feel completely different emotions. I’ve read that sometimes if you’re facing writers block or having trouble finishing a scene you should change the weather. Oftentimes it can become a plot point of its own, forcing the protagonist's hand. If it’s storming, a protagonist might run for the nearest source of cover and suddenly the story is up and running again. From here out I’ll be sure to treat the setting with the same importance as character and plot. It’s hard to imagine stories like Harry Potter or Anne of Green Gables set anywhere else but Hogwarts and Prince Edward Island.

4 comments:

  1. Great thoughts. I totally agree. How many scary stories have a setting of sunshine and beaches. 😉

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  2. And, in the best well-told stories, setting becomes a character of sorts, changing as the characters change. THE SECRET GARDEN is one example that comes to mind.

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  3. I agree also that setting is important as a character. It easily brings the senses and lyrical language into a story. Good post.

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  4. So true! I love that about setting being its own plot thrust.

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