4 Keys to Crafting an Excellent Setting pt. 1

The setting you create can either make or break the world you create through your story.  You see, I feel the setting gets over looked tremendously.  Most people favor something that fits on a superficial level with their story, not realizing that you can use the setting to your advantage to enhance the emotional through line of the story, and aid in your character development.

Now how do you do this?  Since there is no hard and fast way to go about this, I’m going to talk about the 4 more useful ways a setting can enhance your story.

Before I begin, I just want to say that this post started to run a little long so I broke it into two parts.  Part 2 will be up in about a week or so.

1. New Twist on an Old Twist

Now, I never actually read this book, but there’s a novel out there called Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyers.  I saw it at a book store, and read the back flap.  Long story short, it’s basically Cinderella, but in the future with an android instead of a human.  BOOM, mind blown.  If I didn’t already have too much to read/write/do, I probably would have been it up just for the novelty of it.

See my point?

The hard and fast classics of the world are hard and fast classics for a reason.  Usually it’s because the stories tend to be universal and timeless, so that people of any age, and in any time period can find something to enjoy.

A story like Cinderella, probably isn’t going to appeal to the hardcore sci-fi crowd, right?  Wrong!  You can simply re-frame it, add your own tweaks and boom, you have a very interesting story with the chance to become a best seller.

See what they did there?

There are so many different ways to write the same story.  If you change the setting and tweak a few of the details here and there, you can totally make a new story out of an old one and open it up to a whole new market while leaving your mark on readers minds.

I’ve seen this everywhere.  Books, movies, video games, whatever.  It’s rampant.  It’s so rampant because it’s interesting.  You can get new readers into the story/genre and you can always bring over some of the readers who loved the original.  And because you wrote it, you could get a few fans that normally wouldn’t tread into your genre.

2. Enhance the Emotional Through Line

The emotional through line in the story is what keeps people feeling for your character.  This could be the loss of a loved one, a journey of self acceptance, or whatever you want/need it to be to work the best in your story.  Now think of it like this.  If you’re having a slightly darker story with a somber protagonist, are you going to want to have a very emotional and upsetting scene take place on a Hawaiian beach in perfect 80 degree and sunny weather?  Probably not, unless you’re trying to be contrary about it.

No, usually it’s going to happen at night, in the rain, and have them be splashed by a car going through a puddle.

While that’s a very clichéd and ham handed way to look at it, you can make that idea and trope, if you will, work more specifically and optimally for your story.

Is your protagonist someone anti technology?  Maybe you could set the story in the future?  That would definitely highlight their anti-tech attitude, while putting them at odds with most of the people around him.  People that may or may not be supporting characters to your protagonists story.  (wink wink, nudge nudge, getting the point yet?)

Is it a story about a depressed person?  Then you could very easily put him in a beautiful setting like that Hawaiian beach a mentioned above.  Their malcontent attitude in the face of beautiful weather and beaches would definitely highlight exactly how deep their depression goes.

It goes on and on, and can be used in any way.  You just need to use your head and see how this can all work for you.

Either way, I hope the first part of this post helped you, please keep on the look out for Part 2 coming in the next week or so.

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Think I’m nuts?  Whatever you do think, please make sure to leave your thoughts int he comment section below.


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Featured Image shared under license of Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0: Made up of: Futuristic Setting courtesy of:  Jonas de Rio Kenilworth Castle courtesy of: Tilliebean Charles Marion Russel’s, Smoke of a .45 in Public Domain.  Thomas Cole’s, Cora Kneeling at the foot of Tamenund in Public Domain

One response to “4 Keys to Crafting an Excellent Setting pt. 1

  1. Pingback: 4 Keys to Crafting an Excellent Setting pt. 2 | Vincent Alcaras -- Author·

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