Setting as a character

Setting should be so integral to the plot that it’s almost like another character. Think about Gone With the Wind—Scarlett’s plantation, and the political, social, and physical landscape of the South played significant roles in both the plot and character development.

Ideally, your setting should also play a vital role in the story, so that your story couldn’t happen anywhere else. You might want to brainstorm how key landmarks would play major roles in the storyline, in order to more fully integrate the story where you have set it.

Update: As one reviewer mentioned on, don’t take this to a cheesy, overused extreme—such as having it rain when a character is sad, thunder when a character is in danger, etc. I wasn’t talking about weather when mentioning setting.

However, you don’t want your story to be set in Anywhere, USA, either. The most vivid stories tend to be deeply ingrained in their setting, so that the characters could only go through the story events in that particular place.

Gone With the Wind wouldn’t have had the same punch if set in California at the same time period—nothing against California, since I live here, but the unique and rich culture of the Deep South played an enormous role in Scarlett’s character development and the political atmosphere.

In the same way, be selective and specific about why your novel is set somewhere.


  1. Camy, I agree that setting can be used very powerfully in a story. For example, in my pirate series, I often use the ocean and the weather to create a mood in which my scene takes place. If the character is heading into trouble or he's conflicted about something, I make the sea turbulent and chaotic and the clouds dark. If he or she has a breakthrough in their faith or they've heard God speaking to them, then the sun breaks through the clouds and the seas calm. It's alot of fun to incorporate these setting elements into the story and it enhances the plot dramatically.


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