5 Minutes a Day: Setting

When we discuss writing strong fiction, we spend a lot of time discussing characters.  After all, we want them to feel real enough to walk off the page.  But the setting through which they roam has to feel real as well.  The more complete your setting, the more real your world will feel for the reader.

Think about Hogwarts and The Hub.  After reading Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, those places feel real.  The authors developed them down to the last fantastic staircase or junk covered table.

But what can you do to develop your setting in only five minutes?  More than you think.

  • Spend 5 minutes brainstorming place names for your town, city or street.  This is a tough one for me because my setting is loosely based on the city in which I live.  Change the name of our city and you change our identity.  That’s how a setting should be, but I don’t want actually use the name of my city. I’ve played with a few names but I just need to sit down and brainstorm a huge list.
  • Floor plans.  Be sure you know the layout of important rooms in the buildings in which your story takes place.  You can draw your own floor plan or find one online.  I did this with two character’s homes in my WIP.  I just typed “Craftsman floor plan” and “mid-century modern floor plan” into Google images.  I had to pick through a bit to find what I wanted but each took about five minutes.
  • Decor.  Your setting what feel real if you don’t know what’s in it.  Spend a few minutes determining what style the appropriate character likes. I pinned living room, dining room and bedroom furniture for my main character and her sidekicks.
  • Paint Colors.  This is a separate item because you have two sets of decisions to make – colors for private spaces and colors for personal spaces. Why break it down like this?  Because for some people they aren’t one in the same.

This isn’t everything that you need to know about setting but these four exercises will get you started.  Let me know how they work for you!

–SueBE