How to Decide if You Should Use a Real-Life Setting in Your Story

How to Decide if You Should Use a Real-Life Setting in Your Story

If you’re a speculative author, you probably don’t give a second thought to creating settings out of thin air. We create whole planets when our stories demand them. But even authors writing within the confines of the “real world” are sometimes confronted with the choice to use an existing setting or make one up. This […]

How to Illustrate Characters Through Their Surroundings

One of my favorite parts of watching a movie is the opportunity to spy on the characters’ familiar surroundings. Their homes, their bedrooms, and their offices all present wonderful insights into personality. The visual medium of film allows for all kinds of details to be included, some so minuscule or subtle most viewers probably won’t […]

fantasy setting header

Are You Asking These Important Questions About Your Fantasy Settings?

Fantasy settings are special. In many genres, the setting is little more than a necessary backdrop, culled from the author’s life or research. For example, before writing my portal fantasy Dreamlander, my experience with historical fiction had allowed me to drop my characters into real-life settings. I didn’t have to create settings; all I had […]

weather is a writer's best friend

7 Reasons Weather Is a Writer’s Friend

Ever since Edward Bulwer-Lytton slapped readers with his infamous “dark and stormy night” line, writers everywhere have been leery of misusing weather in their stories. After all, who among us wants a contest for the worst opening lines in fiction named after us? But avoiding weather altogether is a mistake of its own. Weather offers […]

5 Ways to Capture Brilliant Ideas for Your Novel

Are You Utilizing Ugly Settings?

In lieu of the usual video post (as I continue my week off), I thought I’d share a reader’s response to the post “The Importance of a Fabulous Setting” from a couple weeks ago. David Taylor emailed me the following, and his thoughts were too good not to pass along: I watched your video and […]

2 Rules of Creating Fabulous Settings

2 Rules of Creating a Fabulous Setting

Setting is sometimes the neglected stepchild of the writing world. We lavish attention on our characters and plot, but sometimes forget how powerful a fabulous setting can be. Some genres, particularly those that fall within the realm of speculative fiction (fantasy and science fiction), tend to give more attention to setting, simply because their stories […]

Use All 5 Senses to Bring Your Setting to Life

Use All 5 Senses to Bring Your Setting to Life

Unlike movies, which are inherently visual and auditory, your written fiction depends solely on your power of description to evoke reaction of the senses from your readers and bring your setting to life. This is tricky business, since you want to bring the scene to life, but you don’t want to bore readers with lengthy explanations. So […]

4 Tips for Choosing the Most Immersive Story Settings

One of the joys of fiction is its ability to transport us to faraway places. Just by cracking the covers of a book, we can visit the far reaches of Bombay or São Paulo and the imaginative wonders of made-up worlds and galaxies. We plan our story settings meticulously, researching details and creating spectacular backdrops. […]

4 Setting Questions That Will Deepen Your Characters

In the best of stories, setting is an inherent key, not just in bringing to life the scenery, but in helping you deepen your characters. As such, it isn’t something any author can afford to overlook. Answer the following setting questions to find the weak points in your setting construction and help you use it to […]

what the movies can teach you about setting

One Thing the Movies Can Teach You About Setting

Often, setting is so integral to a story that it becomes a character in itself. Fantasy, science fiction, and historical stories all demand detailed and precise settings. Most mysteries will demand at least one scene set in a police station or morgue. Many thrillers and suspense stories have found great success by confining their boundaries […]