NaNoSetting #1: Finding Your Place

Today is going to be the start of a series I’m doing in preparation for NaNoWriMo. When you think NaNoPrep, you’re probably thinking about plot, outline, characters, etc.

Well, I’m going to talk about setting.

You need to know that there is no right or wrong way to start a story. You could start with the characters, the plot, the setting, of just a really vague idea or image or event. But, by the end of the planning, you must have all these components together. Setting is just one of the components, but for some reason, I feel like people overlook it.

Setting is a huge part of your story, and it’s a magnificent thing, too.

Today, we’re going to talk about finding which setting to choose, which setting is right for your story.

It’s really up to you to make this decision.

I would suggest creating three different settings (e.g.: a utopian future, the Renaissance era, or a fantasy world). You don’t have to have a lot of info on this: just the basics.

Next, write down for each one what impact it would have on the story.

For example, if you’re writing a story about two starstruck lovers who lose their way then find each other again, which setting would work best?

Well, the utopian future doesn’t sound very trying, but maybe there are underlying problems that threaten to tear down the society. That could bring some conflict into the lovers’ lives.

The Renaissance era kind of sounds like a Romeo and Juliet thing (although perhaps your story would be more cheerful), and everyone knows how popular Romeo and Juliet is. Perhaps that could work for your story. You could work through the boundaries of the society then, of the reputation of the lady, and the honor of the man. It could produce a great number of trials.

And what about the fantasy world? Maybe the reason the two lovers are torn apart is because the man is secretly a warlock, which is something that’s feared and reviled in their world? That would work.

Any three of these would work, but that was mostly just the physical side of choosing your setting (what will give my character the most conflict). Next you need to consider what will give your character the most heartache, the most choices, the most emotions. What will really get their heart beating, sweat running, and cheeks burning?

As I said setting is HUGE, with innumerable possibilities. Play with these. Be creative, imaginative, wild.

Again, there is no right or wrong to whichever setting you choose — just choose which one is right for you. And if you are already in the middle of writing a story, think about your setting some — would the story be better with a different setting?

As always, good luck with your writing. And happy setting (or perhaps unhappy)!

~ J. Dominique


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