Monday, January 3, 2011

The Importance of Setting

First of all -- I forgot to participate in Frankie's No Kiss Blogfest.

I suck.

I was so excited about writing something for it too! AW! But I'm reading the other entries and they are so tingly! I was going to write about a boy and a girl stuck on Mars together. Yeah. Like the planet. I was going for something way out there. Maybe some other day!

So I am excited for this:

I love this book. It's been passed around my family and everyone loves, loves, loves it. It's something we can see together! Yeah!

But it got me thinking about the importance of setting. Water for Elephants takes place during the Depression era, set within a circus. The setting is another character. It is integrated into the story. You couldn't change a single thing about it without changing everything.

I'm from a small town. So that's where I tend to place my stories because it's something I know. But the setting doesn't have to be something as spectacular as a circus to become part of the story. Setting can be used to show character. I wonder how my characters feel about where they live, which can reveal something about them, and something about the town. I can't start really writing without knowing where and when the story is going to take place. That's something I need to have set up very early on because it's a big deal! The setting will breed the events! Where do you characters first kiss? Where do they fight? Where do they cry? Where do they runaway to? Where is their secret place? Setting can also move the story forward. It brings it alive.

Stephanie Perkin's Anna and the French Kiss wouldn't be the same if it weren't in Paris! All of those romantic moments and all of that wonderful food. The city was another character.

Where things happen is just as important as what happens and why things happen.

Setting is so much more than the where and when!


  1. I haven't read either of those books, but have heard good things about both. I agree about setting. Setting gives characters context and flavor. It allows you to understand why they act the way they do. Can't wait to read both of those books!

  2. I completely agree! We take settings for granted too much when the stories we love are so dependent on them. I think it shapes are characters as well. And yeah I am from a small town originally too so my settings tend to always be small towns. Plus a lot of creepy stuff can happen

  3. I totally agree. I really want to work on making the setting more prominent in my novel. I mean, to me it is but I have a tendency to leave that kind of thing and deem it "unimportant". And yes, I am aware that that is totally the WRONG outlook. I love books were setting is that important.

  4. This is definitely something I've struggled with, too. I used to think setting wasn't that important. But it so is! And how your characters react to the setting is huge!

    Marsha - I love small towns. Yes -- they can be very creepy indeed!