Made in America

Three Ways to Build a Setting

In every book, the setting adds context to the conversation. A setting is almost another character—it helps the story come to life and helps to paint a vivid picture of what’s happening in the minds of your readers.

Whether it’s a rainy night or a walk through a bustling city, setting the scene is important to help transport your reader from reality into your story. In fact, it’s so critical, we wanted to offer you three tips to help you set the scene in your book.


  1. Time of day – Whether it’s morning, noon or night, let your readers know what time of the day the action is taking place. This helps them visualize the events that are unfolding right before their eyes. If a scene is taking place in the morning, you want your readers to imagine the morning sun cascading through a window, the wet dew on the luscious blades of grass and the stillness of the early hours of the day. In short, you want your readers’ to feel like they’re almost in the room with the characters.
  2. Mood – Is the tension palpable? Is the lighting low and mysterious? Is there cloying smoke filling the air? Atmospheric descriptions can create the mood without actually having to spell it out. Furthermore, setting the mood within your story can help dictate your dialogue. If the moment is tense, you can describe that by the body language of your characters – clenched fists, a focused stare.
  3. Era –Whether it’s the Civil War, the Wild, Wild, West, or sometime far in the future, positioning your plot in a specific era gives your story context. Defining the time period as part of your setting can also influence the characters’ dialect, the political climate, the area of the world and other important historical events that are linked to that specific moment in time.

Details are extremely important when writing a book. As an author, it’s up to you to look at the entire picture of what you’re trying to write. The more detailed you can be will help the reader feel as if they are living out the action themselves. Creating the setting is an essential part to the book-writing puzzle.

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2016

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