It’s important to decide where you will have an event take place, but how you decide which characteristics are most important to relay to the reader? Does this setting hurt or support your current story?
From Wikipedia — “In fiction, setting includes the time, location, and everything in which a story takes place, and initiates the main backdrop and mood for a story.”
I think this is a pretty great description of what setting is. But, knowing what setting is, just uncovers the surface of the communication process you are having with the reader.
Every time you bring up a setting, you’re essentially telling the reader that you are giving that particular setting a priority. When writing, its important to take note of what you take time to describe.
I am going to use an example from my book. This is not official terminology, but I think giving settings a priority means you want the reader to pay attention to some settings more than others.
My first example will be what I call an Active Setting. It’s a hill in my first few chapters that gets a lot of description. So much so, that it becomes important to the main character. Maybe without this hill, my main character would not have had a certain experience that he has.
An inverse correlate of that would be a specific set of mountain ranges that I have named frequently throughout the novel, but never put much emphasis on. This to me is called Passive Settings.
Settings that participate in the growth of the story, that without, a character (for instance) could not have been the same.
Settings that only participate in the growth of the story simply by existing. The do not add any character building properties, but only offer their existence to enrich the story as a whole.
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