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Dear Writer, Do you Exploit Setting in your #Writing ?

I’ve been taking an open online course from Iowa, and one of the classes that impressed me the most was the one on Setting.

I’ve always been complimented on how ‘vivid’ my writing is– so I thought maybe I’ve got this setting this down. Wrong.

I have much to learn on how to make the setting add a layer of meaning to my story.

If you’re a writer, watch this video, and before you do that, read this story.

It would be time well-spent, I promise. That’s an awesome story, and the tutor uses it well to illustrate her points.

This was a good lesson for me not to get into a comfort zone.

If you’re a writer, what role do you think setting plays in your story? As a reader, do you get engrossed in the world of the book you’re reading? Have you ever received a wake up call because you slid into a comfort zone?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Setting plays an important role as it lays a basic foundation for a story being written.

  • klahanie says:

    Hey Damyanti,

    I know how much you heart comments 🙂 Which means you have been eagerly waiting for a comment from shy, humble me. Apologies for being missing in action for over three months.

    I do try to paint a vivid setting in the reader's mind. Yes, I consider it imperative.

    Nice to see you, dear lady.

    Gary 🙂

  • Trisha F says:

    Thanks for the links – will check them out. I totally agree that setting is essential for building atmosphere. But as Mina said, it's hard to not go too overboard, when you're trying to flesh things out.

  • Inge H. Borg says:

    If I can't be transported into the locale of a novel (especially an exotic one which is part of its attraction), we might as well be back in Kansas [Dorothy]; or Toledo, for that matter. However, today's readers don't much seem to care…all they want is ACTION. It certainly presents a quandary for the dedicated writer.

  • Mina Lobo says:

    I'm definitely challenged with building a setting in a scene without bogging down the story with unnecessary details. Thanks for the links!

  • cleemckenzie says:

    I like to think of setting as a key character in the book. I'll check out the story and the video. It's always interesting see what others are saying about this essential story element.

  • Setting description is important for it draws the reader in and gives a feel of the things around.

  • dolorah says:

    I do like the idea of setting as character; I dislike books where it just sort of there – characters on a boat, on the ocean; or pick a city and expect the reader to just visually fill it in themselves. Setting does not have to be descriptively overwritten, but things like cool breeze, or foggy air, or sunset reflecting off a vehicle can set the mood, and also create a sense of movement through time and space. Voice and dialogue are also a part of setting that can be vastly overdone.

    Thanks for sharing this lesson.

  • Setting is so important in my current WIP. The harsh habitat adds all sorts of challenges to my characters's survival and comfort. I worry that the pictures in my head aren't clear enough on papeer.

  • Yes, sometimes we do tend to get in a comfort zone which doesn't help our writing. For me, the setting is another character in my stories and also helps to set the mood and tone, depending on what's happening.

  • I know I don't do well enough with setting. I don't like excessive setting descriptions in the books I read and I tend to go the opposite direction with my writing.

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