by Tim Kane
Whether you’re writing with abandon or carefully plotting each moment of your novel, setting is crucial to the unfolding action. Your characters can’t simply act out their drama in a white room. Here are some tips to upping the ante on setting.
What’s the strangest place you could set the scene? Under a waterfall. Funeral home? Candy factory? Imagine you’re writing an episode of Scooby Doo, they always set their action in bizarre locales.
Tie the Setting into the Action
Where would make the most sense to have the next setting, but still be a surprise for the reader. Think of a setting you used earlier in the novel, one that might have been a throwaway at the time. Revisiting this scene will add more depth to it. Think of yourself as a TV director with only a limited budget for sets. You’ll to reuse a few, so make them work.
Match Scenes to Characters
Have a character that loves learning, set the scene at a school or classroom. An outdoorsy type, set the scene on a mountain trail or a surf spot. Or, you can flip it on your characters. Make them uncomfortable by setting the scene where they would not want to be. This, in itself, will create tension. Maybe your character hates kids. Then you put him in a Chucky Cheese or McDonalds play area.
Imbue the Scene with Symbolism
The setting can be a character too. It can foreshadow upcoming events. Even provide hints to future plot points. Get creative. When you think about upcoming scenes, what flashes to mind? Usually this will be a mood or a feeling. Create a scene that matches that mood and you’ll propel readers through the story.
Where ever you set the action, make it interesting.