Thursday, October 27, 2011

12 Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing The Setting Of Your Story

I am happy to introduce my first guest blogger on Pedro Is Writing. I met Joe Mynhardt online at My Writers Circle, a great community for writers, by the way. He is a South African writer with some great ideas. 
Today he is sharing about his method for planning setting in fiction. I appreciate Joe's thoughts on the subject and will be asking myself many of these questions as I continue working on my Mall Demons Urban Fantasy Serial. If you have comments or questions for Joe, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. Having said that, here's Joe....

I've been writing short stories, quite successfully, since the end of 2008 and recently started my first novel, which made me think about what questions I need to ask myself during the planning phase of my novel. I wanted to plan the novel just like I did my short stories, but even more structured. Being a busy person, I'd rather spend a bit more time on the drawing board than wasting time in unnecessary and time consuming rewrites.  

For the next few weeks I'll be posting a few things I've picked up from books, author interviews and personal experience. These techniques can of course be used in short stories, plays and screenplays as well. So answer these questions to get a better view of what your story has and needs. 

Today's questions will deal with setting:

  • What is the main setting of your story? 
  • Does the setting effectively influence the mood or atmosphere of the story? 
  • Does the setting have enough of an influence on the story and the people within it? 
  • Does the setting fit into your narrative tone? 
  • Is your setting unique, exotic and interesting, or is it cliché and just plain boring? 
  • Are there changes in scenery and do these scene changes represent something in your plot or perhaps a character? Example: turmoil within the character or his/her relationship with their significant other. 
  • Is the setting influential enough so that the story could not take place anywhere else? 
  • Are you using your setting effectively when it comes to the possibilities of irony, contrast, foreshadowing, symbolism and motif?  
  • Does the setting present some kind of barrier to the main character, keeping him away from his goal? Example: conflict with nature? 
  • Does your story eventually rise above the setting in a symbolic sense?  
  • Does the setting perhaps represent a part of your character's personality? 
  • Are you using every setting to its full potential? Think about this carefully. A brainstorm session on this can represent quite a few new ideas for your story. 

 I hope this gets you on your way to improving your story. Till next time.  

All the best,
Joe Mynhardt

Joe Mynhardt is a South African writer and teacher. While having dozens of short story publications, Joe also tends to a tome of story ideas scraping for a chance to be written. Read more about Joe and his creations at or find him on Facebook at 'Joe Mynhardt's Short Stories'. 


  1. good and useful suggestions, Joe.

  2. Very thorough workout for the mind Joe. It gets your brain in motion straight away. The more questions you ask, the more details you pull from the interviewee.

    Thanks again Joe, for the brain workout.

  3. Thanks for reading and commenting. Always a pleasure to be of help.



Feeling Alone

I think as humans we have a longing to be with others.  Who really likes being alone? I guess, when I'm writing, I don't want to be...