The Ebony Quill

Thoughts, reflections, and whimsies as I experience life

The Importance of Setting

This month, I’m participating in the Teens Can Write, Too Blog Chain for the first time.

The blog topic is: “How much does setting affect your novels and stories? What are some of your favorite ways to portray setting?”

I’ve always considered a novel’s setting to be one of it’s most important characteristics because it provides an environment in which the reader can immerse his or herself.  Although characters are, of course, the most significant aspect of a story, their surroundings can mold their actions, reveal their strengths and flaws, and serve as an obstacle or a blessing.

Since my novel is a fantasy, the setting is imaginary and is still under construction.  However, it’s based on real locations and terrain.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Middle East and Egypt: the tantalizing mystery, the depth, the vivid color, the customs, the traditions.  Thus, the city my main character lives in is located on the edge of a desert.  This, of course, affects the way people dress and how they look.  The women (and some of the men as well) wear kohl eyeliner and they dress in light, colorful, and comfortable clothing (I researched ancient Persian clothing to get a good visual).  Sometimes, they also cover the bottom half of their faces with a scarf to avoid breathing in sand and dust.  They have tan skin and dark hair.  You can get a bit of a feel for the setting by reading an old excerpt from the first draft of my novel (please be forewarned that most of the excerpt has undergone major changes).

I plan on drawing a map to help me clarify where everything is located (which I will definitely post here).  I also want to incorporate different types of terrain, so that each of the three kingdoms have their specific set of advantages and disadvantages.  I hope to find a way to incorporate mountains, rivers, hills, forests to make the world richer and more exciting.

Additionally, I’ve learned it’s important to avoid “info-dumping,” which is difficult, especially in fantasy and science fiction novels.  I’m currently trying to fit in bits and pieces about the setting, history, and traditions of the land where it would naturally make sense to mention them instead of going into long-winded explanations about the political and social system of the kingdoms.  Basically, I aim to illustrate the setting the way my characters see it and reveal details as my characters think them.


Here are the other blog chain participants:

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day

September 5––Musings From Neville’s Navel

September 6––Olivia’s Opinions

September 7––Miriam Joy Writes

September 8––Kirsten Writes!

September 9––Beyond the Moon

September 10––Crazy Red Pen

September 11––The Ebony Quill

September 12––Reality Is Imaginary

September 13––This Page Intentionally Left Blank

September 14––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

September 15––All I Need Is A Keyboard

September 16––Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)


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4 thoughts on “The Importance of Setting

  1. Whoa! You’re a lot more methodical about it than I am! (laughs) I should be more organized… *sigh*

    • Everyone has their own way of developing their setting, just like each person has their own way of writing. I may come across as more methodical than I really am, but it’s just part of my natural need to plan everything out. Good luck with your writing!

  2. I have lots of writer friends who draw maps, but unfortunately I don’t have the skill for it. I wish I could, though – it’d be plenty interesting! 😀

    My main way to avoid info-dumping is not to work anything out until I’m writing it. I make it up as I go along, which means I only ever work out what the reader needs to know. Then when I’ve finished the draft, I get on and work out all the backstory, so that I know it and can refer to it if necessary, but quite often the reader has no clue about all that 😀

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