10 Questions to Setting Perfection

settingIs your setting a flat, background snooze fest that has no relevance to the plot?

To ensure your setting moves your story forward, it must play an active role in your characters’ lives. Consider these questions in relation to your current work-in-progress:

  1.  Does your setting reflect your character’s state of mind? (Do they hear birds singing a sweet wake-up melody, or are they reaching for the sling shot to end the incessant racket?)
  2. Is your setting a reflection or a contrast of the character’s personality? (Chicago is exciting and friendly on the outside, but dark and corrupt underneath.)
  3. How does the setting present conflict for the character?
  4. How does the setting provide opportunities to overcome this conflict?
  5. Are you using lengthy description and bogging down the story? You may have beautiful prose, but if it doesn’t move the story forward, cut it. I know it hurts.
  6. What are the societal expectations for your character?
  7. How is this setting affected by outside influences? (Other cultures, acts of God, etc.)
  8. Does your setting showcase regional flavors? (Foods, clothing, construction, occupations, language/dialect, ethnicity, mood.)
  9. Does the setting show the reader something new?
  10. Most importantly, is the setting interesting to you and your readers?

Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear from you.


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