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:
- 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?)
- 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.)
- How does the setting present conflict for the character?
- How does the setting provide opportunities to overcome this conflict?
- 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.
- What are the societal expectations for your character?
- How is this setting affected by outside influences? (Other cultures, acts of God, etc.)
- Does your setting showcase regional flavors? (Foods, clothing, construction, occupations, language/dialect, ethnicity, mood.)
- Does the setting show the reader something new?
- Most importantly, is the setting interesting to you and your readers?
Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear from you.