Amazing Kids! Magazine

How to Create an Amazing Setting

By Salma Danuningrat, Writing Tips Editor


Both sides of the street were aligned with maple trees – red, orange and yellow. Most front yards had neat piles of these leaves swept to the roots of the trees. Some still had a blanket of leaves covering the grass – colorful lawns with sunset hues, like a painter had squirted warm colors and used a giant brush to swirl them around. It was quiet, except for the occasional gust of wind that rustled the trees and sent the perfect piles of leaves in a frenzy. The air smelled like fresh wood and it tasted sweet, like cinnamon. ”

Setting: One of the most overlooked parts of a story, the underdog of the writing elements. As unimportant setting may seem, it can actually make a great difference in your story. The little details that settings create are what makes a memorable piece of writing. Here are some tips for making your setting come to life:

What’s Setting? – First of all, it’s important to understand what exactly setting is. With so many elements of a story, it can get confusing which is which. Setting is the time and geographic location a story takes place. Setting is when and where your story is, and if you have a longer story with many scenes, then you might have multiple settings.

Use Your Five Senses – Don’t limit your senses to just your sight when you’re describing your setting, try and use all five senses. Write about the surrounding smell, how the air tastes, what you hear. How do the grass, the trees, the rain feel in your setting? Transport the reader into your story, make them feel as if they are right next to your character.

Use Metaphors and Similes – Settings are another great way to put in metaphors and similes. By adding these in, you’ll have an enhanced and clearer image of the place you’re describing. Instead of saying, “the street lamps were very bright” you could say, “the streets lamps were as bright as a beacon.”

Setting Details Determine Your Mood – Elements in a story have a way of relying on each other: your conflict helps the character develop, your setting affects the character, etc. However, one of the most noticeable interconnections between elements of a story is between your setting and mood. Your setting – the way you write it, the adjectives you use, the kind of metaphors you include – have a huge impact on the mood of the scene. For example:

“The field was eerie below the night sky. There were infinite stars, like eyes, spying on her from the heavens. As bright and full the moon seemed, it cast a dark shadow that followed her as she walked as if another reminder that she was not alone.”

“The field glowed elegantly beneath the bright sky. The moon, round and silver, eliminated all fears she had of the night. The grass below her tickled her feet and the infinite number of stars above her head was a sign that she wasn’t alone.”

Both these descriptions describe the same setting, however they portray different moods. By using the right adjectives and style to describe your setting, you can set the right mood for your scene by showing, not telling.

Writing your setting is one of the most fun and creative parts of writing your story. Don’t make any restrictions when writing your setting on your first draft, but allow your ideas to rush out freely. Every detail you come up with, whether it be the smell of the grass or the chipped paint on the houses, write it down. Remember that you can always revise and edit later. Let your surroundings morph into your setting and have your imagination take over.