Thinking About Story Setting


story setting

Five basic elements give a story structure: character, conflict, plot, setting and theme.

Today, I will consider story setting.

A setting encompasses the period and location in which the story is set, the “Friend” traditionally publishing stories set in the past and the present.

The Fiction team sometimes sends out illustrations to writers, hoping they will inspire a story. We generally know our writers’ strengths. Thus, if they tend to write contemporary stories set in rural locations, we’d send them illustrations of just that.

Occasionally, though, we’ll challenge our writers with illustrations outwith their comfort zone. This isn’t out of meanness, but simply because we think it will encourage them to experiment with their story settings.

Time Travel Writing

Life in a fishing village during the 19th century would certainly be different from present day life in the same village. But if it’s a location the writer is familiar with, then characters could easily appear, whatever the era.

The geographic location of a story could also have a bearing on narrative events, and the attitudes and behaviours of characters.

We receive many stories in the “Friend” set in the late 19th century. The social reform during the late Victorian era is popular with readers and writers alike.

However, by picking another decade from the 1800s, a writer might find characters’ lifestyles inspire all kinds of different storylines.

For more tips, check out our Writing Tools section.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.