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OPTIONAL - Setting

How do you make decisions about setting? Does it need to be integral to the story? Can your stories take place "anywhere," or are they rooted in a particular place?

Do you want "setting for setting's sake," and beautiful descriptions? What is the role of setting in the stories and books you like best? How much is too much? How much is too little?

How do you know if there's too much or too little? What problems might either extreme pose to your story and, by extension, your reader?


When I write, I usually just decide where something is going to take place. Most stories can't take place anywhere, but are definitely stuck in one setting.

Sometimes I write setting almost for settings sake. It can give a mood and I like beautiful descriptions of places. But I guess when I do read I often do skim parts with too much setting, so I'm working on incorporating it into the story more.

Too much would be the point I start skimming and too little is where I have no idea where the characters are. Both are problems, though I think too much is better than too little.

My stories tend to take place wherever they need to. I create enough setting to give my readers a sense of space and time (or at least try to). I also like to include setting when it will help create emotion or round out a personality of a character—such as taking the time to describe her bedroom or something.

Setting for setting's sake does work if used sparingly. I think it all depends on both the reader and the story, as to how much setting is just enough. Some stories need little or no setting while others benefit from well penned, vast cityscapes and the like.

I think it's way easier to error on the too much setting side than the too little side. Most readers are perfectly happy coming up with their own opinions on how a character or a setting looks like. Just tell them there's a group of scragly crew on an equally scragly spaceship, and it's pretty easy to imagine it. When there's too much setting, however, readers just tend to skim it. They get bored or frustrated and might end up putting the book down. So. In conclusion. Too little is usually doable, too much can get on nerves.

Decisions about setting always come from what I'm interested in and who my characters are. Hence, setting is quite important. Now it's how much depth the author puts into it that questions us whether or not it is necessary. Like Chelsey said, definitely--we just skim through it. It's pretty but using it just for the sake of it being pretty is unnecessary. Though, a lot of classics have the...scenery.

Well, that brings up another question: Is there a difference between 'setting' and 'romanticism'?

Setting is important because it can dictate the feel of the story. Setting can create tension if it contrasts with the character, or can compliment the story if the character is comfortable. In my opinion, setting is crucial in most stories. Most of the time, you see the character interacting within their setting, therefore instead of the setting being but a backdrop, it is an integral part of the story.

Now, determining whether or not there is too much setting gets tough, but I've learned that setting is excessive when it overpowers the central ideas of the story by giving too much information that the reader may think they need to know when they really don't. Setting is too little when it fails to provide the reader with a visual of the scene.

I think character's are more important than setting but, obviously, setting plays a huge roll about how you want your story to feel, how you want it to resinate with your readers. You could have the same characters but its going to feel different if your in a small farm county rather than the upper west side of New York City.

I get so bored with "setting for setting's sake," those stories lose my attention. I appreciate it more when we are gradually given setting along with other information. When it's weaved into narrating and characters. Not when its just its own paragraph stretching extensively across 6 pages. Blech.

I think when you are having trouble imagining where, who and what the author is talking about, more setting needs to be involved. but when the reader is feeling a little bored with the setting, you've gone a little over bored. I always try to remember that you can always crop. Definitely leave some of it up for the reader's own imagination but at least give them some guide lines.

It’s hard to pin-point exactly how much setting is needed. I think part of it has to do with how well the author is able to do it, and who the reader is. I have read some setting that are pages long, mostly irrelevant to the story, but they are so well done that I am just wrapped to the story afterward because I can feel the setting around me.

Now, that may give a reader a better idea of who a character is, but I have also read setting that I felt was an unjust waste of a tree. If it is not important to the story line and does not give vital details about the character, many readers may not care. It bores them and allows them to drift from the story.

I believe, ideally, that if anything beyond basic setting is there, it is an integral part of the story and is much more than just a location for something to happen. Nothing happens nowhere. So maybe an idea of the basic is necessary. But otherwise it’s just clogging the page.

I like setting a lot, which might be because I'm a very visual person, and I like to know where the characters are physically. I don't object to pages and pages of setting, unless it's pages and pages of poorly written setting.
However, I know this is ahrdly a popular position, and i definitely understand why most people get fed up with setting.
I think the best setting is provide sneakily, so the reader doesn't get taken out of the story. Obviously, this is a) hard to do, and b) seriously limits the amount of setting an author can provide.
I think setting can be very important to a story, especially when an author uses setting to provide context that would otherwise need to be conveyed in a different way. For instance, if two strangers are trapped in a elevator, this would explain why they would talk to one another. (obviously an extreme example, but this is true in smaller and more specific ways, too.)

I think that setting is key to a story, and doing it "right" is probably key as well. A balance between character development, plot development, setting, etc. is hard to achieve, I'm sure. Because I'm afraid of writing dialogue (for me it never sounds right or real), I use a lot of setting and descriptions. To some readers this might totally put them off, but others, like myself, enjoy reading of things, so they can construct the world which these characters live in. Having too much is probably an easier trap to fall into, at least for myself, and it can definitely distract a reader, and maybe even bore them, even if it's writen well. Hardly writing any setting could cause the reader to not really engage in the story, because they can't see what is happening.

I also think it depends on what type of literature people are used to reading. If you have read a lot of Romantic literature, your mind might be geared more towards setting. If you have read more contemporary literature, you might have trouble adjusting to a novel that an author who is infatuated with setting wrote. So I really don't think that going scarce on setting, or laying it on thick, really matters, as most readers will have different opinions on it. But to please both groups, I suppose you would have to find a happy medium between the two, which I guess is hard to pinpoint, and therefore hard to achieve.

Setting is unimportant to me when it comes to reading and writing a story, at least in most situations. We, as modern people, live an extremely visual life. TV, Magazines, and the Internet by and large gravitate towards images. This has created shared settings that most readers can identify with a minimum of literary clues.

When it comes to setting, I usually like to go all out. I don't like to give away the entire description in one lumpy paragraph, but instead I might give a few details here and a few details there. I usually come up with a completely generic idea for setting when I'm brainstorming about the story I want to write, and once I encounter that setting within my story is where I begin to embellish it and turn it into a living breathing place.
The role of setting has always been important in the stories I like best. I'm a big fan of Michael Crichton, and his stories always take place in exotic jungles or strange locations, but I love the descriptions, whether they be vague or detailed. I suppose it depends on how truly interesting the storyline is on how much imagination goes into the setting.
Obviously too much setting can be boring for the reader who has to read about every blade of grass in field, but, like I was kind of saying in the last paragraph, too little setting has a possibility for working IF the story itself moves fast enough and is interesting enough to spark the reader to use their imagination.

Setting to me is a peripheral element in my stories. Rarely will I greatly expand upon the setting just because I think that in many ways the interactions of the characters and what they are feeling and how they interact in the space crucially affects the setting and how the readers perceive it. I do include cursory details, but going in depth for the setting is not something at overall appeals to me when writing.

Many of my favorite novels do spend a great deal of time developing setting, and I think setting is more crucial in novels than in short stories because becoming intimately acquainted with the space is of greater importance because the characters will spend a great deal of the novel traversing this territory so the setting should be more direct and emphasized than in a short story where the setting is simply a back drop for the characters to play upon.

If its not too late, I'll put in my opinion on the subject. For me setting is far less important than the characters. I know that I should put more time into describing the places in which my stories take place. But often I wish to get straight to the action and the story, and rarely is the setting important to my story lines.

In the stories I like best, story is described but only briefly. Its mentioned in a way that doesn't make the reader lose interest. Its a very fine line to meet, and it seems to me that this fine line is what writers should strive to meet. If you lose interest in the story without getting past a description of setting, you've described it too much, if you're confused as to where anything is happening, you haven't described it enough.