Implementing Setting into your Story
When writing, there are some essential story elements you need to take into consideration, and setting is one of those aspects. In fact, I believe that the setting of a story is almost as important as the characters. The locations the events take place can have just as much of an impact on the events of your story as the actions of a character. Here’s a few pieces of advice on how to make locations in your screenplay, novel, etc. drive your story.
1. What is the weather like? I have noticed a trend in the fantasy genre — the weather. Whether it be the endless heat or cold in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time or the viciously devastating Highstorms in Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive, weather is being used more and more as a way to drive a story’s plot. I know I am not being entirely imaginative with this, but for the sake of not making this post longer than it needs to be, here is a specific scenario in which weather is a factor in the overall plot: Let’s say a young woman is wandering through the desert herself. Those with whom she had entered the barren landscape have long since died of dehydration, and the remainder of the water she has is next to nothing. Therefore, she must find a source of water before she dies of thirst and, eventually, get out of the desert.
See? It really is that simple. The dangerous heat so easily creates problems that are a matter of life and death for your character.
2. What is the terrain like? Just like weather, the terrain of a certain area has a lot of effect on how one goes about accomplishing their tasks. If a character at Point A must reach Point B, and there is nothing between them, then they will get to that specific point in a short point of time compared to a situation where there is a huge mountain range that they must trek through, or a powerful river where there is no bridge. These two latter situations provide many opportunities to give your character smaller goals in order to achieve the ultimate one.
3. What dwells in certain places? The inhabitants of your world are a huge part in drawing in your readers. A writer needs to take into consideration the locations in which a certain creature/animal would dwell in their world. For instance, a Minotaur (a half-man, half-bull creature from Greek mythology) would most likely never be found in the desert, as it would be too hot for it to live. Instead, it would make much more sense for such a creature to live in the mountains where the weather is much colder. As such, whenever a character in that world walks treks through the mountains, they must ever be aware of disturbing the Minotaurs that live there. This adds a sense of uncertainty, adding to the tension of the sequence. If a sleeping Minotaur is disturbed, then the characters will be in a whole other level of danger.
In closing, the setting of your story plays as big of a part as your characters and can drive the story in directions that you never thought of before.
A 21-year-old native of Michigan, Evan Morgan is an aspiring author and screenwriter. Coming to the video production and acting school, Center for Creative Media in 2014, he now lives in East Texas amongst a dangerous number of books.