12 Days Of NaNoWriMo: What’s In A Setting?

Welcome back to day four of the 12 Days Of NaNoWriMo! If you’ve been doing your homework, your characters now have some weight to them, and they are helping to drive the direction of your plot. The outline of my prose really begins to come to fruition as my characters develop more and more depth in their descriptions.

So, now, it’s time to write your outline right?


Official outlining begins tomorrow, gentle reader. Today is all about your setting.

Where does your story take place? What time period is it? Keep in mind that a story set in 2019 differs in terms of technology and pop-culture from a story set in 2009…and those both differ greatly from a story set in either 1999 or 1909…or 1009.

This is where your first bit of research comes to play. You need knowledge of the what’s what during your specific time and place. To forgo this is to do irreparable damage to your story.

Let’s say that your story is set in a fictional town in 1830. Take some time to research what life was like in the 1830s. Is your town in a developed, developing, or impoverished area? Do your characters live in the good part of town or the bad part of town? Are your characters rich, poor, or somewhere in-between?

Your research should reflect these attributes. If Annamarie lives in on the bad side of a developing town with a middle-class family in 1830, her life is going to differ from Raphael’s life in the good side of an impoverished town with an upper-class family in 1830.

What are the politics like in the town? Are things strict or laidback? Is religion a big deal or an afterthought? How do people react to death? Crime? Education? Health?

Do you see how all of the factors impact the way your outline is formed and how your characters behave?

Let’s use my series the Belle Âme Chronicles series. If the Washington’s home was set in a populated part of the city where the police force was always watching, this storyline would be very different. Not impossible. But extremely different from the advantages the Washingtons receive by living in near-solitude on the outskirts of a lax town.

Would you write a story different when set in Denver versus Detroit? Of course, you would.

So, here we go with tonight’s homework. Write a one-page summary of your story’s setting. What is the environment like? What is the average income level? How is the authority? Do religion and/or politics play a huge role? How does this impact your characters, and do they have it better or worse than most of their neighbours and other townsfolk?

Tomorrow, we will finally be working on your outline! Are you excited? I’m excited! Let’s get this show on the road 🙂

For a sense of camaraderie (whether for NaNoWriMo or for writing in general…or to learn about other indie authors), I encourage you to join my Reader’s Nook on Facebook! It’s free and FUN 🙂

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