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Why Choosing the Right Story Setting Really Matters

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June 13, 2013 by Jen Cudmore

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At first, I didn’t think setting was all that important to a story. All a writer needed was to detail the environment around the characters so it touched the readers’ senses.

I was wrong. In a workshop I took with Dr. Dennis Hensley, I learned that setting creates a mood for a story. There is much more to setting than just describing sights, sounds, and smells. The time and place you choose for your story can impact how interesting the book will be to a reader and how much conflict the characters will encounter along the way.

Sometimes the setting can even become the plot of the book, such as The Swiss Family Robinson. The movie Titantic wouldn’t have impacted viewers as much if it had taken place on just another ship; it was the connection to a real historical event that left a lasting impression.

When speaking with my writing coach about which story to write after I finished the Lawmen series, she encouraged me to really think through the settings of my next projects before I got started. At my husband’s suggestion, I changed the setting for a medieval series to the Viking age to make it more intriguing. When I discussed the change with some other professionals, they all agreed it was a much better choice. I hope to publish the Viking stories in 2015!

The location and time period can add conflict and depth to a novel, so we must choose wisely!

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