The Literary Importance of Setting

For the majority of my Creative Writing class this morning, the topic of discussion was setting in a story, and its importance in regards to the overall theme of mood of a text. My professor encouraged us to examine an article on a website titled LitReactor which addresses the significance of setting in a story, and it was a rather interesting read. You can read such article here:

For me, creating a setting in a piece of writing is my favourite component of the writing process. I believe setting is an unlimited category in regards to creativity and exploration, and I thoroughly enjoy developing a setting that compliments my characters and their own personal story.

In lecture, our professor made an interesting point about setting. She explained that setting permits the reader to relax because they are able to refrain from skimming in order to note minuscule details in the plot that may allow them to better understand a story. She explained that creating a detailed setting encourages the reading to surrender to the text as opposed to challenging it. Often times readers challenge a text because they fail to entirely comprehend the environment in which characters are situated, but developing a tangible setting prevents this struggle from occurring.

Here is an example of a poor setting development: “He sat at the kitchen table, eating his stew.”

Here is an example of a strong setting development: “The old man sat hunched over his wife’s stew, cursing at the cold broth. Frustrated, he slammed his palm against the faded grain of the table, knocking over his bottle of Jack Daniels.”

See the difference? In the first example, it is difficult to determine who exactly the man is, where he is, etc. In the second example, it is apparent that the man is older, angry, and drinking. The details of the faded table suggest that perhaps the man does not have enough money to purchase new furniture. Sure, it may be a long-shot, but it makes the story far more interesting.

I encourage you to engage in some setting-development exercises in order to determine what makes a good setting. Check out the article on Lit Reactor if you’re struggling. It is a great way to strengthen writing techniques and quality, and it is furthermore enjoyable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s