Setting As Character: Bring Your Writing Alive

Welcome back to Excerpt Thursday, where I quote from a book I’m reading. Currently, I’m still savoring Donald Maass’ Fire in Fiction.

I have to admit that I’ve been reading another book too, but I don’t think it would be that useful to my readers if I quoted from Book 4 in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, The Battle of the Labyrinth.

On to what Maass has to say about setting. I just love the idea of my setting becoming a powerful player in my story. As writers, we want to create a compelling and rewarding experience for our readers.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass“The trick is not to find a fresh setting or a unique way to portray a familiar place; rather, it is to discover in your setting what is unique for your characters, if not for you. You must go beyond description, beyond dialect, beyond local foods to bring setting into the story in a way that integrates it into the very fabric of your characters’ experience. …

In other words, it is the combination of setting details and the emotions attached to them that, together, make a place a living thing. Setting comes alive partly in its details and partly in the way that the story’s characters experience it. Either element alone is fine, but both working together deliver a sense of place without parallel.
The Fire in Fiction: Passion, purpose, and techniques to make your novel great by Donald Maass

How does your setting impact each of your story’s characters?

Happy Writing!

c. 2009 Beth Barany

Who Beth Barany works with are aspiring authors. She helps them get writing and get their books out into the world. Find out more in her latest book, The Writer’s Adventure Guide: 12 Stages to Writing Your Book, or at her site:

Excerpt used based on Fair Use laws.


You may also like...