stacy benedict

5 Tips For Writing Settings In A Novel

Setting is the background where your characters act out the novel’s events. To help me describe my settings, I gather pictures from magazines or online and save them in a folder or on my Pinterest boards. When I’m writing a scene, I usually keep the picture up on my tablet so I can immerse my imagination in the image.

Other ways you can use are: Google maps, go visit the actual location, or read about the place and time period of you setting.



Don’t go overboard with minutiae. Focus on important details that your POV character would notice. Your setting descriptions should set the tone of the scene, but should not read like a laundry list or real estate listing.


Include the five senses. So often, writers forget about the other senses besides sight. Remember to also use textures, smells, tastes, and sounds in your work. Don’t cram all five in at once, but try to include at least two.


Answer the five W’s: who (characters in the scene), where (place), when (time), why (purpose), and what (what are the characters doing).


Let the setting interact with the characters, for example, don’t tell readers, “the day was hot.” Describe the heat waves rising from the pavement, the brown grass on her neighbor’s lawn and the sound of her dog panting on the porch.


Do research to make sure your setting’s details are accurate. If your novel is set in the Civil War era, you don’t want to include technology that wasn’t invented yet, clothing people didn’t wear, or use names for places that didn’t exist. Passionate readers of you genre will know if something is out of place and review your book harshly because of it.


How do you handle writing setting descriptions in your stories?


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