World-Building: Creating Characters from Setting


Welcome back, my nugs and thank you for checking in again on this World-Building journey. Last week we talked about creating a character from the genre of your story. There we focused on a broad sense of character construction based around your stories genre. This will help you fill the world with the correct characters to fit your story, whether you subvert the genre. But now that we’ve done the broad strokes, let’s work on a smaller section of your world, the setting.

Building Characters from Setting:

Depending on how detailed of a setting you have determined, you may have already answered the genre questions from the previous post. But using setting to build characters will help narrow your perspective. There are a few levels to breakdown here.

Broad-scale setting:

Broad-scale setting, according to the usage here, is any settings used directly in your story. Whether these will be countries, seas, or other settlements spread across the region, your characters will either come from or travel through these areas. Often references to the broad-scale setting will be marked on the map you’ve built. Building characters off your broad-scale setting is looking into the Social aspect from the PMESII-PT model.

If you’re diving into a broad-scale setting:

What are the identities of those who live in the country? Are they strong nationalists? Or bands of gangs kept in check by their leaders?

What are the unique jobs in this area? What are the common jobs?

How do people interact? If the reader visited your setting, would they find southern hospitality, or bristling city folk?

Local setting:

I often use local setting when working within a town and its neighboring town. The variation in societal personalities is minimal compared to broad-scale settings. While every town or community has commonly accepted beliefs, you still have the diversity to work multiple personalities into the town. Often, in local settings, you can find people identifying with their trades, beliefs, or positions.

If you’re diving into Local Setting:

Do the people in your area of story focus on trades, religion, or politics? Or is there another aspect they identify with?

Do your people have a strong community identity? Or do they live their own lives with brief consideration of others’ livelihoods?

If someone came to visit from a nearby town, would it be obvious?

The Bathtub Setting:

If you haven’t heard of a “bathtub” story, then let me explain. A bathtub story is one that takes place in a single room. But when I use the bathtub setting, it means on using a single room to build your character from its contents. Think about your bedroom, office, or room that best represents you. What’s in it? What will people think of you when they enter that room? For example, my office is the best representation of me and my interests. I have a desk in the center, which usually holds my laptop. Against one wall are all my books that range from fiction to non-fiction. Then, on the opposite wall, is part of my Pokémon collection. In a general sense, it screams nerd. So, try this with your room first, and then create your characters with this method.

If you’re diving into the bathtub setting:

What is the one object that holds the most value (to the character or monetary) in the room? How is it displayed/positioned?

If someone walked into the room unannounced, what state would they find the room?

What do you imagine your character would look like to match the room you’ve created? Does that make them fit in with their society, or stand out?


These are some ideas to create characters from the setting. Everyone has different approaches, but I hope in the least this article will give you some ideas. If you use any different approaches, I would love to hear about them. Drop those comments below, or send me a message via my contact page. Thank you to all of my readers for your continued support. Check in next week as we explore character building through situation/conflict.

As always, stay fresh, my nugs!

Previous: Building Character from Genre

Next: Building Characters from Situation/Conflict

2 thoughts on “World-Building: Creating Characters from Setting

  1. Pingback: World-Building: Building Characters from Genre – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: World-Building: Building Character from Situation/Conflict – Myers Fiction

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