Last time you learned about the last element of plot, resolution. The major take aways were that the resolution closes out your stories like you’re tucking your reader in for bed before they go into the mental slumber between books. Remember to tie up as many loose threads as necessary to make the story feel complete. There may be some that you don’t close out, and those will lead into the next book or extend across your series.
What is Setting?
Most of the time, the first thing people think of with setting is the physical setting of your story, but it’s so much more. A quick Google search will provide many variations on the definition of setting. Many of these definitions identify setting as the where and when of the story, or location and time. But even that varies as some refer to time as a time period or time frame. Remember, words have meaning. A “time period” often refers to an age, epoch, or era. A time frame is “a period of time, especially a specified period in which something occurs or is planned to take place.” (OxfordLanguages)
As you can see, even the most basic types of setting are nuanced. So when I’m talking about setting in use in literature, I’m talking about everything that builds the world of your story. This isn’t exactly world-building, and every story won’t require exact descriptions of all setting details, but these are important to keep in mind as you prepare to write, write, and revise your novel.
Four Types of Setting:
There are four major types of setting: physical, social, historical, and psychological. Identifying these types of setting in your story will build a more in-depth view of your world. Like with our post on the Elements of Plot, let’s do a simple overview of each type of setting first.
Physical Setting is the setting details related to the real world aspects. Think of these as what you see when you look around a certain area.
Social Setting is the setting details related to the people who exist within the physical settings.
Historical Setting is knowing the background that led the development of the setting until it reaches your story’s current time.
Psychological Setting addresses the mentality of the community, much like in social setting, but also the internal characterization of your protagonist, antagonist, and any other side characters that come into play.
For each of the above, you can expect future posts to address these elements of setting: Locale, Time of year, time of day, elapsed time, mood and atmosphere, climate, geography, man-made geography. To keep this post at a reasonable length, I’m going to include the definitions with each of the types of setting posts. I feel like the definitions of these elements will change depending on what type of setting we’re looking at.
Setting is a diverse concept that goes well beyond the trees and the birds and the bees. You’ll find that the further you explore your stories setting, the better you’ll understand the world of your story. Even for those writing stories set in our own world, sometimes we forget the key details of a small town that made us love it, or even your own neighborhood you grew up in. So take this deep dive into setting with me as we take another step to mastering your craft in 2023. Thank you for reading. And as always, keep writing, keep learning, and stay fresh, my nugs.
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