5 Tips on Describing Your Setting

I’ve stolen this from The Writing Box, an amazing Tumblr site for writers. The reason I’m posting it here is because when I read it, I thought “Oh man, YES! All these are soooo important. I need to do this!”

So essentially, I’m blogging this so I can remember. Hope it helps other writers out there.

Head on over the The Writing Box for more brilliant writing tips.

5 Tips on Describing Your Setting

Your reader wants to know where they are, but they don’t want pages and pages of intricate details about your setting. You need to choose what’s important and give your reader a few specific points. They can fill in the rest.

Here’s five tips for making your description say as much as it can in as few points as possible:

  1. Think about what’s important to the story: Think about specific landmarks, individual items or the general layout of the land. If your character needs to be able to see a certain doorway from their armchair, make sure they can.
  2. Think about what’s important to the characters: What in the setting reveals more about the characters that live there? Look at unusual things – it’s more interesting for a character to have no family photos in their house rather than having their walls filled with them.
  3. Think about revealing backstory: What in your setting has been influenced by what happened before the beginning of your story? A statue in a town square or the name of a street can reveal important historical facts.
  4. Think about revealing culture: Certain items can reveal interesting points about your world’s culture and traditions. The way the houses are built, or particular religious items in a room.
  5. Think about revealing time and place: Particular items can instantly let your readers know what point in history and where in the world your setting is. A harbour full of tall ships instantly ages a place, a line of coconut trees along the beach gives a hint at possible locations.

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