How to develop setting in your story

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How to develop setting in your story

In this post I want to give you some writing tips to develop setting in your writing. To get started, let’s take a look at one of the most popular television shows of all time – Star Trek.

“To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Star Trek offers an exciting premise, maybe the most exciting in television history. A universe of boundless possibility exists within that brief description. And for more than half a century the science-fiction property has delivered good on that promise over and over again.

How is that enduring quality possible? Setting.

Star Trek has benefited from a cast of memorable characters. Captain James T. Kirk. Spock. Data. Khan. Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Even science-fiction deniers will recognize those names.

The dynamics are rich too. Kirk and Spock work off of each other in fascinating ways. Their dynamic provides an endless pool of conflict from which the writers can draw. With Kirk passionately built on swashbuckling instincts and Spock grounded in that Vulcan logic, those two could do anything on-screen.

Without an inter-stellar setting however, even memorable characters like these would soon fall flat. Dynamics between Kirk and Spock could only carry the series so far into television lore.

But by setting these engaging heroes on board a moving spacecraft and giving them the mission of exploring whatever they find out there beyond the stars, the writers of Star Trek created a deep well of opportunity to present problems and broaden relationships.

Setting should open a door for your characters. Wait. That’s wrong. If you develop setting and execute it correctly, it should open many doors. In an episodic medium such as television, setting needs to open enough to develop character over many seasons.

What accounts for the success of hospital dramas like ER and Gray’s Anatomy? Like outer space, almost anything can happen in a hospital setting. Writers all too often merely scratch the surface in crafting a wide world and stop short of utilizing that world for all of its many promises.

If you’d like more help or ideas to develop setting in your manuscript, get in touch! Working with a ghostwriter is easier than you think and it could make the difference that turns your story into a masterpiece.


Erick MertzHow to develop setting in your story

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