How Does Creating the Right Setting Make a Compelling Plot?

Imagine you are reading a gripping story—the mystery is really deep and the characters are intriguing: lots of mind boggling twists and turns to confound your mind. You have no idea what the characters will do next. Now, wouldn’t you be even more vested in the plot if you knew where this story was taking place? What about when it was taking place? And how about the weather and the surroundings where the story is taking place? A setting of a story is all about creating the runway where you can land your piece of perfectly planned plot.

Think Time:

Let’s have a read of this example:

Sally began to get excited about the lake house vacation as she felt the car slow down. Her sisters left home for universities in different countries three years ago, and they hadn’t gotten a chance to meet since. As the car swerved right, she looked at the lawn in front of the house. Dying to go inside the house, she ran out of the door even before the car could halt.

Can you tell the time in this story? Is it taking place in the morning or night? Which year is it? Which season of the year is it? Doesn’t the absence of time references make the story seem unmoored? Time could refer to the time of day, year or even a period in history. 

Now imagine the same story when you have used the time setting properly. How does the appearance of the story change?

Sally began to get excited about the lake house vacation as she felt the car slow down. Her sisters left home for universities in different countries three years ago, and they hadn’t gotten a chance to meet since. As the car swerved right, the white wonderland greeted her eyes and she saw the sprawling fields covered in eight inches of snow. They shone golden as the setting sun reflected upon them. It couldn’t get better than this, she thought to herself as she checked for the signal on her mobile phone. Dying to go inside the house, she ran out of the door even before the car could halt.

Doesn’t this story feel clearer and better? You know the characters, the time setting of the story – winter evening – and also the year this is taking place in – the twenty-first century. 

Think Place: