“Remember in your story that setting is the other character. It is as important to your story as the people in it because it gives them context and can ideally be used to heighten drama and tension, depending on where it is.” – Rob Parnell

Reading Assignments:

If you are writing about a fantasy or science fiction setting, you’ll want to read the basic world-building articles in the next section, as well as the articles on setting.

1.) Discover The Basic Elements of Setting In a Story – by Courtney Carpenter
2.) 5 Tips for Writing Better Settings – by Jody Hedlund
3.) How Writers Can Craft an Effective Setting – by Jane Friedman
4.) 7 Tips for Writing About Places You’ve Never Been – by Suzannah Windsor Freeman
5.) The Difference Between Setting and World Building – by Janice Hardy

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Writing Assignments:

1A.) Choose your setting and make notes about the place’s geography, landscape, physical features, architecture, furniture, whatever you need for however specific you’re looking to get (A livingroom versus a mountain range, for example).
1B.) Include the five senses in your notes as well as a “sixth” that gives details such as whether the place is beautiful or ugly, freeing or oppressive etc.
1C.) In your notes, describe the people who occupy this place. Are they smart, dumb, happy, sad, motivated, depressed… And what actions, habits, or things first come to mind? 
2.) Write a paragraph describing all of this for the reader starting with a wide frame, showing us the largest view of the place that makes sense and zooming in to the specific place where the story is set using no more than four sentences. Then transition to the people, writing a scene using their actions or habits to drive home the sense you have of the place, no more than a page or two in length. 

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Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before.

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes: Choose a strong emotion one or more of your characters might be feeling and write a scene based on that feeling, working in bits of your setting. 
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) Start solo, then come together as one, or several, groups.
Solo: Write about the following setting: a hospital, in a foreign country, in the middle of a power outage. Who would be in such a place at such a time, why? What might be going on in this place? Is it abandoned? Is there about to be a robbery? Has the Zombie apocalypse happened? Are you outside or inside? What other descriptions can you add in, such as lighting, carpeting, trees, dirt paths… write down any ideas that you have. 
Group: Share your notes with your group, notice how different or similar they are.
If time allows, write a short scene, involving your description, and then share it with the group. Again, notice how different or similar they are compared to what others wrote about the same location.