Storytelling guide

Setting of a story is the unsung Hero behind every great tale

The setting of a story is much like the canvas upon which a painting is created. It’s the stage that holds the characters and the plot, allowing them to dance and twirl into the hearts and minds of the audience. This post aims to guide budding storytellers across all mediums in understanding and mastering the art of creating compelling settings to enhance their storytelling adventures.

1. The Magic of Setting

The setting of a story is the time and place where a story unfolds, and an essential narrative technique. It’s the world where characters live, breathe, and experience their journeys. Imagine a theater stage; the setting is like the backdrop, the scenery, the weather, and the time that accompanies the actors as they perform the narrative.

Setting can be a silent character, influencing the story and interacting with the characters. It can set the mood, create conflicts, and offer resolutions. For example, the gloomy, mysterious moors in “Wuthering Heights,” the futuristic, tech-driven world in “Black Mirror,” or the colorful, bustling setting of New York City in the musical “In The Heights.”

2. Elements of a Compelling Setting

  • Time: The era, season, or time of day can influence the narrative. For example, a story set in winter might have themes of isolation or survival.
  • Place: The geographical location and physical environment, like a busy city or a tranquil village, shape the story’s ambiance.
  • Atmosphere: The mood or tone, whether eerie in a horror story or romantic in a love song, sets the emotional vibe.

3. Crafting Your Story’s Setting

Researching and visualizing your setting lays a solid foundation. Look for images, maps, or visit locations if possible. Use vivid descriptions to paint the setting, making it come alive for your audience. Incorporate sensory details to make the setting feel real and immersive.

3.1. Interplay Between Characters and Setting

Characters react to and interact with their surroundings. For instance, how a character responds to a stormy night can reveal fear or bravery. For example, the characters’ struggle against the harsh desert in “Dune,” or the way Elsa’s powers interact with the setting in “Frozen.”

3.2. Setting in Different Mediums

Each medium offers unique ways to present the setting. In comics, visuals depict the setting, while in songs, lyrics can create imagery. Explore how different mediums allow for a diverse presentation of setting, enhancing the storytelling experience.

3.3. Exercises to Hone Your Setting Skills

Create settings for different genres, write descriptions based on pictures, or rewrite a scene from your favorite book with a new setting.


The setting of a story is a powerful tool in a storyteller’s arsenal. Investing time in crafting a vivid setting can significantly elevate the storytelling experience. On your journey remember to check out other resources, like this useful blog post from Reedsy. I invite you to delve deeper into mastering setting and share your experiences or setting creations in the comments below. Your narrative stage awaits to be set!