Setting Location

Ah, that important element of all books and short stories. Even news stories have to consider this element. What is that?

Your location.

No matter if you’re writing contemporary, historical, a western, fantasy, sci-fi or any other type of story. You have to impress on your viewer exactly what your location is.

Of course, all authors know this. It’s a rather simple step. We set up the location at the beginning of the book and forget about it.



Location is as important to the middle, climax, or ending of a book as it is to the beginning. Your characters aren’t going to sit around in one room the whole story, doing nothing but staring at the same four walls.

Those characters will move. They will explore. There will confrontations with the antagonists—the baddies—and your character needs to notice fine details as the story unwinds. Even more important, the audience can’t be told about these locations. Yeah, that means you aren’t going to dump a bunch of information in one spot and then forget about description.

Think about it. Do you really observe every nuance of a location when you visit it in one glance? I mean, seriously, how can you do that?

Think about a local park. There is the overall view. We all take it in without much thought. A play area. Benches for sitting around and observing. Trees. Probably a picnic area. Usually ball fields for organized sports or pickup games. Maybe even a recreation center for indoor activities when the weather isn’t cooperative.

Now take a second look. Are those roses or tulips growing in a bed? When did the pathways get repaved? There’s a new slide or set of swings in the play area, or even a new bed of wood chips so kids don’t get hurt if they fall.

All of these things are important in location, but only when it’s necessary for a character to notice them. Don’t dump the information in one spot and blithely go on with your story. Add in the elements slowly, developing them as you would notice such items if you were walking through the area.

Let your reader see your world through their eyes. That’s the secret to setting locations.