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Creating Unique Details in Your Setting

There is nothing that kills a story quicker than when it’s set in the same old setting. Like the school cafeteria or the locker scene. Don’t get me wrong, you can use those settings, but my challenge to myself if I’m going to use those settings is to find something unique.

For instance, I have the cafeteria scene, but I pull out the unique details of Korea using thumbprint scanners to deduct from student’s accounts. Or I have the locker scene, but then something (Sorry! No spoilers today!) very unusual happens.

When I was at the Hohenzollern Castle in Germany, I was overwhelmed by all the details that the builders put into the design of the buildings. I couldn’t resist chatting about how important using unique details creates a unique story.

You can check it out here:


What are ways that you incorporate details in your settings?

10 Responses to Creating Unique Details in Your Setting

  1. Vijaya says:

    Good post. I find that place is also a character (esp. during revisions) because many times the story couldn’t take place anywhere but the particular place I imagine. God and the devil are in the details 🙂

  2. Andrea Mack says:

    Those details are so important!

  3. Great post. In my first two books (which are unqueriable), I had such trouble with setting, so in my third I set the story in a place I knew, almost better than where I live. That helped me create the setting as character rather than just a place.

  4. Jenna Cooper says:

    It’s funny, my sister said that part of the reason she didn’t like the movie Brave was because she felt like it was the same setting and she got bored.
    I think it has to be a balance. Different settings, but not too many so the reader gets confused.

  5. Meredith says:

    I always need to work more on details, because they add so much to the story. Great post! That castle is beautiful. 🙂

  6. I generally try to create a different setting, or at the very least, move my characters around to different settings a lot. For example, a lot of my current WIP is set in the characters’ personal places, like their houses or places they work, or the prison-like city they live in. When I incorporate one of the common-place or cliched settings like the school, I try to focus less on the setting and more on what’s happening there.

  7. Marcia says:

    I love floor plans. I always have one for every important character’s house, and any other buildings that are important to the story.

  8. Lexa Cain says:

    You’re so right about the mundaneness of setting YA in a typical school setting. I never read those as a kid and I don’t write them now. Yay for German castles and other exciting settings! 🙂

  9. nutschell says:

    Great points! sprinkling details about a setting into a scene will definitely make it stand out more in a reader’s mind. 🙂

    Nutschell
    http://www.thewritingnut.com

  10. Oh look. My new home. 😀

    It’s hard when you write YA that takes place in classrooms. This is when you need to be creative.

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