On Monday, I threw a whole heap of things to think about when it comes to planning your novel’s setting/s. Don’t worry if the load all got a bit heavy in your arms & you let you it tumble to the ground. Today at the Writers’ Cafe, I’ve got an option of 2 exercises that should help you get your setting down on paper, whether you still haven’t got a clue where this thing’s happening or you’re ready to fill in the finer details. Ready?

          Get your notebooks. 

                              Get your pens.


1) Draw a map of your story “world”, be it fiction, fantasy or an actual place.

This one comes from Abi Elphinstone who says when she’s planning out her adventure stories, she begins with a map. She throws in every place she thinks would be exiting to take her characters, then sets the adventure around that! In my case, I might sketch a plan of the 17th cent. house & include such “sub-settings” as the stables (maybe the girls meet a friendly stable hand who tips them off about the mysterious visitor?), the deer park (maybe they could meet a gypsy who is more than meets the eye?), & the hall of portraits (where one of the paintings might hide an important clue in plain sight?).

Whatever you do, have fun! Draw places you feel excited to write about, then see whether they inspire any plot ideas!

*Important note: no artistry skills required! This is for your eyes only!

2) Dump your character into a strange new environment. Now make a list: what’s the first thing she notices? Jot down at least 15 impressions, from biggest to smallest, general to specific. And don’t forget all 5 senses!

This exercise will help you distill your setting descriptions. Remember, it’s not about describing every detail, but about giving your reader an overall impression & throwing in a few details for authenticity. Unless your character is Sherlock Holmes, he or she is not likely to take note of the minutia anyway, so guess what! You don’t have to either!

Want more? Revisit my post on the art of observation. You might even throw yourself into a strange environment to practice your own observational skills! Enjoy the trip!