setting Dec 10, 2020

For this week’s Lesson Plan of Setting, I thought I’d write about the Personality of some well-known cities.

There are many beloved works of fiction that take place in these cities and in this blog, we’ll examine how those particular places inform the characters, conflict, plot and more in those stories.

London: A Christmas Carol, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Girl on the Train

You might set your story in London if you want it to rain throughout the Plot.

You might set your story in London if you want an historical narrative but an urban location.

You might set your story in London if your characters need to be able to travel around the United Kingdom.

One of these reasons sets the mood for the story. One reason affects the narrative or voice of the story, and the third reason impacts the plot. Look at your own story: what are you struggling with? Will choosing a location help to answer or solve that problem?


Los Angeles: The Black Dahlia, White Oleander, Play it As it Lays

You might set your story in Los Angeles if you want to evoke the magic of Old Hollywood.

You might place your story in Los Angeles if your story has a cast of characters of all ethnic backgrounds.

You might choose Los Angeles as the setting for your city if your plot involves a big ocean wave.

Mexico: The Lacuna, Water for Chocolate, All the Pretty Horses

You might set your story in Mexico because it takes place during a revolution

You might choose Mexico as your story’s setting because your protagonist relocated to be in a warmer climate for health reasons.

You may have selected Mexico because you’re writing about an artist who spent time here with their family.

New York City: A Tree Grows in Brookyn, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, A Little Life

You might select New York City as your story setting because your characters are going to be up all hours of the night and NYC is known as the ‘City that Never Sleeps’.

You might set your story in New York because some of the events take place on a crowded subway train.

You might choose New York City because your narrative connects to famous events or people from The Big Apple.

Rome: The Count of Monte Cristo, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Angels & Demons

You might choose Rome as your setting because your story involves the Vatican.

You might set your story in Rome because there’s a key scene that takes place near a majestic fountain.

You might select Rome because some of your characters speak Italian.

San Francisco: Tales of the City, The Maltese Falcon, The Buddha in the Attic

You might set your story in San Francisco because your story involves a lot of windy city streets.

You might select San Francisco because your story is set during the infamous 1967 Summer of Love, or in the Castro during the '70s-'80s.

You might place your story in San Francisco because you want to pay homage to the Beat writers, like Kerouac, William Ginsburg and Allen Ginsberg.

Tokyo: Norwegian Wood, Ring, Out 

You might write a story set in Tokyo because you want your main character to be in a place where they can't easily communicate.

You might write a story that takes place in Tokyo because it’s about a famous food dish they serve there.

You might set your story in Tokyo because the monsoons and typhoons serve your plot. Or the high-speed rail system plays a central role.

As you can see, there are many different reasons why you would choose a particular place to set your story in. More importantly is that your setting should make sense to your story, your characters, and what happens to them. As the author, understandably, you want to be inspired by your setting but you should choose it not because you’re interested in it, but because your story will work best in that specific place.

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