Setting is the place and time in which the story takes place.


Setting Intro

The setting is the environment in which a story or event takes place. The setting can include specific information about time and place (e.g. Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809) or can simply be descriptive (eg. a lonely farmhouse on a dark night).

In works of narrative (especially fictional), the literary element setting includes the historical moment in time and geographic location in which a story takes place, and helps initiate the main back drop and mood for a story.

Setting has been referred to as story world  or milieu to include a context (especially society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story.


Elements of setting may include culture, historical period, geography, and hour.

Along with the plot, character, theme, and style, setting is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction. and novelist Donna Levin has described how this social milieu shapes the characters’ values. 

The elements of the story setting include the passage of time, which may be static in some stories or dynamic in others with, for example, changing seasons.


Setting Fantasy World

Fantasy World

Settings may take various forms:

  • Alternate history
  • Campaign setting
  • Constructed world
  • Dystopia
  • Fantasy world
  • Fictional city
  • Fictional country
  • Fictional crossover
  • Fictional location
  • Fictional universe
  • Future history
  • Imaginary world
  • Mythical place
  • Parallel universe
  • Planets in science fiction
  • Simulated reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Utopia


Locale -planet, country, city, building, field, woods, vehicle, at sea, in space. Any place where you can put characters and action.


Snow Weather

Weather -rain, snow, sunshine, fog, temperatures, hurricanes, droughts, and so forth.

Objects -any physical items a character can touch or use or refer to (think props).

Era -a time period (medieval Europe) or a moment (the sixties in the U.S.)

Time -An age or epoch or a specific year, even a time of day or a season.

Culture -laws, social practices, societal taboos, societal expectations, politics and government, entertainment/games, religious practices, education, war, mores, technology.

Geography -type and/or condition of land to include mountains, plains, lowlands, islands, cloud cities, volcanoes, and so on. Terrain. Plant and animal life.


  • Setting details ground characters in a location.
    • Those details allow the reader to imagine characters in a bar or secret lab or alien planet or a killer’s living room.
  • Setting enhances that willing suspension of disbelief that the writer strives to create for the reader and that the reader hopes will last for the length of a novel.
  • It’s setting detail that makes fiction real to the reader.
  • Use setting to make fiction authentic.
  • Give thought to setting so that it works for the story and not against it.
  • There is a time and a place for your story events to unfold.
  • The setting is one of the most important ingredients to make a great story.
  • It’s this detail—and her interaction with it—that makes a character seem real.