Choosing a short story setting seems to occur in two ways. Sometimes the choice is conscious and sometimes it’s not.
For example, there may be a setting an author likes and simply knows that one day they will write a story and have it happen in that location. Case in point: I did intern teaching at an elementary school in Niagara Falls, New York. I saw the Falls every day. When I became interested in writing, I knew one of the stories I’d write would occur there.
The area fascinated me – the lore, the legends, the mist, the water’s roar. That story became “Ferelli’s Fall” and is in my newly released short story collection Creek Songs. Across from the American Falls (in the foreground) is the city of Niagara Falls, Canada. A climactic scene in the story takes place just north of that city.
Sometimes, though, a setting evolves organically from the needs of the characters. The latter is true for the short story “Behind the Triple K.” The tamarisk trees growing beside Interstate 10 and a span of railroad tracks in California’s Coachella Valley become a place of sanctuary . . . and reckoning for the characters. The characters themselves led me there.
Another way a setting is chosen is by an event, domestic or international. A story idea became very real to me as did the young protagonist. I could see the characters and feel the plot. I knew they were in a war situation. The idea morphed to WWII France and became the story titled “The First of the Season.”
What’s exciting is that a story may be set anywhere, limited only by the author’s imagination. By using the senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch) and such items as weather and time of day, the author can bring that setting to life, allowing the reader to “be there” and enjoy the story more fully.