Short Story Settings

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.

About cmwriter

I'm a writer ... of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I blog about writing, short stories, poetry, books, plays, and thoughts on life. Love reading and travel and being with friends!
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2 Responses to Short Story Settings

  1. Denise Toland says:

    This morning I lost myself in Creek Songs. In “The First of the Season”, a gentle, morning snow in the French countryside dissolves into a blood-soaked afternoon. “Inner Canyon” leads us down a narrow Grand Canyon trail, the parallel descent both physical and spiritual. As the narrator examines layer upon layer of rock wall, along with her own family history in Upstate New York, her understanding of the ancient peoples who lived in the canyon deepens, thus complicating her “after college” dilemma. Should she return to New York where earlier generations of family settled? Or begin her own uncharted (and possibly exciting) journey in the West? I’ve barely made a dent in this collection of stories, but I’m already hooked!

    • cmwriter says:

      I’m so happy you like the different moods of Creek Songs. And that you are hooked! A pleasure to hear from you. Perhaps when you have finished reading “Creek Songs,” you may consider doing a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I’d also be interested in knowing your favorite story and/or character. (My novel “The Spence Women” is in revision.) Be well!

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