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Monday Focus: Don’t ignore the setting(s) of your story.

Today’s focus reminds you that your stories take place in some context. This is the setting of your story.

There are two general sorts of settings.

  • the physical setting that is tangible
  • the abstract setting that consists of family, culture, and the era, etc. This setting tends to be ethereal.

Some of the writers I have worked with failed to appreciate that they grew up in a setting that is different from the one in which other people may have been raised. Perhaps you grew up in a suburb and feel that there is nothing to say about that as everyone knows about what the suburbs are like, but if your reader grew up on a mountain farm, your setting will prove to be somewhat—or quite—foreign. Of course, suburbs themselves can vary greatly.

Tell us about your setting: better yet, show us. We need to smell the food cooking in the kitchen, see the view out of the window, and walk or ride to school with you.

You get the idea!

Setting can also include religion, language used at home, socio-economic status, etc. Your setting is essentially everything and anything that is part of the background of the people in your memoir.

Obviously, some settings are very important while other settings are not. For instance, we do not need a floor plan of the house you grew up in. More important might be what the furniture or the appliances tell us about your people—their socio-economic status, their taste, their willingness to live with second-rate things, or their insistence on top quality.

As a memoirist, you are tasked with describing the different settings so that your reader can “see” where your story takes place and can understand your characters more fully via the settings.

Good luck writing your memoir.

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