E.  Setting

Each story has a physical environment.  How broad the choice for environment is affects the way the story is told.  A story in New York may require different development than a story in Peoria, because each setting is different and each has a different effect on characters and character action.  Setting will influence the voice of the characters and the narrator.


* Carefully chosen settings allow opportunities for character and plot development—Mississippi in the 1960s carries the energies of racial strife, for example.

* Excessive use of setting can detract from the momentum of a story and prohibit reader involvement.

* Authors should be familiar with settings but should not choose romantic or exciting settings that do not contribute to the story.  Never let travel-folder, awe-filled writing slip into the prose.


Settings are often emphasized by narrative description.  Because narration is easier to write, for most authors, than other elements of fiction, there is a danger of over-describing setting with too much detail and too many adjectives and similes.  Be sure every detail of the setting does not just create an image of where the action is occurring, but that it contributes to plot elements and augments character development as well.

F.  Characterization

Characters populate stories and are developed through the accumulation of limited and carefully chosen facts and actions that interact with the reader’s imagination to fill in gaps of characterization not directly provided.  A delicate balance must be sought in order to provide enough information to allow the reader to know the character, yet enough room must be left open in the characterization for the reader to add their own imaginative details to complete their understanding of the character

Every major character must have a serious desire (a strong want or need).  These desires must be clear to the reader and related to the movement and theme of the story.  When presenting character desires at a point in the story, to be effective the author must ask what the character knows at this point, and what the reader knows.  The reader should always know more.