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           Creating A Vivid Setting

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One of the first problems a writer must contend with is setting.  Where there is a story, there must also be somewhere for it to take place.  Setting is a much-overlooked part of the storytelling process--my feeling is that you should regard setting not as an external element to your story, but as another character.  In many ways, it is!

The setting is integral to the story.  You can't separate the two and still have a complete work.  Your setting adds dimension to your story, giving it realism.  It can also tell the readers things about your characters without "telling" them--imagine the difference in our impressions if we had met Lando Calrissian in the bubbling swamps of Dagobah and Yoda in Cloud City!  Especially in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, when we praise a novel as being "vivid" or "detailed" or even "realistic", what we are usually praising is the depiction of setting.  When you write in this sort of genre, you have to build your setting from the ground up.  In fact, setting is one of the major reasons why these novels tend to be so lengthy--the fantasy author can't make the assumptions about setting that the mainstream fiction author can.  The fantasy author must construct a whole new world for their setting; from the ground up.

So setting is important.  We want the most vivid depiction of setting possible without boring our readers.  What are some of the ways we can make a setting more vivid?

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