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“Remember in your story that setting is the other character. It is as important to your story as the people in it.” ~ Rob Parnell

For the past few months, we’ve been taking a closer look at what makes fiction realistic and characters those we can relate to and learn from. Beyond a character’s own goals, growth, background, faith, and individual quirks, there is an outside factor that can change everything.

Imagine a young women raised in the Protestant church. Her father is a farmer, so she grew up doing chores with her siblings and the family never had an abundance of money. Her dream is to get married and raise a family of her own. Even if she was tall with brown hair or shorter with red hair, her story seems pretty basic, right?

Perhaps. Until the setting impacts her.

What if she lived in Ireland in the middle of religious wars between the Catholics and Protestants? Or what if she lived in Oklahoma at the beginning of the Dust Bowl? Cultural, political, economic, and environmental factors can make this one girl’s story take a different course than she ever imagined.

Even smaller differences can change her story. What neighborhood does she live in? Where does she find work and who is her boss? Who goes to her school? By living in two different places or facing different things, she might make different choices or be influenced in different ways … all because of the setting.

So when I write my stories, I’m looking for ways that the setting influences my characters in order to create a memorable and meaningful reading experience.

What about you? If you were born in a different era, state, or side of town, how would your life have been different? What settings do you like reading about?

Where Are You?
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