Create the setting of a story

One of the most important elements of a story to consider is its setting. The setting of a story depends on its genre, characters and plot, and it’s often what helps the reader build a clear picture of world within a story. Teaching your child about the key elements of settings can have a huge impact in the quality of their stories, and we’re here to help you do just that!

This guide contains expert guidance on how to build story settings, from writing a clear setting description, to creating the correct type of setting according to genre of a story, to how to highlight setting details that are important to the story plot.

Keep reading for tips, free resources, activities, and story ideas!

Describing a setting

When it comes to describing the setting of a story, one of the main elements to consider is its genre. Whether your child is planning to write a short story or a novel, they must ensure that the settings described are as detailed and offer as much context as possible, staying true to the topics and genre being explored. A great story with vivid setting descriptions offers true escapism to the readers, and that is often what we search for when we read!

Here are some aspects to consider when building a story setting:

  • What is the story’s theme?
  • What is the time period of this story?
  • What is the geographical location?
  • Is this story set in our world/ real life? Or does it happen in a fictional world?
  • How is the environmental setting going to create a backdrop setting for this story?
  • Is the story going to focus on the main character’s space? For example, is the story set in the main character’s house?
  • Is there a quest or trip involved in this story? Will the characters move through different settings throughout the story?

The importance of settings

Every detail the author reveals about a character contributes to the wider context and character development within the story.

For example, describing where a character lives can add more color to a their personality and present the character’s motivation to solve whatever problem they’re facing in the story. Providing readers with this detail can help them understand more about a character! Where the main character lives can have an impact on how they interact with the world around them.

Here is a description of Professor Penguin’s home as an example:

Professor Penguin resides in an igloo. In his igloo, you will find hot chocolate, lots of mugs, and plenty of fascinating books. His igloo is cozy, with a roaring fire in his fireplace to keep him warm.

From this example, it’s clear that Professor Penguin enjoys reading and the coziness of his home, with his hot chocolate and a warm fire!

Examples of settings

Here are some setting suggestions to help your child draft their new next great story:

Real life, geographical location, or environmental settings

  • New York City
  • London
  • Mountains
  • Forest
  • Earth
  • Mars

Fictional settings or fictional world

  • Hogwarts / the Wizarding World of Harry potter
  • The Night Zoo
  • Neverland

Personal settings

  • Main character’s home
  • Main character’s small town

Activity & Resource

Get your child to practice with this free template on characters and their homes!

Describing settings activity.

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