Creating Setting: Don’t Neglect the Physical World

When readers first approach a story, they typically look for the following key information:

1. Where are we?

2. Who are the important characters?

3. What’s the initial problem or conflict?

Writers who neglect any of this situating information in the first few paragraphs can leave a reader disoriented, frustrated, and in danger of walking away.

People are accustomed to interacting with the world around them through the senses, and the imagined world of a story is no different for readers. In fact, when the conflict is still taking shape, and the characters and their motivating desires are still emerging, the physical world is often the first foothold.

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Hot Off the Press

Sou’wester has been described by New Pages as “a bright, energetic publication that can be read in pajamas or pantsuits—that is, on many different levels that all seem to work well and function cohesively.” Sou’wester recently released the 2013 spring edition which is a special issue celebrating women writers. I am delighted that my short story, “The Green Cadillac,” appears in this issue. Check them out here .