When creating your story, a good plot and great characters are always backed up by a believable setting.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing nonfiction or fiction, this applies to you. Nonfiction is a given. Fiction, however can be a little confusing.
For example, you could be writing a fiction book with a nonfiction setting. In that case, everything about it needs to seem realistic. Say your characters are traveling to a foreign country that you know nothing about. Where are they traveling? What’s the weather like there at that time of year?
When The Last Emerald was in the works, I did a lot of research on where emeralds were actually found. The most popular location was Muzo, Colombia.
If you’re writing a fiction story with a totally fictional setting, then you still should follow these rules:
- Explain yourself. You can see your setting clearly in your head, but your readers can not until you give them details.
- Be descriptive. Where are they? What time period is it? You don’t have to state these things directly, but make sure that you add enough details so that the reader can figure it out on their own.
- Be realistic. Here’s that word again. Hogwarts was a totally fictional place, right? Yes, but it seemed realistic in the story because the setting matched the plotline. Weave your plotline into your setting for a more believable story.
So yes, if your setting is fictional, you still must be realistic. If your setting deviates from the norm, then you must explain it to the readers. Maybe in your setting the weather never changes. Don’t expect the reader to know this just because you do. Everything that you write automatically makes sense in your head, but when you reread it you need to try to read it from a reader’s perspective.
So what I guess I’m trying to say is that to write a story that grabs a reader’s attention, you need a believable setting that is well explained. Make the reader see what you see.