Setting Exercises

The following exercises will allow you to create a rich, vibrant setting of a story, giving the reader the full vicarious experience.

setting of a story

1. Use the setting worksheet we have provided. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and imagine a particular setting for your scene. Using all of your senses visualize or experience everything that you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Make notes in the appropriate boxes.

2. Practice your powers of observation throughout the day. When you go for a walk, consciously open your senses and acknowledge shapes and colours around you. Bring a notebook along if you like. Imagine the walk in each of the seasons. Notice the color of the leaves on the tree and relive the scent and sound as they change from the light new green of spring, darkening into a rich, heavy green for summer, and then a dazzling array of yellows, oranges, and reds in the fall. What does the pathway or roadway feel like as you walk along? Is there the sound of breaking twigs? Can you smell that pungent scent of fall when the leaves start to decompose? What about the fragrance of flowering trees and roses in high summer when the air is sun-warm? Is there a silence of snow or the bite of icy wind?

You can do this in any setting-—the mall, the grocery store, a bar, a city street. Make a conscious effort to open up your senses and really notice everything wherever you go.

3. Sharpen your visual memory. Have a friend arrange a still life for you. View it for 20 seconds, then try to describe it while back at your desk. How much can you remember? This is an important skill to develop. Look for details wherever you are and get used to describing them (writing them) in your head. Try to distill each item into a few, accurate and descriptive words.

setting in a story 4. Imagine someone who has never encountered a ripe peach or pear. Describe it so that they can experience it through all of their senses. Describe the texture of a banana using all the senses except for sight.

5. Take any important setting in your story and use the worksheet to complete a sensory graph of the setting. Choose 2 or 3 of your most important characters. Now using first person (I), describe that setting through the eyes/senses of each of those characters..

6. After you’ve written a scene, get some colored pencils or highlighters and attach one color to each of the five senses--yellow for sight, red for sound, green for touch, orange for smell, and blue for taste, for example. Now go through your scene and underline or highlight any descriptive passages according to which sense they appeal to. Try to make your pages look like a rainbow, rather than mostly yellow.

setting of a novel


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Sherry Wilson's step-by-step method helped me organize my thoughts and transform a simple idea into a full-fledged plot. Without her help and guidance, I'd still be walking around with just another "great idea for a story."

Thanks to Sherry, though, I've published three novels and know there are more on the way!

~ Debi Faulkner, Summoning, LilyPad Princess and Murphy's Law


"Sherry is extremely professional and knowledgeable in this field. She is an expert on delivering punchy openings, developing engaging conflict and has the ability to view the whole story for structure and overall effect.

As well as being technically proficient in many styles, she also possesses a rich imagination, offering suggestions and alternatives in a way that doesn't impose on the writer's own style.

Her observations are honest and valuable, beyond what many others can give. I highly recommend her."

A. Rigby, Freelance Writer Goldstream, Alaska


"WOW! I have had a quick read of your comments and I must say they are awesome! You are thorough, I like that. Yes, I agree with all of your suggestions for they definitely improve the story. I'm eager now to commence corrections.

I really appreciate the work you've done so far. I'm glad you didn't rush. You provide excellent value for your services."

--Lena Jones


"Sherry Wilson has a deep understanding of the craft of writing and a natural gift for the art of writing. As an editor, she uses both these attributes. Her editing is thorough and precise, encompassing all the craft issues: grammar, sentence structure, active voice and so on. But she goes beyond the basics to find the heart and soul of the story, helping the writer to capitalize on his unique assets.

Being an editor myself, there are not too many people I would trust with my own work. Sherry is one of them."

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