The most powerful way to depict setting is with telling details that affect and influence characters in the same way as does plot. The technique adds unity by tying the setting to the story’s characters. They are not just in the setting; they are interacting with it. How characters respond emotionally to the setting allows readers to identify and empathize with them. We all know what it is like to enjoy or dislike a particular place. When writers have their characters tell what they feel, readers will, based on their own personal preferences, agree or disagree. Either way, their feelings are engaged.
You can develop a character by showing how he or she reacts to your setting and why. (Image: public domain.)
Often quoted on art, visionary British poet and painter, William Blake, had very definite views on what makes art great. “The great and golden rule of art is this: that the more distinct, sharp and wiry the bounding line, the more perfect the work of art: and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imagination, plagiarism and bungling.”
William Blake’s insightful thoughts on writing and creativity have long inspired famous creators. (Image: public domain.)
This is sound advice every writer should absorb. Blake means you must avoid the general and go for the particular, the specific, the unique, the distinctive. These days we might use the word “generic” to describe what he stands so vehemently against.