You Are Here: Settings that Serve a Purpose

I’ve read books where settings were so carefully constructed they became characters in the story. The settings were not merely backdrops, but integral to the novel. Three authors come to mind: Jan Karon, J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis. Mitford, Middle-earth, and Narnia. For these authors, setting is about the right place for the right time.

I want that for my writing. I’m a visual learner and discovered that if I personify the key elements of a novel, I can create more effective stories. When I think about a great setting, I picture a fine dining experience. Specifically, I like to view my novel’s setting as the waiter who makes that dining experience memorable.

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3 Responses to You Are Here: Settings that Serve a Purpose

  1. Michael Ehret says:


    Haven’t read Karon’s books, but I agree with you completely about the importance setting played in Lewis’s and Tolkein’s books.

    Amazingly, when I see the movies of Tolkein’s works, I think they captured it pretty darn good–at least for me. What that suggests is that Tolkein wrote setting extremely well.

  2. Matt,

    Great post and absolutely spot-on. I love Jan Karon’s setting and agree that it’s every bit as important as any of the characters.


  3. Mark Sylvester says:

    Thanks Matt! I love the waiter analogy.