Worldbuilding is such an important part of communicating a story to a reader, and writing setting is an essential element. If a reader doesn’t see a world clearly, they won’t understand where the characters are within it and won’t have that vital interest in the novel.
So, when we are writing setting, what should we avoid?
1) Focusing on sight only.
There are five senses (well, six depending on your outlook), and the reader wants to read about them. It is beautiful to read about how a place looks, but make sure you pull the reader into the story by telling us about the other senses too. We want to know about the cool air on your character’s skin, the scent of bread in the local bakery, the sound of children playing in a far off field, and the taste of autumn in the air.
2) Too much detail.
Your reader is intelligent, so have faith in their vision and ability to imagine the scene before them. Putting in too much detail can be jarring, especially if the detail seems irrelevant to the story. Consider what you can get across to your reader without going overboard with the description. For example, do they need to know about an old chair that doesn’t appear again in the story?
3) Setting information dumps.
Information dumps are a significant amount of text dedicated to filling the reader in. It can pull a reader from a story, so avoid setting the scene with pages and pages of description. The reader will forget that they are reading a story at all.
4) Disconnecting the setting from your characters.
How does your character interact with the world around them? How do they see the world they live in? This can tell us so much. For example, perhaps the steam rising from a chimney makes them think of a dragon. Why would this be the case? Are they a dreamer, an adventurer in a fantasy story? Connect the world with your character and draw your reader in further.
5) Allowing the setting to overtake the story.
Setting is a vital element of your story, but it is not the most important thing about it. Sometimes, we can get wrapped up in imagining a world we have created, and while it is wonderful to read about that place, make sure that your story is still firmly set within it. The reader wants to know about your tale first and foremost.
Ready to create a world that sparkles? There are many ways I can help. Check out my online writing course, It’s Time to Write Your Novel, here. This course takes you through the journey of writing a novel, including worldbuilding and setting.