New Setting Equals New Story

A good story is a successful blend of people, plot, and place. Ask yourself: Where could this kind of situation arise? Where would someone like this be living or working or hanging out?

If you aren't sure, try the "what if..." game. A good use of "what if..." is to test your people and your premise in various settings. Let's try an experiment. Choose a character and a situation from a story of your own or one you've recently read. Now write a series of short paragraphs, installing the character in each of the locations below. Write in the first person from the character's point of view, having him or her describe the place and how it affects the story situation. Would it be the same story?

In the setting where the story takes place.

In a Beverly Hills neighborhood where the rich and famous dwell in lavish homes.

In a very poor, rundown neighborhood in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

In an isolated farming community where strangers are seldom seen.

On a small open boat traveling down the Amazon River. In the marketplace in ancient Rome.

As you move the character from place to place, does the premise still work? Will you have the same story?

Probably not. When you change the setting, the story changes too, in ways that could be either subtle or grand. Put the same person and the same situation in ten different settings, and ten different stories will result.

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