When you think of all the impor­tant sto­ry ele­ments you need to out­line, set­ting may not be at the top of your list. It might not even be on your list. But it should be. Set­ting pro­vides the foun­da­tion for every oth­er impor­tant ele­ment in your sto­ry — start­ing with plot, char­ac­ter, and theme, and pro­gress­ing right on down to dia­logue and nar­ra­tive tone. Usu­al­ly, authors imme­di­ate­ly know at least the gen­er­al set­ting the sto­ry takes place in … NYC, Mars, Renais­sance Italy, colo­nial Kenya, the Tetons. But that’s just the begin­ning. Your sto­ry will nev­er take place “in NYC,” but in very spe­cif­ic and inti­mate set­tings with­in that set­ting: the ladies’ room at the Met, that one bench in Cen­tral Park, that one back­seat in that one taxi on the way to that one apart­ment. Every sin­gle scene you write demands a spe­cif­ic, ground­ed set­ting. And every sin­gle one of those set­tings offers you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to either deep­en and strength­en your sto­ry — or weak­en it. Worth plan­ning ahead of time, don’t you think? 4 Rea­sons to Out­line Your Set­tings In my expe­ri­ence, the two best ways to tap your story’s best pos­si­bil­i­ties are to: 1. “ Dream­zone ” […]