Free Writing Lesson for Kids:
How to Write a Great Setting

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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone. This is Miss Sue with Write Summer.

Today we’re going to look at how to create great settings. So grab your notebook or just a piece of paper and something to write with and let’s see how to create a great setting.
Setting includes place, time and society. It’s the characters world where they live, where they play, where they get in trouble, where they have to solve problems.

You live in a world. You live in a setting. Let’s start today’s lesson with a quick write.
Take two minutes and describe the setting around you right now. This is a great time to practice all those sensory details. Thinking about what does it look like? What does it smell like? What do you hear? What do you feel all of those sensory details make a difference for a character’s world?

Did you come up with some great descriptions?

Let’s take a look at what goes into each of these three elements.

1. Place

First, we have place. This is the physical location where a story takes place and it can be as small as the chair you’re sitting in. And what is around that chair or as large as a country or a universe.

It also includes things like the weather. Think about how different settings are going to evoke different emotions in writer. They’re going to require different descriptions. If we have a story that’s set on house like this on the water, think about how different it’s going to smell. If this is a fresh water Lake as opposed to maybe a garbage canal.

Do you see how it creates a whole different set of problems.

You can also set your stories in a magical place. It can be a fairy land or a castle or a spaceship.

You’re really only limited by your imagination and don’t discount the role that weather plays in physical location, whether it’s raining or snowing or sunny, the weather makes a difference.

You can set your story anywhere in the world.

2. Time

Next. Let’s take a look at the role that time plays in a setting. Time can include the time of day. It can include calendar day. Is it Monday? Is it Tuesday? What month is it? It can also include seasons and times of day. I’m finally, it can include era’s. Is this story set in the past? Is it set in the future?

All of those elements make up the time and place of a story.

3. Society

Finally we have society. Society is a part of your setting and society is something maybe you hadn’t thought of as a setting before, but it’s made up of the people, the rules, the language, the culture. And if it’s hard to think about what that might include, think about sports. Sports have a specific set of rules.

There are expectations for how each player will act. There are consequences when you don’t act according to those expectations. There’s rules about who can have the ball and when and how you score and what the goal is. That’s really all we’re talking about when we’re talking about a society. You could set your story in a world like ours that has rules like traffic rules, or you could in create somewhere completely new that has your own set of structures for how it works.

Setting Example

Let’s take a look at what a setting might look like in a story. When you first start to put together a setting, it can feel a lot like a list of descriptions. Maybe like this example:

It was sunny outside on the warm June day. The trees were green and the lawn perfectly mowed except for the lumpy mounds where the moles had bird in the night.

Now this is a great start. Some great details here. We know the time. We know the place.
We have the description of the lawn.

The problem is nothing’s happening yet, and that might be okay for some stories where things are going to develop in the next sentence or paragraph. But. You can make a setting more active by dropping a character into those settings and making the character interact with it.

Let’s look at this example below, if you can see what I mean:

Alex squinted in the sunshine as he dragged the garbage can across the grass. His foot caught on a lumpy mound. Tripping him and plastic trash bags burst across the lawn. Moles. He said standing to stomp on the raised patches in the grass where moles had burrowed in the night.

Do you see the difference? We have this character who is now a part of this world. It has a set of expectations. It sounds like Alex has chores and there are problems that these chores create from the malls, creating the places that are tripping him, and those are problems that he’s probably going to have to solve.

Try to make your setting active, make that character act inside of his or her world.

Writing Exercise

Before we go today, I wanted to give you some practice.

Create a real or imaginary writing space for yourself. Think about the place, the time, the society elements. You could draw it or you can just write out the descriptions.

Another thing you could do is start thinking about that setting and create a setting for a specific character. Make sure you make it active.

Get More Writing Lessons for Kids

If you’ve enjoyed this lesson, I hope that you will join us this summer for Write Summer, week-long writing camps, fun, interactive.

The best part of Write Summer is you. This is a writing camp where you won’t watch videos. We’ll get to interact and write together. So check us out at I hope to see you writing soon!

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