The perfect setting for your story is the one that helps illustrate the story’s action or theme.
Setting is a choice that you make. This is an important decision that many do not consider seriously (they just choose New York because it is a big city—not because of the architecture, history, culture, etc.).
The setting is one of the main characters in your story. Important Note: Setting is more than just the geographical location and time period in which the story takes place—it is also the emotional, religious, political, economic, and social environment of that area and period. These elements are vital to your World Building.
Try answering the following questions as you brainstorm:
- Given the plot, characters, and themes you want in your story, what setting makes the most sense? What setting can help “visualize” those elements? What setting can intensify the drama that you want to play out?
- Does it make sense for the story to be in a city (if so, which one?), small town, or wilderness, or an imaginary world? Why?
- Should the story take place in the past, present, or future? What benefits and limitations exist within each of these choices?
- What kind of cultural, religious, and socioeconomic conditions will help the story along? How can you make each of these “do the work” of telling your story?
- Can your descriptions of the setting/background somehow help explain the theme?
- Is the setting connected to the plot or character in some way?
I’m sure there are many other important issues to consider when deciding upon the setting, but coming up with answers to the above would be a good start.