Home > Writing  > NANO  > NaNoWriMo2016: Setting the scene

In the same way, as a scriptwriter sets the scene for a play or a film, a novelist needs to invent the world for the cast of characters to inhabit.

The choice for each set within the world of your novel is entirely yours. You could stick close to home using familiar locations. Distant lands could give you the excuse to travel for research purposes. Or, you could create invent a world set in the future and/or outer space.

Whatever you decide, I recommend you make notes in the run-up to NaNoWriMo, so that you are totally immersed in that world on 1 November as you write your opening scene.

Creating a new setting sketch

To create a new setting sketch in Scrivener, right click on the Places folder and select Add / New From Template / Setting Sketch.

Setting sketch template

Scrivener’s Setting Sketch template

Scrivener’s Setting Sketch template provides these headings to prompt you to describe your world.

  • Role in Story
  • Related Characters
  • Season
  • Unique Features
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Sounds
  • Smell
  • Notes

These headings are recommendations only. Change them to suit yourself and then use the Duplicate option to create your own preferred list of prompts for each new setting. Or, better still, change the template – you can find both the Character Sketch template sheet and the Setting Sketch template sheet in the Research folder.

My LOL: Left Over Lovers settings

I only have two main settings: the pub where the three men meet before the dinner party and Julie’s flat. However, within the flat, group conversations take place around the dinner table which is in her lounge, and more intimate conversations happen in her kitchen. That makes three settings.

Julies Kitchen

Adding details as they occur to you

My story centres on a dinner party. Already, I can’t resist concocting the menu. So, I’ve listed the ingredients within the notes for Julie’s kitchen.

For your novel, note any details like these. Then, when you get a minute, you might start researching. I’ll explain how to collect research materials within your Scrivener project file in a subsequent blog post …

Simply Scrivener Specials

If you’d like to see a demonstration of the process of setting up a setting sketch, or need to ask questions, book a Simply Scrivener Special.

To help me to prepare, you might also complete this short questionnaire.


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