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Create your world with a Setting Sketch for each location

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

The choice for each setting 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 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 the scene (NaNo2017) | ScrivenerVirgin


Scrivener’s Setting Sketch template

 Setting the scene (NaNo2017) | ScrivenerVirginScrivener’s Setting Sketch template provides these headings to prompt you to describe your location.

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

These headings are recommendations only.

If this list doesn’t suit you, you can create your own Setting Sketch template. It’s done in the same way as setting up your own Character Sketch template (see this post), except it’s the default Setting Sketch document that you’ll duplicate and amend to suit.

Maybe you’ve been on a creative writing course and you prefer a much more detailed version, and/or you’ve read several books on worldbuilding, and would like to devise your own list.

For example, under ‘Description’ you might add:

  • Address
  • Building type
  • Who lives/works here

For ‘Sights’, you might have subheadings:

  • View of front as you arrive
  • From downstairs front
  • View from upstairs back
The locations in my Lucinda’s Legacy novel

So, far – it’s early days! – I have identified five locations:

  • Toronto airport where Jocasta – the granddaughter of Lucinda – meets Hazel, who has just flown in from England, and from where Jocasta will drive Hazel to Lucinda’s home
  • Lucinda’s home – where most of the ‘action’ takes place
  • The homes of Lucinda’s three children, all of whom will host social gatherings during Hazel’s visit

One fun thing to do when setting a location is to search the Internet for suitable homes for your characters.

Look what I chose for Lucinda!

 Setting the scene (NaNo2017) | ScrivenerVirgin
 Setting the scene (NaNo2017) | ScrivenerVirginWhat you can’t see in the image above is the URL for the estate agency details of this property, including images of all the rooms within Lucinda’s dream home.

If I need inspiration for the conversations between Lucinda and Hazel, while they prepare a meal together, I can click on that URL and gaze at Lucinda’s amazing kitchen while I write.

Adding location details as they occur to you

My story centres on Hazel’s month-long stay with her sister, Lucinda.

There will be a big-birthday celebration including a dinner party at Lucinda’s home. And, Hazel will be given the full tourist treatment by various members of the family.

Having visited that area earlier this year, I have lots of ideas as to where Hazel might be taken: Toronto’s CN tower, Niagara Falls, etc.

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 blogpost …

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