During English tutoring, elements of story creation are sometimes explored. Among them are plot, setting, character, symbol, and irony.
When I was in English 12, I was taught that great writers don’t develop a story by plot, but rather, by character. The real story is how the main character adapts in the face of a conflict for which he or she is unprepared.
In fact, there is another angle of story development that gets less attention: the setting. A writer who focuses on the setting develops it so carefully that the events of the story are inevitable.
In every day life we see that people believe in setting. For example: suppose, at a family function, there are two people you know don’t get along. You try to keep them separate, so they won’t fight. Therefore, you are trying to control the setting in order to control the outcome.
In studies of fiction, setting gets less attention than character. However, short story writers tend to use setting more than novel writers do, since it’s hard for a character to adapt very much in the duration of a short story.
One time I picked up a book that just contained short stories about voodoo. The setting was always some isolated place in tropical America, with lots of machetes lying around to cut cane with. In the stifling afternoon heat, time would pass by slow drip. Throw in a witch doctor and someone with a score to settle, and you have the inevitability of a gripping voodoo tale. It was a great book.
I’m a setting writer.
Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.