Setting (narrative)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A setting (or backdrop) is the time and geographic location within a narrative, either non-fiction or fiction. It is a literary element. The setting initiates the main backdrop and mood for a story. The setting can be referred to as story world[1] or milieu to include a context (especially society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story. Elements of setting may include culture, historical period, geography, and hour. Along with the plot, character, theme, and style, setting is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction.[2]


Setting may refer to the social milieu in which the events of a novel occur.[3][4] The elements of the story setting include the passage of time, which may be static in some stories or dynamic in others with, for example, changing seasons.

A setting can take three basic forms. One is the natural world, or in an outside place. In this setting, the natural landscapes of the world play an important part in a narrative, along with living creatures and different times of weather conditions and seasons. The second form exists as the cultural and historical background in which the narrative resides. Past events that have impacted the cultural background of characters or locations are significant in this way. The third form of a setting is a public or private place that has been created/maintained and/or resided in by people. Examples of this include a house, a park, a street, a school, etc.[5]


Setting may take various forms:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Truby (2007, p. 145)
  2. ^ Obstfeld (2002, pp. 1, 65, 115, 171)
  3. ^ Lodge (1992, pp. 58–60)
  4. ^ Levin (1992, pp. 110–112)
  5. ^ Roberts & Zweig (2014, pp. 238–239)


  • Levin, Donna (1992), Get That Novel Started, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, ISBN 0-89879-517-6
  • Lodge, David (1992), The Art of Fiction, London: Martin, Secker & Warburg Ltd, ISBN 0-14-017492-3
  • Obstfeld, Raymond (2002), Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories and Scripts, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, ISBN 1-58297-117-X
  • Roberts, Edgar V.; Zweig, Robert (2014), Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Pearson, ISBN 9780321944788
  • Rozelle, Ron (2005). Write Great Fiction: Description & Setting. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 1-58297-327-X.
  • Truby, John (2007), Anatomy of a Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller, New York, NY: Faber and Faber, Inc, ISBN 978-0-86547-951-7