A well developed setting can set a mood or effect the behavior of the other characters in your story. Setting is a large part of world building. Just think about Star Wars or Harry Potter. Their settings are developed in a way that cause the characters of the stories to behave in certain ways and enhance the theme of the scene. In the case of Star Wars, if I say "the ice planet of Hoth" or "the cantina on Mos Eisley,"any fan will immediately envision the scenes that occurred in those settings.
A Setting Characteristics outline will confirm that you have specified a locale, time of year, and time of day. Depending on your story, it may be important to capture climate, geography, or the socioeconomic and cultural aspects of the environment. Your setting can also be used as a foil to expressing the passage of time. A change in season, for instance, can mark the passing of several months rather than saying, "Four months later..."
Days 3 - 7 are activities you can do in tandem with each other. Focus on understanding the steps you need to complete for today's outlining by working through Chapter One. If you have time after reading through your first chapter, go to Day 5 and begin that exercise.
As with the other outlines, today's process should be about creating today's worksheet and understanding how to use it rather than reading through the whole story and completing the outline as a single task. This is because you can read through each chapter and complete the various outlines all together and save yourself some time rather than reading through your story three or four times in a row.
Remember, this is a fact-finding mission. You are analyzing what you actually wrote, not remembering off the top of your head what you intended to write.
Exercise: Complete the Setting Characteristics Worksheet
If you are creating your notes in your OneNote Novel Editing notebook, follow these steps to complete the exercise:
Setting Characteristic Parameters
Chapter - Write in the chapter number or a short description of the chapter. If you have long chapters, you may wish to break this down further into scenes.
Description - Make notes about the setting as you have described it. Keep an eye out for anything that suggests weather, time of day, or season.
Mood - Write down a word or short phrase that captures the essence of the mood of the chapter based on the descriptions of the setting supplied by the words and phrases of each chapter or scene. Do not do this from memory.
To Do - Make notes about anywhere the setting didn’t capture the mood you intended, or if you think you could strengthen the mode by providing a better description. Also, if you wrote about the setting but it didn't have a cause and effect element between setting and characters, ask yourself if you need the text. If you don't, make a note to delete it later. You may find you have chapters where setting is not mentioned at all. Note those chapters on your outline in case you decide later you can strengthen your story by adding something.
Only read through Chapter 1 for now, then if you still have time, go on to Day 5 and start that worksheet. If you are able to create worksheets for Days 3 -7 in one sitting, that's great! It will allow you to read the rest of your chapters over the course of multiple days. If you are pinched for time, that's okay too. Do what you can and don't stress over what a long process editing can be. Try to give yourself a dedicated block of time just like you would do for writing and get done whatever you can.
DOWNLOAD: Setting Characteristics Worksheet
Tips for working by hand
If you'd like to work on notepaper or set up your own table in your favorite application, include the columns listed above. The percentage listed is approximately the size you should make each column. If you are going to work by hand, don't draw the rows in until you start working and then add the row designations as you complete each chapter.
Return to the Table of Contents
Go to Day 5 - Outlining (Part 3 - Chapter Summary)