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Divas on Writing

Setting Sheets

I talked about character sheets a while ago and had some really great responses to the article, so I thought I would write about setting sheets as well. Setting sheets work much the same as character sheets, but they storyboard the setting of the story instead of outlining characters. With character sheets, you’re likely to have multiple sheets based on each character you have in your book. While you would think that with the setting you’d only really need one sheet, the fact is, you can have many setting sheets too.

The Main Setting Sheet

The main setting sheet is self-explanatory. It’s the main one. This sheet describes the basic place and time your story is based. For example, you’re writing about the turn of the century France, the setting sheet will illustrate basic facts from this time period. You can get as detailed or as glossed over as you like. For example, the customs of the era, the general feel and look of the city, what kinds of mentalities did people have back then.

Exterior Setting Sheet

This is a sheet where you can get more detailed about a narrowed view surrounding your character’s setting. Say your character is a musician from St. Louis, but lives in a certain part of the town such as the Central West End. This part of the city is more diverse in the arts and fits your character’s lifestyle. You can use the exterior setting sheet to describe the local neighborhood, right down to the community gardens, the graffiti art on the sides of buildings, and the local clubs.

Interior Setting Sheet

Does your character live in a house, apartment, condo, or an old dirty van down by the river? The interior setting sheet lets you record the more immediate surroundings of your character. Be as detailed as you can on this sheet since it will likely your character will interact with their interior more often. Interior sheets can include characters’ personal belongings and the setup of their bedroom, kitchen, the look of their car, how they got their car, or the ways they like to decorate. It’s a free-for-all on this sheet. You can really express a lot here.

Secondary Interior Setting Sheet

This sheet is used to describe the places your character or supporting cast will use that is outside of their home or immediate surroundings, for example, the neighborhood bar, the library, the hospital where your character works, etc. Again, be as detailed as you can. This is all to help your world-building and to keep your facts together as you write.

Outside Setting Sheets

Your characters may talk about a lot about another place or time but not actually go there in the book. Your main character could be from Canada and talk about their hometown constantly in the book. Having an outside setting sheet for the hometown or region will help you identify with your character, especially if you’re writing about a place or time you aren’t a familiar with.

Setting sheets, like character sheets, are about information for you as a writer. Much of what you put on the various sheets will never be read by the reader, but it’s a great tool for you as a writer. Try writing out some setting sheets and then putting them up on the wall or within easy reach while you write. You may find they come in handy.


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