Building A Story Garden: The Power Of Settings In Fiction

Bish Denham’s #myfavoritethesaurus

Guys, I have to say thanks for the terrific response to our Setting books. Becca and I are both so pleased you’re happy with the newest family members.

Thank you for the reviews, the tweets, the recommendations to friends, and oh my, the #myfavoritethesaurus pictures! I am LOVING the pictures you’re taking.


Jade_Eby’s #myfavoritethesaurus

Can I confess something?

This was a very nervous release for me. And while every author will tell you nerves never go away, you’d think that ol’ Angela would be a bit more chill seeing as this is her 4th and 5th rodeo. But no, not at all. Poor Becca’s been babysitting a total worrywart for the last few weeks (sorry, Becca!)


Mich’s #myfavoritethesaurus

Up until now, I thought I was a bit freaked out because we’ve had a lot of challenges.

First, someone had this silly idea of doing two books at once again (sigh, me). Double the work at publishing time (nice one, Angela).

Second, halfway through writing these books, Becca and I detoured to create One Stop For Writers. And while we are both so thrilled with our unique online library, it meant a year-long break from the Setting Thesaurus. Finding our footing took time.

Finally we had, well, some outsourced production issues that created delays and caused errors. And, Becca and I hadn’t left ourselves enough buffer time to account for this. So everything really was down to the wire.

So yes, all these things have been swimming in Angela’s Dark Matter, adding to the anxiety, but it was only tonight as I sat down with my print copies (which only arrived today), that I realized WHAT was causing my nerves.

It wasn’t the rushing or stressing that we’d missed a typo or two.

It wasn’t flutters over trying to live up to our other books.

It was that I cared so much about getting this right.

Highly_Betsey J

Betsey J’s #myfavoritethesaurus

Setting is often overlooked, passed over in favor of the characters and the plot. For many, setting is just sort of “there.”

We all know learning how to describe the setting so readers feel part of the world is a skill we need. But, here’s the truth: achieving this isn’t enough. Not if we want to transform the story and elevate the characters into complex, rich beings. People who could be real. Who readers could imagine meeting, talking with, and caring about. Maybe even falling for.

Setting is not a backdrop.

It isn’t just a jumble of sights and sounds and smells and tastes and textures. It is so much more.

Setting can…

     …create conflict or tension

     …foreshadow a coming event

     …encourage the character to make an emotion-driven action or choice

     …remind the character of their past, good or bad

     …poke at old wounds

     …challenge the character to face his fears

     …recreate a wounding event so the character can navigate it successfully and let go of past pain

     …deliver important backstory actively

     …characterize the story’s cast

     …display symbolism or motifs which reinforce a deeper message

     …convey a specific mood

     …steer the plot

     …test the character through obstacles and setbacks

     …give the setting an emotional value and deploy emotional triggers

(Oh, and of course, that other big thing…provide descriptive opportunities to make the reader feel part of the story.)

*To print the Setting Checklist above, visit our Tools For Writers Page. 🙂


Becca’s #myfavoritethesaurus

In writing these books, Becca and I had our eyes opened to the raw power of the setting.

We realized how picking one for a scene must be a deliberate choice as it can directly influence how events unfold and who our characters become.

We became determined to peel back the curtain in hopes of helping others see what we were seeing: that the setting isn’t  simply a piece of the fiction puzzle, it is the story garden where everything grows.

So tonight, as I looked through the two books, I grew calmer. I believe we did what we set out to do: nudge writers to think deeper about the setting, and how to use it to do more.

Because setting is all about “being” more. 🙂



Angela’s #myfavoritethesaurus

Thanks to the pictures your sharing online with the #myfavoritethesaurus hashtag, a new prize has been unlocked: the Hero’s 2 Journeys video series with Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler. But there are still so many prizes to be unlocked!

So let’s see some more of your #myfavoritethesaurus pictures. We’re still a long way from 500 pictures, which will unlock the entire vault!

To enter to win prizes from the vault, fill out this FORM.

ROCK THE VAULT is now over. Thanks for joining us this week–I hope you had as much fun as we did!



















Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Basic Human Needs, Description, Mood and Atmosphere, Past Events, RAOK for Writers, Setting, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrea Mack
4 years ago

So excited about this project, because I know it will be really useful!! Thanks for all the hard work you put into it!!

Maria Matthews
4 years ago

A great idea, I wish you success with your books.

4 years ago

Enjoying the articles related to setting. I have bought both books -although I do subscribe to One Stop – I just like having access on my kindle when I’m away from home. Also left reviews, especially since I don’t as yet have blog to help with the promotion. Loving the pictures.

Good Luck!. I’m sure it will be the success the others were.

4 years ago
Reply to  JC

Thanks so much for your help, JC. We especially appreciate the honest reviews, which will help other writers make informed decisions about whether or not to buy. Best of luck with your writing!

Jarm Del Boccio
4 years ago

Love this list. You two are fantastic!

Michelle Dixon
Michelle Dixon
4 years ago

I received my two new books to make the five the other day, they are absolutely brilliant. The best thesaurus’s I have ever seen. Well done both of you, you did a great job and It beats me why you were nervous about releasing them. You could not have done better if you tried! Thank You x10!!!!

4 years ago
Reply to  Michelle Dixon

I’m so glad you like them, Michelle. It was a little stressful, so I’m glad to hear from all the happy customers 🙂