Guest Post: Writing your surroundings – Ryan Collings

As writers, we constantly strive to bring our readers into our stories. For most of us, myself included, we do this by attempting to create characters that we hope the audience will connect with. We put our characters into situations that create emotional attachment for the reader.

As a fantasy writer and reader, one of the most important elements of a story for me is the environment in which the story takes place. If the reader can picture the surroundings of the character they are reading about, it will only add to their experience.  While creating vibrant landscapes and treacherous mountains are crucial in fantasy, it is equally important in all genres of writing. Give your setting as much time and effort as any other part of the story.

If your story takes place in Seattle, make sure Seattle is as important to the story as one of the main characters. Chances are many of your readers have been to Seattle, or perhaps even live there. Adding details about the city will bring life to your story.

The strange man in the blue sweater was still behind her. He had followed her up the waterfront of Elliott bay and through the Pike’s place market.

Even if your reader has never been to Seattle, adding details will in no way hinder your story. However, the lack of a good backdrop for your story will. Also, make sure you do not add details that are confusing to the reader. Continuing to use Seattle as an example, if your story has several scenes outside, make sure it is not always warm and sunny. If you have ever been to Seattle, and again many of your readers have, you know that more often than not clouds and rain are in the forecast.

Do your research. If your story takes place in real city or country, go pick up a book about that specific place. You will be amazed at the scenes you will create just by making yourself familiar with the setting for the great story you are about to write. Or have your story take place in a city that you have lived in or visited. Add detail about the local bar, a park, and use real street names. Anything you can do to make your setting real to the reader.

Be consistent; make sure you continue to paint the picture of your surroundings throughout the story. As writers we too get caught up in our own stories. Remember, that just because you have a vision in our head of what an area looks like, if you don’t put it into words the reader will be forced to create their own visuals for your story.

About the Author 

RYAN COLLINGS lives in Boise, Id. His debut Novel “Jack Ranis and the Book of the Labi” is available in paperback, kindle, and nook formats. Visit for more details.

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