Treat Settings Like Characters

Excuse the picture. It was a mess out of others, but you get to see how the process works, right?

I’ll show you what I did so far to get a better grasp of setting, which has been my weak point. When it came to making the regions in the beginning, I had to move fast. Here’s how I did it.


  • Pinterest or Google

I began posting pictures under my architecture board. I posted many pictures of mosques because I loved the patterns. I’m planning on making another board. This is just to get your mind working.

Asia, Turkey, Istanbul, Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, also called the Blue Mosque thanks to the mainly blue Iznik tilework decorating its interior, sunlight bathing large domes and six tall minarets.

  • YouTube

I had some reasearch from my trip to Ghana in 2015, but needed to learn about other parts of Africa. So I took down basic notes on all the regions of Africa and watched a few documentaries on ancient empires in the continent. I did not make a book, just used a few pages. And yes, I watched this guy’s documentary, Lost Kingdoms of Africa.



  • Test Sketching

I’ve balled up and thrown so many horrible sketches in the garbage, but here is the recent one that will most certainly not be the last. 

setting sketch

  • Placeholder names.

Ok, there was a time I literally did not know what I was doing. You know what I did? I bullshitted my way through. I had to get references for names. I found a Wikipedia list of African kingdoms because my story is African inspired. I made placeholder names and also used names of cities that are not in Africa. Once I did that, my mind started working. I kept tweaking and changing and now, I’m close to getting it done.


  • Make final sketches of landscapes with profiles.

Keep the path of your story in mind as you do this. This is a crazy process, so I just follow my instinct here. For the profiles, list physical appearance, history, culture, the land’s part in the novel, and how it will change in the novel. Make sheets for each land you feel is significant and don’t waste too much time on the ones that are not. It does not have to be perfect.


  • Force yourself to stop.

Yes, force yourself to stop changing and focus on your novel. If you still end up changing, that means you need more work. If not, it means you have a definite idea of your story.

Novel Diaries – Day 4 – Lessons Learned:

  • I will always say this – Keep pushing
  • Settings can also have placeholder names
  • When you think about how your protagonist will face his or her adventures, your setting will develop quickly
  • Your novel is like a great forest. You, the writer, can either stay lost by walking in circles or plan your route before walking in. If you’re a child of the forest (a.k.a brilliant and born with natural talent) this lesson does not apply to you.
  • Critique partners are the best, especially when they email you at the right time.

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