Our own Mafia member, Lisa Lewis Tyre, is holding a short-story contest called The Bertie for students 10-13 years old. The Middle-Grade Mafia will serve as judges and will be posting writing tips for students in the weeks leading up to the contest. Today’s topic is:

The Setting,  by L.S. Bridgers.

What is setting? Is it place or something more?

I think it’s something more. It’s what drives your story. It is the only place your story can happen. Let me explain.

HUNGER GAMES- is the story of how Katniss from District 13 uses her cunning, intelligence and a bow and arrow to become the Mockingjay.

What if Katniss wasn’t from District 13? What if she came from a district that was cold and covered with ice? She didn’t hunt for food. She fished. She never held a bow and arrow in her life. She still enters the games. Would her story be different? Yes, District 13 drives her story.

HARRY POTTER- is the story of the boy who lived. Upon finding out he is a wizard Harry goes to school at Hogwarts where he is drawn into adventures leading him to his destiny.

What if Harry Potter didn’t live in England? What if he lived in war torn Africa where children his age aren’t expected to go to school, and certainly not to a boarding school. Would his story be different? Yes, an English boarding school drives his story.

So what are the essentials of setting?

  1. SIGHT-What do your characters see? Are they in the country or the city?
  2. SOUND- What do your characters hear? Are there loud noises or none at all?
  3. SMELL-What do your characters smell? Are there flowers? Garbage?
  4. TOUCH- What do your characters feel? Do things in the environment make them rough or soft?
  5. TIME- What time of year is it? What season is it? Does the action take place at night or during the day?

Choose a setting that is the only place your story could take place, and then let it drive your story. Happy writing!

To learn more about The Bertie, the prizes, deadlines, etc. click here!