Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Brainstorming the Perfect Settings for Your Nano Novel

Knowing the location of your story is almost as important as knowing your characters.

Start with the primary location where most of the action takes place.
  • Is it in a large city or a small town?
  • What country?
  • Which state?
  • What is the closest metropolitan area?

Think about how the setting affects the details of the story.
  • Why did you choose this location?
  • What role does it have in the overall tale?
  • How does this setting affect the major characters?

Start to see the location in your mind.
  • What season is it?
  • Are there particular buildings you want to highlight?
  • Does the setting have any unique features?
  • What can you see from your main character’s vantage point?
  • What can you hear, smell, feel?

Once you know the general location it’s time to figure out the settings for each scene. Decide on the buildings that will house each scene in your story.
  • How many stories are there in the building?
  • Is it a house, apartment, commercial or industrial building?
  • Are there any distinctive architectural features?

Determine specific rooms for certain scenes.
  • How are these rooms decorated?
  • What furniture is in each room?

Use visual aids to design your settings. Here are some ideas:
     1. Use the ‘Bird’s Eye View’ mode on to see whole neighborhoods. Take screen captures of these maps so you can return to them later.
      2. Use to find examples of specific houses to use in your scenes. Download a printable brochure into Microsoft XPS Document Writer to save a digital copy of the brochure.
      3. Visit decorating websites like to get ideas for interior designs.

Lastly, save these visual aids for later reference. I pin screen shots of neighborhoods into the Settings Cork board in Scrivener.
I convert those JPEGS to folders and inside of them pin brochures of specific homes for my characters from
Inside the folders for each home I pin albums of pictures of interior room scenes onto Pinterest which I link into the Scrivener cork boards for the individual homes.
As I write, I refer to these visual aids often.

What can you do to visualize your settings as you develop your story idea? Let me know in the comments.

In my next post I’ll start discussing plot development, starting with an overview of the plan of attack I use to develop a plot outline that works.

All of the brainstorming exercises described in this blog series can be found in my Scrivener template on Google Drive at
For non-scrivener users, Personal Noveling Assistant (PNA) pages are at

For more about my stories, check out my author page at

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