Bedford/St. Martin's virtuaLit Interactive Fiction Tutorial Notebook VIEW SEND
Fiction in Depth Approaches and Contexts
Select a StoryElements of FictionCultural ContextsCritical Approaches
Point of View
Style, Tone, and Language
Symbolism, Allegory, and Image


Characters in a story all have to interact in one way or another with its setting. Setting can often help reveal character traits, and it is one of the primary ways an author establishes the story’s mood. In some stories, the setting can strongly affect the plot, functioning almost like another character. An example of this is Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” in which the frozen Yukon functions as an antagonist. More commonly, though, the setting is always there as a foundation for the story—illuminating character aspects, influencing actions, and helping to set the mood.

For this exercise, select one place and one descriptive detail of setting from each drop--down menu.

Using the selected combination as a starting point, write a brief description of this setting, including additional details to help develop it.

What mood is created by the setting you described? Explain how the setting's details help to establish its mood.

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