Building Worlds – Where to set your story


This week’s Primary Creative Writing Club activities from writer and teacher Sarah Connors  move us from creating character into creating settings. 

Building Worlds – Where to set your story

For the last few weeks, we’ve concentrated on characters.  Hopefully by now, you have created three who are all quite different from each other.

If this is your first visit to our workshops, you can do this as a one off exercise but it might be helpful to have a look at our previous sessions on character.

Today we will be exploring different ways to create a location/setting for your story.


Warm up

Set the timer for one minute and list as many places or locations you can think of.  Keep your pen moving.


Activity 1

Familiar settings

Think of a place that makes you feel happy.  It could be the beach or a park or a room in your house.  Jot down three things you like about this place.

Now think of a place that makes you feel unhappy or bored.  Jot down three things you dislike about this place.


Activity 2

Creating Settings – What’s in your Cupboard

I love this exercise and I use it quite often if I am looking for a new world to explore

Open the food cupboard in your kitchen or the fridge.  Observe the following:

  • different shapes and sizes
  • height of objects
  • colour
  • texture
  • sound
  • smells

Look at the objects.  Use your imagination and think … What could they be in a story setting?

  • A box of cereal could be a high rise tower of flats.
  • A bottle of ketchup could be a vat of medicine.
  • Spaghetti could be hair from a magic creature.
  • A tomato could be a time machine.
  • A loaf of bread could be a theatre or sports centre.
  • Half a dozen eggs could be cars in a carpark.
  • Salt and pepper or jars of herbs could be an oil refinery.
  • A tall salt mill could be a church or a water mill.


Activity 3

Choose your favourite item.  What happens in this world?  For example, a box of cereal could be a factory producing magic cures for bad tempered people. Be clear about the world.  Is it a real world or an imaginary one?

Set the timer for 5 minutes and write about the world/setting you have created.


Activity 4 – Introduce your characters

Now it’s time for your characters to enter this world.  They are on a quest.  They are there to do something important.  What is the important thing that they must do in this world?  It could be to rescue a cat or to stop someone creating a nasty magic potion.   Who is in charge? What, if anything, are they scared of? What is stopping them doing the important task?

Draw a picture and makes notes that answer the above questions.  Have fun!