Friday, August 4, 2017

0 Great Tools for Establishing Setting in Your Story by Author Aden Polydoros

Today we welcome author Aden Polydoros to the blog. He's got some great tips to share with us about how to research settings. Plus he's celebrating the release of Project Pandora, which you can check out below the post!


When I am working on a scene, I usually try to focus on the setting before anything else. In my opinion, setting is one of the most important components of a good story, and aids in cementing the reader in the moment. Even if I am reading a book with engaging characters and a fascinating plot, I feel lost without a detailed setting. Normally, I am a total pantser when it comes to plotting, but I take care in outlining my locations. It helps with consistency and allowed me to visualize the scene before I even begin writing it.


When I list the sensory details, I also categorize them as either organic or manmade. For example, organic details for smells would include the aroma of flowers or scent of wet earth, while exhaust fumes and burnt food would be classified as manmade odors.

Since I write stories that are mainly set in the real world during modern times, there are a lot of resources that I can rely on as a writer. Although I know that I won’t use all the details that I compile, it helps to have some research to fall back on.

By studying weather reports on sites like AccuWeather, I can estimate what the temperature and weather conditions would be like during the time of year I am writing about, in the location where the story takes place. While fantasy worlds may have different rules concerning weather and climate, weather sites can still be valuable tools to show possible trends in environments similar to the ones you are writing about.

Why settle for Google Image pictures of the places you are writing about, when you can use Street View to virtually walk through them? Street View is an invaluable tool that allows you a deep and personal look at your settings. For Project Pandora, I spent a solid hour or two perusing through Washington D.C., examining the various places where I wanted the story to take place. This tool can even be used for medieval or more antiquated settings, as there are still cities throughout the world with surviving examples of old architecture.

Real estate sites were another resource I took advantage of. I had never entered a row house before, so I didn’t know what the inside layout was like. By visiting different real estate websites for D.C. and the East Coast and searching specifically for row houses, I was able to learn more about their layout, which allowed me to better visualize Shannon’s home while I wrote her chapters. I did the same thing while working on the scenes that take place in the Georgetown mansion where Hades lives.

However, there is so much more to setting than just basic description. Your setting must be filtered through the eyes of your characters. A rainy sky could have different significance to different characters. If someone loves the rain and associates it with childhood memories of splashing through puddles, they will describe a storm differently than someone who fears the thunder. The sound of rain on the roof can be peaceful or aggravating, and the color of thunderheads can range from soft lilac to a dull bruised purple. The situation will also affect the setting’s description. If we are neck-deep in a nail-biting thriller, the moment you begin waxing poetry about how romantic the starlit night is, it will drag us away from the story. Not to say that eloquent descriptions have no place in thrillers, just that they should be used sparingly during fast-paced scenes.

Another way you can filter the setting through your character’s eyes is by referencing things that have occurred in the past. Maybe the clock ticking in the corner of the room reminds your protagonist about the clock at their grandparents’ house. Maybe a character can’t smell wet creosote without thinking of summer monsoon storms back home. By echoing back to your protagonist’s past, this will further help the readers become invested in the character and setting. It will make them feel like they are actually there.

In the end, a setting is only as important as you make it out to be. You need to decide what you are going to make shine in a scene. If the setting is simply a backdrop for an interaction between your characters, then it’s not going to play as important a role in the story as what’s being said and done. Still, even in character-heavy moments, there is always room to insert small details about place and time.

About the Book:

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight—Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass...

Purchase Project Pandora at Amazon
Purchase Project Pandora at IndieBound
View Project Pandora on Goodreads

About the Author:

Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.

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