Discussion → What is a setting?

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    Jennifer Solheim
    Jul 23, 02:46pm

    Hi, fellow Paris and France group members.

    Since Katrina Gray interviewed me last week about these groups, I've been doing a lot of thinking about settings in fiction: what they mean and how they function. There's also the question of fictional settings, which could be interpreted as the same thing as "settings in fiction" (eg, Paris), or a fictional place (see Georges Perec's W, for example), or a place that exists but is changed to suit the needs of the work at hand (such as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale for a particularly jarring and relevant example). This latter notion of fictional settings also suggests the question, is it possible that any setting in fiction is not somewhat fictionalized?

    Tangentially, I'm wondering how setting comes together with plot as you conceive your own works. Do they arise simultaneously? Are your settings determined by places you know (or places you know much about, or wish you knew)? What is your process for deciding setting? Have you ever changed the setting of a fictional work, and if so, to what end?

    I'll likely answer these questions myself once I've had time to think about them, but for now I wanted to formulate them in order to pose them to the group.


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