For many authors, the setting of their book is just as important as one of the main characters. The setting creates the mood, influences characters’ behavior, affects dialog, adds an emotional response, and plays a part in the plot of a story. The setting can be a friend to the protagonist, an antagonist (think Hemingway and the sea), and even a mentor.
In my latest mystery, Robbed of Soul, the setting is both friend and foe. The book begins in solitary confinement in Tehran. (Definitely an antagonist.) Then the setting moves to Kanab, Utah, where my protagonist finds healing in her small-town surroundings (after solving both a modern-day murder and one that occurred 100 years ago.)
I set my book in Kanab because I needed an area with wonderfully rich scenery to contrast the earlier setting of solitary confinement. Kanab is also full of legends and myths, which complemented the mystery and eeriness of my plot.
Here are a few things to think about to increase the characterization of your setting:
- add specific, unique details of the area (even down to using actual names and locations)
- mirror or contrast the mood of the plot with the setting of a chapter or scene
- as you write, think of your setting in terms of “having a personality”