It’s a late Tuesday evening and you’ve said goodnight to everyone. You’ve gone upstairs to bed. You’re very tired and you soon fall fast asleep…
When you next open your groggy eyes, you’re shocked to discover you’re no longer at home! You have woken up somewhere completely different!
What are the first questions that would be going through your mind?
Probably, you’d be thinking all or some of the following:
Where am I?
What time of day is it?
What’s the date?
How did I get here?
Are there any clues?
Am I safe?
Is anyone else here?
These are the kind of questions you want to be asking about your main character and the location.
It’s also the sort of thing your reader might want to know, too.
Here’s the thing: starting a new story is a bit like waking up in a totally different place.
In order to help everyone feel more comfortable (and it’s important to be comfortable when we’re reading or writing), you might think about including some of this information near the beginning of your short story.
Let’s look at that first question: Where am I and rephrase this as Where is the story taking place?
Whatever you decide, it’s going to have a huge impact on what kind of story it is. Have a think about the following locations and how very different they are:
The planet Mars
An enchanted forest
What sort of stories can you imagine happening on these locations? What would the characters be like? What would be the problem or tension or mystery?
There are a great many more questions to explore, but the question of WHERE is one of the most important.
We’ll look at more questions and tips later on in the week, but in the meantime, why not write down as many locations as you can think of for a short story – remember there is no limitation. You can set a story wherever you want. In this case, the sky is very much not the limit.