November 16th, 2012

Using Setting to Add Humor

Yesterday, as I was combing through my draft of UnFairy #3, I realized that I was severely under-using the setting in the story. I’d sort of sketched in the setting, but I hadn’t really developed it or thought about the history behind it. Finally, it occurred to me that I could use the setting to add humor to the story.

Here are some tips I came up with:

-Have characters act against the setting. If you have characters walking around in wool hats when it’s 100 degrees, it’s funny and strange and makes us wonder what is going on in this place.

-But remember that the characters are part of the setting, so think about ways they’ve been shaped by it. Maybe the air is very thin in this place which means the characters have large ears (to help them hear better). Whenever outsiders visit, the residents are embarrassed by their large ears and hide them under wool hats.

-Make the setting an obstacle. The thin air makes it hard to hear which means there will probably be some miscommunication going on in this place. Also, the higher you go elevation-wise, the thinner the air will be, so maybe you need to send a character up a mountain to really make him/her suffer.

-Make the setting unique. This is something I struggle with because–as I said above–I often sketch in a setting and then have to develop it later. I have to work at filling out the setting and adding elements that make it feel like a concrete (and memorable) place.

How do you use setting in your writing?

Originally published at