(Last Updated On: June 1, 2023)

Have you ever got emotional? Your feelings are all over the place. You were fine yesterday, but today, you look outside and realize it’s raining. You call your best friend up to talk. You tell her you’re depressed, and she gives you a listening ear. You start thinking about your life, everything you wish you had, and things you wanted to accomplish but didn’t. I am like this all the time when it rains. A rainy or overcast day can describe the sadness your character is feeling. So, describe that scene in your story because that is one way you can use the setting to reflect the character’s moods and emotions. Or, when you take a walk through Central Park to exercise. Your mood changes because you are happy and relaxed. Think back and use experiences you have been through so that you realize your feelings or emotions have changed.

Other ways you can use the setting to reflect character emotions and moods are:

  • You can utilize sensory details to allow your audience to envision the atmosphere you are in. For example, Let’s say one of your characters feels anxious for some reason. You can use the words “ dimly lit,” “damp,” or “claustrophobic or climbing the walls” to show that your character is feeling uneasy.
  • Utilize your surroundings to contrast what your character is feeling. If your character is happy or hopeful, from the example above about central park, use the bright, open space and natural light to show your audience how you feel.
  • You can utilize the conflict that some of your characters might have and contrast it with the environment. For example, we have all been to places we have never been before, gotten lost, felt trapped, and were disappointed in how small the hotel room was—used that unfamiliarity to develop conflict.
  • When needing to reveal the backstory of one of the characters, you can use the setting around you to start that backstory. A rich person might feel uneasy going to one of his friends’ houses in the projects because of how run-down it might be in a low-income neighborhood and because of many stereotypes that he might have seen from watching the news and other television shows.
  • When you want to portray a character’s mood, you can use the weather and current events that might be taking place. We are emotional human beings, especially when we hear stuff like another black person being killed by a cop. We protest. We discuss it on social media and have conversations with our friends, family members, and strangers we don’t even know. Use it all! You can contrast it with certain things that might happen in the character’s life.

 Your story’s setting and environment are powerful tools you can utilize in your writing. Don’t ignore it! Utilize it So the audience can become invested in your character.

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