Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


Power Up Your Setting

You’ve got your plot.

You know your characters.

You’ve filled your stories with goals and obstacles and conflicts, and oh boy, are the stakes running high. You’ve written a book that will surely jump off the shelves.


No matter how much you love your story, characters, and world, surprisingly, not everyone always feels the love.

Often it is because writers tend to forget what some may consider the ugly duckling of a story’s core elements. SETTING

Have readers, agents, editors, critique partners ever asked:

  • Who are these people?
  • Where are these people?
  • Why are they talking gibberish or a different language?
  • Why do these characters not use money?
  • I don’t understand.
  • Where is this happening? Oh, she was inside a spaceship, a cabin, the forest?
  • How do your characters feel?
  • How are the characters moving?
  • How did she get a backpack I’d never seen before?
  • Why are you in the dark when it is two o’clock in the afternoon?

Ah, the pain, the heartbreak, the want-to-thunk-your-head-on-the-desk.

But don’t panic! 

Don’t worry.


With so many writing-balls to keep in the air; plot, character, rising tension, action, theme, conflict, motivation—just to name a few—sometimes the where of the story gets a bit lost.

Power up your setting can not only help you overcome but even deepen the other core aspects of your story!

In this one-month interactive course, we’ll

  • Develop a story world
  • Give clues to society, culture, and structure
  • Ground the reader and character in place
  • Make place mean more than just a place to be
  • Use setting to reveal the point of view character
  • Use setting to reveal non-point-of-view character
  • Reveal the emotional state of a character
  • Use subtext/metaphor to make the settings have a deeper meaning
  • Advance plot

And the key is bringing your setting to life! And we can do it!

Whether you are working on your first novel or your fortieth novel, the class will push you deeper to create a setting that resonates not only with characters but readers as well.

Lesson Plan

Week One:

Lecture 1:  Welcome

  • Loving your story
  • Sharing your story
  • The where or your story

Lecture 2: What exactly is setting

  • Making it personal
  • Changing perceptions
  • Giving rise to your setting

Week Two:

Lecture 3: The bigness of place

  • Worldbuilding
  • The bigness of place
  • Your specifics
  • Keeping track of specifics
  • From pictures to words
  • Character impacts setting
  • Setting impacts characters
  • Setting through the eyes of the character
  • Authentic setting
  • Keeping it all organized

Lecture 4: The specifics

  • Bringing your bigness down to size
  • How many settings?
  • Creating setting specifics
  • Finding missed opportunities
  • Getting to know the specifics
  • Share your setting specifics with others

Week Three:

Lecture 5: Setting the mood

  • Weaving vs chunking
  • Setting and mood
  • Layering Let’s go back to layer one
  • Learn from your bookshelf
  • Individual scenes and mood
  • Your scene. Your emotions

Lecture 6: Putting setting in your story

  • Character state of mind and the setting
  • Less is more when it comes to setting description
  • Mood of place can affect character
  • Don’t describe but get active 
  • Getting your characters active in place your reader
  • Setting and backstory
  • Share your scene and setting

Week Four:

Lecture 7: Setting and Subtext

  • What is subtext
  • Subtext in everyday life
  • Types of subtexts
  • Using subtext in your setting
  • Revelation and hidden subtext
  • Give subtext a try
  • More on subtext and setting

Lecture 8: Checklist

  • Setting checklist
  • How does your scene measure up?
  • One more item of setting

With fifteen interactive get-you-started assignments and Give-it-a-Tries, writers will not only have a chance to share their work-in-progress but also get personal feedback that can lead to extension assignments. In short, the more you give the class, the more you’ll get.


Rhay Christou

Rhay Christou loves her dogs—Fredo and MoJoe—her teaching and writing. Making her home in a small village in Cyprus, when she is not wandering the National Park's trails, she uses her MFA in writing from Vermont College to share her knowledge and experience to cheerlead writers in creating their best stories. Since graduating, she has taught everything from creative writing to academic writing at the university level and writing workshops on the lovely island of Cyprus, in Greece and the USA.




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