The need to write a story is often triggered by a scene that’s so intriguing, you shove an old lady out of a bathroom stall to write your idea on a piece of toilet paper before you forget. Not saying that’s something I’ve done before…
Regardless, that spark of a scene could be inspired by a character that’s dying to come to life. Maybe it was a diabolical plot you need someone to suffer. Other times, you just want to use a particular setting.
Author Brandon Sanderson once expressed the importance of finding conflict at the intersections of plot, character, and setting. Keeping that in mind, even if your story has already taken flight, it’s still important to consider its location.
Here is a look at different settings, and the intersections of conflict, to get those creative juices flowing.
5 Settings that Cause a Scene:
(Note: Some locations are unknown to me. If you know where these are, don’t forget to share!)
Type: World of isolation
Conflict with character: Is your character an insider or outsider? Are they aware of anything other than their world?
Conflict with plot: What if plot forces your character to leave? What if plot forces them to stay?
2. Tiatan Buddha on Lantau island, Hong Kong
Type: World with one religious focal point
Conflict with character: Does your character agree with the major religion? Do they disagree?
Conflict with plot: What if plot forces your character to work with someone religious? What if plot forces them to work with someone who isn’t?
3. Unknown location
Type: Dangerous natural phenomenon
Conflict with character: How does the character believe this place has come to exist? Are they right? Are they wrong?
Conflict with plot: What if plot forces the character to cross?
4. Unknown location
Type: World with an intricate man-made phenomenon
Conflict with character: Is your character a member of the people who created this? Do they understand its purpose? Is your character an outsider? Are they oblivious to this structure’s function?
Conflict with plot: What would happen if a single piece were to fall out of place? What if plot forced them to pass through the door? Through the twigs? Through an alternate route?
5. Petra, Jordan
Conflict with character: Does your character reject this ideology? What if your character was forced to subscribe? Does your character believe? What if your character’s faith was challenged?
Conflict with plot: What happens if plot forces your character to desecrate this place? What if the plot reveals this place is not what it seems?
Set your next story in one of these locations or let them inspire your speculative world– and the next time you hit a rut, look to your story’s setting and all the scenes it could possibly cause!
How has setting created conflict in your stories?