How to bring reality into a fiction story

Creating realistic settings and characters

You will learn how to create realistic settings and characters. You can create realistic characters in fantasy stories and also have fairies like the picture illustrates.

You can also create a realistic setting, but you can add settings that aren’t in the original setting. For example, you might create a farm setting, but you want to add hidden caves or tunnels in order to make the story more suspenseful.

You can do the same by creating realistic characters. You can develop their inward and outward characteristics. Readers want to read short stories or novels when they can visualize the settings and when they can relate to the characters.


Step 1

Creating Settings

Describing the Outside

When you describe your environment, you need to think of the house and the land in the town, city, or country of your setting. You also need to think about the mountains, lakes, rivers, and location of your setting.

Describing the Inside

When writers describe the inside of a house, for instance, they describe the area where the character is located. For example, when a character enters his/her apartment, the writer will describe what the character sees, which is usually the living room area.

Writers will explain the color scheme, furniture, how the furniture is arranged, if the room or house is organized or disorganized, and where the doors are to the other rooms. Every time a character moves into another room, writers will describe that room.

Step 2

Describing Settings Through Narration and Dialogue

Writers can describe their settings through narration or through dialogue. In the following example, you’ll see an example of what happened in Penny’s life.

Using Narration To Describe Settings

Penny trembled with fear when she saw the door to her apartment slightly ajar. Why is my door open? I’m positive I shut it and locked it before I went to the grocery store, she thought to herself.

As Penny reached for the doorknob, fear started to overwhelm her—her hear beat heavily, her hand trembled, and perspiration dripped from her face. She cautiously opened the door and saw her sofa cushions tossed on the floor, the desk drawers pulled out, papers strewn everywhere, pictures moved as if someone was looking for a safe, and chairs turned over. Why me? Who could have done this and why? What was the intruder looking for? Oh no! I hope it wasn’t…

Using Dialogue To Describe Settings

«Look at this picture to the left of the fireplace. It’s interesting, but I don’t understand why someone would want to have a picture of people surrounded by their suitcases at a train station,» Penny commented.

«That does seem unusual unless the picture had some kind of meaning such as someone who left on a vacation or moved away,» Ron replied.

«That’s possible. The gold and brown picture frames look like they are antique, and they are a little dusty underneath the glass, especially the picture with the suitcases. Why would someone want to have dusty pictures in a newly remodeled house? There’s also some small writing down in the corner,» Penny commented.

«You’re more observant about the minute details than I would be. What does the writing say?»

Step 3

Describing A Character’s Outward Appearance

The easiest way to make your characters realistic is to outline their personalities. For example, you could write down a character’s name, and then you could make a list of their outward characteristics.

Physical Description

Penny is about 5’7″, slender, and has brown hair that hangs below her shoulders. Sometimes she wears her hair in a pony tail with a ribbon that hangs down. Her favorite outfits are blue, brown, purple, or green slacks with matching tops, vests, or sweaters.

Penny’s Possessions

Penny has a van and a travel trailer that she uses when she goes camping. She also has a laptop that she takes with her on her trips. Her clothes are basically slacks with matching blouses, matching vests, matching sweaters, comfortable white tennis shoes, a few jumpers, and several personal items. She also owns her furniture in her apartment, except the ones that her landlord provided for her.

There are many other characteristics that are involved in outlining the outward characteristics of a person such as education, family, police record, and others. These will give you an idea to get started with your character outlines.

Step 4

Describing Inward Characteristics

Several characteristics make up a character’s inner life. They include motivation, hobbies, religion, beliefs, friendships, and others, but let’s focus on motivation.


Motivation is what drives a character to be active in his/her life. For example, a person could be motivated to get a degree in college if he/she hasn’t ever had one. The character’s motivation has to be strong enough to cause him or her to take some kind of action.

Fear Motivated Penny

When she saw her door slightly ajar, she began to be fearful, but even though fear motivated her, she needed to enter her apartment. She saw her living room a complete disaster. Her papers from her desk drawers were thrown on the floor, sofa cushions were strewn on the floor, chairs turned over, and her pictures were turned sideways as if someone was looking for a safe. She continued walking around her apartment to see if someone was still there.

Things Needed
• Writing Pad or Notebook Paper
• Spiral notebook with dividers for writing down outlines of settings and characters.
• Pens or Pencils
• White Out or Erasers
• Computer and Printer for your finished short story or book.

Tips & Warnings
• You can take a spiral notebook and make an outline of your setting. You might have more than one setting in your book.
• Remember to describe the setting outside and inside if it’s a building.
• Settings need to be described each time you move a character to another place.
• You can use the same notebook if it has dividers and make an outline of your characters.
• Remember to describe a characters outward appearance and their inward personality.


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