Writing Lesson 2.3 – Creating a Story World

No matter what you write–historical, contemporary, or fantasy–you’ll need to plan and research your story world for accuracy.

One of my books is set in a resort town with an old church and a cozily furnished bed-and-breakfast with a different quilt pattern theme in every room. I combed through Internet sites and magazines for ideas. In my fictional story world, there might be a woodland scene from a photo I took, a fireplace I found on the web, or a kitchen from a magazine. I piece images together to create the world I want the reader to see. This type of research adds depth and details to your setting.

The hero in my current story is a kayaker who works as a river rafting guide. I visited a location where I could take pictures of kayakers and the river rapids then posted my photos on a bulletin board beside my computer. They are a visual reminder as I create the setting of my story. Now, when I write a river scene, I’ll try to repaint those pictures with words.

At times, it may help to interview real people to learn about the times or places they’ve lived or the work they do. Most people are happy to answer your questions. Be sure to thank them and give credit for their assistance when you publish the novel.


  • Collect pictures of people from magazines and keep them in a folder or computer file. Use them to decide on hair color, facial shapes, and other distinguishing physical features.
  • Keep photos of various places and props—mountains, beaches, woodlands, lakes, seascapes, houses, furniture, or any item that might fit with a writing theme you have in your head.
  • Write a scene using pictures from your collection. Place one of the people into one of the locations.
  • Use dialogue or actions to show their response to where they are and what they are doing.
  • Don’t forget to include other sensory elements (sounds, smells) and emotional clues.
About Melinda Evaul

Melinda Evaul is a North Carolina native transplanted to Tennessee. Her contemporary Christian romances give readers a unique view of rural life in both states. Not afraid to tackle tough questions, she writes about people who grow spiritually through the difficulties life tosses in their paths.
Read more about Melinda.


  1. Teri Dawn Smith says:

    Great tips, Melinda. I wrote about bikers and took a ride on the back of a Harley as well as interviewed the Harley owners. It really helped me to describe the feel of the wall of air bikers ride into. The more we can immerse ourselves into the story world, the better.

    I love the idea of capturing it all on camera and posting it by the computer.

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