Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

How to Write a Paper Describing the Setting

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      Briefly summarize the setting to begin your paper.Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

      Summarize the setting to begin your paper, highlighting the most important elements that the author included. Include the time of day and/or time period if provided and the geographical place if given. If not stated directly, insinuate this information based on clues the writer provides.

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      Decide if the writer used imagery that made the setting seem real.Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

      Analyze if the writer used imagery effectively by identifying if they addressed each of the five senses. The best settings will include phrases and words that allow you to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the setting in your mind because they are vividly described with effective imagery. Feel free to directly cite these phrases and words and then explain what kind of imagery they provide.

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      A story set on an island emphasizes isolation and survival.Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

      Decide if the setting has any symbolic and/or thematic significance. For example, if the story is about finding beauty within yourself, does the setting mirror that lesson? Are they in a place that many people might find ugly, like a swamp, but within that swamp love blossoms? In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the setting must be a deserted place in order to force the boys to figure out how to survive. The island symbolizes their isolation and despair both physically and emotionally.

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      Sometimes authors create new worlds from their imaginations.Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

      Include an analysis of the author's intent for choosing the setting describes. Why did the author write about this place? Does it help teach a lesson? Is the author from the place they described which means they could make it very real and detailed? Is the setting fantastical so that the author can suspend certain elements of reality, such as making the setting underwater means people can breathe underwater?

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      A rainy setting can help create a dreary mood for a story.Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

      Write about other literary terms that the writer utilized in the setting descriptions. Does the setting descriptions earlier in the story foreshadow events that come later? If the setting is the White House, did the writer want to allude to any certain previous presidents? What similes or metaphors did the author use to make the setting more understandable? What mood does the setting create? Analyze these and other literary terms when writing about the setting.

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