Category: Setting

  • The Shopping Mall As Fictional Setting

    The Shopping Mall As Fictional Setting

    Shopping malls play a big part in many people’s lives. Naturally, malls make it into fiction, sometimes prominently. How are storytellers making use of malls as setting?

  • Domed And Bubble Worlds In Storytelling

    Domed And Bubble Worlds In Storytelling

    What better way to seal off the outside world than by plonking a dome over it? If an island doesn’t work for your story, maybe a literal or figurative dome will?

  • A Glossary of The Underworld

    Since we’re all going to hell (by someone’s rules), here is a glossary of terms you may need before you get there. I’d provide a map, but that is coming. ACHERON One of the Five Rivers of the Realm of Hades, according to Ancient Greeks. This is an actual river located in northwest Greece. The […]

  • Storms, Cyclones and Wind in Art and Storytelling

    Storms, Cyclones and Wind in Art and Storytelling

    The wind blew as ’twad blawn its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d; Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow’d: That night, a child might understand, The Deil had business on his hand. Robert Burns In some parts of the world, wind is associated with a certain…

  • Creating A Fairytale World

    To a modern audience, what makes a setting feel ‘fairytale’? What is it about the tone, style and plot? I argue here that what makes a fairytale setting feel ‘fairytale’ is mostly the ‘fairytale logic’. Just as we know, almost intuitively, that a particular narrative is a fairy tale when we read it, it seems…

  • The Storybook Jungle

    The Storybook Jungle

    Symbolically the jungle is the domain of the savage. In contrast, the forest/woodland is the domain of the wild. Both are ruled by appetites. In children’s literature, the jungle is often a carnivalesque arena, just scary enough to provide a thrill. Sometimes the jungle is brought into the home.

  • Writing Activity: Describe Medical Rooms and Hospitals

    Writing Activity: Describe Medical Rooms and Hospitals

    Medical rooms and hospitals are safe, infantalising, dangerous, creepy, life-saving, traumatising places, and I offer them here as examples of what Foucault called ‘heterotopia‘. The hospital’s ambiguous relationship to everyday social space has long been a central theme of hospital ethnography. Often, hospitals are presented either as isolated “islands’ defined by biomedical regulation of space…

  • Swamps, Marshes, Quicksand And Sinking In Storytelling

    Swamps, Marshes, Quicksand And Sinking In Storytelling

    Here’s one little-known aspect of existing as a Gen X — the fear of sinking to death in sand. Perhaps you escaped this particular horror if your television exposure was moderated, but I’ve asked around, and I’m not the only child of the 80s to approach wet, sandy areas with extreme caution. Films and cartoons conveyed the idea that sinking into sand, never to be seen again, was an ever present danger.

  • Hotels and Motels In Stories

    Hotels and Motels In Stories

    Hotels and motels, it seems, are inherently scary.  My theory is that they fall into the uncanny valley of attempting to emulate home without actually being our home. Hotels and motels mimic the dream version of home, like when you ‘know’ within a dream that you’re ‘at home’, but the dream home is nothing like…

  • How can setting be a character?

    How can setting be a character?

    When asked to write something about setting, for an essay or an exam, what exactly are we being asked to describe? When I was in high school my English teachers advised us all against writing the exam essay on setting. So I did. But I wouldn’t advise the same thing. Setting essays provide plenty of…

  • Symbolism Of The Dream House, Cottage, Bungalow and Cabin

    Symbolism Of The Dream House, Cottage, Bungalow and Cabin

    House symbolism is an interesting way of looking at a story. Have you noticed that houses as depicted in Western picture books tend to look the same? Two storied, bedrooms upstairs, slightly untidy but still Pinterest-worthy? There’s a reason for this. Each part of a house is symbolically unique. Gaston Bachelard talks about this in his famous book on architecture and philosophy, The Poetics of Space.

  • The Beach As Setting In Storytelling

    The Beach As Setting In Storytelling

    Across all forms of storytelling the beach functions as an  alternative, liberating space, almost a heterotopia. The beach is also a liminal space, partly because it forms the boundary between land and sea. The beach as a tourist destination is also a liminal space because visitors can “enjoy experiences and feelings that are often repressed…