The Setting Is As Important as the Characters In Your Novel

Many of my readers have asked me how closely related the character Gina, in my novel series Electric, is to me and my own experience?

That is a complicated question as many authors tend to use their own life experience in their work to give it a strong sense of believability. If a writer is not using something they know well, it requires a great amount of research in order to give a true sense of any environment.

In my short story Huffing found on Wattpad, I researched the setting as I had never been to Canada or to the Kashechewan Nation Reservation in Ontario. I had to research the area to give it a sense of realism.

One way Gina and I are the same is that we are both mothers of four children. The reason I gave Gina four children is because I missed my own children, now all grown.  A mother’s life is so busy and chaotic that despite any type of planning, when the children are grown there is a strong sense of loss and a feeling of “now what am I going to do?” In using my experience as a mother of four I was able to relive those moments and document the hustle and bustle of raising a family.

Another way Gina and I are the same is our love of the holidays and creating warm and inviting atmospheres. The home is a haven, a sanctuary where one comes to rest from the outside world. About a year ago I experienced a garage fire that had destroyed 30 years of decorations, collections, family heirlooms that I was hoping one day to pass down to my children. Also lost were the children’s many trophies, awards, newspaper clippings and memorabilia that I was planning on making into scrap books. While I listed the items for the insurance company, I had everything fresh in my mind to create the setting for my novel.

The setting in a story is very important. It gives the reader a sense of where they are.  The setting needs to be as strong as your characters in order for your reader to have a real experience that takes them out of their reality and into another world.

I used my love of staging and creating atmospheres in my novel. The holiday season is the perfect time to create a warm and cozy environment. In my novel Electric, I focused on holiday decorations and gave ideas on how to create those holiday environments to have a festive atmosphere.

The winter season is very bleak and cold in the Midwest.



Midwesterners are forced to spruce up their surroundings to help offset the cold and dreary atmosphere outside. One way to do that is to add sparkly trees with shining lights to interior decor.



Last year I had to recreate all that I had lost in the garage fire and although it is not the same, I’ve come to realize that I put too much emphasis on sentimentally.



The warm and inviting setting inside, offsets the cold and disparaging outer world. Creating warm and inviting atmospheres helps to alleviate seasonal depression. It is difficult to get through 4-6 months of cold and gloom, so creating warm environments is a must.


Adding candle light and sparkle ignites a feeling of warmth that rejuvenates the soul.


In the past I have written my novel three times, but never really felt like it was right. The themes of child abuse and neglect as well as a woman’s sexuality in America had always been a very strong issue throughout the story, but I never quite got it right until I combined the two and decided to give Gina some of my character traits. Beyond creating a crafty cook book, I added a stalker and real life experiences of abuse and neglect and how we as a community tend to, and perhaps without dlliberate intention, snub and hurt each other. That is where the similarities end and the story begins.

Since it is the holiday season I did want to focus on settings in writing.

An example of describing a setting hit me while shopping in one of my favorite places, Geneva, Illinois. Third Street in Geneva is full of old Victorian homes from the turn of the century, circa 1900’s. Rather then bull dose the place in the name of progress, this little town found a way to make it work. Now all the old prestigious homes house unique businesses.

There is one shop in particular that creates a setting that is warm, inviting, romantic and unique. I love to shop small business throughout the year.  I decided to feature one of my favorite stores to give you an idea of how settings are important.  Denise’s Adornments is located at 221 S. Third Street, in Geneva, Illinois. Denise knows how to create a setting that is as unique as she is. You can tell a lot about her personality when you peruse these pictures. Denise also knows how to take advantage of space and fit so much in a small area.


Denise with her granddaughter manning the front counter.


Denise has a distinctive eye and a collection of clothing and adornments to delight any person, hearth or home.




From hats, scarves, boot socks to a wide variety of accessories, you can create a look that is all your own.


I am not sure these pictures do the store justice, so you will just have to travel over to see it for yourself. In the meantime, and thankfully for the internet you can also shop her store via her website. For all my readers across the country and the globe you can find all these items and more at Denise’s Adornments Website!

I am curious, what can you tell me about Denise from the pictures displayed above? What do you sense as you look through the store? Is there a character emerging from the selves, hooks and hangers? What type of personality do you see?

Denise’s Adornments is a perfect example of how settings create an environment that is either pleasing or desmissive. All you have to do is compare the pictures above to all of the big box stores to get a sense of what a warm and tender environment can do for your mood and your outlook. Denise’s store is so charming that I find myself returning again and again. She turns shopping from a chore to a desire.

I would like to take this time to wish all my readers a safe and happy holiday season, full of romantic settings and festive atmospheres to delight your heart and home.

And please remember your independent authors this season, they are small business too.


For more about my series Electric, The Beginning, Book I, The Consummation. Book II and The Resolution, Book III check out:  For Kindle Users and for Nook and other users!

I look forward to hearing from you and reading your reviews!

Have a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!


Carly Compass

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