How to Describe Location & Setting in a Paragraph

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Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, or simply writing about a piece of literature, giving the reader a clear sense of the location and setting is important because it helps them visualize the characters and action you are describing. The setting includes not only the physical location of the action but also the time period and a description of the setting. This information can be offered in a long or short paragraph, depending on the amount of information you want to share.

  • Format your paragraph to give the reader a clear sense of the location and setting by listing off the most important information at the beginning of the paragraph. For example, the fact that the characters were in a mall food court might not be as important as the fact that it is the year 3030.

  • Draw on the senses for writing inspiration. Whether you are writing a nonfiction account or are detailing characters in a book, you will need to think of what the reader should hear, see, smell, taste and touch. For example, if you are describing a meadow you may want the reader to feel the grasses swaying in the breeze. If they are in a restaurant, they may smell garlic.

  • Vary your sentence structure. For example avoid saying, “It is cold outside” and “It looked like it was going to rain” in the same paragraph. These may be descriptive, but they are not very interesting to read. Instead, try “Sherry put on her jacket to avoid the chill” and “the smell of rain was in the air.”

  • Be as concise or detailed with information as you need to be. If you are writing a short five-sentence paragraph for a book report, for example, you might want to avoid flowery speech. However, if you are writing a story, use figurative language such as simile and metaphor to convey the necessary information about location and setting.

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