#4 – The Setting
Every element of your story should contribute to your theme. Begin with the place. City or country? A mystery in a crowded metropolis must deal with a multitude of potential witnesses and suspects. One taking place in a less populated area has fewer possibilities, but greater interaction among the people. Everyone knows everyone in a small town.
Ten people in the same mansion is a classic setting. So is a locked-room mystery, where it seems obvious no one could have done it. Think about how the place, large or small, and the people affect the conclusion of your story.
You choose the elements on which to focus. Do you write about the gargoyles to create an eerie mood? If you describe in detail the types of door-knobs in the house, be sure it is important to the story. Do the hinges squeak or the floors creak? Only note this to illustrate how difficult it is to sneak around in your house.
Is the weather essential? Flashes of lightning and booming thunder may be dramatic, but be sure not to be cliché. Nasty weather can keep your characters isolated, ensuring muddy footprints will follow anyone back inside. You could contrast the perfect weather of a tropical setting with devious, evil actions.
When you rewrite, notice if you wander onto an unimportant tangent. No one cares about the bowl of fruit on the table if it isn't poisoned. Keep your writing tight and focused on your finish.