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Creative Writing Lesson to Develop Settings in Short Stories

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/11/2012

A trip to the local building or hardware store will help students to develop strong settings for short stories. Capitalize on the sense of touch and smell. The creative writing lesson will help students to develop their settings for their short stories.

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    Short Story Setting

    This creative writing lesson to develop settings in a short story will help students with this crucial element. This lesson can be a great "jumping off" point to start the writing process. To pique students' interests, teachers can bring in interesting items to stimulate students' imaginations.

    Bring in Items from a Hardware Store

    One way to get students thinking about a great setting is to pique their interests with the sense of touch and smell. Go to a local hardware or building store to purchase the following items:

    Ground basics:

    • sand
    • pebbles
    • rocks
    • dirt
    • mulch


    • flowers
    • grasses
    • small trees or bushes

    Steps for the Setting Lesson

    Step 1 -- Arrange these items on trays where students can come up and feel and touch the items. They can be arranged so that small groups can each have a tray with an assortment of items or they can be arranged with one item per tray. If students are used to working in cooperative groups, each group can be given a tray and students can sit together and explore the items.

    Discuss the Literary Element of Setting

    Step 2 – The setting is the time and place where the story takes place. Ask students what the settings are in previously read short stories.

    Step 3 -- Allow students to come up to the front of the room and look, touch and smell the materials. Or, pass out trays to small groups.

    Write a Description of Setting

    Step 4 – Students need to write a description of a setting for their short story. It should be at least a paragraph that includes the items that they viewed in some way. They need to create a setting that is interesting but believable for the genre of their short story.

    If students are writing a science fiction short story, they can make the setting an imaginary planet. If students are writing a love story, the setting could be in a garden, a swamp or even a beach. The items that they viewed will help them to make some interesting choices.

    Write a Short Story

    Step 5 – Students will take their setting descriptions and write a short story. The setting can “drive" their choices for the short story or the students can have a basic story idea in mind before they write their setting description.

    This lesson will help students to develop settings and hopefully write a great short story. Assess this short story with a rubric that focuses on the setting.