Writing Lesson: Develop Settings in 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.