Posted by: nancycurteman | January 28, 2016

5 Ways to Present Setting Through Point of View Characters

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In mysteries, setting can be presented through the point of view character. Of course there is a place for narrative summary in describing scenery and as a way of managing transitions that take place over an extended period of time. But the story moves better when you keep narrative summary to a minimum and emphasize the impact of setting on your scene’s point of view character. Let’s look at 5 ways that can be done. Let’s use a forest as our setting:

Character senses: What he sees, hears, smells, touches, tastes
Mary had never seen so many shades of green. The melodic chirping of birds drew her to a pine tree. She crushed some of its stiff needles between her fingers and held them to her nose. Christmas! After a sweet treat of wild strawberries she fell asleep on a patch of grass.

Character actions: What he does
Mary grabbed John’s hand and pulled him down the path that led into the tall pines. She picked a red wildflower and stuck it in John’s lapel then led him to the patch of wild strawberries she’d discovered. They sat together under a pine and feasted on the berries.

Character dialogue: What he says
“See John,” Mary said. “Didn’t I tell you it was beautiful? Look at the pine trees and the wild flowers.”
“You’re right,” John said. “The trees and flowers are beautiful, but you mentioned strawberries. I’m hungry.”

Character interior monologue: What he thinks
John grimaced. Pine trees. Birds. Wild flowers. Not my bag. No way will I tell Mary.

Character emotion: What he feels
John looked at Mary. She’s more beautiful than all the trees and flowers in this forest. If only this moment could last forever.

These are simple examples of complex concepts to make the point that setting can be presented through the point of view character. As authors you can apply the concept to more sophisticated setting descriptions.


More Tips:

8 Uncommon Settings for Your Mystery Novel
7 Ways Authors Can Create Realistic Settings
How to Write Great Settings: Some Do’s and Don’ts


  1. Hi Nancy, I’ve been following your blog and have offered your name to our South Bay Writers guest speakers scheduler. When I saw this post, it spoke to me about the show not tell advice that authors carry in their heads. I do hope to meet you one day, a big fan,


    • Hi Linda, So glad you enjoy my blog posts. I love writing them. I would love to meet you as well. Maybe I’ll visit South Bay again. South Bay was first California Writers Club Branch. Dave LaRoche is one of my favorite people He got me involved.


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