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Writing tip: crafting the environment

Lilly Birdsong By Lilly Birdsong Published on November 1, 2015

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Before digging too deep into plot of a story, I also like to think of the environment the story will be told in. Although the core idea of your plot will not change based on environment, the setting is the key to delivering context.

I will bow to those who decide that they want to develop plot before environment. However I caution you that if you’re going to do it that way - sketch out a rough plot first, don’t go too far with it. If you go too far with the plot first, then you may limit the environments that the plot would work in.

There’s an interesting example about reusing the same plot, but putting it into different environments. Consider the book Emma by Jane Austen. Did you know that the movie Clueless is actually nearly a carbon copy of the same plot?

They took the same structure, and changed the setting. In Emma, the plot takes place in regency England. In Clueless, it’s valley-girl L.A.

You may see this as an argument to develop plot first - but to me, there are some serious changes that need to be made to make the plot work in one versus the other. You may decide to start to develop environment and plot in parallel. One may highly influence the other.