I`ve been thinking about setting a lot lately. Most of the settings I create in my writing have some basis in places I've seen or visited. When I'm thinking about a setting in my story, I often choose a place I know fairly well, and conjure up those details in my mind. I've used the inside of a friend's house (they've since moved away), my own backyard, the elementary school my kids went to, and the woods outside a summer cottage we had when I was a kid.
I'm not sure anyone would recognize any of these places in my novels. My setting details create an atmosphere, but they are not specific enough for anyone to pin down a particular place. For the middle grade stories I write, my readers don't need to know a specific city or address. What they need is to feel the simple elements of a place -- its smell, the space it has for running around, whether there are butterflies sunning themselves on the porch, how the big tree in the yard is perfect for climbing, etc. |The details need to bring the story world alive for children.
How do you use details to create setting -- could other people identify your settings or not? Do you think readers need to be able to identify a specific place?