Horror Story Settings

Horror Story Settings

by Adam Huddleston

Since today is Halloween, and I am a horror story fan at heart, I wanted to share I list of popular settings for scary tales.  I know most are cliché, but if you are interested in writing a horror story, some of these locations are probably going to end up in your work.  In no particular order:


Haunted buildings


Rural location (cabin, farmhouse, etc.)




Amusement Parks

Open Water (oceans, seas, lakes, etc.)

Outer Space/Planets

Hope these help!  Happy writing!




A few quotes about setting…

“Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else. Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, what happened? Who’s here? Who’s coming?” EUDORA WELTY

“I think I have a God complex, and I like moving mountains and writing stories that affect entire worlds, and it’s a bit hard to do that in a contemporary setting because you have reality intruding. Whereas, when you set your own reality, you can makeup your own rules and do whatever you like.” JENNIFER FALLON

“I never think of an entire book at once. I always just start with a very small idea. In HOLES I just began with the setting; a juvenile correctional facility located in the Texas desert. Then I slowly make up the story, and rewrite it several times, and each time I rewrite it, I get new ideas, and change the old ideas around.” LOUIS SACHAR

“I always strive to create a setting that leaves the readers’ imagination room to roam. That way, every reader sees the story through their own eyes.”  P.S. BARTLETT

“I think setting as almost a character of its own, influencing the other characters in ways they’re not even aware of. So much of the success of a good ghost story rides on creating a creepy atmosphere; details of the landscape itself can help create a sense of dread.” JENNIFER MCMAHON



Lynnette Jalufka

A good setting should set a mood. There’s a feel to it. Here’s an example from Michael Jecks’ medieval mystery novel, A Moorland Hanging:

Above them, huge gray clouds, their edges tinged with white, moved across the sky with alarming speed. The land, which had looked so calm and soft, green and purple under its velvet-like covering, now showed itself in a darker mood. The moors took on a more menacing aspect, the heather now a gloomy dark carpet, the tors great black monsters crouching ready to leap.

Even Baldwin gave a shudder at the sight. Though he instinctively rejected any suggestion that there could be ghouls or ghosts seeking out souls…it was easy to understand how such fears could arise. The huge open space of the moors with its almost complete lack of trees made a man realize how small he was when compared with the vastness of nature.



Lynnette Jalufka

One of my favorite settings is from Winston Graham’s novel, Ross Poldark, which takes place in the Cornwall region of England. In it, the sea forms a beautiful backdrop to the action, and is as much of a character as the humans. It is always there, always moving. Here’s a sample:

It was a bright day with a cold wind off the land. The sea was flat and green with a heavy groundswell. The long, even ridge of a wave would move slowly in, and then as it met the stiff southeasterly breeze its long top would begin to ruffle like the short feathers of an eider duck, growing more and more ruffled until the whole long ridge toppled slowly over and the wintry sun made a dozen rainbows in the mist flying up from its breaking. 


World Building

Here’s a world building blog I posted on 4-30-15.  Enjoy!


World Building

by Adam Huddleston


For writers who set their stories in the world as it exists today or in the past, the concept of world building may not be quite as important as it is to folks like me; the fledgling sci-fi/fantasy author.  Real places with real people populate their work so they simply write what they know (or could find out through a basic internet search).  What happens when you want to set your story on the planet Xynon in the Gordita galaxy?  Or what if the country of your protagonist’s birth happens to be Fargan, where it rains peanut butter and jelly?

Mountains of books have been written on the subject of world building.  I would highly recommend “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card, author of “Ender’s Game.”  He takes the major facets of world building chapter by chapter and explains them very well.

Once you get a feel for the different aspects: geography, peoples, history, religion, flora/fauna, etc. it is just a matter of developing them into a cohesive environment.  Generally speaking, the deeper you delve into each part of world-building, the richer your work will be.

Another bit of advice: If you are going to create something that does not exist in the real world, you must make it relatable to something that is.  What I mean is, the reader needs to be able to understand what it is they are reading about.  For example, if you say, “the warfle crawled along the ground” give a good description of it so the reader won’t be lost.

Along the same lines, use real adjectives and verbs.  Don’t say “the warfle cavadered along the sand.”  Your reader has no idea what “cavadered” means.  Just use crawled, slunk, etc.

Hopefully these suggestions will give you a jump-start in the practice of world-building.  Happy writing!

Setting the Mood

Outtakes 402

Setting the Mood

By Cait Collins


The place is important in the setting, but it also needs to create a connection to the characters and the situation.  For example is the location a sleepy village or a bustling city?  Are the citizens staunch conservatives or progressives.  Are there multiple churches and faiths, or just a few houses of worship?  Is it a comfortable atmosphere, or are there tense under currents?

How would you describe the downtown architecture:  modern, traditional, or colonial?  Do you feel a sense of history?  Are there historic statues in the parks?  Are there markers providing facts about the events or the sites?  Are there parades on Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day?  What about the 4th of July?

As your protagonist walks the streets, do the citizens greet him or ignore him?  Are the people divided between the haves and have nots?’  Who’s the money man?

With these choices in mind, write the opening paragraph of your novel or short story.

Twilight settled softly on the dusty town.  A gentle breeze moved the leaves and dirt across the weathered boards of the sidewalk.  Stanton stepped down the two wooden steps and on to the concrete road. He’d been in town for two days and no one except the waitress in the diner had said “Hi” to him.  Burnett, Texas was just like him mother had described, dirty, depressing, and dead.



Lynnette Jalufka


I noticed when revising my novel that my characters spent a lot of travel time on horseback going back and forth between castles. To remedy this, I decided to combine the location of some scenes, which I believe will make the story stronger.

If your characters travel, keep in mind how long it will take them to go from Point A to Point B. This is especially important if they ride horses. A good average for a horse is about twenty miles a day at a walk. That is dependent on several factors: the weather, the size of the entourage, and the urgency of the trip. Going faster requires alternating between different gaits. On a crucial mission in 1336, King Edward III of England traveled 381 miles in seven days with a small retinue. That is 55 miles a day. Horses that compete in endurance racing today can cover 100 miles over tough terrain in fifteen hours.

No matter what mode of transportation you choose for your story, don’t overlook the time it takes your characters to reach their destination.

Settings in Science Fiction

Settings in Science Fiction

by Adam Huddleston

Last week I wrote about settings in the fantasy genre.  Creating a fantasy setting can be a huge undertaking.  When it comes to science fiction however, the approach to world building is a little different.

I would venture to say that most science fiction stories are set either in our world, or in what we know of outer space.  In these cases, the author doesn’t have to create a new setting, just assure that the elements of the setting are practical considering what we know.  In other words, the environment, peoples, flora/fauna, etc. of the story’s world may be our own.

It is perfectly acceptable to bend and stretch the natural laws of this world (it is fiction after all) but sci-fi still lives in a basis of reality.