Writer’s Craft: The Setting in Fiction

Lower East SideI enjoy settings in fiction without getting bogged down. I like being able to read and stimulate my senses as though I could not only see but also hear and smell what was happening.

What settings in fiction do you like and remember?

Perhaps the settings were written in non-fiction such as memoir.

This is a favorite scene of mine in Boarding, where Jessie crosses from Manhattan into Brooklyn. The time of year is July.


The train rolled over the East River in to Brooklyn leaving Manhattan’s skyline with a deceptively compact appearance as though Jessie could grasp it with her fist. She had retrieved her supplies at the hotel and followed Darla’s directions carefully to navigate the underground maze of subway lines. At first she was uncertain if she would find the right train. Yet here she was, pulling to a stop at the platform and blending in with the passengers like a resident. Within a few blocks she found Darla waiting outside the thrift store.

Stepping into the daily life of a New Yorker was more exciting than playing tourist.

A warm, musty atmosphere of moist grass was unfamiliar to Jessie whose senses had been acclimated to the pavement-burning heat of the San Fernando Valley.

“Cool,” Darla beamed. “I got a bit worried and thought I shouldn’t have left you.”

Jessie appreciated the concern and smiled. “Hey, I’m a big girl.”

“So you can pull together a miracle?” Darla pushed against the door, sounding incredulous.

“I’ll keep it basic and show you a thing or two.” Racks of shirts, slacks, belts, and accessories greeted them with signs announcing the store’s policy of one price for a full bag.

“That’d be nice. Although, I never learned to sew. Not real well.” She squished her lips together and her eyes looked awash with sentiment. “Wish mom would have shown me.”

A blue flannel shirt caught Jessie’s attention. The remark filled her with nostalgia for the rare times she tagged along with her own mother to the studio lots and locations around Los Angeles. Jessie ran her hands over the smooth fabric. Her love for fashion was nurtured by her own mother’s profession, designing and selecting the costumes for bit actors and leading ladies and men. But the hours and egos were equally bruising and she eventually moved up the coast and found solace in a retail outlet catering primarily to tourists.


Amazon, Breathless Press, All Romance Ebooks, and Bookstrand.


I’ll send the first 3 chapters free of charge if you email me at ddsymms@yahoo.com. Put Boarding Chapters in the subject line.


About Don Simkovich

Writing is foundational to our communication like running is to sports.
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