Compositions – Settings


Every story has a setting. The setting conveys the mood that the story is set in. If your story is a suspenseful one, you will have to describe the place, people, and feelings as dark and ominous.

These are two questions that you can ask yourself as you plan your story:

1) Do I have one setting in my story or do I move to a new setting to change the mood? 

Your story can begin as a happy day..let’s say you begin your story, describing the‘warm,familiar bed’ or the ‘beautiful sunlight lazily drifting into your bedroom’. However, your day can then progress to a tragic one with ‘rain pouring down from the angry sky in torrents’ or ‘every dreaded step I took on the broken pavement led me closer to the unknown’.

2) Do I keep the same setting but change the mood in my story?

Your story can be set in the same place, e.g. at the beach and begin with great joy and beautiful calm weather. As the story progresses, the weather at the beach changes quickly and you watch an accident taking place out in the stormy sea.

Whatever you decide to choose, remember that descriptions alone, create your setting or your mood so make sure to be descriptive in your compositions.Below, I have taken some parts of my students’ compositions on some themes we have worked on. Some of these, are descriptive introductions, others changed their settings as their stories progressed.

Descriptive settings or scenes

(1) Trapped in a lift           

The lift doors welcomed them as they trudged in with their cumbersome bulging school bags. Nate then jabbed the lift buttons and the lift began to ascend. Out of the blue, the lift started to shake violently, tossing them like rag dolls in a washing machine. Both boys fell on each other as the lights in the lift flickered repeatedly. The ventilation and fans went haywire as heat swallowed them. After awhile, the lift arrived at an abrupt stop, throwing the boys off balance. 

(2) Scene of a burglary           

The wooden hinges of the door creaked as I pushed it open with a slight force. I froze in shock as I gazed at my wrecked living room. Antiques were missing from the usual spots and cupboards were all left opened. Important documents that were originally placed on the table, were strewn all across the floor. The priceless vase that was my mom’s favourite, was broken and its glass shards lay on the floor, catching the rays of the sunlight coming from the open window.

(3) A jungle           

The tall giants overshadowed us and the canopy of green leaves overlooked us. The smell of damp vegetation and tropical soil, wafted through my nose. The sound of crunching leaves and twigs echoed around us. We were enveloped by the shady undergrowth and I breathed heavily. The beams of light peeping in from the canopy of leaves, shone down on us. Every once in and then, a gentle breeze would caress my cheeks and the leaves would rustle and dance in the wind.

(4) Cooking in the kitchen           

My brain was twisting its mechanisms and gears were turning in my head. I sprinted to the pantry. Scanning the whole tray of cuttlefish, I spotted a large, bulky one that would most definitely satisfy the judges. I grabbed it and took a bowl of coriander. I dashed back to the table and set things down. I skilfully sliced the coriander into small pieces. I looked up to see what my classmates were up to. They were still choosing their ingredients or pondering about what they should cook. I smirked. They had obviously not practised for the test as they were like ants in a frying pan. I turned my focus back to my cooking. My hands flew everywhere, raising the temperature to the right one, pouring oil into the pan.