Your story world, also referred to as setting, is a crucial part of your fiction. Indeed, setting often carries as much weight as characterization. Writers often describe their setting as a character.
So what does it take to create a credible setting or story world? Here are a few tips:
1) Introduce your setting in bits and pieces. Just as you would not give an “information dump” with a character, so do not give an “information dump” regarding your setting. A good novel is like a good recipe. Add the “seasoning” in small amounts until you’ve reached the precise flavor you desire.
2) Use the five senses in your setting descriptions. The more senses you use in describing your setting, the more realistic it will appear.
3) Create metaphorical connections between your characters and your setting. Environment can affect behavior. Use your setting to your advantage by showing how your characters are affected by it.
4) When possible, personify your setting. Describing your setting in human terms can bring it to life and make it feel like a character in your story.
5) Respect your setting. Look on your setting as a foundational element of your story, much as you would look on the foundation of your house as essential to the strength of the structure you build upon it.
As you keep these points in mind, you will be creating settings that serve to bring your characters to the forefront and make your story come alive.