Setting: Resulting Effects


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The setting is often a natural place in which to include clues about what will happen later in the story. When an author hints at things to come, we call this foreshadowing. The weather, light and dark, symbolism, and props in each location are all great ways to subtly get one's message across. Because we don’t want readers to miss these clues, it’s necessary to firmly establish them, and telling isn’t the best way to accomplish this. Showing, on the other hand, enables authors to infuse emotion and mood into the description, thereby making it meaningful and memorable to readers.

It doesn’t take a lot of description to clue readers in to what they should be feeling. This technique can be most effective when it’s linked with emotions such as fear, excitement, unease, or gratitude; because of this, foreshadowing and mood often go hand in hand. And since emotions are easily associated with certain locations, the setting is the perfect way to lay the foundation for what’s coming while also establishing the mood.

Because of their visual nature, movies are great for using the setting to foreshadow events on the horizon. The final scene of the original Terminator ends with ominous clouds taking over the sky. It hints at the coming nuclear storm and cements the final mood in the movie as one of grim acceptance as Sarah Connor embraces her fate as the mother of the future.


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