Using Dialogue to Convey Setting

Setting in a story can be given through description (see Writing Promp #3).

Last time we talked about creating setting through description. Today, we’re still looking at setting as a way to convey a story’s time and place, but this time, we’re using dialogue.  

Why? Because setting doesn’t have to only be conveyed through description. People talk. And they talk about the weather. Where they live. Where they’ll be visiting. They use description to paint pictures of these places, but they do it through dialogue.You can also use dialogue to effectively convey setting. JK Rowling is one of many authors who use dialogue to convey setting.

An Example from Harry Potter

In this brief example, Hagrid is taking Harry from the Hut on the Rock to Diagon Alley, and he’s describing Gringotts.

“Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts?” Harry asked. 

“Spells — enchantments,” said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he spoke. “They say there’s dragons guardin’ the high security vaults. And then yeh gotta find yer way — Gringotts is hundreds of miles under London, see. Deep under the Underground. Yeh’d die of hunger tryin’ ter get out, even if yeh did manage ter get yer hands on summat.”

Through this snippet of dialogue we get an image of Gringotts. We can visualize the scope of its size and the dangers of visiting.

Use Character Dialogue

Have your characters speak to each other about setting. Have one person describe a place to another. Practice until you come up with a way for it to happen organically.

Have fun with it!


Write a scene in which you describe setting using dialogue.

Read about How Characters React

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