September 20, 2021

Skip Setting and Write Storyworld

Tari Faris

Skip setting? Yes, you heard me correctly. But don’t worry—we won’t leave your readers lost—because in setting’s place we will add Storyworld. Aren’t they the same?

No, setting is just the facts.

The red barn sliding-door stood halfway open. The grass had been worn away in front of the door, as well as along a small path to the tree a few feet away where she had once built a tree house. Emily stepped closer to the remains of the treehouse and picked up a weather board that still contained the letters J+E. She tossed it aside and walked toward the house.

This works to help us see where she is but we don’t feel any emotional attachment to any of it. Storyworld takes the external and connects it to the internal of the observing character. Remember, if they are seeing it and we are in their deep POV, then there needs to be a reason they are noticing it.

Emily stepped out of her car, each step heavier than the last. The red barn still remained after all these years, although the paint had faded with time. The sliding door stood halfway open, as if her father were just inside finishing up his chores. But he wasn’t here—and he’d never be here again. She turned away as her throat began to tighten. Her gaze traveled along the well worn path to the treehouse. What was left of it, anyway. Jonny had convinced her that he’d known what he was doing but they had been lucky that neither had gotten hurt. She took a few steps closer and picked up one of the boards running her fingers over the roughly scratched letters “J+E” then tossed it back in the pile. She needed to sign the papers and go. There was nothing left for her here.

This is rough, but hopefully it will help you see how connecting the internal to the external setting can strengthen the emotion of the scene and help create the Storyworld. Look at one of your scenes: are there areas that you can connect the external setting to what is going on internally?

Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects
manager for My Book Therapy, writes for, and is a
2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children.

Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years. Learn more at


  1. Awesome example, Tari! While the first wasn't bad, it didn't evoke the emotion the second did! Thanks for posting this.

  2. I agree with Patricia. The examples were great and the second did evoke more emotion. Thanks for sharing.