Setting and atmosphere provide a backdrop for stories and poems, creating a sense of reality that puts readers in the moment. That’s only their most basic function. Skillfully written atmospheric detail also increases tension and drama. Although the two work together, setting and atmosphere are not interchangeable:

Setting: the story’s time (time of day or historical time period), location, weather

Atmosphere: prevailing mood, which can be established or affected by setting

Typical ways to use setting and atmosphere to create narrative tension include: 1) setting characters in opposition to nature; 2) using dramatic irony; 3) placing characters in an unfamiliar setting. For this prompt, I’ll focus on unfamiliarity.

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