Crafting Settings That Matter from Settings That Inspire, a guest post by Erica George

I consider myself a writer, first and foremost. It’s something that I’ve always done, and it’s something I can’t imagine my life without. My identity as a writer, however, greatly impacts and influences my job as a middle school English Language Arts teacher. If I didn’t spend summer evenings on the screened in porch on Cape Cod, the chimes softly clashing in the warm breeze, the dog stretched out in a sliver of fading sunlight as I fretted over words, plots, and characters, and settings , then I wouldn’t be able to guide my students when they’re doing the same in my classroom. I even go so far as to try and recreate a gentle, creative coffee shop-like vibe in my classroom when we’re writing. We call them Cafe Days. The harsh fluorescent overhead lights get turned off, warm lamp light turned on, low jazz music warbles from the speakers, and together, we write.

Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into this creative writing unit than just constructing the perfect writing environment. Every fall, my students sit down to write the stories that matter to them, and every summer, as I’m preparing for the upcoming school year, I reflect on some of the craft elements that my previous students have struggled with. As I was thinking about physical setting—where I write and where I want my students to write—it occurred to me that creating a setting within stories can be equally as intricate.