Settings Have Souls

I personify things all the time. I’m not sure why I do this. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a writer. Or maybe it just means I’m crazy. But my new belief is that buildings and settings have souls.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, but there’s this children’s book called The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. (Published 1942)

It’s basically a personification of a house and how this particular house has a soul and in a way, a mind of her own. When she’s out in the country, she’s happy because children live within her and they play outside of her. She feels the love of a family. But eventually, things change. The children grow up and move away and a city gets built up all around the little house. Eventually, the little house tires of living in the city, since nobody is there to take care of her or maintain her. She becomes more depressed and sad as the city gets bigger and busier. But one day, people come and move the little house back out to the country, where she is happy and she has a family living within her once again.

I think (or I’d like to think) that all buildings are this way. Each one has character and a personality based on the people who live or work or play in it. It’s a good element to add to writing, because often, a setting or building can become almost like a major character. They affect your characters and the way your characters react to the setting says a lot about them. The setting can also serve as an antagonist, fighting against the characters or testing them in some way.

So the next time you work on your setting, (whether it be a town or a specific building or even an open field) think of how it can affect your characters and the unique characteristics that you can give to it to make it stand out.

5 thoughts on “Settings Have Souls

  1. Very true. For example, take my grandma’s house. She herself is an amazing woman (in my eyes) but her house, especially when I was very young, was like a supportive thing and it always gave me a warm and comfortable feeling.


  2. I LOVED this book! My kindergarten teacher used to read it to us (and it was old even then). I loved the transformation around the house, but the ending was the best of all.


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