In the November 17, 2009, Writer Unboxed—blog post, “The wild and the holy city: settings for fantasy,” Sophie Masson, shared her thoughts that setting and atmosphere are an important part of a novel. As she states, “Setting and atmosphere are always (at least to me!) an important part of a novel, but in fantasy they are often much, much more than just background or wallpaper for your story. In fact they can loom very large indeed, almost like characters in their own right, whether major or minor.“
By using essential sensory details, better known as “tools” you can create the perfect atmosphere in your novel. Whether your novel is set in the genre of mystical realism or fantasy, setting can play up the atmosphere where your characters’ live.
In my own novel, I have used setting as character; not that setting is a character, but how the characters experience the sensory elements. Is the table dressed in a fine linen cloth, decorated with fine china and crystal, or is the table set with mugs and plates offered in the Pottery Barn. What happened on that morning at breakfast? In a fantasy setting, the field is open to all thematic possibilities.
What comes to mind is a table set by Nancy Mather, under the sponsorship of the President’s College. She participated in a fund raiser event for Elizabeth Park, widely known for its expansive rose gardens. Nancy’s idea for a fantasy tea is set as if five Shakespearean heroines were attending.
Nancy's imaginative five characters’ are, Perdita from, Winter’s Tale, Juliet, from, Romeo and Juliet, Ophelia, from Hamlet, Rosalind, from, As you Like It, and Titania, from Midsummer’s Night Dream. The symbols reflecting the heroines were placed on the table by Lynne Gavin, along with the flower arrangements. The event was housed in a beautiful women’s club in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Shakespearean themed “Set the Table” demonstrates how table setting can create atmosphere for a particular scene in a novel.