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Hamersly Library

WR 360 - Fiction Workshop: Adding Detail and Credibility

Resources to help give your characters backstory, add details to your setting that make your story credible, inspire you when you're just looking for ideas, and provide you with information about the craft of writing and the strategy of getting published.

Suggested Databases

Setting is about the geographical and physical location of your story - what it looks, smells, sounds, feels, and tastes like. It's also about the time period in which your story takes place, the country, the culture, daily life. If your story is set in the past, do you need to know what newspapers looked like at that time? What it was like to live on a farm on the frontier? If your story is set in another country, do you need to know about the customs of that country? The average rainfall? Recipes for local dishes? The resources below can help you with all this and more.


Google Maps - Can be used to get street-level views of different locations. You can also use Google Earth to get a sense of the natural features of your setting.

Internet Archive - Seeks to provide permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages.

Festivals and Events

Maybe there's a popular festival or event that takes place in the town where your story is set? Does it impact the plot? Does it happen during the action or your story? Does it contribute significantly to the character of the town? If so, check out the resources below 

  • Top Events USA
    Lists the top 10 events and festivals for each of the United States.
  • Festivals and Events
    Features the biggest and the best events in the country & include a full description of the event typically including times, entertainment and location.
  • List of Festivals --Wikidpedia
    A list of festivals and events in the United States 

You can also find festivals and events by doing a .gov search for individual cities and states. (See the Advanced Google Searching tab for more tips like this)

Flora and Fauna

Part of the setting for your story could possibly include the trees, flowers, or animals that the characters come in contact with. The resources below can help.

Images for Inspiration

Sometimes you can get inspiration for your character, setting, or plot just by looking a picture or painting!


Need a name for a character? A job? Check out the sources below to help you flesh out your characters.

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