Today’s Writing Muse: The Swamp

Swamps make such great settings. The plants look odd. (Seriously, look at those tree roots!) The potential for gross out moments escalates with murky water and the who-knows-whats-in-it muck under the water. Quite a few of the inhabitants bite.

You may have an idea for a great setting, such as a swamp, but you may lack a story. If this occurs, ask yourself a few questions to stimulate creativity:

  • Why is my character here? If your setting is a swamp, your character needs a pretty good reason to be there. She may be hunting crawfish. He may be trying to get rid of a body. Someone may have lost a bet.
  • How is my character going to get out of here? Is a boat available? (You can always break the motor, you know.) Will she have to wade back?
  • What obstacles stand in my character’s way? Swamps give you so many options to choose from: alligators, lack of compass, mosquitoes, poisonous snakes.

Notice that these questions focus on things that can create conflict. Conflict is the essence of a story. Focusing on questions that lead to conflict can help you think up a good story based on a cool setting.

There’s your muse! Go!

Fantasy novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason. Weston speaks to children, teens, and adults about writing and the process of getting published. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit Find out more about The Elysian Chronicles at


About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
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