Settings vs. Places

What’s the difference between settings and places? — a reader asked me.

Imagine a town, its houses, their white picket fences, the meticulously maintained gardens. The faint scent of the Night-Blooming Jasmin and the Angel’s Trumpets, mingling with the musky aroma of freshly lit tobacco. The muffled footsteps, falling over the cobblestones of the ancient alleys blending with the hushed voices of lovers, under the canopy of stars. — that’s a place… and a setting.

Now, imagine the same place in a time of war. The charred bones of the houses protruding from the frozen pits where the bombs had fallen, the scrawny stray dog, sneaking in the shadows with its tail curled under a hollow belly, and the stench. The stench of gunpowder, cold ash, and the greasy breath of death lingering in the air and following your every step, sticking inside your throat and makes you wanna puke. — same place, different setting.