1. Hawkshelatou
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    Hawkshelatou New Member

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    A book set in alternate europe: My issues.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hawkshelatou, Feb 28, 2011.

    I have had a novel brewing in my brain for quite some times, and I have actually written a dozen synopsis, plots, etc, and a few chapters. I've even designed maps, names of places, cities, etc. My problem being, I want this novel to be set in the dark ages, alternate Europe. Now, when I say alternate, I don't want to include the same cities, people, or history at all - only the land and the geography. Everything else has been changed. Do you think this is a good idea? And if so, how should I go about it exactly? I want realism in the book, but not history, yet I wanted to maintain the beauty of places like Scotland, and the general Celtic feel and culture. Or should I scrap the alternate Europe entirely, and make my own world? Oddly, when I put it that way, it feels much more like a fantasy, and that isn't how I want it to be. Thoughts and suggestions? ​
     
  2. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Well, while there are no restrictions in writing, your approach does beg the question 'why?'.

    I mean, are you going to call Scotland Scotland or will Scotland be called Pictocelticcoldplace or something? If so, why even bother to have the real geography? The reader won't recognize it anyway, probably. :)

    Probably, if I were you, I'd go the historic route, but then I've nearly always set my stories in the real world, contemporary or historic. You can still invent new places, and get away with pretending they're either an http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandoned_village or a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deserted_medieval_village today (undiscovered of course).

    There are some quite curious towns, even very rich ones, that disappeared during the Middle Ages (usually on the coast), as well as islands, rivers, that sort of thing, so you do have a lot of freedom even if you are mostly historical.
     
  3. joelpatterson
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    joelpatterson Member

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    How much of an "overview" of the wider geography would any character living in medieval Europe have? I'd think that anything beyond their own little realm would be mythical, storied... if you took the sincere testimony of one of those people, they might have wildly inaccurate ideas about what lay beyond the next valley... kind of the way in these days, when you read the New York Times, anything any distance from New York City is incomprehensible, charmingly bizarre...

    So it almost seems like you, in the present day, are the only one who understands what the "real" facts are...no?
     
  4. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    You are squarely in the realms of fantasy now, even without magic and dragons. Just tell your story, show us what things are like and we will understand.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I got round it by setting it on a different world - but Lian Hearne just did it by never mentioning the name (her country is based on Japan).

    I used Scotia for Scotland, Meditearnea for my warm place, Ceylonica for an asian type place etc.

    There is no reason why you can't do it either way - I am doing it right now with Gus and Iris. It's obvious it is is Scotland and anyone who has visited the Moray Coast will recognise where it is set, but with the exception of the main town Forres (I needed it because that is where the Macbeth Witches were executed) - the rest is made up.


    It doesn't really have to make it fantasy although the only examples I can think of right now are lol.
     
  6. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    How bad do you believe in your story? If you're serious about it, you'll start writing.
     
  7. Hawkshelatou
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    Hawkshelatou New Member

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    Macbeth was a fine example, thank you Elgaisma. I couldn't remember the few places that were set in alternate europe. Unfortunately, I do not want to go the historical route whatsoever, it wouldn't make sense at all. There are empires, kings, wars, etc. that surely could have never existed. In any-case, I believe I may just go with borrowing the geography of europe, and see how it goes.
     
  8. LMThomas
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    LMThomas Member

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    Why not just create a Scotland-like world and retain the beauty of the real life Scotland? Maybe combine the geography of Scotland and some other place, like Denmark (which would fit rather nicely), in order to create some fictional world. Just because a world is made up doesn't mean it has to be magical. I don't see the point of using a blank map of Europe and re-doing it unless you're writing some sort of alternate history of Europe, or exploring how things could be different in Europe with different peoples inhabiting it. If your readers see a map of your world and it's an exact copy of Europe, a whole set of biases and pre-conceived ideas about who lives in certain places could get stuck in their heads before they even read the story. But I'm just giving you my opinion because you asked for other people's opinions. You should do whatever you're comfortable with, or whatever idea gets you excited about writing a story. I don't know your exact story idea, so what you're suggesting could also work out great.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I recommend at least flicking through Across the Nightingale Floor. It will give you ideas.
     
  10. Hawkshelatou
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    Hawkshelatou New Member

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    Yeah, you're quite right Thomas, that is my main problem with writing it in that sort of setting: people being biased of where is what, etc.
     
  11. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    hahahaha...nice
     

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