1. Nadala
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    Nadala Banned

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    Does it make a diffrence?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Nadala, Sep 23, 2007.

    I'm just curious, I've been reading a book that notes a writer should know the origens of its aliens for sci-fi novels forth. Does anybody know if the same would apply with fantasy?
     
  2. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    I think the writer should know the motives of the aliens more than the origin. That being said, if their origin becomes imortant, you should know it, but with a film like Alien or Predator, you don't need to know where they came from, outer space is enough.
     
  3. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    I agree completely with Lion.
    Sometimes leaving something unknown even to yourself is good. It lets you change it as necessary. And if you don't know, it will keep the readers guessing and discussing it on the net for years.
     
  4. SeaBreeze
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    SeaBreeze Banned

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    I agree with the others. Unless it's specific to the novel, whether Fantasy or Sci-fi, probably the tiniest mention would suffice. Maybe just mention in brief conversation where the person or thing had come from if you feel the need to.
     
  5. lawliet
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    lawliet New Member

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    I agree as well.

    Take ‘Gateway’ by Frederick Pohl. In this story we never get to know who the aliens are, why they build Gateway or why they disappeared. But that is fine, since the story is about the main character and how he personally deals with what happened to him while working on Gateway.

    In ‘Enders game’ on the other hand we understand in the end who the aliens were and why they attacked. Since the main character spends most of the novel fighting them, that knowledge has a deep impact on him. It makes the story better I think.

    So if you include the origins of aliens or not depends on the story.

    In fantasy I think it is the same, although the origins of races in fantasy are shown more often then the origin of aliens in sf. I guess it is a genre thing; I am not sure (I write sf, so…)

    As for you as a writer to know the origins even if they are never mentioned in your story, that I think it is a matter of method. Some writers have ‘story-bibles’ where they write down every detail of the world they create for their story; others (like me) get to know the details as they write the story. Others again use a little of both.

    So… don’t listen to everything you read, and use whatever way works for you. ;)

    (But I just have to add – if you love creating races, alien or not, in great detail, please make sure that if you include it in the story it adds to it and is not just there because you spent allot of time creating it.)
     
  6. Skipdonahue
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    Skipdonahue Member

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    In fantasy, you should flesh out some history of all the involved parties/nations/races in your novel before or while you write it. While you don't have to add every bit of it into your novel, it does give them motivation you wouldn't have otherwise had and it protects you from creating two-dimensional characters.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you only need to know what you need to know to tell your story well... and no one else can tell you what that is...
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    Just writiting what seems good at the time without any preparation or thought to origin of an alien species (or fantasy creature/being), I don't believe is a wise idea.

    Researching/knowing/establishing some of the background, origins, motivations, cultural and influence, and similar parameters/guidelines forms the logical structure upon which the creature is based, and would logically guide some of the interactions and reactions in a story.

    Does the reader need to know everything? No. The vast majority of the culture, history, basic physiology, etc. will not grace the pages of a novel. But the background and preparation will help to insure that there is consistency (even if the character is a dynamic one--changes in the novel) will show through.

    Leaving important facts and foundation a mystery intentionally can lead to an awful lot of plot and character/race/species inconsistency issues that would have to be rewritten and ironed out later. And if perceived inconsistencies are not taken care of, it could end in the rejecton by a publishing hosue of what would've otherwise been an excellent novel.

    That doesn't mean the writer needs to have every minute detail, and that the fantasy creature/alien won't be fleshed out and expanded upon as the novel is in progress.

    Consider that many novels become a series, with repeating characters and settings/worlds. Inadequate preparation in the first may very well hinder successful creation of a second, where more details and expanded views of the characters/creatures/world are likely to be needed or expected of a reader.

    Or at least that's how I see things and approach them.

    Terry
     
  9. dwspig2
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    dwspig2 Member

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    I disagree. You need to know your characters and the world that they're in as if you live with them in that world. You need to know your character and their environment so that you know what is and is not compatible with what you're writing. Just because it's not explicitly stated in the story doesn't mean that you shouldn't know that about your characters and their world. JK Rowling had extensive back stories for her most minor characters, and I think that shows forth in her characterization of those characters. The same goes for JRR Tolkien. He spent what I might consider "inordinate" amounts of time on developing his worlds and characters. He even created languages to make his world seem more real. Just knowing what you need to know tell it well isn't enough. You need to know all that you can about your characters - even if you're not going to ever tell about it.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you seem to not realize that you just agreed with me... read what i said again and see if you can get what it means...
     
  11. dwspig2
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    dwspig2 Member

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    I'm not saying you need to know only that which makes your story go. I'm saying you need to know everything - not just the basics.

    Perhaps if I were more pithy it my meaning would have been clearer. So much for trying to be thorough.
     
  12. SAGMUN
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    SAGMUN Member

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    Does it make a diffenence?

    Your inner-voice is your guide. Ask you yourself what would want to know about this world; you are about to visit or move to.

    Keep in mind your readers are guests.

    Robert McKee said that novels and movies have different requirements.

    My late cousin Dorothy Les Tina was married to Fredrick Pohl.
     

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