1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you ever written outside your own country?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by OurJud, Aug 28, 2016.

    I'm interested to get an idea on how many of you have been been brave enough to set their novel somewhere other than their own country.

    The following are excluded:

    • Fantasy worlds / Sci-fi / Outer space
    • Undefined countries
    • Countries that you know well because you've spent time there

    Do you think you pulled it off to the extent that the country's readers won't realise you and your characters are foreigners posing as natives?
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think you may want to expand Fantasy Worlds to include Science Fiction Planets.
     
  3. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wrote an alternate history flash fiction set in Punic War era Rome (specifically with the city under siege by Carthaginian forces at the end of the Second Punic War). I'm not sure how much that counts, since a lot of the city has radically changed since that era and all of the action takes place on the Capitoline Hill.
     
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  4. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I beg to differ too. Only because a novel is set on another planet doesn't mean it needn't be concise, or believable.

    I think you need to refine your question: The question here is not the detailed surroundings of a place the writer has never been to, but a question of research. Has the author done enough research on his topic to deal with it in a competent manner, even though he/she hasn't any prior experience? :)

    Or did you really mean detailed surroundings of a different country the writer has never been to?

    edit: Sorry, I just saw your last sentence. Disregard the above comment, please.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Probably about half of my books are set in the US.

    I've been there, but I've never lived there or spent significant time there.
     
  6. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Yep. Tried in the US, tried in England, tried in Mexico and now I'm going for China in the Southern Song dynasty. Fun fact: I never tried writing something in my own country. I live here! How boring. :p
     
  7. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    My WIP has scenes set in Paris and Bolgna. The action is going to move to Rome, possibly. It is tricky. I have been to Paris but not Italy. It remains to be seen if I have pulled it off or not.

    I am a native of, and live in, the UK
     
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  8. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I just realised that I can't remember writing anything that is set in a specific country, ever. It's always been either a fantasy world or undefined. o_O
     
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  9. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    If you are writing in a foreign setting that you have no personal experience of, what resources do you use to 'get it right'?
     
  10. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I am answering, although I write contemporary mil on another planet. My two countries (civil war) are - not modelled, but let's say the struggles of the two different societies (one of which is not my own) could easily happen in our own world. The geography and the planet is a bit different, which impacts on climate zones obviously, but apart from that there are landscapes which are real in our world which I draw from to describe the other world - but I have never been in these landscapes here on Earth.

    What resources do I use? Memoirs of people who have been/lived there. I mostly don't look at GImages, and I don't use Gmaps either, but I cherish photographs in the memoirs. Independent and plane documentaries - not the stuff that jokingly is called 'documentary' in today's TV. I have been part of a documentary once, so I know how those are made and just how much they use emotions to create exactly the impact they want. And if I am not careful I'll start on a rant *takes a deep breath*

    Just my five cents. *goes off muttering*
     
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  11. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    Very interesting premise! One of the greatest "what if?" scenario's imaginable. Had the Carthaginians succeeded in taking Rome, the world would have been totally different. Just think of it: No French, Spanish, Romanian and Italian languages (well, not in their current forms), no Roman influence on northern Europe, perhaps not even Christianity!

    OT: One of my WIP is set in a fantasy world, the other in prehistoric times and Luxembourg (which is pretty similair to my own country, and I've been there a lot). With a fantasy world it's pretty much up to your own imagination, although I do try to make that world as realistic and close to reality as possible. Same thing applies to prehistory, and I've visited Luxembourg a lot, so it's known ground for me.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think I would ever write a story set somewhere I've never been. It just wouldn't feel right to me. If I'm motivated enough to write about it, I would certainly visit it. Even though I write historical settings, I still want to visit the contemporary places. Nothing else gives you a feeling of place like being there yourself.
     
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  13. hirundine
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    hirundine Member

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    My novel (currently at the research and planning stage) has to be set outside my own country. I wanted to write about volcanoes, and England doesn't have any.

    Although if I ever decide to write a humorous spoof taking the mickey out of disaster movies, that might just change...
     
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  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm writing a book set at Loch Ness at the moment. I've been to Scotland twice, but nowhere near Loch Ness.

    I'll be visiting before I consider the book finalised, even though I include hardly any setting description in any books. Like Jannert says, it just doesn't feel right to use a real place without actually going there. But for now I've used Google images, some YouTube videos, and some tourist sites.

    In my first book there's one chapter set in Mexico. Unfortunately my writing budget doesn't stretch to a long weekend there, so I relied entirely on Google for that. :D
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the US is a bit of an exception to the "can't write the country if you haven't been to the country" idea because it's so ubiquitous and inescapable in mass media. I probably read more US news than I do Canadian, definitely watch more TV and movies set there, etc.

    I also think that if you're going for the real "setting as a character" authenticity, you need to do a hell of a lot more than just visit the same country as you're setting your story. Having been to New England would in no way prepare someone to write an in-depth exploration of New Orleans; having been to Vancouver wouldn't be much help for someone who's writing about Montreal, etc. If you haven't spent a lot of time in the exact place you're writing about, I think you should expect to just gloss over some of the details in your writing.
     
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  16. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    An interesting question considering what I'm up to now. I'm an American, but I've lived in Japan for over fifteen years. When I left, cell phones were starting to become a common thing, but ownership among my circle of family and friends was pretty low. Blockbuster was where one went for movies, gas was expensive at $2 a gallon, and, oh yeah, 9/11 was just a random date.

    So now I'm writing a story set in modern-day to very near future America, and I'm having to look things up on the internet or ask my friends back home questions.

    外人* everywhere I guess.

    *gaijin, literally "outside person". The more polite word for "foreigner" is 外国人、 gaikokujin, "outside country person". I prefer the first term.
     
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  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I imagine you get a good experience of other European countries though, since you're quite close and you have all those handy land borders and centuries of cross cultural exchange. Especially with France.
     
  18. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    The last quarter of my novel is set in New Zealand. I've never been there and have only traveled out of North America once in my life. I did a ton of research and the chapters were heavily beta'd by an online friend of mine who lives there. I've gotten great feedback on the accuracy of the setting in those final chapters.
     
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  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ooh yes, that's something I was going to mention and forgot to. A US author asked me to beta read her book, set in London, to catch any geography-related problems. I would definitely do the same if I set a large portion of a book in another country.
     
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  20. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Does anyone want to beta read a chapter set in Italy? and another set in Paris?
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    OMG. I've been there, and am setting my next story there (back in 1886.) I LOVE the place. Do go, if you can, but take your time while you're there. Don't plan a few days, stay a few weeks. Relax. Stop and talk to people. They are very conscious of their place in the world, and confident enough not to bludgeon you over the head with what they know. And their immigrant history in NS goes back as long or longer than it does anywhere in the USA. NS provides the best mix of historical background and modern living that I've ever experienced. One doesn't trump the other. They mix.

    If you think I can help in any way, PM me.
     
  22. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Sounds cool but sadly I've got my hands full.
     
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  23. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    I'm from the UK, only been out of the country once and I was too young to remember that - which is of course why I've set my story in the USA, a place I've never been to other than google maps. It's meant I've had to do a lot of research, but I really enjoy that aspect of writing, even made myself a little scrap book of all the locations so things can be as accurate as possible. That being said I'd love to visit the place I'm setting it in, to get a better feel but that's not a viable option for me.

    Like BayView said, I feel like we are so exposed to US culture over here in movies and TV shows that it may be easier to write a story set there, than another more unfamiliar setting.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
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  24. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly. That's why I've never been brave/adventurous enough to take the plunge.
     
  25. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    Movies, documentaries, series episodes, telenovelas :p, music (contemporary, folk, etc. I believe that music paints the history of a country socially and culturally. It gives the "feel"), novels, google maps and speaking with locals if ever you get the chance. I've been subscribed to couchsurfing for some years now and you can't believe what help that has been. Apart from meeting people from other countries, etc, you can get in touch with them via mail and ask them about the things you are interested in and some of them (most of them) are polite enough to answer. It's got people from all around the world and you can even find the specific town you are interested in writing. I highly suggest it.
     

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