1. MellowDeath
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    MellowDeath New Member

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    How to create an original setting?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by MellowDeath, Sep 6, 2016.

    Hey everyone.
    I want to create my own setting but I never really thought I'm that creative or original.
    Basically, how do I create my own ASOIAF type of setting without it being a rip-off? How do I make it original? Interesting?
     
  2. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    What I've learned: Nothing is truly original, just mixed with new things in a new way.
    And you wanting it an ASOIAF setting means it is harder to make it original as you've just stated you want it like something.
    However wanting your setting to be like that is not bad. To make it more 'original', work out what exactly attracts you to this type of setting. What would you improve on? What would you scrap? What do you love? This might help you work out what sort of setting you need. Make sure it also fits your plot, tone and characters too though!
     
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  3. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    @MellowDeath

    If I were you, I'd start by reading some articles, posts on here, craft books, about how setting fits into a story. From the sound of this post and the other one that I just read, it seems like you are making this into a bigger task than maybe it needs to be.

    Start small. Do some research. You'll figure it out.
     
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  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Focus on the "Why" more than you focus on any of the "What" at first. Why do you want to tell a story in your setting instead of telling it in the "real" world?

    Maybe "I just think other fantasy settings are cool." That's a perfectly good reason, so don't let anybody tell you that it isn't, but if you look at enough of other people's settings under the same umbrella, then you're mathematically not going to agree with every single aspect of every single one. Why don't you like certain aspects of other writers' fantasy settings, and why do you feel that it's important to you that your own setting be different in those regards?

    Personal experience, for example:
    The plot for my Urban Fantasy WIP happened completely by accident, but I'd been working on the setting for well over a year at that point. The most important part for me was

    "Human nature is fundamentally destructive: Stanford Prison Experiment, Milgram Obedience, Asch Conformity, Monkey Sphere, Bystander Effect... A great many people in history have been able to overcome this nature, but an even greater number have not. What would the world look like if there were other intelligent species who biologically do not think as destructively as humans do?"​

    And this led to my asking why these other intelligent species existed in the first place. Most of this was originally intended for a medieval-esque setting with a completely different history from the real world, so I was thinking that the intelligent species evolved alongside one another (humans from monkeys, psoglavi from wolves, orc-expy-that-I-hadn't-come-up-with-a-good-name-for-yet from warthogs) and that magic had always been a part of everybody's awareness (if not necessarily direct experience).

    Then, when I started to consider that an Urban Fantasy setting might be easier for me to tell a story in than a Medieval-esque, I now had to ask why does nobody remember that magic is real (The Masquerade, obviously, but why are the mages maintaining a Masquerade) and why is there no fossil record documenting the evolution of all the non-human races.

    I'm still working out the details of The Masquerade (fortunately not important to this first book I'm writing, but I can't imagine that it won't become more specifically important later on), but I can count on one hand the number of times that I've been completely blown away by something I realized about my stories, and the big one for this conversation is about how my non-human species evolved:

    They didn't.

    Homo Sapiens is the only intelligent species that evolved naturally, all others are the descendants of human mages who'd experimented with shapeshifting rituals, transformed themselves into creatures that they designed from scratch, decided they liked being this new species more than they liked being human, and then created a self-sustaining population by having children naturally with other shapeshifters who'd taken the same form.

    Even more important than the fossil record, this gave me an excuse to not only use orcs in my world, but to use them without having to call them something else :D For as long as shapeshifters have been experimenting with creating new forms, there's been this huge back and forth between the creators of magic and the creators of fiction:
    • Sometimes a mage would create a new species for shapeshifters to take, a storyteller would be inspired to create a fictional character of the same species, and the story would cement the new species in the public's imagination
    • Sometimes a storyteller would create a new creature in his own mind, his stories about this creature would capture the public's imagination, and a mage somewhere down the line would be inspired to recreate this species in the real world
    Gorgons, merfolk, psoglavi, harpies, these people have all been so well established over the last few thousand years that there's nobody left who remembers if it was the species who came first or the legends thereof.

    Orcs, on the other hand, are such a ridiculously recent species (the first experiments started around 1960, the first successes came around 1965, and the first natural Orc children were born around 1970) that everybody still remembers that it was the storyteller who inspired the mages, rather than the other way around ;)
     
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  5. Bookish_Introvert
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    Bookish_Introvert Member

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    Do some research and pull inspiration from the things you love. The setting I created is a fictional city that is loosely based Gotham City from the Batman universe and New York City (if you do your research, you'll find that Bob Kane did not intentionally base Gotham off NYC -- it was coincidental). By that, I really mean that they're both just huge, fictional cities, but it works. Otherwise, just go for it and have fun with it. Don't follow the norm, either. I feel like most fantasy realms are based off of Avalon from the King Arthur chronicles. Mine is nothing like that: It's set in the middle of a bloody jungle with a sun that never sets, and you won't be finding too many knights or princesses here, nope. That's why I like it because it is different from all the other fantasy books I've read (and please, if anyone has read any books that also don't follow the fantasy norms, feel free to recommend).
     
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  6. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    How to A.S.O.A.I.F, Hal edition.

    Step 1: Read up on history. A lot of it. While many people will point out the immediate "War of the Roses" comparison (Stark and Lannister, York and Lancaster), there are many, many others. England was split up into seven kingdoms, then united before being taken over by William the Bastard. The Targaryen's can also be compared to the Hapsburgs, though on a much more extreme level. Find some pieces you find interesting, and see how they mesh.

    Step 2: Read up on mythology. The children of the forest mash very well with the Irish version of the fey, including the whole living underground. While The Others also fall into the category of several creatures mixed together, though following the "Fair Folke" trope of elves in the books, not the show.

    Step 3: Don't try to be Martin. We already have a Martin. Do your own thing.
     
  7. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I concur with the Bear, err KGB hostage on this one.
    (Sorry at @halisme we all know that you are a rabbit.) :supergrin:
     
  8. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Take things from your favorite stories/series and mash them together with your own twist and from your own view of what the future may bring. That's the best help I can give.
     
  9. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    Set it underwater.
     
  10. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Are you talking "setting" as in low fantasy, or do you want to do the same type of world? The first would be unique, but the second not so much.

    Check out some world-building resources. They have all kinds of advice.
     
  11. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    The setting of ASOIAF isn't original. It's based on European feudalism and folklore. So..... what's original?
     
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