1. Tales
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    Tales Member

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    How to describe a setting without a introduction?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Tales, May 12, 2009.

    How to describe a setting without a introduction?

    For example, my story is set in a time where environmentalist are looked upon like terrorists. How do I show that without telling the readers too much. Show but dun tell kinda thing.
     
  2. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Intersperse it throughout your story so that it gradually becomes apparent a little at a time. Have the characters react negatively to anything remotely environmentalist, etc. Show us the setting through the actions/words of the characters. That's my suggestion.

    ~Lynn
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One way to do it is to have the characters interact with their environment which can give the reader clues about the setting.
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    A talk show.

    "What do you plan to do about the environmentalist getting out of hand?"

    Something the talk show host ask a governor or something.
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    thirdwind took the words right out from under my fingers. Have them interact with the environment. That's what real people do. They don't just exist in it. They are involved with the things around them. When a character sits down, say what kind of chair etc, they are sitting on and that sort of thing.
     
  6. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    Drop small parts and explain stuff as you go along, then like someone else said have interactions with other characters explain the environmentalists thing. Maybe even make a confrontation, environmentalists approaching your MC, not sure what direction you are taking your story though.
     
  7. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Have a man liter. Have another man ask him if he is going to pick it up. Have that man thrown in Gitmo.
     
  8. seije
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    seije Member

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    definitely show it through characters' actions. possibly have a derogatory slang term for environmentalists thrown into a conversation somewhere. "eco-freak," "damn greenie," something to that effect can go a long way. There's lots of ignorant people making up terms for people they hate. Sad, but true.
     
  9. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aha! My friend, the probem that you face is a problem we all face as writers (especially the purveyors of weird, out of the ordinary fiction like Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror tales...Muhahhah!) is called exposition. It is the subtle art of explaining a bunch of stuff to the reader without making it look too obvious. You are absolutely right, most writers always say 'show' and dont 'tell'. Telling, usually through some anonymous narrator, can be very very dull to a reader, as entertaining as it might seem to its creator (cos its your baby and you love it).


    One of my favorite movies is Terminator. The main character is Sarah Connor, a typical American girl. How do you explain to her that in a few years a computer would become self-aware, begin to elimate humans, and design cyborgs that look like humans to infiltrate us? One of the cyborgs got sent back in time to kill her because she would give birth to a man who would become the leader of the human resistance? ??? Thats a mouthful! Answer? Exposition. ALOT of exposition, from the other main character, the man sent back in time to save her. (some dream flashback scenes showed the future too, but it was mostly set in the present) The clever thing that James Cameron did was that most of the exposition takes place in a car during a chase through the streets of Los Angeles and into a parking lot. Because we are being narrated to while action is taking place we somehow notice it less or dont mind as much. In that case Cameron took the direct approach.

    One of my favorite SF writers, Cilfford D. Simak, has an award-winning novel called 'City'. The story consists of a set of tales narrated by dogs, who are the dominant form of life on the planet and consider 'man' a myth and nothing more. All of the stories about humans being told are considered fairy tales to be told to children (pups)

    The story doesnt explain anything, it just starts right away with a narrative that shows their point of a view and keeps going, and through comparison to humanity and juxtaposition, we see that dogs are in control of the planet.

    "The novel describes a legend consisting of eight tales the pastoral and pacifist Dogs recite as they pass down an oral legend of a creature known as Man. Each tale is preceded by doggish notes and learned discussion.

    An editor's preface notes that after each telling of the legend the pups ask many questions:

    "What is Man?" they'll ask.
    Or perhaps: "What is a city?"
    Or: "What is a war?
    There is no positive answer to any of these questions."

    Thats the way it starts, from those first lines the stage is set...
     

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