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  1. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    How to pick a setting for your story?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Holo, Sep 5, 2011.

    I'm not sure where to set my story and I was wondering how other people choose a good setting for their stories. My story has werewolves so I was thinking a highly forested area would be better for the story. But my protagonist is African-American and my cast is pretty diverse so I also want to be accurate and place the story in an area that is diverse.
    I was thinking that I could just make up my own cities in towns but still have them in real states but I'm not sure. So how do you choose the right setting for your story?
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just whatever seems the most appropriate for the story. You've already outlined the process there: you think what's needed to tell the story how it's meant to be (can't have wolves without woods) and then some secondary concerns with placement, concluded a precise location is not important, so decided to make something up that suits you best.

    It's easiest for high fantasy where you make up exactly what the story needs. For real life stuff I also tend to go for the made up places in real wider geographical locations approach. I'd love to write something set in my hometown, but I'm not sure what would suit it best, so I just make up places similar to it but different according to the story. I also re-use cities I've disliked, and then I *definitely* can't tell people which one I'm thinking of. :p
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep in mind that you're allowed to use vague locations. Name things as necessary and so on. Woods don't need to have a name and be in a place. They can just be some woods near a town.

    If you do need to name the place, that's fine, and there are plenty of vague names you could use. For example, there are no less than three cities called Perth worldwide. One in Australia, one in Scotland, and one in England. Same goes for towns like Winton, or any others.

    Then, of course, you've got Anytown, America.
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep in mind that you're allowed to use vague locations. Name things as necessary and so on. Woods don't need to have a name and be in a place. They can just be some woods near a town.

    If you do need to name the place, that's fine, and there are plenty of vague names you could use. For example, there are no less than three cities called Perth worldwide. One in Australia, one in Scotland, and one in England. Same goes for towns like Winton, or any others.

    Then, of course, you've got Anytown, America.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never choose them, they appear automatically when I come up with the story, and usually I never have any reason to question it.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    En Russia, you don't pick setting, setting pick you!


    But seriously, no story should be so generic as able to import into a random setting you've come up with after all the other conceptualize has take place. If the setting isn't significant enough to be part of the story's entire premise and meaning, then it's time to rethink the story as a whole, not ask others what setting you should plug your story into.
     
  7. tauer
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    tauer New Member

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    I see no problem in making up a fictional city in a real state. Lots of authors do that to my knowledge.

    If your cast is diverse, I'd say it's more realistic for it to take place in a larger city than a small, low-populated village in the middle of nowhere.
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or if it is going to be diverse explain why. :D It can be fun coming up with reasons for things that may be incongruous to the setting. That's what gives locations their unique quirks :)
     
  9. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    In capitalist America, we're too lazy to pick settings, so we make like hypocritical communists and rip a good one off!

    The setting should reflect something you want to say in your novel - what does it symbolize and why you think it would fit the events best.

    Forests generally symbolize the unknown, wild, or inhuman. In the case of werewolves this is reversed - the small town is the wild and unpredictable hunters while the woods are considered home.

    Just make the area up, unless you absolutely adore a certain landscape or area and want your story set there. There's no shame in writing fiction.
     
  10. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Some of these questions are truly mind-boggling.

    It's your story. Where does your story require you to place it? The answers are in your story.
     
  11. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    Yes, Jack, you're right. But I just wanted to point out that the original poster asked to hear what other people's processes were, not for us to tell her where to set her story. A legitimate question, I think. Especially from a beginner. The "mind-boggling" comment seemed a bit harsh.

    Holo, I agree with most of what's been said in this thread. It's completely valid to make up places in real locations (such as states). I do it all the time and so do most of the people I read. You can even make up a state if you want. As others have said, the setting should come out of the needs of the story. Whatever the place, fictional or real, it should feel like the only place in which the story could happen, because, in fact, it is. In some cases, the setting is so important it becomes like another main character. In others, it's secondary to other considerations, but should still feel somehow inevitable, natural.

    Btw, I notice a lot of "shoulds" in my answer... please feel free to ammend and ignore. I don't really believe in writing rules or shoulds. This, of course, is just my opinion. :)
     
  12. GreenRain
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    GreenRain Member

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    In setting the story, The Boy Who Could Become a Wolf and the Magic Jellybean, I was thinking of setting it in Romania, about five centuries ago. Problem, I want to describe it well, and animate it. So, research: I live about as far from Romania as you can and still be in California, and traveling is out of the question even if I ever do get a vacation. The internet is not always helpful. Flora, Fauna (Yes, they have beavers there) and getting pictures of things like squirrels that live in that area, not so helpful. Results: Where i can, it is Romania. Where I can't, it is a nondescript place that looks like Romania might, um, if I had decorated it, and then I don't bother telling the reader were, exactly, I am putting them.
     
  13. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Half the fun in writing fantasy is world building. I just put my wolves in the middle of London (and across the entire world of course).

    Put them wherever you want, and just write in how it is that they live there, make that part of the story.

    Cheers.
     

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