1. Syph
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    Syph Member

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    Research Versus Setting Creation

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Syph, Apr 20, 2010.

    Hello all,

    I have a large dilemma within my own mind. As a 17 year old with other aspiration I cannot participate in geographical research for any possible crime/investigative fiction that I could write, I am turning to science fiction to create worlds rather than use my precious time and money to visit the places myself.

    I wanted the opinions of the older readers to whether research based novels are better than created settings.

    Thanks,

    Syph
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I use research pretty heavily for my created (science fiction) settings. I try to make them as scientifically plausible as possible, and that generally requires some pretty deep research and quite a bit of math.

    I believe it helps the novel, because it makes me think about some of the aspects that I mightr otherwise gloss over, so tere is a more authentic feel to it.
     
  3. Syph
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    Syph Member

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    Scientific plausibility is a must have considering I attempt to write harder science fiction nowadays rather than inventing universal phenomena.

    However, I was wondering if anything was detracted from a novel by having a completely fictional setting as opposed to a well-researched geographically accurate journey through the south of England, for example?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It really depends on the story and the genre. Mysteries, suspense, and intrigue stories have a readership that wants accurate settings, and an authentic cultural feel. Most mystery writers center their characters around where they live.

    Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone is based in a fictional town in Southern California, but the housing styles and other aspects of the area are authentic to coastal Southern California, and there are real cities and town that appear in the stories as well. Grafton's primary residence is in that area. Linda Barnes and Robert Parker write mysteries based in Boston, Massachusetts, where they both live. Many of the plots reflect the real culture and politics of the Boston area.

    Likewise, spy novels rely heavily on the authors researching the settings deeply.

    In these genres the locations are practically characters in their own right.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    either one can be wildly successful and either one can fail miserably... the deciding factor is the skill [or lack of same] of the writer...
     
  6. narcosynthesis
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    narcosynthesis New Member

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    Totally agree with this statement. To make the point more general: the reality of an artist's situation in the world imposes certain constraints upon the methods he or she is in a position to employ. In your case: your age, study commitments etc mean that you have neither the time nor the funds to conduct geographical research, with the consequence that you will have either to make places up or to set your stories in your hometown and other areas you already know well. To me, this does not look like a barrier to artistic success at all.
     
  7. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    While most of it comes down to how it's executed, I'd suggest sticking to an area that you are familiar with. Just because it's familiar to you, it's unique to most of the world. This will give you a chance to focus more on your writing skills than the research and travel.

    Don't forget, not only is there the grammar and style to learn and develop, but your characters themselves are a project. If you don't base your char (loosely) on people you know, you may need to do some research on the char's pyschology too. Do you know someone who has survived a traumatic situation? What was the person like before, during and after the event? How did their life, opinions, etc change as a result? How were the people around them impacted? If you're putting a char in an extreme circumstance, you need to understand how their mind is ticking.

    That's just one example of how location is only the beginning of the many things you may wind up needing to research.

    Once you're comfortable with all that, move on to bigger and grander things.

    As Cog mentioned, even fictional worlds require research. Fictional worlds need history, culture, dialect, and customs, and science that upholds it. I even travelled for my fictional world, to places with atmosphere similar to the one I was trying to create.

    "Write what you know" -- until you're ready to know more.

    Best luck,

    //R
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the research you're talking about is travelling to those places, you don't absolutely need to visit those places to write about them. It certainly helps and anyone who can do it should, but you can still learn enough about those locatons by asking people on sites like this and doing normal internet/book research.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see how this makes any sense...
     
  10. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    Based on location. Example: just because Phoenix is familiar to me because I've spent my whole life here, doesn't mean it's necessarily not worth writing about because it's "boring". By comparison to most of the world, it's unique-- since MOST of the world doesn't live here (it just feels like it sometimes ;) )

    //R
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps the word unique was not the best word to use in this case, but in general it does make a lot of sense.
     
  12. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    Maybe a matter of opinion there, but ok.

    :)
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose, but this is not the place to discuss semantics. It is true, though. There is no reason why you can't just use the city/community where you live as the setting for your stories. I do, as do many others. Charles de Lint has set many of his stories in his hometown, Ottawa, or in a city he invented that resembles Ottawa. A bunch of other writers in Ontario set their stories in Ontario. Of course there are acceptions, as described above, but for many stories you could write, it works just fine.
     
  14. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    It make sense, but he phrased it incorrectly making it difficult to understand.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    still doesn't make sense to me... 'interesting' or even 'exotic' could, but not 'unique'... though i get what the poster was trying to say and agree with it in principle, if not semantically...
     

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