1. Protar
    Offline

    Protar Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    UK

    That special something in a setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Protar, Dec 31, 2011.

    So I've noticed that most epic fantasy series of note, apart from having good writing and such, also have something special about their setting that makes them stand out. LOTR and Narnia were pretty much the first of their kind so they could be as cliched as they wanted but still be original. ASOIAF has gritty realism and super long season, WOT has the male/female magic split, the Abhorsen series has its absolutely amazing death system. You get the idea. But I'm struggling to come up with something that sets my setting apart. I'm not asking you guys to come up with something for me, but what I am asking is is this special feature necessary or is it just a gimmick? Do I need it or can I make a great, stand out epic fantasy purely through an intense, exciting plot, three-dimensional characters and a detailed world?
     
  2. Metus
    Offline

    Metus Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Omega 4 Relay
    Of course you can, but the hard part is writing an intense, exciting plot, three-dimensional characters, and a detailed world.
     
  3. Stig
    Offline

    Stig New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Finland/Suomi
    It is not just about some single specialty but the world and story as a whole. Such specialties can of course contribute to the world and the plot but they are just parts of it as is everything alse in the story.

    Also what Metus said; for me its propably the charecters that are most troublesome part. Plannin a detailed worlds is actualy fun and have more story ideas than I can write, even though I'm not realy trying to come up with more stories when old ones are far from being even half complete.
     
  4. unluckyguardsman
    Offline

    unluckyguardsman New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    This is something that I am struggling with as well. I have read so many great fantasy novels that they are really bleeding into my novels. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is always great to be original. In answer to your main question, you can get through with an intense,exciting plot, 3D characters and a detailed world. However, if the setting really is too stereotypical or draws from one source too much then there might be a problem of distancing yourself from others of your genre. The special feature of your setting is what sets it apart so that when people look at the book cover on their shelf they say "Oh, that book was the one with...." instead of "is that the one with this? or that? they all blend together."
     
  5. Protar
    Offline

    Protar Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    UK
    Yeah that's exactly what I mean. Something so my story stands out. I just can't thing of what it could be.
     
  6. unluckyguardsman
    Offline

    unluckyguardsman New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Without giving away my own ideas, I think the best way of creating something new is to look at what you have. See how it compares to the established things, and gradually move it away by changing small details. Hopefully you will have an entirely new idea. For example, with the novel I am writing now, the system of "magic" is based roughly on a computer's workings and some classic Potter magic. Strange, but it separates my ideas from other established ideas.

    UG
     
  7. tristan.n
    Offline

    tristan.n Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    286
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Overland Park, KS
    I think the biggest part is making the characters and setting compatible. I've read a lot of books that have bland settings just because the characters are written to fit into our world and don't interact with the setting much. Let's say it's a fantasy where humans can fly. If people could fly, we'd have no need for roads and staircases and all that, and maybe our houses would be built higher up or we'd live in trees or something. Would we have cats and dogs as pets or other flying animals? If we flew with wings, how would clothes, beds, doorways, schools, etc. be different to accomodate these things? Would barbershops also offer trims for wings? How would sports be different? Would criminals have their wings clipped? See, one little detail changes the setting entirely. Granted, this is assuming it's a manmade setting, but still.
     
  8. Jowettc
    Offline

    Jowettc Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    8
    Hi - new here so just chippin in.

    Personally, I think scene setting is, at least ,as important as character generation in any good novel. In many cases of excellent writing, the scene IS the character. It lives and breathes with the characters and acts along with them as part of the story.

    For my part, I do not write fantasy - though I have read ample. I write Sci Fi. The issue I have with fantasy, if you could call it an issue, is that you have to generate a completely new alien environment, which is dangerous. I say dangerous, because writers often spend too long describing the environment to the detriment of the story. Sometimes in scene setting, I believe less is more - the question is, What less?
    What parts of the scene are crucial to the story?
    If the character is going to be accosted by a flying creature then it would be fair to let them know this is a possibility, in advance. If the scene relies on laws of physics, magic or particular behaviours a reader may not normally expect in the real world - then let them see this in advance. Springing a new law/ rule into your universe tends to irritate readers - making the development of the environment seem natural does not. Or at least it irriates me and I like to test my stories by asking myself a simple question - Would I want to read more by this author?
    Also, one thing I like about a good book is the ability to let me fill in the blanks. I have read a few short stories by amateur writers, like myself, and I find that they tend to over complicate the scene - add too many details and express too much. It is clear, as the author, you have a very good grasp on your own scene but don't fill in too much detail - let the reader's imagination help fill in some boxes - I find it helps me feel like I have a part in the story.

    Just a thought.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. TheComet
    Offline

    TheComet Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Switzerland, Baselland
    I suggest not trying to describe your scenery, but let your characters do it for you. The great thing about the human mind is it makes assumptions based on the few facts given to it. Let your characters interact with the scenery, and your readers will generate the rest in their own mind for you. The best part about this technique is you actually broaden your range of audience, because your readers don't all think the same way; They can generate what feels right for them, not what feels right for you.

    I'll make a brief example:

    Lisa slammed the wooden door open with her foot and forced the large washing basket through it. Careful not to fall into the endless depths of the sky, she lifted the heavy basket over her head so she could see where she was placing her feet. The old wooden planks creaked as she progressed forwards on the edge of her perch to the long, thick vines, which were littered through the treetops and stretched into the foggy distance. A light breeze swepted up from the underlying light-blue sky, swinging the washing on the vines back and forth. Lisa watched as a flock of orange zines manouvered their way through the thick strands. The noise they made sounded like Jar Jar Binks in a blender, causing her to cover her ears in pain. The basket slipped off the edge, ripping some green leaves with it. It crashed into one of the thick trunks before being swallowed by the neverending void.

    So I didn't really describe any of the scenery directly, I only described interactions of the scenery with my main character. Yet I think we all have a picture of a wooden house in the treetops with tons of vines. There's no need to explain in detail what zines are. All that's important is 1) They're some form of orange bird and 2) they are annoying. The great thing about this is we all imagined it in our own way. A way that satisfies us.

    TheComet
     

Share This Page