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How many?

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  1. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    Using more than one setting in one novel

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Patrick94, Nov 22, 2011.

    How many do you think you can use before the reader gets too confused/bored to continue?
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Three, because that's what I did! ;) although most of it, I'd say 70 percent or more, is set in one and the same place.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I don't usually care about setting too much so I would say the less of it the better because it is not a movie where visual is as important as dialogue.
     
  4. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    Honestly, boredom or confusion will depend less on the settings and more on the ability of the writer to weave compelling narratives and stories.
     
  5. Ixloriana
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    Ixloriana Member

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    More than one setting?

    This kind of confuses me. I mean, if your story takes place in a room, then that room is your setting. If it takes place in a city, that city (and all the rooms and buildings in it) is your setting. If it takes place in a country, a whole world, etc. If it takes place across multiple worlds -- like, say, His Dark Materials -- then all of those world are part of your setting, aren't they?

    At what point does it become "more than one setting"? Maybe my definition of "setting" is wrong.... D:

    Edit: After thinking about it... my definition of setting probably is too broad. But still, when does one setting become two? After a bus ride across town? Down the road to the next village? Taking a plane to another country? Hopping through a Stargate to an unknown planet? Planeswalking to another universe? I'm going to be pondering this for a while.
     
  6. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I'm a bit confused as well but I think it's when the two have very little to no contact. Think Danaerys Targaryen in ASOIAF if you've read that.
     
  7. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    *gasp* A new thread category? Im going to like this one....
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    My story takes place in three different cities so my definition was considering the geographical/cultural setting.
     
  9. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Mine takes place in five different settings, but I'm not sure if this will hurt the readers, because this is my very first attempt at writing a story. I think it depends on how important each scene is to the central plot. If the scene doesn't move the story fowrard, then it would be confusing to me. I think all my five scenes movie the story forward, but I'm not sure if it will for the readers. So who knows?
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    most novels include multiple 'settings' if, by that term, you mean where scenes take place... and many sci-fi and other genres [such as family sagas] have more than one main locale... so i don't see why you're even asking the question...

    it's not the number of settings that matters to the reader, but how well the book is written... write well and you can use as many settings as the story needs... write poorly and even one is too many!
     
  11. Slinkywizard
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    For me the exact opposite is true. For me the lifeblood of a novel is character first, naturally, but setting a very close second. I don't want to just meet fascinating people, I also want to be taken to fantastic places and see them through their eyes. Examine the following, spoken in a grey-walled room.

    "How long do you think?" Jill said, looking down.

    Dave held her at the shoulder and said, "I don't know. Soon."

    "What shall we do?"

    "I don't think there is anything either of us can do."

    Boring, yes? Now read the same lines, but imagine Dave and Jill are falling from a plane without parachutes.

    Setting, to me, is staggeringly important for context, excitement, story and character.
     
  12. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Reading through the other post, I'd say answering the question is a little harder then you'd imagine, because people seem to define a setting in slightly differnt ways... Though this may just be what it appears to me...

    The setting is the location of the story, but it would depend on the type of story your writting to how its define, I think. If your writting a story on Earth, then you may say the 'primary setting' is London, England but have a 'secondary setting' up North or a different country. But if your setting the story on a fictional planet/alternate dimension, you may say that full planet/dimension is the 'setting', even if you don't picture it all in the story. If your writting about a prisoner, then the prison the prisoner is kept in will be the 'primary setting', but you may display other places just as a court room or vehicle to the prison.

    So long as each 'setting' you place in your story is applicable to the story, then I don't think it matters how many 'setting' you have. I think it may be best to think about where the main character starts and where important characters to story are; if the characters in the story are looking for something, then think about that items location, after that just see where your story takes you. I think that may be better then trying to decided all the 'settings' at the begining because your story could take a live of its own. Maybe look as other stories that you've read to get a better idea.
     
  13. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I agree that the setting is important up to a point.
    It is a question of striking the right balance between everything in the story and that is where the skill and strengh comes in.
    Just wanted to say by the way, if
    '' Dave and Jill are falling from a plane without parachutes''.
    I personally don't think have time to say anything as there would be no time for it and I would be absolutely terrified.:eek:
     
  14. Slinkywizard
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    It's just an example of how a dynamic setting can accomplish much more than just character alone.
     
  15. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Really? Setting is an incredibly important tool in writing. If your setting is an offworld place or a real one, you're going to have to let readers know how it works. Setting has just as many characteristics as characters do: weather, political climate, trade and currency, terrain. Writers should always be concerned about their setting(s), because it can contribute to or take away from the suspense of a story.
     
  16. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Imagery is a part of dialogue, as Slinkywizard pointed out. Characters aren't talking heads in a vaccuum. One of the easiest ways to turn an interesting conversation into complete drivel is to forget your surroundings. If you want dialogue to 'pop' always be mindful of what's going on around your characters, not just the words coming out of their mouths.

    Setting is a part of characterization, not just in dialogue, but in the character's everyday life. Does s/he live in a mansion or a run-down tenement? Does he drive a Benz or catch the train? Does he spend his Saturday nights in the strip clubs and bars or in a leather chair in front of his fireplace, reading a book? What parts of town does s/he like most and which do s/he avoid? You can tell a character's personality by how s/he interacts with his surroundings, not just the people in those surroundings. In many ways, the setting is a character itself. It's a character all other characters are forced to interact with and it should be as fleshed out as any person.

    With that being said, my answer is 'no, you cannot have too many settings.' If they all serve a clear purpose and don't begin to run together and/or repeat, you can write as many as you want.
     
  17. MVP
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    I encourage you to read up on this. Setting is incredibly important, and it helps to establish rules in the world of the story...i.e., if you are writing an adventure story taking place above the arctic circle, you better not have a sunrise in December or a sunset in June.
     
  18. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    It's not about the setting - it's about the characters and subplots. J.K. Rowling could get away with hundreds of different stories that take place in Hogwarts, as long as the characters are interesting and the storylines are fresh and new. However, if she keeps rehashing about Harry Potter -- for example, using Harry Potter's kids as protags and continuing to drag Voldemort into everything -- it's going to get old really fast. But with new characters and new conflicts, she could use that setting forever.

    There are no rules in fiction, except for proper English usage (which can even be broken, too, once you're an expert at it and actually have a deliberate literary purpose for breaking the rules). With that in mind, here is a guideline - if you're trying to use or define a cut-and-dry rule, you're going about it the wrong way. :)
     
  19. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Double post. Sorry.
     

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