1. Snapshot084
    Offline

    Snapshot084 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Summerville, South Carolina

    Western-ish World, That Isn't The Literal Wild West?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Snapshot084, Apr 19, 2014.

    My first two books are set in a world that's western...flavored, I guess would be the right word? I originally decided on the setting because I wanted a world where someone could legitimately be gunned down in the street without having to deal with law enforcement coming down on them in force. But, I'm struggling with the conceptual elements of such a world. I don't know an awful lot about the actual, factual, literal Wild West, but there are so many things from the setting (mostly gleaned from media) that I want to use.

    So, should I actually bite the bullet and research the minutiae (like, the canning industry and whatnot) or just gloss over those things? They aren't really relevant to the plot, if that helps.
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    If they aren't relevant, why include them? You'd just be padding your novel with what most readers would consider to be unnecessary information.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,878
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Research can be inspiring. I did a lot of research on things which didn't make up much of my novel story wise but that I wanted to be accurate about. For example, the story takes place on another planet but in the near future (centuries not millennia). I went with a more realistic interstellar travel option, no FTL travel, no suspended animation, no wormholes. That meant decades in flight involving multiple generations. It all takes place before the story, no more than a little backstory, but I still did a lot of research for realism.

    If you're writing novels, I'd suggest at least some research. It's fairly easy with the Internet.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,878
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    But the question is, what is meant by not relevant? It may not be important a cannery is in the story, but you still might want the details to be accurate.
     
  5. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Snapshot himself mentioned that the little details aren't necessary. Will talking about the canning industry actually do anything for the novel, or will it be like Melville talking about the whaling industry in Moby Dick?
     
  6. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,878
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    But I didn't do my research with the idea I would write everything into the story. Rather I did it so when I wrote the story I understood the backstory.
     
  7. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    I got the impression that Snapshot intends to include the information in the novel. I guess we'll have to wait for him to clarify.
     
  8. Snapshot084
    Offline

    Snapshot084 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Summerville, South Carolina
    I hadn't really intended to include a lot of it. There were just moments while writing. Like, "Wait. How did Frank get this liquor in the first place? Someone HAD to bottle this, somewhere." At the same time, I'm not really sure if that's just me being pedantic about my own work, or if that's a question someone else would ask and I should therefore have an answer for.
     
  9. Snapshot084
    Offline

    Snapshot084 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Summerville, South Carolina
    Probably the former, honestly. But additional opinions are always appreciated. I've had friends read through the first two books, and no one's ever asked exactly WHAT type of meat they're eating.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,878
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    It sounds like you've answered your question. If you decide you need to know where the bottle came from, then look into it.
     
  11. HelloThere
    Offline

    HelloThere Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    240
    Remember that the Wild West is mainly a fictional setting, it'll help to know stuff about the actual, real American frontier but that might not present you with as much interest as the mythic, fictional version of it.
     
    jannert likes this.
  12. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I'm usually on the pedantic side, and sometimes, if I haven't been, I've encountered a fatal flaw in the story's setting. However, the amount of realism you prefer matters as well, I think.

    Is this fantasy? Is it akin to The Dark Tower with a Western feel, but it's a fantastical world nonetheless? Or does it happen in our world, but you give it Deadwood kind of a spin?

    If it's fantasy, I think all you really need to worry about is cohesion. If you decide they'll have this or that technical advancement, you'll probably want to take into account what other facets of life it affects.

    I personally love details. Not to be explained in long paragraphs but rather, little details that are present in the characters' "everyday" action. Believe it or not, readers notice this stuff, and if you've fumbled, it can gnaw at the credibility of your work. I still wouldn't lose sleep over it, but on the other hand research is fun -- and quick -- thanks to the internet.
     
  13. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,215
    Likes Received:
    4,225
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Just think of the themes of the Wild West. New beginnings, a clash of new and old culture, a place where one can escape the old ways, the stiff expectations of the old world and live out life as they so pleased. A place where it's a man/woman and his/her weapons as he/she rides on whatever mount/vehicle you choose, carving out his/her own place. A struggle to find a balance between civilization and freedom.

    You can do a lot with that without putting it in 1800s American West. :D Have fun!
     
  14. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Both. That is, I'd suggest that you do at least a little more research than you think you need, but that you avoid inserting those details unless they're both interesting and plot-relevant.
     
  15. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,797
    Likes Received:
    7,316
    Location:
    Scotland
    It all depends on what you're looking for. Myself, my stories are set in the 'real' wild west, and I find the issues people actually grappled with MUCH more interesting and diverse than the standard shoot-em-up myth—which, quite frankly, is pretty boring when told over and over again.

    Don't be afraid of research. I've always said it doesn't limit you, it frees you. Research turns up LOTS of ideas you've probably not thought of, that can be incorporated into your story. It makes your story richer, even if you're fictionalising reality.
     
    Link the Writer likes this.

Share This Page