1. Shannonpeel
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    Shannonpeel Member

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    What Real World Settings Inspire You?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Shannonpeel, Mar 25, 2013.

    I just came back from a vacation, a long drive to San Francisco and back to Canada. Along the way I was inspired by some towns, some attractions, and some scenery to incorporate into the fantasy world I've placed my characters into. I even came up with a totally different story to write at some point.

    I don't like to write about real world places because I'm not confident enough in my setting development to ensure I give the place justice, but I do take from the real world when creating a setting in my fantasy world.

    Many great writers continue to place their characters in the places they know and love, Stephen King and Joy Fielding come to mind.

    Which places in the world have you used when creating a setting in your stories, whether you use the real world setting or create a fantasy world?
     
  2. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I don't travel a lot, and yet I still find myself inspired when in very particular areas. There's this huge rock out on my great aunt's property (they own a huge patch of land) and it's in the middle of the woods and the rock has everyone's initails carved into it and it's just this beautiful, tiny little clearing. I've used that scene so many times when writing shorter clips because, no matter how many times I go back there, I find myself inspired to write about it.

    Big cities usually inspire me the most. I live in a very small town, so going out to bigger cities and looking out of my hotel window at the cityscape is always a big blast of inspiration. It's like...wow. This is so different from what I'm used to.
     
  3. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    The village my MC comes from is based on Hallstatt, Austria.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i set one major short story on an elegant old greek liner and the sacred isle of delos, both settings i have spent much time in and know well... other places i've been on intimate terms with and used as settings in fiction are las vegas, the hopi mesas, lake havasu city and puerto vallarta... a musical comedy 'book' i was writing included venice, paris, monte carlo, and athens, all of which i've been to multiple times and love dearly...

    there's probably many more i can't think of off the top of my head, since i've been gadding about the globe for over 40 years...
     
  5. GreasyLocks
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    GreasyLocks Member

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    This is fascinating!

    growing up I used to holiday in Eastbourne, Brighton, Hastings etc on the south coast of England, so I write a lot about beaches, in all sorts of moods, conditions... such moody places where the land meets the sea and sky, so much peace and so much motion can be drawn from the seaside!

    I've visited the Normandy as well, very different kind of trip, profound experience for a youngster like me

    I've been to Marseille too- les calanques and the beaches around there are stunning and have wild mood swings from utterly serene (like the people) to devastatingly vicious. I went there with my friends on an exchange trip so it was one of the best experiences of the sea I've ever had

    the film Porco Rosso made me fall in love with settings in Italy and Croatia, particularly seaside places. I'd really like to go there one day

    I should probably expand my horizons...
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Forests really inspire me. I'm not entirely sure why. I think it's because it relaxes me and clears my mind. Also old downtown anywhere inspires me. Old buildings have great character and almost feel alive in some way. I like to think about the people who were in them long before I was alive.
     
  7. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Well, the open freedom of vast beautiful in different scenarios such as the countrysides, forests and many things that inspire to make a book rather an journey through exotic realms that may even seem alien to some.
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Ancient monuments like the Pyramids of Giza, or the Parthenon of Greece.

    Old-timey buildings that were made during the Colonial era or the Victorian era. Hell, even the sight of an old mahogany-carved writing desk with a bottle of ink, a quill, and rolled up parchment is enough to get me excited.

    So, I guess it's a combination of those two. Old infrastructure and sketches of people who lived at that time frame.
     
  9. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh man, there's one above the rest when it comes to atmosphere: Pripyat / Chernobyl. Talk about post-apocalyptic scenery! Me and KaTrian wrote a sci-fi story where a group of characters travel in post-nuclear holocaust Russia (with dangerous levels of radiation almost everywhere) and pass through a town we modeled after Pripyat. A friend of mine just visited Chernobyl and brought back some amazing photos. Definitely one place we'll visit one day as well.

    While researching Pripyat, we also found one of the most badass things ever: radioactive tornadoes. How's that for a mood-killer when you're trying to romance a lady in the car?
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to live in Victoria, BC, and the landscape/seascape of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is stunningly beautiful to me. I find myself imagining scenery for my stories like that quite a bit.

    My family's cottage is on a lake in eastern Ontario, and late autumn there is almost mystical. Evening falls, we get the fire going, the loons start calling, and I fall into a dream. I try to capture that in some stories as well.

    I grew up amid forests north of Toronto, dirt roads and horses everywhere. I write about that, too, or at least it inspires some of the alternative-history stuff I write.

    I don't like big cities much. Crowds bother me if I have to spend more than about fifteen minutes in them. I find it hard - no, distasteful - to write about crowded places. I had to spend six months in Tokyo about twelve years ago and I flew back home on my birthday - that flight was the best birthday present I'd ever had. Tokyo is just too crowded for me. I felt like I was going insane there.
     
  11. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    My fictional world is set in modern (present) times. I have been inspired by many real-world settings. I am writing about both rural and urban communities. For the urban communities, I have been very inspired by large cities such as Tokyo, NYC, Paris and London, although I haven't visited Tokyo and NYC. The architecture in my fictional world is a mix of medieval and futuristic, although it is set in present times. Skyscrapers and minimalist architecture stand side by side with gothic buildings with advanced carvings and details.
    My hometown inspires me a lot. It is a green place near the sea with 20 000 residents. The city that I grew up in (another city by the sea, with 80 000 residents) also inspires me.

    Seriously, I can't remember all the places that have inspired me. But one thing is for sure: Places near the sea always do the thing for me! I'm addicted to the ocean, it seems.
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Oh, those are good ones too. I do love old places. They have a unique atmosphere and it makes you feel connected to a lot of people. I love walking into old buildings and wondering about the people who used to live or work there.
     
  13. tinylittlepixie
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    Depends on the story I suppose, but I have spent quite a fair bit of time in abandoned buildings (probably best not to explain why...) and I constantly find them fascinating, the whole echoes of the past thing. It's the real world, but it's not the current world and is that one step removed.
     
  14. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    I can certainly identify with this, as much of my inspiration comes from my time in Eastern Europe. The radioactive winds from Chernobyl spread rather far, even reaching small towns in eastern Slovakia (on the border with Ukraine). Some of this is touched upon in the documentary Absolut Warhola, which takes place in Slovakia. Which leads me to my answers to the topic of this thread:

    Gypsy settlements
    City buses
    Dive bars in small towns

    Among others...
     
  15. foiler
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    foiler Member

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    The NYC subway system.
    The endless tunnels beneath New York City.
    The possibilities are endless.
     
  16. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    There's a little town in Arizona that's about two hours outside of Phoenix, in that kind of in-between place that isn't quite desert but isn't quite forest, with a lot of old, weathered buildings and overgrown vacant lots, and there are a lot of artists and antique sellers there. Unless I have a specific place in mind when I start a story, my default settings usually end up a lot like that.
     
  17. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    I've lived in a lot of different places, but the only location I feel that I know well enough to write about with any kind of authority is Boston/New England, so pretty much everything I write is set in a city on the east coast similar to Boston/Cambridge, usually centered around some sort of academic science institution similar to Harvard/MIT:-\
     
  18. YugiohPro01
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    I would say urban places inspire most of my writing, since I think that crowded city areas have the most potential.

    By this I mean that when placing the MC there, you have the opportunity to emphasize some degrading characteristics of his, such as greed and lust.

    What I'm saying overall is that cities make for good literary fiction, as it is there that the folly of man is found, or so I have asserted.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The great thing about New York and Long Island (where I grew up) is that there are so many locales that are so different from one another. I think some of that is due to the multiple influences (parts of Long Island were predominantly English settlements, others predominantly Dutch, and New York itself was a cosmopolitan city of multiple ethnicities, languages, cultures and religions even when it was still New Amsterdam), some is due to the ongoing influx of new and different people and some is just down to sheer numbers. How can one not be inspired in such a place?
     
  20. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Right now, I have used London. But for my other story, it was Bath which is in west England. Since I live in London, which is big, full of people ect...It's nice just basing my setting in another area that's completely opposite to where I live.
     
  21. haribol
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    haribol Member

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    In fact it is always the towns and villages I have travelled becomes a setting and of course through lots of experiences and imaginations one can com upon beautiful settings and narratives. I have yet to evolve as a writer though I do a lot honing my style. One must infuse the wealth of experience with the atorehouse of imaginations to write beautiful stories. Mostly our writings become reflective of the places we were born in and grew. Or else we cannot give our writings a reality vent.
     
  22. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    I travel extensively on vacations, which is the one huge perk to my job. I love to incorporate the things I see, the brief moments I glimpse into my creative endeavors. I also find that an appreciation for our own surroundings can be rather instrumental. We have so many things that we may mask just because we are blinded to their special attributes. For instance, that boring drive in the morning where you cover your eyes with sunglasses, sunshades, and hands may be a wonderful sunrise, marking a new day. That great night at the local diner with drinks, joyful jokes, and wonderful stories may end up being rather fantastic with just a small switch (and a communal spoon). That dreadful place you go to 5 or more times a week and toil away at may hold the nugget of a task that your protagonist is set to do, and to bicker about.

    The real world, in all of its moments, and settings, can be rather fruitful.
     

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