1. Julie
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    Julie New Member

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    When, where? I need some help.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Julie, Sep 10, 2009.

    Hi, I'm new to this forum and also Norwegian, so I apologize if my English is a bit weak.

    I have a problem that I really don't know how to solve. The thing is, I don't feel like putting my story into a contemporary setting, a fantasy setting, historical setting or a sci-fi setting. Then what's left? I have thought about writing a fantasy novel, but it soon developed into a story without magic, and that isn't very fantasy-like, is it?

    Is it possible to write a novel which is only inspired by a time period, such as the 1800's? There is something very appealing about the way people dressed and acted at that time, but I don't feel like saying that my novel IS a story from the 1800's. I don't wan't to feel restrained by a certain time period.

    My question is: Can I create my own, kind of old-fashioned, non-magical society inspired by the "real world" without making it a fantasy or a historical novel?
     
  2. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I don't see why a period piece has to have magic involved. I mean, your boiler-plate "fantasy" will have elves and dwarves and Gandalf the Grilled Over Easy, but it's perfectly possible to write something with the same sense of aesthetics without having to either crowbar in dragons or enforce any kind of historical accuracy

    You might want to take some care with the names, concepts and even the plot though: Too fluffy and people will come to expect a gnome or two to pop up, real-world copies will make them expect some level of consistency with real-world events.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you can imagine it, you can write it.
     
  4. Julie
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    Julie New Member

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    Still confused

    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still pretty confused. I don't want the people who (hopefully) read it to expect something they're not going to get! What would you have done in the same situation?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You already said what you wanted to do. Set up a milieu that has much of the feeling of the 1800's, and yet is not necessarily the 1800's. Maybe it's on another planet, or an alternate Earth timeline. However you choose to explain that it's not our reality is up to you. You could refer to the recent victory of the Confederate States of America over the oppressive Unionists in their Civil War, for example. This would establis a parallel but somewhat different history, without having to explain why the timeline is different.

    You should do whatever you feel comfortable with. I don't know whether you just don't want to bother with in-depth research or you need some elements to be different.
     
  6. Julie
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    Julie New Member

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    This may sound lazy, but to be honest I don't want to do LOADS of research about historical events and so on. The reason why I like the 1800's for example is, like I said, they way they dressed. I am more interested in the aesthetics than politics and history. I know I should write what I want to write, but I still can't figure it out. Anyway, thanks.
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think you're really the only person who can answer that question. If you have a compelling reason to do that, then write a compelling story that shows exactly what you imagine. You must have some reason tied to the story that YOU want to write to have it be whatever it is that drives you. So go for it! You just need to make your reader experience your story in whatever way you imagine it, and that's what writing is all about, really. Don't worry about what others will "call it." That's all about marketing anyway. Your only job is writing it in a way that makes it impossible for your reader to ignore it.

    Addition: Actually, now that I reread your question, I think what you're imagining is that you must decide upon what genre your book is before you write it. If that's your problem, know that that decision need not be made before you write your story. Often isn't made even afterwards (for literary fiction, for example). Genre is a way of marketing books to specific consumers (or a way of deciding what kind of agent or publisher might be interested in working with you); that's all. You don't have to think about that when you write your story. Just write it. Then rewrite it, polish it, and find some readers to provide you with feedback, or someone to give you an idea if you've succeeded in communicating through your story the one you had in your head to begin with.
     
  8. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can do whatever you feel like. The question you should be asking is "should ?"

    Anyway, tons and tons of successful authors have done exactly what you're asking us about, so I'd say go ahead.
     
  9. luckyprophet
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    luckyprophet Member

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    You can.

    If you take a movie like "The Brothers Grimm" (2005), for instance. It's placed in the mid XIXths, and it's nothing historical.

    Another movie: "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988). It's placed in the early 1800s, and it has nothing of History either, and it even speaks that it's _the Age of Reason_, in the beginning. And it has no magic in it, in the sense of magic.

    Another movie: "A Knight's Tale" (2001). Late Medieval one, and it's fashioned to be something that sounds and even looks, and feels modern.

    Writers (and cinema) play with such things.

    I write some things in what someone would call Europe ... However, what people would really think about is "is that really Europe, or is he writing about some imaginary place?" ... -- It's both.

    P~

    Ps. Welcome to the forum, Julie! :)
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Watch "Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events" with Jim Carrey.

    It takes place in a setting that by all means looks and feels like the 1800s or early 1900s, except that it's not - because they have cell phones and other kinds of technology, it's just shaped in really old-fashioned styles. The movie completely disregards any kind of historical accuracy but it works great because the style is coherent.

    If that doesn't work to convince you then consider any old fairytale. They usually take place within our world history but are by no means realistic.

    You don't have to come up with an elaborate excuse for it either. In fact, that would probably just work against you. Tim Burton can do fine without explaining why every other item looks like a candycane.
     
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  11. Julie
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    Julie New Member

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    Thank you very much! Really nice answers which helps me a lot! :)
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as noted by others above, you can certainly write anything you want, but at some point, if you hope to have it traditionally published, and not pay to have it printed, you'll be querying agents and publishers... and they will need to know what the genre is...

    that's when you'll have to settle for it being pigeonholed, whether you like it, or not... and what you describe is probably going to be labelled either fantasy or historical... or historical fantasy!
     
  13. Julie
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    Julie New Member

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    I don't mind if a publisher wants to label it fantasy or historical or whatever, I just don't feel like being historically correct. It's like, if it turns out a fantasy I don't mind calling it a fantasy. It's not that I don't WANT it to be categorized.

    I just want to create my own, kind of realistic, but still imaginary world.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Either way, you will need to do research. Creating a believable pseudo-historical setting generally requires even more study of similar settings than researching a real period and locale adequately.
     

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