1. CGB

    CGB Active Member

    May 15, 2014
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    Characters moving a lot

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by CGB, Jun 26, 2015.

    I'm writing a fairly massive space opera, with 4 POVs. One of them has 13 chapters, and in the span of those 13 chapters (which show just a single drawn out scene - there are no scene breaks within the chapter) one of the characters manages to visit 7 different planets. He is investigating something, and that's just where the story takes him. Still... I wonder if this is a little too excessive. Especially when 2 of 4 characters are on World A in the first 1/2 and then on World B in the second 1/2. The last character pretty much stays on World B the entire story.

    Is there something to be said for limiting the amount of setting changes for a single POV? I really don't want to eliminate any of this character's trips, but I feel I might be overdoing it.
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

    Jun 3, 2015
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    SC, USA
    Ehh ... I mean, it's all in the delivery. I don't think it's an inherently bad idea or anything. Just be aware that if you don't pull it off, it might seem rushed or unnecessary. I would suggest seeing if you can condense it at all - does it have to be seven distinct planets? Does each planet take up a lot of time or is it a "the first two worlds were dead ends, and the sixth and eighth caused him a little trouble, but ..." kind of thing?

    Having one character 'exploring' the universe and showing off different aspects of it sounds pretty cool, when the others are pretty much stuck in one or two places. Just be sure all these trips are interesting, and truly relevant and needed.
    drifter265 likes this.
  3. drifter265

    drifter265 Banned

    Jan 29, 2013
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    Most stories, if you don't know, usually take place in one setting. I know that's not true for all stories.

    New writers usually lean towards writing fantasy or science-fiction when writing their first novel because the writer can take their characters wherever they want and do whatever they want. It makes creating drama - what all stories need - easy but also superficial and not a lot of emotion and depth. Fantasies and science-fiction are great for new writers because it helps give practice on how to write a story but a lot of them are not taken seriously because they lack readers being able to relate to them, not just because of the outrageous worlds but because there are no characters they can connect with.

    Your problem is definitely that your characters are moving a lot. It's why you're asking for advice. You just don't want to believe it yourself because you don't want to scrap all the work you just did and call it crap. I'm not saying it's crap. I'm just saying that I think you think it is because you're already doubting whether having your characters move between seven planets is a good idea.

    Your problem lies in inexperience and this is a learning process. You're learning that your characters should not be so focused on what's going on around them in the outside world but should be more focused on what's going on in the inside. And to do that it doesn't really take much more than one setting and the coffeeshop down the street.
  4. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

    May 8, 2014
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    Washington, DC, USA
    Visiting lots of planets can be done and had been done. But it's extra work. I juggle a few locations in my book and it works out (at least according to readers - granted my locations are Rome, Washington, and Wisconsin).

    If it's space opera, at some level it's ABOUT movement - Star Wars usually clocks two or three settings per movie. Asimov's Foundation series (which isn't space opera but shares elements) bounced around the galaxy like a pinball and had some pretty unique planets pop up for one or two scenes each. But the key thing is that the planets aren't the setting for space opera - SPACE is the setting for space opera. You have ONE setting, the galaxy (or whatever cluster of stars or planets you're using) - and the planets are just weigh stations. There probably are a lot of cultural commonalities in the various worlds of the Galactic Empire or whatever - and they may not be entirely separate. In a lot of Space Opera, the setting that holds everything together isn't planets at all, it's the ship. If the ship is your main setting and the planets are pit stops, you don't have as big of a problem a you think you do.

    Which is not to say you shouldn't think about paring it down. If you have too much of anything, it's a problem and it needs to be worked with - and if you have too much plot in too many places, cut it. But I do think it's important to conceptualize Space Opera's setting as the galaxy itself, not the individual planets that get visited as separate settings.
    GuardianWynn, Shadowfax and izzybot like this.
  5. rasmanisar

    rasmanisar Active Member

    Jan 11, 2014
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    Worked for Terry Pratchett. His books cut around all over the Discworld with different characters carrying on their own little threads simultaneously. Of course, he was extremely good at drawing it all together ;)
    GingerCoffee likes this.

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