1. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Member

    Sep 18, 2018
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    Missisippi Valley

    Got a Great, REALLY Cool, World Almost Built. . .

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Glen Barrington, Jan 9, 2019.

    Built on an idea my Ph.D. candidate son-in-law said. It would make a great near future Science Fiction world.

    But for the life of me, I can't figure out the main character or some conflict to place it that world! I thought I'd write some scenes of everyday life in that world to explore it a bit.

    Has anyone encountered a similar situation? How did you resolve the issue?
  2. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2017
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    Hmm, it's hard to be specific without knowing a bit more. In general, I'd suggest identifying conflicts or crises within your world, and figuring out how they could tie into your characters. For a simple example, if there's a war or tension between two nations, "two characters from those opposed nations fall in love" gives an instant foundation for a story and character development.

    Alternatively, it might be better to work outward from the characters--who are they, what problems do they have, what conflicts in the wider world are they involved in? Also, what conflicts does the plot require your story to have? And then create a setting that has those things.

    For example, I could start with a premise of "Anne is distrusted and discriminated against because she's one of a disliked religious group". If so, why is that religion frowned upon--does this country have an intolerant theocratic government that preaches that followers of her faith are devil-worshippers, directing hate against them in order to unite the faithful? Or was the religion recently introduced by foreign missionaries, and is seen as a possible tool of subversion of the government's authority? Whatever I choose, it immediately tells me something about why the setting is this way. Also, once the story starts, I can bring this backstory in without info-dumping too much, simply by showing the insults that get thrown Anne's way.
    Glen Barrington likes this.
  3. LazyBear

    LazyBear Member Supporter

    Oct 27, 2017
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    Uppsala, Sweden
    Starting a story from a thesis is like trying to bake using only dry ingredients. It's an answer looking for a question. I usually write down many random ideas before trying to combine them into one story. First I had a concept with a theoretical invention to measure emotional intrinsic life value, then I made a random story about a crazy uncle. When combined, the invention explained why he went mad and treated his girlfriend like a plant after thinking that she had no soul.
  4. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Feb 24, 2017
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    I had a similar situation. I had a vague idea for a group of people in my head and had to create a story and a world to incorporate them. I began with the basics.
    1. What is something I am passionate about?
    2. What is my theme, based on the passion?
    3. What is my main character's flaw? (what are they working to overcome in the book?)

    Then establish a premise. What if a (girl/boy/woman/man/elf/alien etc) who (flaw) faced (conflict) and had to (solution)?

    So, for example, mine looked like this:
    Passion- Women are capable of being badasses and doing what men do.
    Theme: Women can be heroes/believe in yourself
    MC Flaw: Lack of confidence, insecure
    Premise: What if a girl who lacked confidence and self-worth faced unwinnable war and had to find her inner strength to save her country?

    Then give your character a main goal. Mine is to live up to her strong and confident mother's legacy.

    And go from there.
    Stormburn likes this.
  5. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere...

    Jun 23, 2015
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    Consider just starting with a real basic story. That is how I start all of my stories. No attempt at fancy. No attempt at compelling. Just basic. See where you can go with a basic story, then build off of that. Really, in the end some of the greatest literature was just a basic story at heart.
  6. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Active Member

    Apr 2, 2017
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    If the world you've built is as developed as you say it is, there is conflict inherent in it. Between ruling families, between countries, between college football teams (in Indiana, it's illegal for a Purdue graduate to marry an Indiana State graduate), between the haves and the have-nots, between the washed and the great unwashed.
    Conflict isn't even a uniquely mortal invention. If you have any kind of religious system, any disagreement (however minor) could be cause for, say, a war that lasts 30 years. The gods themselves could war. Are there forces of nature a character might try to fight against, like a near-apocalypse or just some garden variety 'acts of god'? Rampaging wild animals? Wildmen?

    A fully fleshed out world includes, implicitly if not explicitly, the entirety of the human experience. We tend not to get along with ourselves on the best of days, and no one ever writes a book about that. No, you're going to write about a really, really bad day someone had and how they deal with it. That's what a book is. Someone has a bad day, and someone else has to do clean-up.

    Also remember that just because you've put a lot of effort into any aspect of your world, doesn't mean your readers will see it right away. I've put entirely too much effort into the hierarchy of mages and priests in my novel, but the main character (and thus, the reader) will never see it. But I know it's there, and it makes the story that much more fulfulling because it's been fleshed out.

    The very first thing you absolutely have to do, before you can even decide on a main character or even a plot, really, is decide what *kind* of story you want to tell. Science fiction is a genre, yes, but it's more like a setting. Take Star Wars, for example. A clever writer could write a romance novel set in the Star Wars universe; a different writer, a horror; a third, mystery; a fourth, action-adventure.
    The approach, narrator voice, and relevant conflicts for all of these would be quite different, even if the main character could, in theory, be the same.
    Not all writers can do all genres of book. Just because someone is a great romance writer, doesn't mean they can write mystery for shit. I expect to be an above-average writer of...eh, actiony...cerebral...somethingsomething, but I know better than to attempt a romance novel. I just couldn't do it. I've read a fucktillion of them, but I just couldn't write one.

    What genre do you want to write? What are you good at? What are your skills? Are you good at emotions? Action scenes? Suspense? Description?
    Stormburn likes this.
  7. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

    Sep 7, 2014
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    Think of someone who is in a part of the society that always gets the short end of the stick. Then find a conflict for them that puts them up against some of the major obstacles that define the setting.
    matwoolf likes this.

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