1. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Senior Member

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    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

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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.
     
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  3. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

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    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

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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.
     
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  5. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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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 Senior Member

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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?
     
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  7. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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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.
     
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  8. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter Contributor

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    A metaphor for you: most cheese is made from the same three ingredients; milk, salt, and rennet. Variances in milk acidity, animal of origin, temperature at the time the rennet is added, and a host of other dimensions create the wide variances in cheese we find in the world. A little judiciously added bacteria gives us things like brie, blue cheese, and many others.

    In your setting idea, you have basic curd. From here, apply a trope, a few basic characters, and some sort of goal. All can be found in writing references. Mix them all in a bowl and see if a story comes out. If not, start again with the basic curd and go again.
     
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  9. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    Good advice, @J.D. Ray , if a bit unusually stated.
    I would add that just because you start with a stereotype or trope, doesn't mean that's all the character or plot should remain. Unless you happen to be writing a romance novel or Chosen One high fantasy, it's generally not recommended to stick with textbook characters.
    If you are writing one of those two, trope away. It's not only expected, but encouraged.
     
  10. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter Contributor

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    I kind of got in a hurry and forgot to bring my suggestion around. I think the exercise of applying tropes and textbook characters to a setting gets the fire stoked to create a story. As the story idea grows, replace cardboard characters with three-dimensional ones, then fully realized characters. Replace tropish plots with unique ones. But the exercise of starting with the textbook parts can stoke a fire that will turn to a blaze.
     
  11. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Is that true? No way. :p


    All of this is exactly right. I don't have anything to add.
     
  12. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Write about your MC waking in her bed one morning in this future world and then walking outside. Then return and delete the first six paragraphs.
     
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  13. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    Absolutely true. I figured you probably just missed a sentence somewhere and thought I'd add it in for you.
     
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  14. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    @GingerCoffee Two things. 1, it's not *technically* illegal, but it is valid grounds for disownment by either family. 2, it's not Indiana State, it's Indiana University, and I just use words wrong because I'm bad at words. lol
    But IU and Purdue are both very...fierce in their school pride, and they have a century-old rivalry that's more intense than any other two schools in the state. The cops won't arrest you if you try to date someone from the 'wrong' school, but they also won't help you when your parents kick you out.
     

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