1. Captain Cat

    Captain Cat New Member

    Oct 7, 2018
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    How could I improve my story's world?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Captain Cat, Oct 12, 2018.

    So, I'm in the process of writing my first big story, which is supposed to be the first in a series. The full story is called "Black Moon" and it's set in a fantasy world which has a very gothic and Victorian aesthetic, with some Steampunk-esque technology, mainly in the form of trains and more down-to-earth things, as that aspect isn't the focus.

    Anyway, I'm here today asking for ways to make this world more interesting, like, what details I could have or mention that'd add to the world without specifically showing or telling every little thing.

    The three main locations I currently have planned for the characters to traverse from their starting point to their destination are: A huge desert, a diseased and insect-ridden forest and a town of cultists.
    Should I have any other major areas to this world in this first story? What sort of locations would fit the overall theme and aesthetic? I specify that, yet there's a desert, which has nothing to do with any of the ways I described this world

    If anyone has suggestions on what I could add or change to what I mentioned here, feel free to reply, and thanks in advance.
  2. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society

    Apr 11, 2018
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    Staying in my comfort zone
    It's sounds like you are blending or blurring genres a little. Which is interesting, but be careful you make it feel appropriate and not disjointed.

    That's a broad question. There's not a lot I can say other than to start trying to write your story for you, which I am of course not going to do.
    Make your world interesting by putting a lot of time and thought into it, and going with what you like and what feels most appropriate to you. Then give to others and see if they like that too, and repeat.

    These all seem fine, but that's just because they don't obviously not fit which isn't a high bar. At this very basic level of analysis, there isn't a lot to be said. Especially when I don't even know what your story in particular is really about.

    Probably, is my best guess.
    But I really can't say. It depends on the plot line, and how much there is going on in these areas.

    A lot.
    What is the basic plotline? Worry about that first.
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    I may be misunderstanding, but it sounds like you're avoiding the main gothic/Victorian/Steampunkesque setting. That's the setting that I, as a reader, would be most interested in.
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  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy dilettante assassin! Supporter

    May 2, 2018
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    Passing from the Dream Circle to the Spirit Circle
    You don't necessarily have to describe the era, or fashion, but hint at it. What is the effect of the tech, smoke, steam, light, oil. What do people do. Pull up their long dress to take a step off the train into the ethereal fog of the steam... bla, blah etc. The whirring of... chuffing of... clunking of... cogs, gears, sprockets... noise. Smell. Texture. What is the effect of the scene creating? (rather than the details) How do people deal with it. Focus on what the characters do. They are really the story.
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  5. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

    Jan 16, 2018
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    Invent things on the go, as and when needed. Character walks in a dark room - what do they use for light? Character needs to travel - what transport is available? What's valuable in this world? Is there lore about special objects? Etc.
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  6. Night Herald

    Night Herald The guy in the $4,000 suit. Supporter

    May 23, 2012
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    Without knowing anything about the storyline, I'd say those three locations are more than enough for one story/book. Location is just a backdrop, after all, the place where Story happens. Well, okay, backdrop doesn't quite cover it. Location interacts with character, and vice versa. Is there anything in the story that can't realistically happen in any of the three? If it's purely a question of flavor, I'd say you're covered, though a good fourth location might be a "civilized" urban area, like a major city. That would contrast nicely with what I assume are two wildernesses and a not entirely "normal" society.

    I think it might be better to expend effort and word count on breathing life into those locations you have. Take the desert, for instance. Is it natural or manmade? Are there ruins, settlements, nomads, oases, Mad Max-style raiders? Is there any life at all, or is it just a dead waste? Is an attempt to cross it perhaps considered a death sentence, but the need is so great that it must be done anyway? What does it do for the story? As for the cultist settlement, the most interesting aspect surely has to be the cult itself. How do they live, practically and spiritually? How is this reflected in the mood of the place, the architecture, fashion, and language? Do they have the same level of Steampunk tech common elsewhere, or do they not have access to it, or do they repudiate it out of religious convictions?

    I may have gone slightly off topic at the end there, but my point is this: locations are, generally, only as interesting as what goes on in them.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
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  7. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

    Jan 21, 2016
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    Inner West Sydney, Australia
    You need a clearer question here. What are your concerns in particular? What things are you trying to achieve? And in terms of info for us, could you describe the main premise?
    More specifically, how much do you expect your characters to travel? Given this is a fictional world with world-building stuff, you generally want to travel to show off your world and make it matter and the audience will generally expect you to. I would probably include more than three settings. Or at least have variations within those settings. Given only one of your setting is a developed human setting, that might be difficult because the most variant in human-focused stories around human interactions is in diverse urban metropolis sections and "a town of cultists" sounds smaller and more monochromatic.
    Also, if you have some genre ideas, locations, presumably some more specific ideas about the world and hopefully the plot, work with those before adding something to make it "interesting". Expand don't add is my principle. Only add something distinct from what you have if you have actually utilised it's potential properly before deciding it's insufficient. And the best additions are rooted in working with what you have to be as much like an expansion as you can. Because you should stick to what your doing. Unless it sucks, in which case why are you doing it? So, what are you doing with what you have? What would you say are the most interesting, and plot-relevant, things you already have? You seem to hint at that in the start of your post in terms of how to mention interesting things without being lecture-y. That's a very different question to what you should add and it's related to how many locations you should feature but not necessarily the same thing either.
    I would recommend this video series for how to do world exposition in fantasy and sci-fi for advice:

    Also I have a fetish for the Kiwi accent
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  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Member

    Jul 31, 2018
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    Motivation, motivation, motivation.

    And how and where it is based.

    Your world can be interesting if it is psychologically valid and resonates among your readers. If it is, you can add any kind of cool stuff you like. If it is not, all that cool stuff drops away because your story has no social base that holds things.

    Value hierarchies? What is on top?
    Type of society?
    Science, knowledge, media...
    Social drive?
    Sexual drive?
    Religious drive?

    A world has everything. List what categories you have. You need all the rest.

    Most of them can be there implicitly, but they must be.
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  9. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Member

    Aug 30, 2018
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    I often think the best way to bring somewhere to life is through the people in it and how you describe things. Like if I said to you 'a dog in war armour' does that give you an idea of the place and plot? Obviously some battle is going on otherwise why would a dog where armour and maybe even raises the question 'what do the dogs do in the ear effort.'
    Or 'a stray dog that had not yet been eaten.' What kind of world does that simple small phrase raise in your mind?

    I also like seeing variations in a town, city or country. Upper class areas and poverty areas make a place feel more real and relatable.

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