1. NeveroddoreveN

    NeveroddoreveN New Member

    Apr 19, 2020
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    Methods of Setting Creation

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by NeveroddoreveN, Aug 16, 2020.

    Good day everyone! I hope this thread finds you well. I wanted to come on here with a few questions for those reading this about setting development.

    How do you fellow writers become progressive in your setting development? There are two rather basic ends of the spectrum here – one being fabrication of an entire world first and foremost, the other being keeping production of vital information at a minimum and writing from there. I am not bashing nor promoting either way – whatever works best for you is the way to go. Where do you fall on the gamut of that spectrum? You need to find your technique and write from there. What methods do you use when creating a setting, and what ways and means would you suggest to other writers? Where do you get your inspiration, and what techniques are employed when you are fashioning your work? This what I just mentioned... when you are building the world – the setting – of your work, do you go all out and have an immense world building fiesta before you put pen to paper, do you take the opposite route, or are you wiggled somewhere in the middle?

    For fantasy writers, do you map out landscapes with trees and rivers and cute little wildlife, and entire cities with descriptions of all the buildings and all the characters that reside in them? For more modern or futuristic writers, do you make sketches of your characters that populate your world, places they might go, the locations around them? For all writers, what about narratives complete with everything from governments to regional agriculture, everyone that your characters would interact with, flora and fauna, the whole nine yards… or do you enjoy not really having a distinct game plan for the backdrop that incorporates your work?

    I am so, so curious as how you guys handle setting development! Where do you fall in the scale here? I know that writers can be anywhere with this, again you should find what works for you and use it to your advantage. Creation like this is a time-consuming process (I know), but my mindset is that the more detail author provides for his or her readers, the more enjoyable and believable their writing will become. And in turn, your readers will be left wanting more.
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    El Tembloroso Caribe
    Aled James Taylor likes this.
  3. Aled James Taylor

    Aled James Taylor Contributor Contributor

    Sep 7, 2013
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    For me, the first thing to consider is the story. I think of some events I want playing out, and then create setting features that facilitate those events. It's a bit like a blind person wandering about and describing only what they touch. In the series of sci-fi novels I'm working on, the characters visit a virtual world. Initially, world needed to be little more than a collection of recreational activities. Then the world-building kicked in and I asked myself, 'if a group of people designed a virtual world to live in themselves, what would they choose to include?' They'd likely want to make it as realistic as they could, for general enjoyment and to help them suspend disbelief. They might also want apparent magical features for fun and convenience. Then there'd be a tension between those the two. There would be some kind of governance and economy. There might have had grand plans which were only partially fulfilled, such as a large city with mostly empty lots. All these features would start as general ideas and be defined as I go along, depending on what plot elements I happen to choose for the story. For one story element, I needed to have shops in the city, but that raided issued. How would they fit into the way the products are acquired? How would they fit in with the economy? Who would staff them? The answers to the questions are then inspirations for further plot elements.

    As described above, I then edit the text I've already written to make all the details consistent with the world I've eventually come up with.

    Avoid info dumps. It's tempting to make a detailed description of a setting early on so the reader can imagine it as you can. You don't need to do this. One trick is to have the main character being generally ignorant, so they discover new places gradually. The reader also makes those same discoveries. Describe what the characters experience. Strange features in your setting can come across as bad writing, so give explanations for features that seem odd to the characters and would provide them to ask questions. You can also have more knowledgeable characters relate interesting or humourous anecdotes to give a fuller picture.
  4. Aldarion

    Aldarion Active Member

    Jul 7, 2019
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    I am an architect as far as worldbuilding goes. That is to say, I build world first (am still in process of doing so, in fact), and then get story ideas from there. Is this better approach or worse? I don't know. But I would suggest that architectural approach is better if you are going to write a series of books set into the same world, especially if said books are not necessarily going to be temporally and/or geographically close to each other. Example of that would be Tolkien Legendarium - many stories, set over wide geographic area and with temporal span of some 7 000 years from first to last one (maybe even longer). But because he built the world and the backstory first, you truly get the feeling that they are all connected. Videssos Cycle I believe is similar. On the other hand, the "gardening" approach is better if you are going to write only one story, especially if that story is short. George Martin is largely (though not wholly) a gardener, and you can see the consequences: his setting stops making sense as soon as you dig slightly below the surface. I would also suggest that one of reasons why each new novel is taking more and more time to finish is because of this gardening approach.

    So again, what you will use depends on what do you want. But it also depends on your own personality and abilities as a writer: one of reasons why I chose worldbuilding-first approach is that I have significant hairsplitting tendencies, and I do not want to go back and rewrite possibly a million words of a book because one important detail turned out to not make sense.

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