1. King_Horror

    King_Horror Member

    Jan 8, 2016
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    Somewhere in the U.S.A.

    Question regarding how to set ground work for a story.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by King_Horror, Jul 4, 2017.

    I have been writing for quite a while now. To my amazement, my writing style has improved. Or so I'm told. I haven't told anyone this yet, but a nagging problem continues to bug me.

    How do I set the ground work in a story?

    By this, I mean I am having issues setting up the world in my stories. No matter how hard I try, I myself am not satisfied with how I introduce characters. Or how their lives are before conflict comes in. Never mind that I get A's on my writing assignments in school. What I'm getting at is this: When I set up a story, it's not good enough for me. I can't convince myself that my work is gonna knock people's socks off.

    Any help would be appreciated. I am also open to how other writers on here set up their works.
  2. DeadMoon

    DeadMoon The light side of the dark side Contributor

    Dec 7, 2014
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    fargo, ND
    I like to hit the ground running and by that, I mean hit the characters with conflict and tension and trouble right away., doing this will allow you to show how the characters react to said drama and thus giving you plenty to work with.

    also, make a lot of lists of ideas that you could use and you will find (most likely) that by the bottom of your lists you will start to come up with some good original material to work with.
  3. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

    Dec 8, 2016
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    South-East, UK
    I get into character, and plot very quickly, and use lines and references scattered around to introduce the world as I go. If the characters are engaging, the reader won't mind not knowing everything up front.
  4. JPClyde

    JPClyde Senior Member

    Jun 20, 2017
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    Colorado Springs
    Depends on what I am writing. If its a slice of life, I actually like the plot to be subtle, the plot is the characters, and thus their lives before the tension is just as important as the tension and needs to be set forward.

    In my fantasy novels I always set it up with some kind of conflict, be it political drama, some sort of action.

    In my horror novels I'll be honest and say I get a bit flowery, I love setting the ground work of atmosphere, the tension comes into the details, and the reader is carried to go on. But the reality of the situation is that I then hit them with normalcy, but that leftover tension lingers in the back of their mind.

    I say a good ground work is

    -Strong enough Characterization to carry the normalcy
    -Or if it fits the genre some kind of high drama
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    I've had people tell me that my work has caused them to knock tables and drinks over... but never socks. I'd worry about the basics of plot, conflict, character, and imagery before worrying about the socks.

    In all seriousness, the ground work or milieu of the story is kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy... it exists because the characters do. The backstory isn't terribly important. If it were, it would be the "front" story. How your characters were before the conflict will be illustrated by how they react to the conflict and where they wind up in relation to where they began. And your characters don't need to be introduced with a lot of fanfare. The readers don't need their resumes to find them interesting. The setting is always important, but that doesn't need a lot of elaboration independent of story and characterization either. So long as you focus on the characters and the conflict driving them, all of that ancillary stuff will develop on its own.
    xanadu and Shadowfax like this.
  6. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

    Jul 7, 2016
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    Flagstaff, Arizona
    i keep hearing the phrase "the magic happens in the revisions." if your first attempt at sock-knocking doesn't feel just right, leave it be and move on. go back to it after you've written a few other meandering ideas that can tie together. i've been doing that, and it's making the process a lot more fun. "This sucks. Whatevs." Plus, whatever sub-par thing you write initially serves as your step-stool to the next idea, and then you refine until the story shines.

    another thing to think about: quit looking at your work as the genesis of a story with a linear beginning, middle, and end. i tried doing that and it set me up for a lot of contrived junk because i was so focused on the implications to my plot. instead i'm dancing around my characters, writing random moments, ideas, etc, that appeal to me. A scene where my protagonist and her friend have been captured and need to escape. A scene where her friend finds out he's a demigod. A moment where my MC is mulling over a million different questions pertaining to her life. They all suck. They lack continuity. In some cases they'll never get in to the final product of my story because they ramble and infodump and generally look like a piece of 4th grade fanfiction. BUT, the next time I read over one of those little blurbs it might give me an idea for another part of the story, and slowly all the floating pieces start to tighten up and move closer to one another. i'm making up the process as i go, but i feel really confident that something cool will come out of it.
  7. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

    May 15, 2017
    Likes Received:
    I don't bother so much about setting until I have the story the way I want it. Write the story naturally, with the assumption the reader has the same understanding as you. Then decide afterwords which parts need more setting, description, or explaining. You may decide, then, a lot of explaining isn't necessary. There's a lot to be said for letting the reader do some of the work for you through imagination.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017

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