Which do you like better, Middle-Earth or The Galaxy Far, Far Away?
For those folks who don’t know, Middle-Earth is where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books (and movies) take place. And The Galaxy Far, Far Away is the universe for Star Wars.
What does this have to do with today’s post?
We’ve talked characters. The people in a story. Novel, short story, it doesn’t matter. Characters don’t make a story by themselves. They can’t.
Because Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker would be nowhere without…
A lot of stories involve regular people in a regular place. Mechanics in a coffee shop, or farmers in a restaurant. That’s fine. And some of this post’s suggestions still apply.
The big plus for these more “regular” stories is things are recognizable–you don’t have to explain what a grocery store or market is.
But science fiction and fantasy stories are harder–depending on what you decide to do, almost nothing is done for you. But that’s what makes these stories great.
You’re making a world for people to enjoy, maybe for years.
It can be overwhelming. How do you do this? Here are some kick-start questions:
What do you do in the course of a day? Let’s say you drive to work in rush-hour traffic in a city with rainy weather, once in a while. You work in an office building, and have a boss who’s not a bad guy. You visit your mom every Thursday afternoon, and take her out for a snack.
The point here is that every character in every story or book will have a normal day (unless you’re writing about an abnormal day). Let us know, a little at a time, what those characters deal with. Which leads us to the next idea…
What makes up a society? Not to get philosophical here. In a society, we’ve got:
Just one change, addition, or subtraction of one of these can make a unique setting.
Stock investing is against the law, in your fictional world?
It’s a requirement for your economy to have more than one currency?
The poor help the wealthy regain skills they lose with age?
What other societal factors are there? And how can you change them around to make a setting that’s yours?
And now, think…what if your world has more than one society living in it? Or something else–different planets or races in Star Wars, or Men, Dwarves, and Elves in Lord of the Rings?
What do all Earthlings have in common? Everyone on Earth has things in common. I’m talking about physical things like weather, friends, emotions, customs, culture, and more. And these all affect each of us–even if it’s as simple as another culture’s food that we enjoy.
How could you put this in a story? A few ideas include the weather on your planet, whether characters can have more than three friends, if certain cultures are forbidden from hanging out with others, and so on.
There are thousands of variations here–maybe millions. Small details can be the jumping-off point for a lot.
I hope I’ve helped in some small way to show the possibilities of fictional settings.
Character is piece one, and setting is number two. You know what’s next–but we’re going to take it places you’ve never imagined…in another post.
Because Frodo and Luke would have floundered without it.
Until next time,