61 votes
Accepted

How often should I remind my readers of the setting?

Each time it makes sense, no more, no less. You do not need to make recalls. Consider your character's POV. When does he think about the weather ? Closing the door of my house, I looked at the sky....
Stéphane Mourey's user avatar
47 votes

Is it Ok to make up places if I want the reader to think it’s set in the real world?

Jane Austen routinely did what it sounds like you want to do: she kept the big places intact (London, Bath), but the estates mentioned in her stories (e.g. Pemberly) are fictional, with only their ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
46 votes

Is it appropriate for me to write about the pandemic?

I see two separate issues here --your work, and who you are getting feedback from: There's nothing intrinsically wrong in being inspired by current events. People do that all the time, and some great ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
46 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

Some people will believe they know how things work, even if they don't If you were to ask a highly educated person 2,000 years ago why things fall down, they'd have an answer. (It just wouldn't be a ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,669
42 votes

How often should I remind my readers of the setting?

+1 Stephane. My own take is that if you are mentioning something like the weather, an emotional state, an article of clothing, a weapon, anything, it should have consequences in the story. So yes, ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
37 votes

How do you normalize a taboo custom in a setting that most readers would not agree with?

The reader doesn't have to agree with the setting of your story: he just has to understand it. I'll basically answer with a longer version of "show, don't tell". Our society may look down on ...
Liquid's user avatar
  • 15.9k
26 votes

First quarter friends

Realism is just a style: If it serves your novel better to have your MC serve with his buddies from bootcamp --or at least some of them --just make it happen. Lampshade it, or explain it away if you ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.5k
26 votes
Accepted

Do I need to create fictional places to make things work?

Yes, absolutely, don't worry about Railway fans. You make places up by "pastiche". They don't have to actually exist, in fact it is better if you invent small towns and features that don't ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
22 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

My answer is fundamentally similar to JonStonecash's, but comes at it from a different angle. You mentioned the following: the narrative intent behind this is to lower the reader's guard by making ...
F1Krazy's user avatar
  • 10.8k
21 votes
Accepted

How to make a setting relevant?

I've seen this feedback to a bunch of folks lately. That's got me thinking. Here's a few things to consider. Don't describe setting bits that don't matter. Describe setting through character ...
SFWriter's user avatar
  • 23.8k
20 votes

Is it Ok to make up places if I want the reader to think it’s set in the real world?

The location serves the story, not the other way around. If you need to alter geography a little bit, that's fine. It's called artistic license, and everyone does it. The danger is that changing ...
Arcanist Lupus's user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

Writing short stories in an original world setting

Short answer: You should write just as much as necessary, and nothing more. Short stories are supposed to be like that - short. Even if it's a fantasy setting, maybe a wildly elaborate one, you ...
Liquid's user avatar
  • 15.9k
19 votes

Is it appropriate for me to write about the pandemic?

There is no topic that per se is inappropriate to write about. Great literature has been written about everything, including rape, incest, child abuse, murder, terrorism - and yes, including the ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 4,484
18 votes

Referencing modern pop culture in science fiction

Easy answer: Don't include anachronistic pop culture references. "writing a geeky character who does not make such references is almost unrealistic" Well, maybe, but surely not jarringly so. I'm a ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 25.6k
17 votes

Referencing modern pop culture in science fiction

I can invent it, but then it wouldn't serve the goal of a pop culture reference… Paul Verhoeven isn't everyone's favorite director, but he often interjects invented "pop media" in his sci-fi: ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
  • 27.2k
16 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

The most important question is, why does it matter what the details of the magic system are? It may be important for you as the writer to know, but does it matter to the characters or the plot? For ...
JonStonecash's user avatar
  • 5,247
16 votes

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

Other answers have already given you good reasons why it might be a good idea to not spell out the exact details of your magic system. However, if you still want to share some background on how the ...
Llewellyn's user avatar
  • 3,295
15 votes

What are the advantages and disadvantages of setting a story in a made up country, compared to a real one?

The advantages are not losing a large proportion of your audience, and not being accused of being a racist, a liar, a hater, a bigot, an ignorant writer, etc. If you use a real country, there will be ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
15 votes

How much description is necessary?

A complaint from readers if description is not sufficient goes something like: "It felt like floating heads were talking in a white room." Readers wish to feel grounded. You don't necessarily need ...
SFWriter's user avatar
  • 23.8k
14 votes
Accepted

How to clearly distinguish the settings of different scenes from each other, and make them "feel" different?

I think what you are being asked for is to personalize the settings. Imagine yourself walking into two places — one is place you think is dangerous and the other place is your safe-space or homey. For ...
EDL's user avatar
  • 12k
11 votes

Should I be concerned with my fiction writing containing accidental prophecies of real world events?

I wrote a story in which an aircraft disappears over the South China Sea. A few months later, an aircraft disappeared over the South China Sea. You might have heard about it. My point is, fiction and ...
Ralph Crown's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

First quarter friends

Your issue is common to many novels and other long works. Your characters aren't just dropping into and out of your MC's life (like you often see in, say, TV shows where the MCs have friends for one ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.4k
11 votes

How to make a setting relevant?

settings feel irrelevant The characters, for example, are in an office, or a restaurant, or a different office at various times throughout the story ― but any of these places are interchangeable If ...
SC for reinstatement of Monica's user avatar
11 votes

How to clearly distinguish the settings of different scenes from each other, and make them "feel" different?

To make scenes feel different, you have to use a different set of descriptive words. For a diner, it could feel cozy and quiet, and the first thing they might notice is how warm and comfortable the ...
AnnWriter19's user avatar
  • 1,551
10 votes
Accepted

Referencing modern pop culture in science fiction

I face the problem myself when I dabble in future SciFi stories and settings, I like to use a "Famous 3" where the third one is an oddball that is either comically modern compared to what we see Or ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 13.5k
10 votes

How often should I remind my readers of the setting?

Ditto to Stephane and Amadeus, let me just add: I think there's a difference between blatant reminders and subtle reminders. Using your coat example, I see three ways you might say this. (a) ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 25.6k
10 votes

How do you normalize a taboo custom in a setting that most readers would not agree with?

How do you normalize a taboo custom in a setting that most readers would not agree with? Carefully. Extramarital affairs and multiple partners are looked down on, and having multiple father's to ...
RonJohn's user avatar
  • 525

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible