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60

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. It will not be long before it starts to snow again. or Walking on the sidewalk, he was careful not to slip. or He looked at the landscape, beautifully ...


44

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 general location given. The estate was fictional, but culturally it was set in its time, in England, which is all that she needed. Similarly, you can invent a ...


43

+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, describing winter in your story does have consequences, a forgotten coat creates some hardship, a form of conflict that sustains interest in the story during a ...


38

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 extramarital affairs and multiple partners, but the reader has to understand that this is not our society. Since the covens-clans are a big part of your setting, you ...


26

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 must, but don't be a prisoner of realism. In fact, even according to what you say, it's not unrealistic for there to be at least a core group that progresses ...


21

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 action. Using these two pieces, imagine the following options (neither is very good; just mock-ups): The office was roughly square in shape, with wallpaper that ...


20

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 should not describe more than you need to bring the short story to an effective, satisfying end. Any information you give should serve at least one of those ...


18

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 geeky person. If I spent a few hours with other geeky friends and no one made any sort of reference to a science fiction movie, it's possible that that would be ...


18

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 the real world risks throwing readers out of the story if they are familiar enough with the area to recognize the changes. They'll get distracted by the details, ...


17

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: newscasts, tv commercials, in-world propaganda. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is painfully awkward (my critique: he blurs worldbuilding and satire, and Verhoeven ...


15

Sometimes for me, when growing the setting first, I find it generates new characters, details and interactions that lead to a story organically growing out of the exercise. There are many ways to start putting a story together and very few are right or wrong. Still… Pros A cure for writer’s block; if you want to write but don’t know where to begin, ...


15

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 people both attached to that country, and opposed to that country. There are real facts about that country and its history. There will be vested interests ...


14

It sounds like you're describing an infodump (warning: TV Tropes), and that's a phenomenon best avoided. The issue is this: by your own description, the explanation is not interesting enough to hold the reader's attention at length; its purpose and significance will only be clear to the reader later in the story; and in this particular instance, it's also ...


14

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 to do this with external detail and description (but there is a quick work around for that, below the first quote box). You can instead do it with ...


13

Interrupt the character. Have you read The Hobbit? Gandalf had to make a lengthy explanation, which he didn't want to get boring, so he set up the dwarves and Bilbo to interrupt him from time to time. From a cat flashing by to another character getting in, there is much you can do. Having the character unwilling to talk, but being coaxed into telling the ...


11

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 fact intersect. Somewhere, right now, someone is writing a story that will somehow "come true." Not because that writer can see the future (as far as we know) ...


11

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) Blatant reminder. "Jack walked out of his apartment wearing a light shirt and sandals. It was still winter. This meant that Jack should have been wearing a coat and ...


11

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 the places are interchangeable, they are definitely irrelevant. Ask yourself why the characters are in that place. How does being there affect the story? ...


10

'Setting' is not the same as 'place' or 'world.' All of which are close enough in definition but since you said crime fiction I think what you meant is the setting, even though you go on to say 'the place' but let's cut to the chase and see what's going on here: Edit: I swear I'd read 'place' somewhere in the Q! Place: This's a subset of 'setting.' The '...


10

Either don't mention it at all or mention it fairly early. The reader is capable of building a decent image of the location in their mind and it's fine both for real locations and (even easier) for imaginary/undefined ones. That doesn't really matter. What matters is not to force them to break it down. It's extremely frustrating for a reader to build an ...


10

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 are obviously alien. For example, in dialog, the hero would refer to the "Three B's" of music (a real term denoting the significance of classical musicians Bach, ...


10

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 your children is shameful. That's it? Not mother-son incest, ripping the beating hearts from your own babies, consuming them with fava beans and a nice chianti?...


10

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 episode then suddenly they have a big event and no one shows up). Your MC is changing settings. With set changes it's normal and expected to change supporting ...


10

How much description is necessary is a matter of style, taste and to a certain extent, genre. Some genres, such as Young Adult, possibly crime and others tend towards more broad strokes when it comes to description. Other genres, such as fantasy, sci-fi and literary (not exactly a genre, but you know what I mean) usually indulge in much more heavy ...


9

Every revolution is different. Every civil war is different. They are different in why they are fought, they are different in how they are fought, they are different in who is fighting. (To clarify, I do not mean the obvious "who" as in "the English" or "the French". "Who" can mean different classes, different tribes, it can be different noble families ...


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