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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 ...


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? ...


9

You need a major twist earlier in the story. The promise to the reader is that there is a debate about the strange events, and that things don't always turn out as they appear. That makes your ending "fit" within the possibilities defined by the story. Strange events have happened and have been scientifically explained, even though they may have been ...


8

You need to distinguish allegory and applicability. Tolkien wrote on the subject: I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author. Any time you write about genocide, it would be applicable to the Holocaust to some extent, people would be ...


8

Since it's an historical novel involving international politics, I'll assume that you can't change major events in the plot or Setting. I'll try a Theme/Character example: One setting (British Guiana) is talked about but never seen – except possibly in flashbacks. It represents something she's lost (childhood innocence? her family status?) and something he ...


7

You may benefit from taking a big breath and looking at the situation from outside. You are Indian and you grew up in a society with richly pervasive traditions to which you feel bound. A Japanese person has also grown up in a society with richly pervasive traditions to which they naturally feel bound and which will influence everything they write. An ...


7

If the set of coffee cups is something you can buy or find (outside of the movie company's website), then, yes, no problem. Use them. If the set is something not currently or formerly made but is something a dishware company could easily do in the future (for example, an unusual color or pattern or style of handle), use them. If the set is unique to that ...


7

I suppose it depends entirely upon what you're hoping to acheive. If the liminal location isn't there for any other reason to show geographical distance, then you probably don't spend any time focusing on the traveling there. I think it was "The Wise Mans Fears" that basically implied an entire pirate adventure and ship wreck for the main character in a ...


6

+1 DPT, yes your characters should be interacting with the setting. If the "entire thing could have been a phone call", I'd say you have a problem with the dialogue, and the character emotions. Dialogue itself should be influenced by the setting, and vice versa. Intimate dialogue is seldom exchanged in a loud restaurant, some of it isn't appropriate for a ...


6

@DPT's answer is great (+1), but let me add one more element to it: it's not enough that your characters interact with the setting. There needs to be a reason why your characters are there in the first place, the setting needs to affect the story. Your characters are in an office. Why? How does it affect the story that they are in the office rather than ...


6

DPT and Sara Costa have provided great points. (Sara beat me by 4 minutes!) Having the characters interact with the setting is a way to make it matter for the scene. Most of the time when I see this addressed in writing craft books or online by authors, the solution is stated as making the setting a character. In practical terms, one way to make the ...


6

If the victims of the democide are being killed just for being who they are, then getting away from parallels with Nazi Germany is simply not going to happen. The deaths in the Holocaust were not a by-product of some political goal, but were the primary objective of the whole affair. The massacres caused by the other notorious regimes of history, on the ...


6

Successful in the sense that it is the only viable solution. In this world, democracy has failed as an institution, with the various powers unable to come together in unity and oppose the invaders. That seems highly improbable; it seems you are saying that people that believe in "democracy" would rather die by alien invasion than fight. In WW II, millions ...


5

Creating fictional places within a real world setting not only works in fiction, but it's extremely common. Creating the the fictional space is helpful because it allows you to flesh it out however you wish. You don't have to worry about getting it wrong (though you'll still have to do your research to make sure it's consistent with the time and place). ...


5

It'd make it less realistic, but it's an appropriate break from realism. It doesn't violate any 'contract' you may have established with the reader. What would be bad is if you establish rules at one point in the story that don't apply later on. Given we have Hogwarts being accessed from King's Cross Station, platform nine-and-three-quarters, the kind of ...


5

Is there any possible way to do it right, without foreshadowing it so hard that the twist is moot? I would say ... No. But you can write the story, without letting your MC agree to call it magic. This is the way it is done in many stories; an MC is searching for something "scientific" and discovers it and calls it "new technology", even though it is ...


5

Alternative history is a mainstay of speculative fiction. Redrawing countries' borders is very often a part of that. Sometimes countries that exist in the real world are missing. Sometimes new countries are added. Heck, even real history can make changes that dramatic in less than a decade. You're asking a two-part question. First, if it's okay to ...


5

Most of your metaphors do seem a bit confusing. Your first example compares parallel rays of sunlight to entrails, but entrails aren't parallel. Your second example compares newly formed clouds to transparent glass, but even the wispiest of clouds are far from transparent, they are opaque at best. Your third example "exhibitionist, twilight colors" ...


4

Stop being an Indian writer, and become a writer. There is an Elton John bio movie coming out. He was born Reginald Dwight and changed his name. In one of the preview clips somebody tells Reginald "You have to stop being the person you were born to be, and become the person you want to be." Same thing for you. Being born Indian doesn't mean you have to ...


4

Allow me to introduce you to a game-changing author who at age 19 wrote a morally complicated "pot boiler" about a privileged jerk who plays god then abandons his responsibility. This novel has everything: an anti-hero who fails his redemption arc, a villain who is articulate and sympathetic, and a heretical theme so aggressively feminist that Christianity ...


4

I think something that will be key to making your story work within your parameters, i.e., keeping your readers happy even with a 7th-inning paradigm shift, is to focus on the elemental genre of wonder. What's that? "Elemental genre", which is a term coined by the writing-lessons-with-bestselling-authors podcast Writing Excuses,* is a method of story ...


4

If you drop these scenes/locations from your story, where does it leave you? Does your plot still flow smoothly? Are your characters developing the way you want them to? If your plot and characters are the same with or without them the you can probably sum up their traveling in a few short lines. Three weeks on the road had been hell, if you could call it ...


4

Establish their winglessness before you establish their method of gestating children. You're absolutely right that this is an easier task when you have a character who is from the culture of the reader. It's also fairly easy if the narrator takes the reader's perceptive when describing the aliens. You don't want to use your narrator in that way (nor ...


3

Having reality as a foundation for the fiction makes it more believable, and limits how much explanation you need in the work. If it is set in New York, you don't need to explain why the ground is covered with melting, dirty snow on a warm February day. If it is in the 50's, you don't need to explain why some guy is wearing a Fedora hat. I've read fiction ...


3

I think for option 2, the problem is if you research the same things everyone else researches, your fantasy will reflect that, and thus have... unoriginal/boring settings that have been done to death Can you research other cultures? For example, in answering someone's question about fire/ice and elements, I found this site https://fireupwaterdown.com , ...


3

I wrote a pretty long answer here, which I think applies: Should we avoid writing fiction about historical events without extensive research? In short - Look at other theories of history, and their theories on fascism/genocide -- maybe those elements aren't linked in certain cultures. Is the fascistic culture being imposed from above - aristocrats ...


3

I do the same thing. This is how I've handled it. My novel is set in a variety of places and my aim is to use real places when feasible and realistic places when not. By coincidence, I also have a need for a central European train station, though one less modern and different from yours. I had the station I needed in my head then looked for a real one to ...


3

The Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency book might be a useful read, as it features a number of improbable but explainable events that were actually accomplished through "magical" means. To make this work: The rational explanation was somewhat dubious. While theoretically possible, it wasn't reasonable. This was noted by characters and obvious to the ...


3

We tend to assume whatever we're reading about is humanoid, unless we're told otherwise. (In fact, multiple stories exploit this trope to reveal later in the story, or in the very end, that the character wasn't in fact human.) Which is to say, your readers are going to start with the assumption that the characters are humanoid. You fear that once your ...


2

When making up a fictional story setting, there is always something that you have seen or read somewhere else that led to inspiring you for making that place up. The points that you have discussed are true. If you want inspiration, you need to look somewhere for ideas. You might not take everything. Maybe you like the scenery someone has described, but their ...


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