Monday, May 10, 2010

Setting the scene.

The setting.

Obviously, it's important to any story. How does one come up with one? Most of the time it is a place we know or at least somewhere we could visit and experience the taste, feel, and smells of the place we want to create. But what about those places we don't know of. Those places we create out of nowhere that may or may not be light years away. What then? Imagination. We all have it, we use it always.


(Pictures from my town..isn't it cute.)

In current WiP, my setting is familiar (the town I live) and it also contains an imaginary one. Writing a mix of the two is frustrating and fun. With the town I live in, I can just walk outside and see it but with the other world I turn to my brain trying to show me. When writing them, I need to keep in mind the balance of explaining it vividly without over explaining it. This is another thing I'm working on because I can explain the death out of something. You do have to set it up for the reader so finding the right balance is important.

I also have been having a hard time coming up with names for the imaginary world.  Currently, the names are on the back burner until the revisions are done or until I have an 'a-ha' moment.

So, I'm making it short and sweet today.

How do you come up with your settings (scenery)?

How do you come up with names of imaginary settings (scenery)?

Hope you guys had a great weekend! Have a great day!

***Don't forget Writing the Next Line starts on Wednesday (May 12th).  I may post it early (Tuesday evening). This will be up for a few days so feel free to come as often as you like and tell your friends.

28 comments:

  1. Mine are always imaginary towns, but I suppose things I've seen/places I've been sorta contributes to what it looks like. I actually drew a map of the town my stories take place. But the names are hard...some pop in my head but I'm sure they aren't original.

    Great post!

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  2. My settings are always from where somewhere I've been. My current one is a town I used to travel through quite a bit. I also have a map so I don't get lost.

    I can't wait for "writing the next line." That was so much fun! Have a great Monday.

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  3. All of my settings are imaginary! But I use bits and pieces of real settings to build them up. I love doing description and I'm like you! I can go on and on describing things and sometimes I need to cut to the action!

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  4. Great post and good point. So far I've only written about places and settings that I have actually experienced, just adding enough twist to make it fiction, so it has been easy. There are small scenes with minor locations that don't exist though, so like you said I just had to imagine it.

    I'm really bad about using too much description though, still working on that.

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  5. I'm still trying to figure out what the second picture is...I know the other three.
    Well, like you, my WIP is based on a town set in reality and the other is all imagination. Finding names and things for Eastlyn was hard and I'm still not sure if I have them all down. But for me, I took a bunch of different words that I thought sounded right and arranged them in different ways- put words together, deleted a letter, added a letter, etc.

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  6. Since my book is set in space, I rely a lot on science fiction movies and TV shows to develop a feel for the scene.
    As for names - had to get creative! But I kept the names simple. Nothing more challenging than a science fiction or fantasy story with long, difficult to pronounce names.

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  7. Good question!

    I really don't have an answer. My settings are just sorta there as I write. Like my characters. Dunno where any of it comes from - I suppose, as far as scenery/setting goes, I could have seen it somewhere on TV or in passing and just don't remember that I did...

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  8. I'm weak with setting. I usually use where I live, try to make it imaginary within the real world I know. But descriptions and weaving setting into the characters' lives is very difficult for me. But I am working on it -- taking workshops and incorporating what I learn via my reading of craft books.

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  9. Descriptions of setting are my number one weakness, even though I am writing from the town I live in.
    My characters (all in first person) have such unique voices that I wish I had that third person narrator at times to help with descriptions. I have to match how they see the world with thier unique voice and that is such a challenge for me. I usually forget to even do it! Yikes. It's something I am working at. As far as places. If its a street or landmark, I leave the names the same. If its a business, school, or hospital (etc) I change the name and plug em in the town where I see fit.

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  10. The current wip is set half in reality, half in fantasy. For reality I allude to real places, but the actual names (street names, villages etc) are imaginary. I choose these from maps, and usually bounce a few names together to form a little mash-up! I often get inspired by ancient languages and Latin.

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  11. For now, my settings are in places that I've been. In fact, in my first novel, I set it in Lake Tahoe (where my family had a cabin when I was growing up) and then used it as an excuse to take my family there last summer. You know, to do the research. :)

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  12. Hmm... For me, the scenery is usually already present in my mind. I know how I'd want to paint it had I the skill to do so.
    I think it helps to find how it is alike and unalike to places one already knows well and then simply effect a transposition.

    As for names, I love using anagrams, dead languages, foreign languages, phonetic mistranscriptions, history books, encyclopedias, etymology, and whatever grabs my fancy really. Sometimes I simply go with how I want the name to feel. Different phonemes evoke different emotions so I put them together to create something that sounds likely for the context.

    Laura Marcella was pondering how to come up with character names, you might be interested in taking
    a look at her post and the comments she got. A lot of the tricks could easily be used for names of places as well.

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  13. Your town looks way cute! And I don't know how I come up with settings, I just usually have a picture in my mind of how I want it to look, which usually gets changed a lot along the way :)

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  14. i think the setting just pops into my head like everything else.
    But i wrtie fantasy so sometimes the setting is a bit strange

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  15. My setting in the WIP novel is a fictional Southern town, but it's based on the towns I grew up in. All I have to do is look into my memory for inspiration. ;)

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  16. Setting the scene is very important I would agree. Thanks to my wonderful crit partners *hint hint* I've realized that some of the chapters in my novel makes no sense, it doesn't set up a scene and if it does it's only a dead end one. I've completely revised and altered the beginning of my story to get straight to the point, the fun stuff so that the imaginary world pops out more quickly, which is the basis of the story. My world isn't named as of yet, however the travelers are the only one's in it and as you read further in the story you realize it's really the same world we just see things differently.

    Now mystic on the other hand (my newest WIP, whic you left such sweet comments on btw!) is a town, something that others can't see, it really just appears to those in search of something exciting and new, luckily Tommy helps the MC see it clearly as time progresses.

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  17. I think most things are based on personal knowledge/experience/memories. Sometimes I ask my kids for ideas. Setting is a tough beast! :-)

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  18. Oh, I love your town!

    My settings are usually where I'm located, and what's around me. It's what I'm familiar with; my world.

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  19. Your town looks awesome!

    My settings are a combination of places I've been, fictional, and places I want to go (makes the research more fun).

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  20. I have a hard time coming up with imaginary names for restaurants or schools or even towns. I want them to be realistic but also relevant and not cheesy. It's a delicate balance, you're right. Maybe as you continue working with it, it will become easier for you. :o)

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  21. So far, I write what I know. Towns and settings are familiar with fictitious names.

    YES, your town is so cute.

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  22. Coming up with names is rough. One of the hardest parts for me. I'm like you. I wait for an a-ha moment.

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  23. Great topic! I've always loved coming up with names and I'm about to draw a map of the world I made up in my new story. I usually name on a theme, so if I'm going with Greek mythology, I could make up the Sea of Poseidon or the Apolloan Mountains. If it's a more normal, everyday setting, I draw names inspired from where I live and people I know :)

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  24. Your town looks beautiful! I've never written about a place I've actually lived in. My first book was set in Philadelphia, which I've visited a number of times (and have friends & family from there, so they helped with details) and my second book was in a made-up, futuristic city.

    Both my ideas for a new WIP involve cities I've lived in before, so that will be different. Probably easier, too. :)

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  25. I do try to write about places I've lived, but I also love researching new ones. I could research endlessly. Talk about a mental vacation. Hey, I hope to participate in the Writing The Next Line activity tomorrow, and I promise not to screw it up this time. :) You should see a little package coming to you in the mail soon.

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  26. I want to live in your town. It looks awesome!

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  27. maybe we should all share make believe places, then we'll have a big database, and we can steal each others locations at will :D

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  28. The setting usually just creates itself. And the name comes pretty easily too.

    Those are great pictures!

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