worlds and setting

What is good #writing – Part 5: worlds and setting #writingtips

If you missed them, catch my tips on authentic plotting here. Now we’re on to…

Worlds and setting


Nothing beats research when you’re trying to write a convincing setting. Take it from me – it was a nightmare before the web, so use this font of (semi-reliable) information to your advantage.

Creating new worlds: consider basing your world on an area of Earth, and tweaking the details if necessary. From moonscapes to lava fields to icy wastelands to vertical cave-worlds and bizarre jungles, you’d be surprised at the worlds that are (and have been) here on Earth. The advantage is that you can usually find pictures and other data to fire your imagination.

Recreating historical events/period: similar to using real-world settings, the beauty of using real-world period settings and events, is that you’ll be able to find plenty of information to work from. Remember to always try to find three different accounts of an event or perspectives on a historical period. The world wherever and whenever it was is always more than one person’s perspective.

The everyday: events set in the here and now still need a setting. To add authenticity, talk to others about their funny stories or experiences, and see if they’ll fit in the context of your work. Chances are that you’ve used a lot of your own stories, or fragments of them, elsewhere in your work, so it’s always great to get an infusion of new material. Diaries or blogs are also a great source of content for describing contemporary scenes. You don;t need permission to use this material as long as it’s author can’t be identified.

Write a news report

We’ll cover the inverted pyramid style of news writing later, but the crux of it is that the biggest (most important) elements of the story go first – the who-what-when-where-why. The story then tapers off with the smaller details and supplementary information. So if you’re creating a setting, a world or just a scene, use this style to write a short news report about it from the objective viewpoint of a reporter. You’ll be surprised how well this will help you “fill in the holes” of your story by demanding that you explain the scene more fully.

Tips on improving your Dialogue and Voice in the next post…


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    • I’ve never written one but I bet alt-world stories are fun to write. Is it a feeling of creating our world as you think it could/should be? I’d like that. I love Asimov’s Foundation series.

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