Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writing 101: You Don't Have to Go Home, But...

Every writer has to create a world for their books, even if their books are based in a real time and place. You still have to create that in the reader's mind out of nothing. You may have a reader who doesn't know what living on he beach is like, and that means you have to be the one to tell them. No matter what sort of setting you're creating, do yourself a huge favor. Base it on an actual place that you can find on a map.

Pick a Real Place for Your Setting, Or Else

No matter where your book is taking place, you must give your readers some frame of reference. If you can make me understand that snow is frozen water and it's capable of falling from the sky in soft, icy little pieces, you've done your job as a writer. But you can never make me understand what glub is when it gets on your hands unless you can compare it something I do understand. If you tell me that glub has a slimy texture, I'll get that. You have to do the same sort of thing with your setting. You've got to ground it in something I understand.

You've got to pick a real place, somewhere, and use this as your foundation. 

Setting plays a huge part in any story, and you have to treat it almost like another character. Readers need to know what it looks like, what it smells like, what it feels like. Are there animals? Is there vegetation? What are the colors like? What about the sky? There are so many details, so many layers to explore. And you're going to want all of that in your books, because all of that makes your books feel a lot more real.

Make it a lot easier on yourself by picking a spot on this planet that's comparable to whatever fictional setting you're building for your book. Even if your book is set on Mars, you can find real deserts that somewhat mimic that landscape. If you start with a real place, you're taking  a lot of stress off yourself research-wise. Using that real place, you can learn more about vegetation and animals, and pick and choose what you'd like to add to your books. All of this information is just more layers that you can add to your stories to make them feel richer and more real. 

Find a place on Earth to base your setting around, and a lot of work is already done. When you're in the self-publishing game, anything that can lighten the load is worth pursuing.

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