Writer Guy’s Tip #1: The Setting

From here on, the tips are no longer in a very specific order. This is just one of the possible ways to approach the situation.

So, it would probably work best if you just have a rough idea of the plot and the primary characters of your story, but haven’t quite started with the real writing. Of course, this is under the assumption that you have prepared. If not, you might want to take a look at this.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that this stage deals with the backdrop of your story, and it is not meant to help you describe the setting. That would come later.


Now, let us focus on the topic at hand.

What exactly does ‘Setting’ entail, some might wonder.

Simply put, ‘Setting’ refers to the world you have created, within which exists your story. It can be as small as a single room or building, as is the case in The Shining, by Stephen King, or it can be as extensive as the DC Multiverse.

In my opinion, it is best to work out the broad aspects of your setting at the very initial stage, and to form the details of the plot and the secondary and tertiary characters accordingly.

Now, the following are the two major aspects you would need to consider:

Time Period:

This is the first thing you would want to decide, largely because it is not really affected by the other factors, and several other factors depend on it.

It largely depends on your personal choice, whether you want to have people killing one another with guns, or swords, or high powered laser weapons.

Of course, you could also create a world where people don’t kill one another, but you probably wouldn’t…

Geography:

This basically depends on the genre and the basic idea behind the plot, and would be a major focal point.

Firstly, you should decide the scope of your world, be it a run-down hotel, a vast multiverse, or anything in between. For the sake of illustration, let us consider we are creating a single continent.

Then, start creating your world. Decide its size, and its location within the world. Add mountains and rivers, plateaus and plains, forests and lakes. Of course, it helps if you create a rough map for reference, depicting all of these.

Now, you would divide the map into countries, or kingdoms, or empires, whatever you may need, and start adding the cities. The naming of these can be done at a slightly latter stage.


This, so far, is the easy part. You have created a simple, hollow world. To make the world run, you need to consider the following dependant aspects for each of the regions and such, according to the aforementioned two independent aspects:

  • Climate System
  • Flora and Fauna
  • Population and Demographics
  • Economy
  • Technology

The thing is, you need to know everything about your world.

For example, if you are working with continental Europe of early 19th century, and you have a cataclysmic tidal wave approaching from the Atlantic Ocean, then:

  • You need to know what impact it would have on the fishermen and the seafarers of Brittany.
  • You would need to know how long would their boats and ships survive, before the waves sheared them apart.
  • You would need to know how many of them would utter curses in Breton, and how many in French, before the water swept them away.
  • You would need to know to whom they would want to pray, if at all, before their sudden and gruesome deaths.

Of course, it is highly advisable to form a large database with all such details, so that you do not overburden you memory.

Also, do research existing or past analogues. That would be an immense help.

If you do hit a wall, figuratively, feel free to contact me.
If you hit one literally, still do contact me. I would not be much help, but, you know, moral support… Or maybe just call the ambulance… Or your Mom… She’ll know what to do…

Anyhow, we have four more major components of fiction writing to discuss. So just under a month…

So, this is all for today.

Thank you.

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Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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