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Continuing with the "specified helpful areas" routine...I humbly present the Setting and Description Thread.

Let's face it, anyone can sit down and tell a story or a joke, but without those little's just not the same. How you go about setting up your stories world, doesn't just have an impact on the nitty-gritty, it helps every facet of the work from start to finish. It builds a better understanding of charters, makes that "off the wall" plot believable, and makes the words jump off the page.

Here we'll discuss how to do that! Tips we've learned, examples of works, you name it. If it falls under Setting and Description...this is the new one stop shop!!

3/8/2011 #1

I am having a hard time keeping the setting for my sci-fi things in order or at least interesting. I have yet another story that is partially done....I just can't post them yet. they are beyond irritating for me right now.

3/9/2011 #2

What exactly are you having a hard time with? Just coming up with the setting itself? Or, a more particular problem?

3/9/2011 #3

Well, as a mainly sci-fi writer, the best advice I feel I can give you is to be vague and let the reader's imagination do the work. There is no need to explain what a lasgun, hab block or dataslate is. Throw in little hints of what things might look like, but never state what they are or how they work. Think outside the box when you are designing planets, this time using more detail to describe it. Think of temperature, weather patterns, flora and fauna and smell. That last one cannot be stressed enough as it is so amazing at connecting the reader to your setting and it is so often overlooked. Also, wherever possible, work these details into your story, as opposed to dedicating a paragraph or two to describing what the surroundings look like.

Lastly, think about why the reader is reading a sci-fi book. Sadly, sci-fi readers do not care as much about plot or character or themes as they do about coolness. An original idea can make up for shortcomings almost anywhere else in this genre.

3/9/2011 #4

I write sci fi fanfic all the time. In creating worlds and societies, I find it easiest to base a world on a real culture. In my latest (epic) fanfic, I have one world that is loosely based on an Arabic culture (think Bedoin) and another based loosely on Scandanavian/Nordic culture. I even use names similar to ethnic names for added effect. I also spend a lot of time browsing images online in similar settings. In another fanfic, based in San Francisco, I spent HOURS looking at pics of the Golden Gate Bridge and SanFran. I just employ that to sci fi.

3/10/2011 #5

Thank you all for the feedback.

But I'm often running from one thing to another and not normally able to get to my laptop, which will change very soon I pray.

But with Lyric's Heartsong it is somewhat not abstract or too sci-fi. The human race is faced with the aftermath of a fifth World War and the state of the enviorenment is basically ruined. Like we already know. The ways the scientist have worked with actually making the new breed of humans is from animal DNA, because the animals are adapting better than we are. Also there is a horrible Bio-war amongst the countries, but all of this is simply the back drop because the story is mainly a love triangle story. Yeah, don't know why that is what it is but my characters wanted it so......They speak to me.

Any way, I also like Tigers and so there's nothing like conflict between a cat and a dog so the antagonist is a male cat animal and the female has the DNA of a Great Gray wolf. I researched mating patterns and things like this and characteristics for these characters but I'm struggling with incorporating all the information together so my readers understand that they are not just spys but there is more at stake than that. I'm having a hard time with my background info.

My second Sci-fi deals with human experimentations and it isn't too out of this world, but simply the creation of super bugs and diseases are being made and the scientist are racing to see who can perfect and patent it first. I think they are all solid plots to a degree but just there are some holes in there. I can go into details since I think I got possibly an hour with out someone screaming my name or folks knocking on my door begging for sugar, milk, or cheerios. Yeah.....its strange but true.

3/11/2011 #6

Also, I have this fantasy thing that's swirling about where the Pixie's and Fairies are not the same. But the research I have to do for that is just going to happen.

I like the era enough to sort of get a skeleton story but the background is shady and well just not full of enough believability. i mean the fantasy readers are a very loyal bunch and if you don't know a troll from a gnome then you may get blasted. My idea is during a time also that magic is used but not heavily. The fairies are the ones that work mostly with the arts, music, reading, dance, instruments, etc. and their magic works along those lines. The sing chants for magic to operate.

The Pixies are the ones who are of nature. Flowers, seasons, etc...but they speak short encantasions. They are also very big compared to the Fairies who are more like midgettes to us. Yeah, weird, but I think that may change. My characters hate it. Anyway. I love dragons and so I have an idea of a time where they are going into an ice age and only the usage of dragon's fire can save them. Well the only ones that can speak to the dragons' are the pixies and the only ones that can soothe a dragon is a fairy, but the dragon would like to kill them both. the whole world thing is a blurr, the time as far as weapons is scribbled about in my mind but the characters are somewhat vague.

I know that's a lot but heck i never know when I'll get a quiet moment.

3/11/2011 #7

Wow! It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate! I know what that feels like!

My first suggestion would be to write all of this down somewhere. It's gonna help you organize your research. . . .Then, research as you go. At least, that's how I do it. As I was saying in one thread once, I wrote a story related to domestic terrorism once. Very big plot with twists and turns. I didn't set out to decide HOW everything happened from the beginning. I just decided that plot points A, B, and C happened. Then, I wrote until I needed the information. When I needed the information, I dove off into the world of research. That way, you'll have more specific research sessions for what you're writing. . . .

As for your sci fi, I suggest you decide how you want your world to look. Is it like Haiti, after the quake? Or New Orleans, after Katrina? (Sorry to bring up those topics if they bug you. They were the first disasters in recent history I could think of.) Then, model your world that way. Society is always interesting, too. For your one with the dog and cat, do dogs and cats tend to segregate the way humanity shamefully segregated in the '60s? Then, maybe, your lead characters falling for one another goes against everything they've been taught and who their peoples are. You could use a lot of the tensions from the 60's for that. Do you see how I'm following this train of thought? I know it's not necessarily what you'll do, but that's how I operate.

When you talk about your second sci fi idea, I'm seeing lots of white labs and white-coated researchers. . . .I've written stuff like this before in a sci fi setting. (See my No Matter What on Anyway, the diseases and such are totally up to you. Once again, I suggest you start with reality and branch off into sci fi. It flows better that way. I once had a neurotoxin that caused the brain to release an overabundance of the hormones that caused uncontrollable rage. However, because people with ADHD often have a deficiency in these hormones, the neurotoxin cured a kid rather than killing him. And it produced an antidote. See how I started with true science and then went my own way? With diseases and a plot like that, you're gonna be doing a TON more research. Unfortunately. (At least, in my opinion as I LOVE a story and not the research.)

As for the pixie/f*** one, I like it! ;-)

3/11/2011 #8

You have no idea how many times I try to duct tape the plate I have together so the stuff I have to do doesn't fall to the ground.

As for Lyric's Heartsong, Lyric (Wolf) and Osyrus (Tiger) are the two who I flirt with as far as their attraction. Lyric is currently involved with the main scientist who is the lead with the bio-weapons for the United States, however he doesn't feel that the others in his team are really working with the US. There is a government breakdown also going on and so everyone is looking over their shoulders and trust is measured by how much competition you can steal from and destroy.

The love triangle becomes even harder when Charles, Lyric's boyfriend is faced with actually telling her the truth about her entire existence which hes been lying to her about since they dated. Osyrus is simply a h***, opportunist, with the ego and swagger of a naughty alley cat. He initially just looks at her for her obvious beauty and strength but tragedy helps him think of her in a more wholesome way. At any rate, there are other characters that will bring the truth about the fact they become attracted to each other to light and Gabrielle, Charles uncle is often the only fatherly figure in this whole thing. He keeps the three from killing each other and also helps to teach Charles that he needs to tell Lyric the truth about herself and use her as one of their field agents and top spies.

Crude language and sexual inuendoes are all through this thing but Osyrus is a gritty sort of guy who is unapologetic about the way he uses women, yet he is very secure in himself which is the oppostie of Charles who is immeditately thrown into insecurity because anatomically he doesn't compare to him and Lyric is normally not satisfied by him.

I know you get my drift so that is a re-occuring issue as well. But I've hit a wall right now and I can't think it out for my characters so things continue to flow like they did in the beginning. I guess maybe I need to talk up the next portion of the story more? What do you think?

(Any bad spelling please forgive, I'm trying to maximize my time here since I doubt I'll have me time for a good while)

3/11/2011 #9

I understand "Me" time. I have 10 minutes before my daughter gets home from school. ;-)

Talking up the story helps, particularly if you've got someone you trust with story points. I know it's helped me in the past. I have one particular person who I brainstorm with via email. Another thing that helps is to freewrite/stream-of-consciousness. Basically, it's like this: "Okay, I have this story I want to write and I'm stuck. Now, what I've done so far is _____ (you fill in the blank). What needs to happen is ______. Now, how can I get around this? Well, I could do such and such. But that only works if this and that happen. But, something might happen if I throw in this little complication." Don't censor yourself on this, either. No one is going to see it. ;-)

Then, there comes a time when you let the plot guide you and force the words on the paper. Remember: it can be fixed later. I'm an inner perfectionist, and I like my writing to come out perfect from the start. It doesn't happen that way. ;-)

3/11/2011 #10

Man, if it needed to be perfect when I typed it, I'd have stopped writing loooooooooooong time ago. I've come really far from where I started. So I figure heck, can't get worst....Least I hope not. I still hate commas....LOL!

3/11/2011 #11

And I LOVE commas! LOL! I'm always adding in too many!

3/11/2011 #12

@ Ladygris - I didn't finish telling you the background for one of my stories is like Gotham city from Batman. It also has a harmful atmosphere that causes people to wear gas masks around. The labs and things are mostly warehouses placed all over the cities and in rural areas. But its been the devil for me to try and explain that the main characters live in one of the labs, yet they also conduct tests there. The living quarters are like apartments and condos within an even larger apparatus.

3/12/2011 #13

@Frap: Oh, that really does set the atmosphere in my mind! I can already see it: very dark. Dank. The rich live in spotless, hermetically sealed apartments in the highest skyscrapers, leaving the lower levels to the underprivileged. They get by with fires lit to ward off the cold while trying to breathe through homemade gas masks. The harmful atmosphere must cause some sort of disease and such, so disfiguration is common. One doesn't need a "house of horrors" on Halloween, just take a walk through the lower levels of the city.

At least, that's how I see the city. . . . .

3/12/2011 #14

Hey, its close and yes the way most of the 'normal' humans can tell that folks are poverty stricken is the disfiguration. When those who are grown in the lab walk about without masks they get stared at often because they look normal and are normally sort of attractive. I'm so glad you get it! I just don't know if I've explained it well enough. I do a lot of telling, because I wasn't sure how to show it.

The main character also likes to go to the Canadian mountains to hunt in the wild, which is another thing that is odd because even though they look like humans they maintain a lot of their animal instincts and often leave to handle those impulses. Lyric has been blinded by her boyfriend from this but Osyrus will bring the animal out of her. He's already helping her change.

As a plot twist, she finds out that Charles has actually kept her in a section of the warehouse all of her life and it was so well maintained that she never realized she'd been in-doors all her life. He's been drugging her to surpress her animal genes and abilities. Neat or just lame?

3/12/2011 #15

Not lame. Fascinating. To me, anyway. It's gonna be an interesting process for her to figure out. Not to mention how she copes with the betrayal.

3/12/2011 #16

Yes, I was hoping to make all of their feelings and emotions play out in their thoughts and also in my narration. I wish I got more folks to look at it though. I'm at the next portion where Charles has finally one-up Osyrus and he's currently hurt, but in the next chapter she finds out about her life being a bubble.

This is where I'm struggling. I can't get it to flow like I want. The dialogue in my head isn't doing what I want. Osyrus being the charismatic j*** he can be finds the opportuntiy to get her alone and well just getting to the woods from the lab and all that is tripping me up. I don't want to just throw something in to make stuff happen.'IF you need me to explain in better depth let me know.

3/12/2011 #17

I also get a chance to explore their animal sides a bit more.

3/12/2011 #18

Okay, so where are the dialogue and characters trying to lead you? I'm currently working on an EPIC story for, and I've had to rearrange my plans so many times because of dialogue. For example, two characters decided to get into a drunken brawl, which changed the whole dynamic of the story, something I hadn't planned.

3/12/2011 #19

Well, in the last chapter, like I said the boyfriend out steps his so called rival. She's thrilled but during the time Osyrus is down, Lyric starts to think about things he has said and Charles acts more suspicious in her mind, which is good because it is her instincts finally coming through. She has not been taking her meds, because she realizes how much better she feels without them and so this leads to her asking questions. They argue and then she is confronted with Osyrus again. She keeps him from killing her boyfriend but he starts to blabb more about how CHarles keeps her in the dark.

This leads to the following day when she goes to work and again the fact she is no longer taking the supression drug she hears the clicks in her phone that doesn't make sense. She smells cologne that doesn't fit people and she begins to feel the eyes of others watching her. This goes into her tearing up the make shift job and tearing it all apart and she discovers her boyfriend behind the scenes pulling the strings.

Enraged she turns to Osyrus to take her out to the real world and well that portion is what I'm having a hard time with. Not them going into the wiled just the dialogue in the portion that I just typed about.

3/12/2011 #20

Hmmm. . . .That is a tough one. I have several people that I chat with online for moments like that. Usually I roleplay it out. One person takes one character, the other takes one character. Then, roleplay the parts. But dialogue can be tricky. . . .

3/12/2011 #21

Yeah, and I don't want to play too much into her beginning to be attracted to Osyrus. It is annoying for her, and the boyfriend of course, and simply great for Osyrus - who sleeps with anything that will open up and female. I had something typed out and I trashed it because she's also a sort of strong female so she was sounding too mamsie pamsie.

I know that's not a word but............

I have no one I roleplay with. Maybe we could put something like that here. **Shrugs**

Osyrus is also very unapologetic with his language so I didn't want to overdue it either. There's just a lot to have to sort out and I didn't want to drag it out either. I was thinking about skipping all the dialogue and simply tell it and move on.

3/12/2011 #22

You could simply tell it and move on. Or you could have them arguing on their way out. Just quick jabs at one another. Do a simple "he said/she said" identifiers at the beginning, then just bounce the dialogue back and forth. Do you have anyone you argue with? Imagine arguing with him/her over this thing and run from there. . . .

A role play section would be fun, especially if it was for the stories.

3/12/2011 #23

Hmmmmmm......That's funny.

I'm pretty mellow so confrontation is not too often. I'm that snake that is cool till you fall into my territory and then WHAM! You get it. However, there are folks on the job

that I think of that I wouldn't mind exchanging choice words with. If you ever read anything I have you'll notice that all of it is marked Mature for a reason.

But the telling and throwing hints of what's going on is looking more and more like the route to take.

3/12/2011 #24

And sometimes that's the best route to take. You can do something like, "trading barbs with increasing volume as they ran." Or whatever they're doing. ;-)

3/12/2011 #25

Okay see, right now the only part I didn't get rid of is Osyrus talking with Gabrielle, Charles's uncle but his mentor sort of. and I was thinking about bringing things up in their conversation with glimpses of action between Lyric and Charles.


3/12/2011 #26

Basically juxtaposing the information download with the argument happening in another room?

3/12/2011 #27


3/12/2011 #28

That'll be an interesting way to break up the action. It'll heighten the tension between Charlie and Lyrica. (Hope I got her name right.) Not to mention the rising anger that Osyrus is feeling.

3/12/2011 #29

It's cool, her name is Lyric. She is also part Lark but that will come out when she gets into the wild and really starts to sing. She is a mix of Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, Toni Braxton, and Mariah Carey. Carrie Underwood doesn't have a lot of twang when she sings, but heck she can blow. I can't think of the lady that christian singer who sings 'Awesome God' either, but she has pipes like her as well.

3/12/2011 #30
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