S – Setting

SI talked about the essential nature of characters earlier on in the A to Z Challenge, so I felt like it was good to talk about another important element most any story – written or unwritten – has to it. And that is the Setting. We are, all of us, impacted by the places we have been, have grown up in, and know about. Whether those impacts are societal, economic, linguistic, or story-worthy, we are all impacted by place. If characters are so pivotal, it follows that place impacts them as well, and should be taken seriously as well.

It can be easy to take the setting for granted, maybe especially in realistic sorts of writing. Set your story in a known place? Let everyone’s stereotypes, assumptions, and knowledge of the place fill it up. I feel like we fall back on this especially in spoken story-telling – we might mention someone is from Texas, for instance, to conjure up a whole host of assumptions. And we let that setting, that place, tell a whole story all on its own.

However, with real-world settings, it is often especially good when they are filled in with all sorts of real details, especially when they are real details that you know. For instance, when I was reading P.D. James’ Children of Men, I was amazed to find it set in Oxford, on a street I stayed at when I was there one summer. Suddenly, all the little setting details just had me grinning and happy. Or in Joe Haldeman’s Old Twentieth, in one of many setting-heavy scenes (they are effectively virtual reality tourists for most of the novel), they end up in Ohio eating 5-way Skyline Chili. Such a very specific detail, and one so heavily rooted in a place.

With invented settings, the problem can almost be the opposite: the writer can get lost in telling you about their world, all the cool things they’ve put in it, and forget to tell a story about characters. This is still much of my impression from the Lord of the Rings novels: so much of Tolkien’s writing is descriptive of the terrain and world. This is part of why the films both do and do not feel so much like the books: the setting is brought to life so well in the films, but then the dialog and scenes had to really be fleshed out to make up the time. It couldn’t all be panoramic shots of New Zealand. I don’t think.

What do you think – do you have a favorite setting or description of a setting? Let me know in the comments!

“And we will call it… This Land.”


The Sunday Re-Blog – Star Trek vs. Star Wars

The last couple of weeks I have reblogged my posts on the definition of Fantasy and of Science Fiction. In this post, I put those definitions to the test!

This is an age-old geeky/nerdy question, as to which is better, or which is what, and I think now I am at a place where I can weigh in. Because both have a huge fandom around them, both have TV shows and movies and different eras and books and video games and… on what grounds do you compare these two worlds?

I have at least one way I would like to compare them. I recently did a post on the definition of Science Fiction – and one on the definition of Fantasy. I am going to be relying heavily on these definitions, as I think that weighing these will show a difference you can discuss between these two series.

Read up on the definitions if you haven’t already, and then let’s compare Star Trek and Star Wars! Read more of this post

The Sunday Re-Blog – The Definition of Fantasy

If I really want to talk about differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy, then I really need to have solid definitions of the two. I recently gave my working definition of Science Fiction, from one of Science Fiction’s greatest practitioners – Frank Herbert. So now, we need a definition for Fantasy.

So why not get that definition from J.R.R. Tolkien?

I don’t know the source, except that I found it circulating on Facebook. There is a signature in the lower left, so I will let that speak for the creator of this image. I found this on Doctor Who and the T.A.R.D.I.S. on Facebook, but this is mostly just a Facebook page that shares images from the fandoms, mostly Doctor Who. Actually, one I recommend, just know that there’s a lot of images that they share. Be ready.

Anyway, after the jump, check out the definition of Fantasy! Read more of this post

Something About This Worked – Part 3

This is a screenshot of the first few lines of Google Image results for the term - The Nine Alignments. I come up twice from comparativegeeks.wordpress.com!

This is a screenshot of the first few lines of Google Image results for the term – The Nine Alignments. I come up twice from comparativegeeks.wordpress.com!

So here’s some more evidence that something we’re doing is working – over on Comparative Geeks. Time to check in on the experiment I have had going on these last weeks.

So what has the last month looked like?

  • Comparative Geeks – Character Studies Truncated: Last 30 days, 45 views
  • DBCII – Something About This Worked, Parts 1 and 2: Total, 6 views

I am also not seeing any search terms that turned these posts up, although with 6 views, that’s not surprising.

This experiment is intriguing in that it’s not turning anything up here in the slightest. Also: frustrating. I had said that the next experiment was the photos with the tags, so here we go!

Read more of this post

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