What’s in a setting of a fantasy? A lot, to tell the truth.
I knew that wherever a story takes place, it has to be somewhere believable, where the story and characters would both make sense. Sometimes we writers mislead or fool the readers, thinking we can take certain liberties and get away with it.
For example, I wouldn’t put my character on the moon without the proper equipment or send him to the North Pole in a bathing suit. Any writer who does so is a fool and his stories are nothing but mere tripe. Stories with poorly planned settings will never go through the publisher. Yes, the examples I give are sci-fi material but I just want to make a point.
As an author, writing fantasy fiction opens the door to many things. It allows me to flex the boundaries, create fascinating characters and mind-twisting plot, think out of the box, and defy conventions. But I will never write my stories on a poorly planned background. It’s better I don’t write at all. I would be setting a poor example to other writers.
I admit creating a setting for a fantasy story is more challenging than creating characters. In most instances, the story and the characters come first into the writer’s mind; the setting, later or never. But one needs not to rush on it.
My book Daughters takes place in my home town, which I believe is the appropriate setting since I grew up in the place where my characters are bought into. I never had to look far to look for my book’s setting when I had one – right where I had lived.
Details such as the temperature, terrain, or color of the dirt can add or take away the validation of their surroundings. What I know about my home town, I took advantage of in my story. This enabled me to create the story and plot possible yet believable scenarios without much hassle or headache.
I also used the openness of the surroundings to throw in a disruptive earthquake, something that happens in the Midwest but not frequently, thus adding to the mystery of the events in the story. Why the Midwest? Why not a large populated area like New York or Los Angeles? The Midwest seems like a very unusual place for this type of catastrophe to take place, but then again I am using sci-fi to make a point. But isn’t sci-fi like that?
Many people believe the Garden of Eden really existed. I had listened to stories told by elders around me when I was young. Even people from different nationalities and religions tell similar stories about the Garden of Eden. The stories, coming from different sources and places, bear a similar story line: the creation of man.
Peoples’ familiarity of the story made me believe the Garden of Eden is a real place. In my creative imagination, I see it being hidden or drawn back into the ground. In Daughters, the Garden of Eden exists below the surface and becomes a haven for my angels.
I repeat, when creating a setting for a fantasy, keep it fun and most importantly, keep it real (or close enough to make it believable).