Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fantasy Setting


I went to see Avatar last week and it was awesome. The characters came to life but so did the fantasy setting. I don't want to say too much about it for anyone who hasn't seen it it, but if you enjoy fantasy, this is one is worth seeing on the big screen.

What I want to talk about is the importance of setting. When you read, characters function and the story unfolds within the setting. If the surroundings are not clear, strong characters can usually pull off the scene, but if that's the case, we're cheating the reader. A weak setting throughout the book makes the story less interesting because it doesn't create a complete visual within the reader's imagination. If Dorothy is told to follow the yellow brick road but we never see it, feel it, hear our footfalls click upon it...we feel a little lost.

Along with creating a visual, it's important to engage the other senses. You want to deliver the whole package. To do that a fantasy world needs to be experienced on more than one dimension. As you write ask yourself what makes your fantasy world different than the real world? In some cases it might be fantasy characters like dragons, fairies, elves or other lifeforms walking around in a world much like the one in which we live. Whether or not you've created a whole new world or have decided on a world similar to the one in which we live, there is more than landscape and even creatures and characters. To give your readers a complete experience ask these questions:
  • What smells and tastes are experienced?
  • What customs are practiced?
Avatar answers these questions in such a way that you are drawn in and become one with the world. Many times these small details play an integral part in the plot, but are so subtle that it isn't realized until the climax and/or conclusion of the story. Without them, it's like a tapestry with threads missing...marred and less than it can be.

* * *
Check out Donna Sundblad's interview at Authors Unleashed

Buy Donna Sundblad's book: The Inheritance


46 comments:

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Tahlia said...

I loved that movie, and you're so right about details enriching the setting. I had to be really selective about what details I left in the final draft of my YA fantasy novel though, because my agent wanted me to lose 19,000 words out of it, before she sent it to publishers.

I sometimes wonder if I left out too much, but then I tend to like descriptions.

I'd love to know what you think. You can take a look at ch1 at
http://publishersearch.wordpress.com/lethal-inheritance/

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Liberty Travel said...

You can still see the unemployment levels are high even after a few years of the recession first hitting. I like the fact that they try to call it a double dip recession vs calling it a depression but if it goes down for travel a couple years, then goes up briefly should it "count" as wiping the slate clean...You can see the effects in the honeymoons industry as people did not have the disposable income to book cruises or other activities that cost a pretty heft entertainment fund. Same is true with global brands joining other brands such as flight center to recapture lost market share...whatever happens people need jobs or they will begin to riot...once the unemployment checks stop.

W.B. said...

I've read your post, and it was very helpful. I'll remember it when I design more fantasy settings. :)

M. G. Pereira said...

That's a really great post. I'm going to go through my ms and make sure I have more than just sight going on when I pause to describe a new setting. I do randomly know how a couple of characters smell because it makes sense to the story :P Thanks! http://writermeetslife.blogspot.com/