Settings take to time to create. But they are really worth the effort and time required to create them. I have realized that before I start any book, I will take few days to brainstorm, to create a setting (which is especially important for the MG Fantasy Fiction I write) and plot the book out.
When I read the Potter books I was lost in the setting. Hogwarts was a wonderful creation, as was the world of wizards. The way the dead wizards moved between their portraits, the way wizards travelled with the help of floo powder via chimneys, the different spells; in particular the Patronus spell, the subjects taught in the wizarding school, and the magical creatures swamping the wizarding world. Quidditch ( the game wizards played ) in particular had the children going berserk over it. I am sure Rowling must have spent a lot of time and thought in creating the wonderful setting, which has mesmerized both young and old.
I am no setting expert. Whatever I have learnt is via trial and error, but I would still like to share it.
If we are creating an alternate world, then we have to look after every aspect of it. It’s like when we shift into a new house, every little detail is taken care of: from the flooring to the wall covering, from curtains to furniture, from taps to windows, to how each room is decorated.
If we use that method for creating a setting, I am sure we all will do just fine. If we have created another land we can add people peculiar to that place: people to be found no where else in the world. The way they dress, their language, quaint customs and habits make for an interesting read. The food they eat, the way they talk, the games they play. Their beliefs and culture. The fauna and flora can be different and unique.
Setting needs the element of the unusual: what is not found in the normal world but is peculiar to that world: of our story/book. If our story is based on a past event, then research takes care of the setting. But if it’s a world of make believe, then we are only restricted by our imagination.
But one thing I have learnt, that a setting has to be believable. A far fetched setting tends to ruin the plot. A setting depends a lot on descriptions, to bring it to life before the reader’s eyes. Some writers have mastered the art of making setting as a character in their books.
What about you all? How do you all handle the setting in your books? Will you share your setting tips with us?