NaNoPreMo 2013 – Setting



This is the third post in a series about preparing for NaNoWriMo.

Some people call it worldbuilding, but how much worrying about setting you need to do will vary.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. is the world I am writing in different from the usual world?
  2. do I like to discover the world as I write?
  3. do I have elements of the plot which turn on the nature of the world?

If you’ve been thinking about your characters at all, the chances are that you’ve already got some ideas about place where they live and how they go about their days, but the nature of that setting may not be fully realised yet.

As an example, let me talk a bit about Bluehammer, the story I started writing for NaNoWriMo in 2005.

The inspiration for Bluehammer was the idea of a crown wreathed in flames, worn by a boy who begins the story as a dilettante – a ne’er-do-well who has no interest in anything but his own trivial adventures. The only setting detail for this was that the chief city of the empire that this crown belonged to was set into a cliff face overlooking a monstrous chasm which split the world in two.

What kind of world was this? How would the boy come to wear a crown which he had no initial interest in?

The first draft of this story was a voyage of discovery across this world, driven by a few early insights:

  • the humans were not native
  • the life native to this world was both highly aggressive and inedible to humans (at best not nourishing, at worst highly toxic)
  • growing food was difficult enough that the procedures to be followed became the basis for the human religion on this world
  • the Empire was built on controlling access to the religious texts

So what is the central insight for your world? How could that play into other aspects of the setting? What games do people play there?

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