Starting Out: Establishing a Story

How do you establish a story, its characters, and setting? For me, since I’m writing science fiction and fantasy, it starts with my creating a setting,  a society, a cultural context and a history fit to tell my story. My stories start with the germ of an idea and grow from there, made up of bits and pieces, the body of an animal, a discarded mattress, two boys dragging a body out into the cold, and grow from there. I need to be able to fully picture the scene my characters are in: the glass doors, the large reception room with the crowd of humans and aliens enjoying drinks and snacks. I need to see and hear the scene in my head, rather like a film running past my eyes. I need to know far more than ever makes it onto the page.

When I describe an alien setting, I try to start with the familiar — mountain — then add the distinguishing characteristic — purple rocks — and only include the details that are relevant to the story.

Where is the line between too much and too little? Ah, there lies art, there lies experience, and there lies the helpful comments of the readers of early drafts.

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Dr. Bob https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1eg
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Judy Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

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4 thoughts on “Starting Out: Establishing a Story

  1. Skye-writer

    Sci-fi has to have the most challenging setting demands for an author. Even in a historical novel, much can be known about the setting as it was back then, but to create a whole new world and not miss important things – wow!

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  2. Rhobin

    Love your last line “Where is the line between too much and too little? Ah, there lies art, there lies experience, and there lies the helpful comments of the readers of early drafts.” So true!

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  3. Marci Baun

    I think there’s a certain amount of freedom with sci-fi/fantasy in the sense that you can create new worlds and control most of the parameters. That being said, it’s a great deal of work and perhaps beyond my desire to keep track of all the information.

    Like you, I have to see what I’m writing. When i don’t, it’s certainly noticeable within my prose.

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  4. Dr Bob Rich

    Wonderful that you have the vividness of imagery to see and hear what you intend to write about. I have such vivid dreams, but never while awake.
    Otherwise, our speculative fiction writing seems similar. Purple rocks? My latest friend to come along, Shoeets, has purple blood.
    🙂

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