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Opinions needed regarding settings/worlds

Discussion in 'World Building' started by The_Everlasting, May 5, 2013.

  1. The_Everlasting

    The_Everlasting Dreamer

    I have a story that is centralized in one realm. There's a war raging between demons in this world and as they all struggle for supreme they simultaneously destroy everything around them. The one realm that's left is the most powerful and one of the very few left intact. At it's center in a large mansion that comes with all the usual- library, dinning hall, study, various bedrooms, sitting rooms, gathering hall, garden, etc. This place is very beautiful and the main setting of my story seeing that most other realms have been destroyed (a few still stand)
    My issue: I'm worried that a story that is centered in one place is going to get boring- but with all other realms being destroyed- my characters now allowing this realm to be considered a "safe haven" for those displaced by the wars.
    How do I keep things interesting? more unique aspects of the mansion? ideas on maybe this realm ( which is large) reaching to another unique setting? At this point I'll admit I'm needing to get out of the mansion for a bit- my character is getting bored... help!
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver


    1) What makes this realm 'safe'? Its location? Some great enchantment?

    2) From the sound of it, at least some of the people in this are refugees, or failing that have friends, family or other relatives 'out in the world'. I've no difficulty seeing different factions arising here:

    'Nobody can leave, because if we do, they'll find us!'

    'We must take a stand. We can whisk those people from harm and be back here with the demons being none the wiser.'

    'I want to pretend the last five or ten years never happened.' (deny the demon invasion happened in the first place.)

    'The demons must have some weakness. There must be some weapon we can use, some means by which they can all be banished.'

    That said, there are some very fascinating works that involve very little in the way of scenery. My favorate example (I went so far as to write a fantasy short story based off it for a challenge here) is the play 'Waiting for Godet'. The play has a cast of five, possibly six. The scenery consists of a country road, a solitary tree, and an empty field with a chair sized rock or two in it. Thats it. Yet I found what transpired to be absolutely fascinating.
  3. The_Everlasting

    The_Everlasting Dreamer

    Amazing suggestions! I'd like to continue with this.
    This place is considered safe only because it's like the "capitol"- they know it's the most powerful realm and the leader of that realm feels a need to protect the weak and fight the "bad", though at this point there's is so much "bad" she has to figure out exactly who the bad is. I'm developing a good mental idea as to where I want to go now based on your "lets take a stand" idea. I feel that I can use that idea and take it into a fascinating and unforeseen state. I don't want this story to be predictable- ie: find bad- fight bad- kill bad- hero wins-the end.
    Now I do need some further ideas for the mansion- anything unique you could suggest to make it more interesting?
  4. Yellow

    Yellow Minstrel

    Considering the mansion is being used, from what I understand, as a refugee camp of sorts, you could have a sort of improvised settlement growing around it for the important refugees, or it could be that the leader of this country is benevolent enough to offer his lands to any refugee who is in need. That would make for some interesting situations where the monarch doesn't only have to deal with the political and military aspect of the demon war, but also with the more personal problems that all refugee camps bring with them such as feeding, clothing, and keeping a large number of people clean. This would also give space to possible infiltrations into the camps by demons (I could totaly see a shape shifting abomination passing for a refugee to accomplish some obscure goal).

    Think of what measures the leader takes to help solve the problem, and then try to imagine possible unseen consequences or problems arising from those choices.
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver


    My suggestion: DO NOT MAKE IT INTERESTING. As with 'Waiting for Godot', the manor should be the backdrop for everything going on. I'd also recommend keeping it on the small side for such a place: a great hall, kitchens, a couple wings of rooms for guests, a watchtower, stables with attached workshops below and servant quarters above. Probably no more than a fifteen or eighteen rooms total. This *forces* your characters to interact.

    The characters will have to carry this, not the scenery: the 'go out and fight' crowd stakes claim to one set of rooms; the 'stay here because its safe' crowd occupies another set, and so on. But, they have to get together in the great hall at meal time. If a member of the 'fight' faction goes to the library to look at a map, well, it is dead certain he'll run into one or more members of the 'stay and hide' faction attempting to immerse himself/herself in the distant past, pretending the dismal present doesn't exist. Somebody brings in entertainers - even the likes of dancing clowns - one faction or another is certain to take offence. Members of the 'fight' faction actively seeking out the others, accusing them of cowardice. Plus there are fun little situations where couples are split up: he belongs to the 'fight' faction but has a wife or mistress with one of the other groups sneaking across the political lines.
  6. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

    ALL Greek Theater was limited to a single location. "Unity of Place". Also, all plays had to happen in one day, "Unity of Time". The way you set a story in a single location and keep the narrative flowing is with stories. Characters can come from outside the mansion and tell a chapter long story about what happened outside. The people continue to show up and tell the story. Character referenced in early stories can then show up and increase the tension by telling a story that conflicts with the previous one. because that other guy is a lair and criminal.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I agree with the two previous comments. You can write a compelling story that all takes place in one room if you want to. I'd reject the idea that you 'have' to get out of the mansion just for the sake of doing so. You'd be much better off just developing the story and if it takes you somewhere else, then so be it. If not, that's fine too.
  8. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

    I agree with keeping the setting small, simple and unitary.

    Your own post got me thinking - you have to get out of the mansion, as a writer. That will also be true of your characters. You can use that sense of claustrophobia and helplessness to write some great stuff, if you have the desire.
  9. brokethepoint

    brokethepoint Troubadour

    Look at the number of people you are going to have and in what size of space.

    How will refuse and garbage be taken care of, oh what a smell.
    Rats and other vermin. Fresh meat?
    How is the water supply, someone needs a bath.
    Ah the gossip, did you hear what so and so said.
    How will you feed all of those people, hunting trip maybe?

    I am sure you could have some fun with some of those.
  10. Dio

    Dio Dreamer

    I agree with all that's been said here, and would like to add my two bits. My biggest point will be with the ruling party (be it a single ruler or a council) and their benevolence. For the sake of convenience I'll imagine it being a single king, but the idea is the same for a group of people. So the King see's it as his duty to help the citizens and destroy evil, the demons. A noble effort, and not at all impossible to at least attempt, but not likely. Not in a dire situation. However, perhaps the King is one in a million and really does want to help, not everyone else will. As mentioned, refugees will be costly to take care of properly it's very likely that some nobles in the mansion would rather shut their gates to the outside and use their vast resources only for themselves. They will likely be unhappy with the good king, so much so that they may attempt to take his life? Possibly even succeed, causing huge problems for the realm?

    I'm not sure of the format you intend to write this story for, be it novel, short story, play, etc. but if it were up to me I'd do it as a series of short stories. It can take place entirely in the mansion, and if as was mentioned you can have people from outside recant events and stories. Episodically creating content and then wrapping it together with the demon war plot could help that. Think of the King's Landing bits of A Song of Ice and Fire, scheming and plotting. Then mix it up with second hand accounts of what's going on outside.

    Blur the lines of morality, pit the rich folk in the mansion against each other. A pure and benevolent king and a war on demons will likely fail to hold the readers attention by itself, but it serves as a good basis to really talk about the people behind the war. The refugees, the greedy nobles, etc. That's what I think, I look forward to hearing more about this story though.

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