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What inspired your setting?
Rachel Russell
Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 5:50 PM
Joined: 4/29/2011
Posts: 27

I'm interested to see what sources everyone has drawn from to help inspire their setting and/or novel.

My inspiration is a conglomeration of sources and life experiences which have helped me to create my fantasy world.

First, because I'm a strong advocate of the empowerment of women and speaking out against injustices found in our own world, I knew I wanted to heavily incorporate that into my world. I wanted my fantasy world to mirror many of the struggles we face today, such as sexism, racism, and cultural imperialism. I even decided I wanted to touch upon cultural appropriation, where the very people who helped conquer other societies now pick and choose certain customs to flaunt as fashion statements or religious trends.

I'm also drawn to settings where the world isn't as vibrant as it used to be. Where dark and gritty themes exist, and where the land is essentially starting to die. L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s The Corean Chronicles lent inspiration to my world and its state.

Aside from various books, because L. E Modesitt, Jr. is not the only author that has inspired me, music is a huge contributing factor. I spend a lot of time looking for specific songs which help kick my brain into overdrive for writing. I particularly love orchestrated metal and classical. I'm especially fond of music like that done by Audiomachine.

There are many more things that have inspired my own setting, but tell all of us about yours!

Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 6:49 PM
I think a lot of the vision for my world comes from playing too much World of Warcraft. When I picture my river, I can see the Hillsbrad Foothlls, and a lot of the caverns, castles, and cities to come really rely on graphics from that game or from books I've read previously. I think I also had to consider the effect of my evil character and the "good guys" would have on the individual towns and locations. In certain neutral cities, you see a bigger influence of good... in others evil... I also have a tendency to look up old cities and architecture to figure out how I want my cities structured. I'm still making the land itself, but that's a lot of where my knowledge comes from.
Michael L Martin Jr
Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 8:10 PM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 23

I'm inspired by fantasy worlds that are fantastical in scope. A great adventure and great danger is hidden around every corner. A secret world exists right under your nose. A seemingly ordinary object contains powerful magic. I try to incorporate those things in what I write.

Specifically, the novel I have on Book Country is set in the underworld. For Burn In Hades, I stole from mythology, canonical religious texts, apocryphal texts, classical poems (Odyssey/Divine Comedy/Paradise Lost/etc.) and interpreted it all through my own imagination.

Parts of the story also flashes back to the Civil War period, and for that I read books written during that time, books written about that time, and immersed myself in old Western films. My parents were also a strong resource for this because they are huge fans of the Western genre. I really picked their brains, and they were happy that I showed so much interest in something they liked. And now Westerns ended up being something I like. It's no longer just research now when I watch them. I enjoy them.
Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 11:24 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

For me, the idea of my plot drove my world-building. I let the world develop as it needed, but I needed it to need to be a place where the characters and plot are plausible. Sure there's inspiration from the fantasy I've read over the years, but I try to twist every idea that comes to me to hide the inspiration.
Alex Hollingshead
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 6:04 AM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 61

My story and characters came first, so certain aspects of the world - the politics, mainly - rose from that. The big overbearing theme of the politics is "rights and the right to life over all" - a world where the only thing that keeps you from your rights is another's rights, basically. But for the things I had to develop thereafter, inspiration came from a few places. Culturally, I took a lot from old Northern European cultures (Saxons, Vikings, etc.) and Heian Japan. Those are probably the biggest influences. A bit from some loons who believed Earth was a concave hollow earth (yeah, I know), and a spark from Mervyn Peake's "Titus Alone" (in which it is mentioned that a sort of satellite, perhaps, has reached the moon, called Molusk, which is the name of my world - and the inspiration for the world being submerged in the ocean [like a mollusk]). After that, it is mostly just a conglomeration of my personal interests and some odd ideas I had for stories that went nowhere.
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 3:29 PM
That sounds great, Alex. Molusk has a really good ring to it for a world. When are you going to upload a book so that we can read a little bit? Also, would love your opinions on my opening excerpt considering all of your wise insights on the forums.
Rik Roots
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 3:35 PM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 14

When I started writing my current novel I had no preconceived characters, plot or setting. For the most part I've stuck with what I know - modern London. The rest comes from various dreams and daydreams I've developed over the years.
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 5:36 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 51

I've got to say that Atlas Obscura is a huge source of inspiration for specific places within the worlds I build. Lots of great stuff there, and you can search by the type of oddity you're looking for.

As far as culture goes, I tend to pull from both modern and ancient cultures, from all over the world. I take a little here and there, and think of the effects combining them would have to come up with something unique.
Danielle Bowers
Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 10:23 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

Just wanted to give a shout out to Revenant, are you talking about new Hillsbrad or old Hillsbrad? I've done four rounds of beta testing for WoW and that was one of my favorite locations the last expansion beta.

For my own fantasy world I used Elizabethan England as a loose basis. I'm a history buff and I find how things were done during that time period to be fascinating.
susan klein
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 3:58 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 6

My story is set in Chicago where I've lived all my life. I love my city and I've enjoyed sharing it with exchange students from all over the world. I thought it would be clever to write about an ancient magical being, a gnome, who visits the home of a widow for three months on a homestay program.
After I had that premise, everything flowed. All the mundane things in our culture became thrilling to an outsider. I liked the idea of making the ordinary "exotic." For instance, Cheerios breakfast cereal, morning coffee, jeans and Puma gym shoes elicited a sense of wonder from the gnome. Conversely, he had much to impart from his culture. He thought our world was enchanting and his host was enthralled with gnome magic. The gnome taught me that magic is relative and that "extra-ordinary" is truly everywhere.

Richard Crawford
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 4:38 PM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 3

The Loire Valley in France, with its castles, totally inspired my setting.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 11:29 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

When I started I didn't have an idea really, but I was also 14 when I started writing The Descendants. I've realized recently that I was drawn to creating a world that reflected the style of Civil War era America while still possessing a touch of that old school sword and shield warfare and fantasy romanticism. Because of this I decided to play with technology and how it develops in society. I primarily ask myself, "What kind of tech can be used for warfare and why would it be restricted?" I know that it isn't prevalent at the beginning of my novel, but it this theme that has shaped my world has become stronger the more I write the novel. I'm still trying to express this in the earlier stages of my book, but one has to be careful not to add something that is mentioned later when rewriting.
Alex Hollingshead
Posted: Monday, May 9, 2011 10:59 PM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 61

@Sydney, I wrote a steampunk!Japan story once, oddly enough. It was a retelling of the Tale of Genji, so it was set in the Heian era instead of Meiji, but yeah, steampunk. And a bit supernatural. I had creepy drowned water ladies and fire foxes creating the steam to power the machines. I have a bit of a thing for Japanese mythology, and Heian Japan. I can't think of a story I've written since I read Genji that didn't have a bit of Heian in it.
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 3:29 AM
Joined: 5/3/2011
Posts: 2

Hi everybody!

I have a really hard time with setting, maybe because I'm so oblivious to my surroundings most of the time; for instance, I'd lived in my new apartment 5 months before noticing the kitchen had a door!* But I have a tendency to set the real world parts of my story in the SF Bay Area, where I grew up, and I set one novel among gamers in Santa Cruz, where I went to undergrad. Most recently I set my YA fantasy at two locations in California (made up, but inspired by real places) and a made up Greek Island where I put my made up Greek oracle. I have studied Greece for years, and so far visited once--but would love to go back for more research!

@Sydney, @Alex I am fascinated by the idea of using Japanese culture, history, and mythology in a fantasy setting, particularly Heian Japan, which has intrigued me since my undergrad days.

*In my defense, this door is slid into the wall, and doesn't seem to open, so it's generally hidden from view. I still thought it was awfully funny.
Alex Hollingshead
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 4:42 AM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 61

@Ancient, haha, you sound like my father. I remember chilling with him in his room watching a movie around Halloween, and I asked him if I could borrow a pair of socks (he keeps his windows open for his allergies, so it's always chilly). He got up and began to move towards the dresser, only to pause and look to his right, noticing that the other one had moved. He asked if my mum and I had moved it, and I was like "yeah... in March..." He did a similar thing in regards to the drapes in our dining room, which had changed about three months prior to him noticing.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 6:11 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

@Ancient - I'm pretty oblivious myself. It takes me a forever to notice anything, like the setting that I somehow managed to slant towards. I thought I had a Victorian influence until I thought about the politics. I realized it was too American (despite the royalty thing) to be ignored. So I'm running with it.
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:23 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 57

Hey everyone! My world is influenced by the imaginary Russia that comes across very vividly in Russian fairy tales. But there's much more to it than just that. I've traveled a lot myself, and there's bits of Alaska, Russia, Romania, Finland, and the Middle East (really!) in many of the descriptions.
There's also a lot of musical influences that I can't help but include in the poetry and setting of the world. It includes traditional Russian and Georgian chant, but also classical music and folk music of the Balkans. I know, quite a soup!



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