The Texture of Your World
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  1. #1
    The Dude Abides
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    Default The Texture of Your World

    Something I'm wondering about is how a writer makes a world feel "lived-in". How do we make it seem like this is a realm where real people live?
    This is a little abstract, so let me use a concrete example:
    During a scene, a character reads a newspaper.
    Sure, there's a newspaper. But what's it called? What are the headlines? This is what I mean when I say "texture". Human societies have culture. Shouldn't our stories, as well?

    Another example, from my story. One of the main characters is a Mareep. Her name is Zazo. It doesn't mean anything that I know of (probably does in some other language, but I've never even bothered to google it). But, within the world of the story, Zazo is the name of the main character of a series of young adult novels, and the Mareep's namesake.

    To use a pop culture example, in the show Futurama, the characters regularly watch at least four programs: Hypnotoad, All My Circuits, The Scary Door, and the nightly news. Except for the second one, none of them really have much relevance to the plot of any given episode. So some less enlightened writer might say, well, they're just there for the sake of a joke. Only in part, actually. First and foremost, they establish the world. The Hypnotoad is strange, alien and unknowable, and yet inexplicably compelling. It is emblematic of the strange future in which Fry finds himself.
    Of course All My Circuits shows how robots are just a normal part of this society now, replacing humans as the players on a soap opera.
    The Scary Door is, yeah, a joke on The Twilight Zone, but I like to think of it as the vague remembering of the actual Twilight Zone by people thousands of years later.
    and the nightly news features a vapid blonde woman and an angry alien that repeatedly threatens, ineffectually, to kill things/conquer Earth/etc. Aliens, too, in Futurama's future, have become largely domestic, a normal part of everyday life on Earth.

    So, what do you do to add texture to your fictional worlds?

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    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    Add folktales, songs, and legends to my cultures--whether Pokemonized examples from our world or made up completely
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  3. #3
    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    This sort of thing is right up my alley. A lot of my inspiration for this comes from just looking around. I think if you don't try too hard to build a culture and have it make sense then layering on the texture is relatively easy. I wouldn't devote an afternoon of research on newspapers to end up with the Goldenrod Times - just the name will be enough, and maybe an idea of whether it's a frothy tabloid or a po-faced broadsheet. If you mention it more than once the name - or idea - tends to stick better.

    You'll probably find that the Futurama examples were probably one-off jokes or references that the writers decided to re-use. They're a mine for amusing jokes and add something to the world, so you can see that's not a bad thing.

    Another idea to consider is what I think of as "one thing suggests another". For example. The existence of a sport that can afford to establish itself in buildings built to play the sport in, along with a very wide variety of associated merchandise and equipment. In other words, pokémon training. Looking at the way sports work in our world, that naturally suggests that the existence of training segments on the evening news. Or dedicated training channels. Professional pundits, commentators, analysts. All that is raw material to use to spice up a tournament arc, and you only have to turn on your own TV for a while to do the research
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    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


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    Legendary Pokemon クリスタル's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    So to put it in simpler sense, it just means put more finer details into the world-building of your fic.

    The world in a fiction is the same as the world in reality. The more of the finer details you provided, the world in your story will become vivider and more dynamical, giving out a notion that your world is "alive" in the reader's eyes. And that, is all come down to the descriptions and amount of background details within your fic.

    It may be difficult to put so much fine details right at the start. So IMO the best way will be firstly to "associate" with one broad topic when your fic mentioned something, then break it down into smaller pieces if you need it. Sometimes, you may also link it up with another related topics, and also trying to think about that other topic as well. In that case, you also trying to design another field of your world, hence broaden the world of your fic.



    Let me try to explain this with one of the example I planned for my future Pokemon fic. I was planning to have my protagonist be a student graduated from the Trainer School going out on a journey. As I think about his reason to travel, I look at his background history during the Trainer School, and then let me think about how the Trainer School in the PokeWorld should work. I go into super fine details such as how long the education should be, what kind of lectures it provides, what kind of curriculum it had for each different subjects, how the daily school routine will be like, what kind of courses it provided during the semester recesses, I even think about the possible test questions and exam papers.

    And then, these thinking alternatively relate my focus to the entire education system within the PokeWorld. It just doesn't make sense if the Trainer School is the only kind of education facility available in the PokeWorld, hence I make the Trainer School to be a kind of private school on primary education level, generally it is specialized in all sorts of Pokemon-related subjects, but it also has some normal subjects like any other normal primary schools. Within my PokeWorld, there is mandatory education law stating that all children need to be educated up to primary school level (one can choose between normal public/private school or specialized Trainer School), secondary and tertiary educations are optional. And of course, no one forced you to become trainer even you graduated from Trainer School, being a trainer or not is completely the personal decision of each individual.

    These background details make a lot of sense to me personally, but that doesn't mean I may use it or even will be mention in my future fic, because well, these are just simply background settings.
    Yeah, although the details are fine enough, but in terms of story-writing, I can't just thrust all these details into one single chapter, that will just be useless info-dumping. I planned to have bit and pieces of these settings to be mentioned over the whole story whenever the protagonist mention his past experience during the trainer school era.



    For these kind of finer world-building and description of background during your story, I think the The Writer's Workshop Writing Academy will give more details on the techniques fanfic writers should needed.
    "人には知らない世界はそこに存在する、そして人には知らない冒険はそこ に始まってる"
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  5. #5
    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    That reminds me, I wrote a lesson about this sort of thing: Lesson 17: Description for World Building by Pavell
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


    Pavell's Scribbledegook Week XX - Chapter Titles

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    Quote Originally Posted by クリスタル View Post
    So to put it in simpler sense, it just means put more finer details into the world-building of your fic.

    The world in a fiction is the same as the world in reality. The more of the finer details you provided, the world in your story will become vivider and more dynamical, giving out a notion that your world is "alive" in the reader's eyes. And that, is all come down to the descriptions and amount of background details within your fic.

    It may be difficult to put so much fine details right at the start. So IMO the best way will be firstly to "associate" with one broad topic when your fic mentioned something, then break it down into smaller pieces if you need it. Sometimes, you may also link it up with another related topics, and also trying to think about that other topic as well. In that case, you also trying to design another field of your world, hence broaden the world of your fic.



    Let me try to explain this with one of the example I planned for my future Pokemon fic. I was planning to have my protagonist be a student graduated from the Trainer School going out on a journey. As I think about his reason to travel, I look at his background history during the Trainer School, and then let me think about how the Trainer School in the PokeWorld should work. I go into super fine details such as how long the education should be, what kind of lectures it provides, what kind of curriculum it had for each different subjects, how the daily school routine will be like, what kind of courses it provided during the semester recesses, I even think about the possible test questions and exam papers.

    And then, these thinking alternatively relate my focus to the entire education system within the PokeWorld. It just doesn't make sense if the Trainer School is the only kind of education facility available in the PokeWorld, hence I make the Trainer School to be a kind of private school on primary education level, generally it is specialized in all sorts of Pokemon-related subjects, but it also has some normal subjects like any other normal primary schools. Within my PokeWorld, there is mandatory education law stating that all children need to be educated up to primary school level (one can choose between normal public/private school or specialized Trainer School), secondary and tertiary educations are optional. And of course, no one forced you to become trainer even you graduated from Trainer School, being a trainer or not is completely the personal decision of each individual.

    These background details make a lot of sense to me personally, but that doesn't mean I may use it or even will be mention in my future fic, because well, these are just simply background settings.
    Yeah, although the details are fine enough, but in terms of story-writing, I can't just thrust all these details into one single chapter, that will just be useless info-dumping. I planned to have bit and pieces of these settings to be mentioned over the whole story whenever the protagonist mention his past experience during the trainer school era.



    For these kind of finer world-building and description of background during your story, I think the The Writer's Workshop Writing Academy will give more details on the techniques fanfic writers should needed.
    Oh man, yeah, I have so many things I just idly thought of because I need everything to make coherent sense, but like, 10% of it might appear in my actual writing. I could probably end up writing a whole textbook about my fictional region (helps that it's loosely based on aspects of South & Central America).
    In terms of my world texture, I just like to drop things in without explaining them over-much, and hope readers pick up what they are based on context. Maybe they'll be explained later, maybe they won't. Maybe I'll make a glossary later on. Who knows?

  7. #7
    Legendary Pokemon クリスタル's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    Dude, if you were talking about those super-minor details to reflect the "mundane realism" within the Pokemon World, my advise is don't play too much on those unnecessary details if story situation doesn't require it. What I mean by those "minor details", is just like those you had mentioned and listed, such as the meaning of nickname of a Pokemon, the name of programs of TV shows, the name of a street music band, the name of a newspaper and title of a news article, the name of a restaurant of a shop, etc et cetera. And if the word has any further meaning that means something significant, then it might be better to explain it right away, because you don't know will these minor details ever come back in the future if you didn't planned ahead.

    If your character did happened to come upon such things. Let say for example, your protagonist trainer go to a restaurant to have a meal before heading for a gym challenge, occasionally he/she saw an eye-catching article about the gym leader from a newspaper that is holding up for reading by the gentleman sitting at the adjacent table. Yeah, then it is fine to give these minor details such as the name of the restaurant, the name of the plate of food to be ordered, the name of the newspaper and obviously the title of the news article, or even the journalist that wrote that article if you want to.
    And then for those confusing words such as technical words and names with specific meaning, I would suggest to explain it right away in order to avoid confusion from the reader. Such as when catching a new Pokemon and give it a nickname, better explain the meaning of the nickname immediately if it has any meaning. Provided that your character go to visit a Science Museum, musing about a machine called "Electronized Particle Transition Connector" (I just come up with it, whatever you imagine it to be) which is one of the main device used in Pokemon Storage System, better explain it immediately to the reader.
    But, it is just like I said at the beginning, only fill in these unnecessary extras if the scenes had those things come up, whether it is physically seeable or being mentioned verbally on gossips from characters.

    Although these minor details add extra colour to your entire fictional world, but sometimes be careful is that don't hang over too much about it. Because these minor things will not affect the overall story even without it, so don't put too much effort in coming up some super fancy names, sometimes per contra it will confuse the reader.
    Last edited by クリスタル; 9th September 2014 at 09:21 AM.
    "人には知らない世界はそこに存在する、そして人には知らない冒険はそこ に始まってる"
    Chapter 1: 謎の世界の生き物、闘うトレーナーたち
    MY PROFILE | AUTHOR'S PROFILE | PIXIV PROFILE

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    Well, I like to have seemingly minor details end up enormously important. Mostly because almost everything I write has a bit of a "puzzle box" aspect to it. There will always be mysteries, I love them too much not to put them in. And of course, often the resolution to a mystery involves something insignificant. So if I drop seemingly random details in, and you're reading my story, you can't be sure it's not important, eventually.
    Like, I love how JK Rowling, in the Harry Potter books, threw in stuff in the early books that nobody really noticed, things that would become relevant only in the 6th and 7th books. And they just seemed like background texture at the time. It's a cool approach.
    BTW PLEASE READ CHAPTER ONE OF MY STORY LAMB TO SLAUGHTER. I would appreciate reviews. I will totally read and review yours in return.

  9. #9
    Legendary Pokemon クリスタル's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    Well, mystery fictions is the only exceptional story genre, because it is true that minor details may end up important to story plot.
    Even it is not mystery fiction but any other genre, as long as the minor details will become something important issue in the near or far future, it is then worth to mention. Or else, the minor staff just become background that doesn't form part of your overall story.



    P.S. Sorry that I don't write mystery and not interested in any kind of mystery novel/movie/TV show/manga/games, so I would like to kindly reject your request of review (and apologize to say, the title of your fic scares me away).
    "人には知らない世界はそこに存在する、そして人には知らない冒険はそこ に始まってる"
    Chapter 1: 謎の世界の生き物、闘うトレーナーたち
    MY PROFILE | AUTHOR'S PROFILE | PIXIV PROFILE

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Texture of Your World

    Will it comfort you any if I guarantee the Mareep DOES NOT DIE?
    'cause I couldn't bear to write a scene where a Mareep gets killed. Other Pokemon, maybe, but certainly not a Mareep (or Flaaffy, or Ampharos).

    Plus, mystery is only one element of it. There are things that aren't explained for a long while, but my story follows the conventions of a Journey fic more than anything.

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