NaNoWriMo is a yearly event that takes place in November. It brings together writers of all kinds to write something 50k words long.
First off, I’m going to talk about setting. Setting is probably the most important thing a story can have; without it, you have no story. What would happen if there was absolutely no setting at all? Don’t answer that; it’s probably as incomprehensible as the Reapers in Mass Effect—and I don’t like incomprehensible things. I get this urge to keep asking “why” in those situations.
I’m going to break down my own setting into two parts. The first will be time period, and the second will be location. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1) The Victorian Era (1837-1901)
I’ve adored the Victorian Era since I heard about it…however many years ago, I can’t pinpoint an exact number. I don’t really know what it is about this time period that draws me in. It’s an intriguing era.
When I decided to write this book, I knew the places and themes that I wanted for it. There would be brick buildings with Gothic designs and gargoyles on the corners of the roof; big wrought iron gates only accessible by a key that enclosed a long driveway leading up to a beautiful estate. That was the dream. And for a while, I wrote that dream; it was glorious while it lasted, but there was something off that kept me from continuing.
For a while, I thought it was the plot, and the way I had set things up, but I soon ventured outside of my comfort zone and found the real problem.
2) Vilnius, Lithuania
So many stories within the Victorian Era are set in London, England. Not that I have a problem with the location, but I can only name one other series that takes place elsewhere: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard takes place, first, in Philadelphia, PA, then travels to France, and then finally to Egypt. Everything else has the scenery of the Thames and Big Ben. I’d like to see some other notable location in these books, but where do I find them? I would have to write them.
So that’s why I shifted to Lithuania. Or, that’s part of the reason, but that’s a story for another time. Since the beginning, I knew that I was going to break as many cliches as I could with what I was writing. I put so much pressure into those first ideas that it kind of fell flat. So I decided I would tackle the cliches one at a time—one book at a time. I chose to start with location.
I’m influenced by a thirst for knowledge; history and mythology are my two favorite subjects, and mythology is my greatest passion. But I’ll be focusing on history here. In school, we learn a lot about how the U.S. came to where it is now, and we celebrate people like Columbus as a great founder of America (news flash: it was already there and already inhabited). We learn about the bombs on Japan and the wars with Iraq, the fall of the Roman Empire and the intrigue of Greek culture, but we never learn outside of those subjects. What happened to countries like Morocco or India? What about other parts of Europe?
I decided to venture into that territory on my own, and research Lithuanian history. Did you know that for a century the Russians attempted a Russification*? They attempted this with many other countries. The Lithuanians resisted by smuggling books—thus becoming the book smugglers. It’s a piece of history that resonated with me. What book nerd wouldn’t be interested in that part? Well, I might be stretching that point.
That’s it for this post. Are you writing a novel? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what is your setting like?
Later this week: Genres!
*Russification: a form of cultural assimilation process during which non-Russian communities, voluntarily or not, give up their culture and language in favor of the Russian one (source)