Monday, March 29, 2010

Fantastic Journey.

I went to the other side of the island today. As small as the island is, this is an epic journey. And as I was riding along admiring countryside I hadn't seen since I was a tourist, I realized the importance of setting and scale in fiction. Does your story have major, nation-breaking stakes? Espionage and terrorists and corrupt governments? Well, I'm guessing it's not set on Kauai. It's probably set in New York City and London and Timbuktu. What if your story is about a family crisis, a boy and his dog, or maybe a diary someone shouldn't have read? That one probably doesn't span the globe. It probably spans a small town in the midwest.

Think about your setting. Settings. If you can pull off the mismatch, and launch a successful tempest in a teapot, I shall cheer you on. But avoid the common error of trying to make a story seem larger and more important by inflating the settings. This is a mistake made in science fiction and fantasy all the time. If you need to spring a prisoner from the federal pen, there is no reason to locate that prison on the Moon. Trust me, there really isn't.

I'm still trying to find a story to fit Kauai. It's small, but it carries the risk that almost everyone out there has an idea of what Hawaii is. Anything I can say will be familiar but not a match to a reader's understanding. It's too unique. And heck, it's cute. It's a lovely place with lovely people. When I first moved here the police blotter included loose cow reports, and who am I to comment on the moral turpitude of farm animals?

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