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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

The Drescher Library Presents: "Into the LibraryVerse" Writing Workshop

Introduction

In this session, you will learn how to develop the setting for your story along with understanding how genre influences setting and have an opportunity to apply what you have learned through fun, interactive exercises. 

In the section below, you will find four short videos covering the following

  • Video 1 - Setting: Part 1 Genre and Examples of Historical Fiction (5:38)
  • Video 2 - Setting: Part 2 Examples of Science Fiction (6:52)
  • Video 3 - Setting: Part 3 Examples of Fantasy and Limitations (5:50)
  • Video 4 - Setting: Part 4 Rules within Setting and the SWOT Analysis (5:40)

Click through using the left or right-hand arrow on the screen to access all of the videos. 

Session III Setting: Part 1 Genre and Examples of Historical Fiction

Session III Setting: Part 2 Examples of Science Fiction

Session III Setting: Part 3 Examples of Fantasy and Limitations

Session III Setting: Part 4 Rules within Setting and the SWOT Analysis

Supplementary Materials

Below are a few episodes from the podcast Writing Excuses, where hosts Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells offer useful exercises and guidance for writing original stories:

Exercises

This session has five exercises to help you create the setting where your story takes place. Click through using the left or right-hand arrow on the screen to access all of the exercises. 

Exercise 1: Where is your story?

  • Start by writing down your genre

  • Briefly describe what is going on in your world (new ore discovered, a bad break-up or loss, a crowning of a new monarch).

  • Place events in your timeline (you can describe past events later in your narrative, but mark when you talk about the events).

Exercise 2: What do you know and what don’t you know about your world?

Talk about what is unique about your world 

  • Is it set in the past, from an unknown person’s perspective?
  • Is this a world entirely of your own creation? If so, what are the similarities and differences between your make-believe world and the real world? Are there seasons, magnetic poles, climates types, etc.

Exercise 3: Create a SWOT Analysis of the setting

  • Create a SWOT analysis of your world (see the example above). 

  • Talk about the Strengths: New technologies, opportunity to find a lost treasure, magic, natural majestic settings.

  • Weaknesses: with each strength what are the limitations: Magic takes energy, technology costs money, hunting treasure attracts competition, and relationships across different locations.

  • Opportunities: Talk about how your character with their strengths can rise to meet the threats (think about the next section when doing this part). What can the character gain: knowledge, power, freedom, the love of their life?

  • Threats: What is hurting your world and/or character? What villian(s) are out to get your character, what political/ religious ideologies threaten the world?

Exercise 4: Create a Collage

Inspiration can be found all around you. Capture the mood, ambiance, and environment of your story through a collage or inspiration board of images, words, or other elements that connect with your setting. 

TCK Publishing has a helpful blog post on making an inspiration board to help you get started. 

Exercise 5: Neil’s “Weird Questions”

Below you’ll find Neil Gaiman’s “weird questions” designed to help with your world building. These questions are particularly helpful when creating a new world unlike our own.

  • Where do people go to the toilet?

  • Where do they get food from?

  • How much food does it take to feed a small city?

  • How much farmland? Where are these farms?

  • Where does the food come from? Where does it come in?

  • What does poverty look like in your world?