As a fan of fantasy & science fiction, I’ve found that although characters, plot & dialogue are vital to a genre story — the location where a story is set has a tremendous impact on the success or failure of the completed project. Discovering at FaeireCon that I need a Steam Punk setting for my novel’s faeryland was a breakthrough.
Some readers & writers might be shaking their heads, but those of us who’ve tumbled with Alice down a rabbit hole, walked with Lucy through a wardrobe, or stepped with a character through a looking-glass, know location often decides the direction of a story.
Without The Shire, the Mines of Moria, Rivendell, Helm’s Deep, Mordor & the rest of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasies wouldn’t be the same. Many of the challenges faced by Bilbo, Frodo, the other Hobbits & their companions are a result of the places where they find themselves while on their journeys.
When George Lucas imagined the adventures of Luke Skywalker he took us from the wastelands of Tatooine to the forest moon of Endor, the swamps of Dagobah, the interior of the Millenium Falcon, the ice world of Hoth, the Cloud City of Bespin & dozens of other locations in the vast galactic sprawl of moons, asteroids & planets that is home to the Star Wars saga. The contrasts in the various settings gives rise to action, encourages character development & helps the reader “suspend their disbelief.”
Another favorite of mine, Neil Gaiman, chose the sidewalks, pubs & subways of a city in Great Britain for his Neverwhere. He knew the claustrophobic closeness of tunnels, subways, apartments, and urban nooks & crannies would make a difference in the feel of the story. Likewise, when he wrote about Wall & the world of Faery that existed next to it, the settings made a difference in what it meant to locate a fallen star in Stardust.
And what about Harry Potter? J.K. Rowling’s decision to have Harry travel from a cupboard under the stairs to Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, the Weasley home & the rest of the author’s wizard world gave rise to the change & growth of Harry, the dialogue, the other characters, the antagonists, the plotlines…
In each of these examples & countless others, location is one of the keys to the success of the tale. In my story, Sideshow by the Sea, the boardwalk-carnival-seaside location was an important element. The locale’s flavor added not only a touch of reality to the fantastic, but was a familiar presence for many readers. In my next eShort, Assassins, the vast prairies, mountains & canyons of the planet Konur Prime are a familiar touchstone. In fact, this science fiction adventure tale could be classified as a “Space Western” — with updated versions of the stagecoaches, saloons, gunslingers & heroes of the Old West moved to — why, a new LOCATION of course!
For those who want to know what a number of authors think a Space Western is — check out: http://www.spacewesterns.com/articles/73/ If you scroll down in the article, I’m the 6th author interviewed.