Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Guest Post by J. H. Bogran - Settings Part 1

Here below you'll find a Guest Post by J. H. Bogran. 

I ran into J. H. Bogran on #scifichat and without having read any novels under that byline, decided that I'd found someone so intrinsically interesting that all my readers need to hear his Voice.

Unable to get marketing to work for SF/F published in Spanish, Bogran took the bold step of writing in English, in order to reach -- well, YOU! 

Anyone who gravitates to #scifichat on twitter is going to be intrinsically interesting, but to find a writer I can talk to every week -- who lives in Honduras?  Honduras!  and on that same chat, we have people from England, from both coasts of the USA and the middle, too. 

Watching these diverse people interact gives one a new perspective on where novels come from, so when I invited him to do a guest post for you, I just left the subject open.

And so, here's a discussion on a topic we haven't yet tackled on this blog, SETTINGS. 

Choice of setting is intricately tied to character and theme, but the first consideration in choosing setting is genre.  By changing the setting, you can change the genre. 

That's the lesson we've seen worked out with Star Trek, which was first sold as "Wagon Train To The Stars" (pitched using one of the most popular and long-running TV Series t the time, Wagon Train.)  In fact, most all genuine SF at that time was the typical Western adventure story set in space -- same story, same characters, transported to space and given knowledge of technology and science. 

Well, knowledge of technology and science was also vital to the survival in the Old West -- one had to know how to repair a saddle, cast bullets, doctor a horse, build a wagon wheel, and avoid rattlers. 

And the same is true in The Hobbit -- Bilbo had to learn fast on his adventure.

The same is true of the TV Series Scarecrow and Mrs. King, where "Mrs. King" learns fast to be a secret agent with a double life, but applies the housewife&mother skill set to international intrigue -- changing the "setting" from "Brady Bunch" or "The Waltons" to "International Murder and Mayhem." 

So to find the genre market you can sell into, consider setting carefully.  The story you're trying to write might be unsellable if written in one setting, but sell big time if transposed to another.  You can tell the same story about the same character with the same conflicts and even very similar tools of his/her trade in various settings. 

But take care because though the character can affect the setting, the setting also affects the character.  If you do not bring that interaction to the surface in your composition, the story will seem ludicrous to those who know the setting and the people native to it. 

Without further ado, here's J. H. Bogran:

---------------GUEST POST---------------
A Study on Settings
By J. H. Bogran

There I was, thrilled to be a special guest at #scifichat—my first, by the way—when out of the blue came an invitation to post on this blog. I agreed wholeheartedly, and so, here I am!

Regardless of genre, “location” for any work of fiction is important enough that, when done properly, the setting becomes an integral part of the tale. Think of The Hunchback of Notredame, The Fall of the House of Usher, Pillars of the Earth, Dune, The Dark Tower, or Star Trek.

With works in genres as varied as thrillers and fantasy, it is not surprising that I use different methods to find, research, and select locations for my stories. Let’s deal with thrillers first, as the genre has the marginal advantage of settings being found in our world.

My debut novel, Treasure Hunt, is a suspense thriller about a thief hired to rescue some money stolen twenty years before. The action is set in 1998 because that’s when I began the first draft; little I knew that it’d be published until 2011 where the era might be considered historical. Anyway, for Treasure Hunt, I used locations found on planet Earth: London, New York, a Federal penitentiary, and a fictional Caribbean country named Istmo. Istmo turned out to be a pretty stylized version of Honduras, with honest politicians, cleaner cities, really low violence levels; you can say it is Honduras 2.0.

Choosing the setting for a novel in a foreign country can be tough, but not impossible to research via internet, interviewing people who have been there, studying maps. The introductory chapter of The Falcon, a thief who rents out his skills, is set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Great, nobody resists a tour of the Big Apple, right? Except, at the time I had never set foot there. After a couple of hour-long phone interviews with a couple of friends who’d lived there I was able to paint a decent enough picture. So good in fact, that during the novel’s launch party, a person came up to me and congratulated me for transporting him back to the city of his youth!

The opposite side of the spectrum, in fantasy, the locations are not found on Earth (most of the times), reducing the amount of research to a minimum. Not! For Deeds of a Master Archer—a portal fantasy short story of two modern-day men trapped in a world where they become a village’s last line of defense against a pack of dragons—I had to create a world, believable enough to feel real, even when populated with creatures that had never existed. Okay, I may have cheated a little as the villages all conveniently speak English, and the place is very akin to medieval Europe; except for the dragons, of course.

In building new worlds, with their culture, religion, languages and all of accompanying prerequisites, the writer must spend considerable time because, if these places don’t exist, they still must make sense. At least, sense enough to suspend a reader’s disbelief for the duration of the story.

So, what if Alderan never really existed? What if the lead character always catches the bad guy, stops the atomic bomb from going off, and kisses the girl? What if the Doctor will never lend you his sonic screwdriver? Who cares! You enjoyed the trip, and that’s what count!

Author Bio and links:
J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

Website at: http://www.jhbogran.com
Blog: http://www.thetaleweaver.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jhbogran
Twitter: @JHBogran

Treasure Hunt trailer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEaG5CjDmG8

Direct links to books:


--------------END GUEST POST-----------------

Next week Settings Part 2

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

No comments:

Post a Comment