One of the biggest challenges with writing speculative fiction is clarifying how your story’s magic and/or technology works. Once you’ve accomplished the monumental task of developing those systems, how do you educate readers without making them yawn? They don’t want you to pause the story to give a lesson on all the phenomena, yet they don’t like being confused (and prone to disbelief) either. (Aren’t readers exasperating?)
Like me, countless authors are fascinated by languages. Yet few of us have the energy to invent Elvish with its many branches. Coining a handful of phrases and ethnic names is doable, though still challenging. Also, developing a language is time consuming, and you’ll only get to feature it in one book (or perhaps a series).
The 1860s to 1890s were a shoot ’em up, bang ’em up period full of drinking, swearing, killing, and general lawlessness. So, how are you supposed to write a wholesome story set during the Wild West?
When I think about researching the time period my book is set in, I cringe. How do I write it without becoming overwhelmed and giving up?
A unique setting isn’t about how you describe it, but about how a character perceives it. Everything in a story revolves around characters, including setting. Descriptions are not foreign elements that must be incorporated solely because characters need a place to plant their feet. Showing the setting through the eyes of a character gives it purpose, direction, and meaning.