Thursday, August 13, 2009

Middle Ground

The Thief Book, when I planned it all out, was set in a fictitious city in a fictitious country. (Shh... Don't tell my Alpha reader. She still thinks it's set in Italy. Not quite sure why.) That all works well enough for me, since I'm using English, French, and Italian names, mimicking the English aristocracy, using mostly French nomenclature, and basing a lot of the Thief's Code on that of the Russian vor v zakone.

So, here's the question: timing.

When I first came up with the idea, I never really put a date on it in my head. Most of the technology I've been using dates up 1837 at the latest, though much was probably discovered earlier. The fashion, on the other hand, tends towards 1815. (In my mind, that period had more practical fashions.)

It seems to me there might be a bit of trouble trying to set this book at an actual time in the real world. I am not quite ready to parce the question of what earthly year this story could have occurred in. Frankly, it probably wouldn't add more than a passing level of 'interesting' to the story to set it in Europe (the might fitting Earth place for this country) in any time that indeed occurred. Therefore, in my mind, it exists in its own little bubble. At least, it will until I am forced to think of sometime much cleverer to do to resolve these matters.

How do you choose the timing of your stories? How important do you find the issues of 'period'? Can some fiction exist without time period?


  1. I write contemporary (at least for now) so timing hasn't been an issue. I have an idea for a historical though, so I guess I'll have to deal with that issue eventually. Let us know what time period you decide on.

  2. Same as Lazy writer.
    I write contemporary so I dont really struggle with periods. But I do struggle with how much time has past from one chapter to the other, is it a day?few days?a week? or months!

  3. I'm definitely having a similar problem with one of mine. It is sort of like an alternate reality to ours - very modern, but the government and some of the mystical elements just wouldn't fit IRL. I finally just decided to keep it alternate reality, which would push it into fantasy and not sci-fi...but that's okay.

    Have you researched the big historical goings-on during your possible time periods? Like, if it's going to be in Euorpe, where does Napoleon come into play? What about civil wars? Things like that would add a lot of depth and color to your setting. I've read a few things talking about how important setting is, which includes time period. So I would just suggest doing tons of research about Europe at the times you're looking at. Hope that helps! :]

  4. characterize - I have the same problem sometimes. I often make up my mind as I write the first draft how long things are going to take for my characters.

    KM - I've been doing some thinking about the period and some research, and there are some things that I think would add some spice to the story. On the other hand there's a level of commitment that a time period might ask of me, which I am not sure I want to give.