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7

You are overthinking this. There is Fantasy. Magic, fairies, dragons and such do not exist, yet the suspension of disbelief works without a special effort on the author's part. There are alternate histories. Utopias. Children's books about impossible creatures and events. Crime stories about crimes that never happened. Fiction with characters that do not ...


6

The factor in believability is not setting or genre, but the ability of the writer. For example, I don't usually watch movies or tv series dealing with love relationships set in the present time because the depicted behavior almost always seems completely unrealistic to me. No one I know treats their family, friends and co-workers like the characters do in ...


5

Two approaches to researching existing cities without travelling there: Read about that city. A lot has been written about New York, from travel journals to biographies to history books to fiction to science fiction to politics to newspaper articles. Everything about New York has been written down somewhere, including the smells. While New York is ...


5

If you have a story to tell, it should be possible to tell that story in your setting. If all you have is a setting, you need to find your story first. What you should avoid doing is setting your story in your setting and then not really using that setting to inform the story. If you're telling a story about, say, the politics of the international ...


4

All fiction is about the suspension of disbelief. Decades ago I read a statement that sticks in my mind to this day. A writer discussing science fiction said that he had an easier time believing that it is possible to travel faster than light than he did believing that Perry Mason only gets big murder cases with innocent clients and always wins. A good ...


3

"Write what you know" is a guideline, not a law, or every book would be an autobiography. If you want to write about other countries, you say you've done a lot of research, which is a great start. That will keep you from making basic mistakes, like having your characters drive on the incorrect side of the road or dress inappropriately. Beyond that, either ...


2

"...how I can believably place a fictional city in the real United States (like replacing smaller towns, or just finding an empty stretch of coast or riverside without angering people that I've "erased" their hometown from the map)?" I think you have answered your own question. Just get out the map and look for a good site for a city, and if there isn't ...


2

Think up an alternate history and develop it logically - or parodically. Take for example a more serious approach - Steampunk: Electricity never passed beyond "mad inventor" sphere, and world developed finding new miraculous fuels to power increasingly advanced steam engines; external combustion engines got more popular than internal combustion ones, ...


2

With Google maps and Google street view, you can get a lot of detail about the layout of a city and just what it looks like at any given point that would have been very difficult ten or twenty years ago. That said, sure, if you set a story in a place that you have never been to, it is very likely that you will make mistakes about things that you didn't ...


2

For a story, you need a character in a setting with a problem. You can start from any of those elements and develop the others. If you have an interesting character in an interesting setting with an interesting problem, it makes absolutely no difference in what order you developed them. If you have a setting, find a character with a problem in that setting, ...


2

I don't see any problem with that approach. Much of sci fi and fantasy is setting first. What you need, though, is an engaging story to take place in that setting. Something that is interesting independent of where it takes place. Something like love, war, political intrigue, or the problems of teens growing up. What it is is irrelevant and will depend on ...


2

In this setting, maybe a collection of short stories, each exploring a different facet of these changes, could be an interesting format. I'm thinking of something like "After the quake" by Haruki Murakami, or "I robot" by Isaac Asimov.


1

It seems you're using the term setting in a non-standard way to mean genre conventions. Given that, I would say that a mastery of genre, including the fulfillment of the expectations of the core audience, can bring short-term popularity, but that only good writing will endure over the long term. It's also worth noting that the most popular works typically ...


1

If I had a formula for what makes a book a bestseller, then I'd have a bunch of bestselling books to my name instead of the lame few hundred copies my books sell. I think the biggest factor in making a best-selling book is that the author is already famous. If a big-time Hollywood actor or a well-known politician or a champion athlete writes a book, it will ...


1

As Alexandro said: Neither of those. Many bestsellers are amazingly badly written, and bestsellers come from all genres and settings. What makes a bestseller is marketability and the marketing that are based on this. Every current bestseller has a clearly defined target audience and contains what that audience craves most. (For example, Fifty Shades of Grey ...


1

Neither of those. They can certainly make a novel enjoyable. But make it a best-seller...I'm not sure. For instance, I've never heard people say that they want to read a novel because it's set in New York or Paris or Narnia. As for the writing...okay maybe this one is more important. However, the term is a little ambiguous. What do you mean by writing? The ...


1

Well, actually you do have it kind of backwards, but not really in a bad way. The basic progress for scifi in idealized case is to first come up with the concept. Then come up with the theme, which aspect of your basic concept you want to explore and how. Then think of a story that does that. And develop the setting as normal for the story. So in theory ...


1

If you do web searches on movies cities and books cities (and similar searches), you get lots of hits that you'll probably find helpful. Stuff like "Top 10 cities on film", "Cities as characters in film", "50 Coolest Fictional Cities". Also, searching for videos using travelogue CityName (e.g., travelogue "New York City") gives useful hits. The web is ...


1

Consider setting your story in a place that doesn't exist now, but exists in your mind. Do what DC and other comics do, and create a 'bit like reality but not exactly like reality now' setting that works for your story. You can create whatever place you want. If you want to have an American influence, do so. But be prepared to create your own world.


1

The greatest human fear is the fear of the unknown. What's more scary? A gremlin chasing people in the streets, or a moan that's heard every summer in the depths of a basement? Exploit this. I recommend you to read House of Leaves. There are no monsters, there's no blood, yet it's one of the scariest novels I've ever read. It's the story about a house ...


1

This sounds like a fun project --I once had a similar idea, that I never followed up on, to write a story, set in the current day, with accurate modern technology, but as if it was written 50 or 100 years ago. The biggest problem with your idea is that you can't unknow how technology actually developed. It's hard to deliberately make the mistakes of ...


1

The number one rule in making things believable is detailing. This applies to outlandish theories just as much as world-destruction type stakes. None of it will seem real without the details that lend it credence. It is admittedly a bit more difficult with things we know to be false. I think in order to make these particular things seem realistic, you have ...


1

Unless you write to portrait life in a specific culture, fiction is mainly about people, and people are basically the same everywhere. Everyone wants physical safety, health, social connections, love, entertainment, and so on. People everywhere love their children, are jealous, strive for economic success, feel insecure or happy or sad. Since you are a human ...



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