Letting Characters Guide the Setting

(C) Google Maps

Now that I have my files back in place and the proper versions up and running, I’m able to get back to the twins and their predicament. I caught up with what Talbot has been up to and left the twins looking into the mouth of a cave that had an enticing sparkle when they shined a light into the darkness. The characters for the first story are solidifying in my head. I still need to get to know them a little better, but I can work with what I know. 

The next step of writing the family saga is to get a picture in my mind of the setting in which the first tale will be told. I already know a few things about the Alterian family and can’t wait to discover more. In my story, the twins’ great-grandmother combined a spirit of adventure with her love of technology. She created a virtual reality device that took the world by storm. 

Grandma Z, as the family called her, was an explorer in her youth. She and her wife, Jeanne, explored the world instead of going to college. When the pair finally settled down, they had an idea that would bring the world they had discovered to people who could not travel to such far-flung places. Thus was born RealVert Corporation, one of the first steps toward holographic visuals. 

I decided to begin my stories in a setting close to our reality instead of a fantasy world because that way, I don’t have to twist someone else’s idea. (My original idea was inspired by an event from Keith Baker’s Eberron® setting.) I can think of multiple avenues to launch my characters into a fantasy realm from a “real-world” setting that doesn’t involve magic or some other fantasy element. I’ll have my hands full inventing other domains as family members find themselves in those places without also having to create their world of origin. 

Since the story starts in the “real world,” I needed to figure out where exactly. Then how and why the characters are there. Finding a place proved easy enough using Google Maps. I looked for less populated areas, which took me west. I wanted mountains, which led me to the Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana region. As I zoomed in and out on the satellite map, I found what looked to be the perfect spot. 

Northwest of Yellowstone National Park, and southwest of Big Sky, Montana, is the Madison Range. One of the prominent peaks of the range is Sphinx Mountain, adjacent to The Helmet. My research led me to pick this area as the place to launch the action.

I now have the characters and the place, I just need to sit down and transcribe as they tell me what happens next. 

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