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How do I make my setting relevant?

If Fiction is your forte, this is the forum for you. This is the place to share information and get help on the road to writing the next great novel.

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pheeweed
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How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby pheeweed » Mon May 28, 2012 10:10 pm

I'm writing a book for 10-12 year olds set in 1960. A friend who read it with her children of that age told me that I had dated myself with the language and cultural references. For example, my characters listen to music by Elvis Presley and the Beatles. They use words like "neat" and "boondocks." I did refrain from having them ride in a carryall, but they listen to records.

So my question is how do I preserve the time period while making the setting relevant to today's readers? Adults would probably get it more easily, but I need my readers to get it.
Phee
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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby glorybee » Mon May 28, 2012 10:13 pm

You may not be able to make the setting relevant without compormising historical accuracy. So what you have to do is remain true to your setting, and make your characters relevant by giving them conflicts that are universal across time.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby pheeweed » Tue May 29, 2012 7:52 am

Thanks, Jan. I think I have made the characters relevant, so I'll just keep on. What I'm toying with is replacing specific references with more general ones. For example, "a song about cars" instead of naming the song "409."
Phee
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http://www.delightedmeditations.blogspot.com

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT

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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby glorybee » Tue May 29, 2012 7:57 am

Oh, I hope you'll reconsider that. Specific details really will help your readers to visualize the setting, giving it authenticity. If you're going to be vague on details like that, you may as well set it in the present.

I think your friend was steering you wrong with her comment. "Dating yourself" is what you're supposed to do when you write something in a historical setting.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby tomoral » Tue May 29, 2012 8:12 am

Aboslutely, please leave the 409 in there. As a child of the sixties, I think I might like that book alot! Even though it's for 12 year olds, I love going back in my mind to that time. Your books sounds wonderful... :superhappy

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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby smittyfan » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:33 pm

Maybe your friend was meaning to add in references to the real-word happenings of that time, such as the peace movement, hippies etc. ;)

However,there comes a time in writing where you have to decide is this my story, or someone else's? It's good to take advice from others, but don't let it get to the point that they are dictating your story for you. :mrgreen:
Be :arrow: :mrgreen: Not :arrow: :coolsign

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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby Sparrow » Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:03 am

I love to read historical fiction because it gives me a taste of what life was like in that time period. I think using cultural references that were popular at the time is vital in historical fiction. If you aren't meaning to tie your book to a particular time period and are just telling a contemporary story, then definitely be more generic. But if it is fiction that is clearly based in a specific time, then I agree fully with Jan. Use the specific time-period names.
Amy Michelle Wiley
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Re: How do I make my setting relevant?

Postby pheeweed » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:51 pm

I've been reading some historical fiction for the age range of my audience and I've found that the cultural references are important, but in the background. The story and the characters are more universal. Thanks for all your input; it sent me to the books and helped me think it through.
Phee
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http://www.delightedmeditations.blogspot.com

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT


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