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WRITING How do you go about creating the "atmosphere" or "feel" of your universe?

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY HELP' started by Diana, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. In popular, recognizable universes they have this atmosphere, feel, CULTURE to the whole thing that makes them distinct. When you see something it automagically makes you think of that universe because they managed to create it so well.

    Harry Potter and Firefly are two of my favorite examples!

    What do you do to help make an atmosphere? What are some little things that help inspire you or the creation process?

    I AM CURIOUS TO KNOW! >> Sometimes I am not sure how to create this in writing.
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  2. I use the mood of the NPCs a lot to reflect the mood. How most of the population looks, acts, and speaks says a lot about the tone of a place. Also, the grimmer the atmosphere, the grimier (or at least less appealing) the setting sounds.
  3. I'm going to take this and expand a bit. Specifically on the 'speaks' part. Most people[citation needed] rely on trying to throw in out of place slang, or spelling words differently to try to convey a specific culture, but otherwise use the same diction and grammar that they do. I find that changing the grammar structure of the sentences people say can give that sense of who they are even better than misspelling a word. Remember, there's more to dialects than diction!

    The issue with this being, of course, that this takes a lot more effort to pull off well. Namely, research. For some that's a problem, and so I can understand why everyone doesn't do this. It isn't necessary, it's more of icing on the dialogue cake.
  4. I wasn't really referring to this phenomenon, but you definitely make a good point! You should expand on it further (maybe some examples and do's/don'ts?) in a culture workshop 8D
  5. I basically use core motifs and symbolism to carry the atmosphere and the mood of a reality. I usually take one element and place it at the centre of the universe, letting it dominate as the ages change, new cultures rise or fall. Along with that, I usually have several recurring themes, characters or perhaps even just hints.

    To give you two examples, one of my constructed realities is supposed to be realistic, but optimistic, so the way I convey that is with savage wars along with a fairly accurate presentation of human nature. Yet at the same time, progress ultimately tends towards the positive end, not to mention that there are extraordinary people, most of whom are good. Yes, there is evil out there, but it is defeated at the end of the day even though the fight may look absolutely hopeless.

    The second example would be a reality all about the conflict between often vastly different cultures, so I literally divided the place into different "countries" that even have their own, unique laws of physics. There is a constant, reoccuring nation that travels between nations and serves as a sort of anchor point to compare, contrast or sometimes make decisions that impact these places. There is also a larger, undergoing plot of fightng strange, alien creatures whom everyone knows little about, which is about as in-your-face as one can get, but I have way too much fun with the idea.
  6. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. But maybe that's because I write primarily for video games. If the people living in the world feel real then the world that they are living in becomes alive and dynamic because of them. Everything matters. Even down to the words of drunken slobs in taverns. I think what people struggle with most when it comes to world building is the subtlety of the art. A lot of people I've seen just try to be upfront and blunt with what they want to convey by given long written descriptions of how something is meant to be when you should just let it be. It's hard to explain I guess. I'm sleepy so I've probably made no sense but it mainly boils down to character interaction (at least for me, anyway).
  7. I'll break this up into two, distinctive parts. In creating the atmosphere, tone, mood, etc. of a world, the very first thing I focus on is the introduction a reader, roleplayer and even I will later have in the world. The first few posts, the description in the OP, so on and so forth. Each new area should have its own atmosphere and tone that can either be connected to or totally different from the primary one. How the world is explained and how its plot is explained as it unravels are two entirely different things. Describing a series of events might lead to an entirely different tone for a world than describing the places and their history. I think it's important to be very clear, at least in your own mind, as to what you're attempting to capture and accomplish, then make an anchor point in the roleplay for that. Even if a player starts later, chapters later even, they will start somewhere and its important that somewhere give the desired tone and create the desired atmosphere for them to pick up on it. With a good, solid start, preservation itself is relatively easy. In terms of how one can create a mood, word choice and emphasis are two aspects I prefer to use. The same thing can be described a thousand different ways and its important to pick just which way you want illustrating the world you are bringing to life. It's not about "getting the job done" or "getting the post wrote"; you're creating a long-standing resource for a world, and it's important to get it done correctly. Rewrite it a dozen times until you believe that everyone who reads it will be able to interpret it in a way that you find acceptable for your world.

    Then comes culture. Culture and atmosphere go hand-in-hand in some respects, but they are truly different entities. A culture is a group of people brought together and bred by a world and its history. There can be different cultures. Each one will evolve. Each people will be different. And, in sculpting a world through culture, the biggest question to ask is "why?" Why would a human - a group of people - behave this way? What is the reason behind it? How did they grow, bond and adapt to survive? How did they react? Once you figure out the what's and how's, figuring out the why's is how you make others relate. And, if the subject isn't human, then the why might be different. But, if it's different, it should be consistent. There are universal traits in all humanity, and just like that, there are universal traits in any race you come up with, unless of course there actually aren't. In either case, it's important to preserve the consistency of why things happen as they do because as long as that is consistent, a whole group of people can be built on that foundation and you will always be able to return to it. If new events happen, you can predict how a culture will adapt because you know why they will do it. If a bunch of cultures react differently, chances are they're reacting on the same principle of "why?" and if a whole culture gets wiped out, then is it because they strayed too far from their basic, primal nature, or was their "how" just not sufficient despite having the correct reasoning? Culture can help maintain an atmosphere, but atmosphere itself does not create culture. More like, atmosphere is the culmination of almost every surface-level element in a world while a culture combines what is on the surface with what is at root, and in that way the two do affect each other, often extensively.

    If there is an atmosphere I want to create, there is definitely a reason I want it created. As long as that reason is good enough, it will seep deep into the boundless depths of a roleplay to make itself present wherever I want it to be, whether its in dialogue, nonverbal interaction, the setting, the world, a series of events, so on and so forth.