Monday, February 11, 2013

Settings With Meaning by James Wymore

Where a story is set can carry a great deal of significance. We've all heard of stories where the setting can change with little difference to outcome. For these stories, the setting only offers a flavor. It’s just a palette for the characters and plot to be splashed across. For other stories, the setting is vital to the entire construction and theme of the story. Those are the settings with meaning.

People differ on their opinions of what makes a good book. Somebody interested only in entertainment tends to find a preferred genre and stick with it, venturing out only occasionally to read something else just long enough to confirm they really like their favorite genre. However, other readers want meaning in the books they read. They want a different perspective or commentary on life. Those readers will tend toward literary fiction and books with higher meaning. That isn’t to say genre fiction has no meaning at all, just to say books come with different levels of meaning to suit all readers.

For me, meaning is inherent to the fabric of a book’s construction. The themes I want to deal with and the situations I want the characters to face are integral to my stories. In fact, the setting of my books are dictated by the ideas in it. Consequently my first book is futuristic Sci-fi, my next book is Urban Paranormal, and the one after that is Medieval Fantasy. In each case, the ideas and themes of the story dictated the setting needed to best express them.

For me, it feels the art of meaningful setting is integral to the art of writing. Tolkien’s Middle Earth existed to make possible the powerful message of the one ring. The masters always craft settings which drive the characters and stories to the greatest depths. These stories stand out in stark contrast to those written just to be a part of a given genre.

In Theocracide, people wear computer glasses, which scan the world and then overlay images right over the top of what they see. It literally allows them to see the world any way they want. Consequently, people have become so addicted to the virtual realities they live in that they don’t even care about “real” life. They all wear gray sweats. Many never leave their homes at all if they have a choice. The buildings are in disrepair. So many of them were in accidents for distracted driving that cars are all on rails now and driven by computers. This setting not only conveys meaning of its own, but it provides a unique background for a story, which could not be told in any other world.

About James Wymore:
Born just south of Alcatraz in the heat of an unpopular foreign war, James Wymore spent his formative years moving around like a gypsy on the run. His family settled in Utah before it was hip. James wrote two books in high school, but those books have been sealed in a secret facility for the protection of readers everywhere. Although he adopted the name Shin Min-kyu during his two years in Korea, his exceptional height and blond hair made it impossible to blend in.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chaos, James Wymore became a teacher, because he loves animals. He spent the decade after college co-building a dream world with a close friend and fellow writer. Tethered to the real world by his amazing family, he eventually realized these stories needed to be written, returned to the aspiration of his youth, and began writing seriously. He has several short stories available in print now, and even won a few awards for one. His first book, Theocracide, is available now. His next book, Exacting Essence, will be out in 2013!

Somewhere along the line he realized how funny death is. A few art classes shy of real illustrating skill, he nevertheless began drawing a line of comics called parting shots. Now they are in featured in a print magazine and online.

A voracious gamer, James loves Video games, board games, miniature war games, collectible card games; you name it, he loves playing it. He has a vast collection of miniatures he painted which he features from time to time on his blog. Since he first used sheet rock to draw circles in the road and throw frisbees at his friends and family like they were on the grid, he has always enjoyed creating games. Now he has a few he made available free on his website. Find him in person and he’ll give you an exclusive signature card to make your game even better.

Author Blog:
Theocracide on Amazon and other formats here


  1. A setting is vital in any book. Whether an author takes full advantage is their decision. Theocracide seems to follow the theme of the dangers of technology. Sounds like a nice read.

  2. No story takes place on an empty palate. Like the sound of your book, James!

  3. Great read and cover-- always so glad to read about new authors, their thoughts on writing and their books. Thanks to both of you.

  4. Yeah, with some books the setting is like a whole other character. I do like stories that function on multiple levels, so if the author has taken care to integrate the setting with the emotions of the characters or whatever, they get bonus points from me.

  5. If I don't choose the setting for its meaning, I do take the setting into consideration in the formation of characters.

  6. I really do get into settings. Maybe it's because I'm such a field-dependent person. I need a background for everything I do, so this carries over into my reading taste as well as how I write.

  7. Setting is a big part of what pulls me into a book, especially how characters interact with the world around them.

  8. Cool post on setting. World building is an important part of any plot, especially when it affects the plot. When we read a "real" world setting, we immediately form an idea about the characters. When we read a fantasy or scifi world we look at that world's rules and see how they affect the character's decisions, or how that character is going to attempt to change the world around them.

    Again, great post! Glad to meet James and learn about his books!

  9. I'm a firm believer the setting is as important as the main characters, and in some ways, a character itself. So many great stories are based around a particularly unique and alluring setting, and that draws readers in and makes them want to stay. I plan to do a whole month on setting for the Blogging A-Z in April.

    Nice to meet James! Thanks Jeff!