Does having a consistent architectural style matter in a story? Just wondering if you’ve ever thought about it? I’m writing a sort of fantasy and I’m just worried it might not feel consistent between the lowly housing and the castles.
Depends on whether or not architecture is an important feature of your story
I would say it is important in some ways, but doesn’t have to be something you focus on the first draft.
Architecture also doesn’t have to be something that is entirely focused on or consistent with unless the area is like that.
The reason why it’s important is because it shows the culture, the climate of the area, and even the economic structure of the town. There’s a difference between places in India, Mexico, and England based on the architecture alone—the climate, the history, the economy. Even in Eastern Asia, the structures are different in China, Japan, even Korea and the Philippines.
It’s the same if you live in a single country, though, but that country comes with a lot of different places. Like for example, I live in America and the architecture is all over the place but everything tries to be modern. But when you look at housing, it’s different based on the area. I live in Kansas currently, and the houses here are all very diverse, from concrete to wood. And the houses here are different to California’s, which in many areas there, are inspired or based off of Mexican culture. Even here, a lot of concrete houses are inspired or based off Mexican culture, but a part of that might also be because the town I live in is heavily influenced and populated by Mexicans. But if you go somewhere else, like the South, you’ll find a lot of Victorian homes, a lot of wooden houses that go well with the swamps and marsh landscapes. And then you’ll find even different architecture when you go up North, say New York City.
If you were writing a contemporary novel, or an urban or low fantasy where the story is set on Earth, specifically in modern or perhaps historical times, you wouldn’t have to. Not necessarily. But when you’re writing a fantasy or a science fiction set somewhere imaginary, completely fictional—perhaps based off real architecture if you desire—then it’s a different story.
You don’t have to go too far into detail, of course. But hinting at what it might look like could give a lot more character to the world you’ve created, allowing your reader to become fully immersed into it and make them believe they can go there, they can see it.
If it’s fantasy, the majority of architecture is going to be vernacular architecture, which is anything but consistent.
I absolutely research my architecture.
Only in historical stories (romance or not). You don’t place things out of time. If you place obsession with the Orient as popular during Greek Revival, someone is bound to notice and get irate enough to blow up your story in comments.
Outside of that, you don’t put glaring blunders in stories without setting up a reason.
A glass skyscraper COULD be in a mideval fantasy, but you have to work for it. Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, for example, is ideal because it’s a mideval fantasy on a post-apocalyptic Earth. The best way to deal with that, then, is to explain it through eyes that aren’t used to the architecture.
Then if you choose an asthetic like steampunk, this is the rise of brick houses because industry is streamlining making building materials. The Victorian era is classic Steampunk and Victoria’s husband was behind building the biggest glass building of the era. A skyscraper COULD exist under those constraints, but you’d be better off looking at what existed and sticking closer to that style.
A mideval castle in a high tech society would need treatment closer to the Gargoyles cartoon: rich man transports the whole dang castle to the top of his tall building and has tech rigged through the whole dang thing because he’s a rich semi-villain.
But contemporary? People are still building pyramids to this day next to trailers. It’s not something to worry about.
Oh, gosh. I had to read interior decor stuff and buildings descriptions to make sure I have backdrops that sound real.
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