6 Unique Aesthetics for Your Story’s Setting

When it comes to writing speculative fiction, many writers can relate to the constant hunt for fresh ideas and original themes. Creating a new story concept generally begins with devising a good plot and characters, but giving your story a unique setting can really bring your narrative alive.

While many writers don’t have a problem coming up with endless ideas for plotlines and protagonists, it can be a struggle to imagine unique settings for those stories to unfold in. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

When I’m working on a concept for a new short story or novel, I like to have a certain style or aesthetic in mind when developing scenes and setting. For inspiration, I like to look to obscure music genres, fashion subcultures, or surreptitious fiction subgenres to get ideas for the overall feel I want my story to embody.

So here are six unique aesthetics for inspiring your next story’s setting:

1. Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

Characteristics:

  • Paranormal worlds with contemporary, urban elements
  • Gritty, yet hauntingly beautiful
  • Often dark, noir-like atmospheres
  • Enchanting and mysterious
  • Nostalgic, but with a futuristic feel

Click on the image below to explore my Urban Fantasy Pinterest board for more ideas


 

2. Psychedelic Folk

Psychedelic Folk. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

Characteristics:

  • A mainly acoustic version of folk music with psychedelic influences
  • Trance-like, peculiar, and atmospheric vibes
  • Evocations of love, beauty, and the natural world
  • Reality perceived as an illusion
  • Kaleidoscopes of swirling color with woodlands, sprawling countryside, or mountains as the backdrop
  • Often inspired by the effects of psychedelic drugs and hallucinatory experiences

Click on the image below to explore my Psychedelic Folk Pinterest board for more ideas

Psychedelic Folk. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com


3. Futuristic Minimalism

 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

Characteristics:

  • A blend of modern innovations with minimalistic design elements
  • Clean, neat environments with smooth surfaces
  • Sterile and bright or ominous and dark
  • Void, open spaces that shun excess
  • Simple, pared-down scenery stripped down to the essential

Click on the image below to explore my Futuristic Minimalism Pinterest board for more ideas

Futuristic Minimalism. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com


4. Mystical Horror

Mystical Horror. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

Characteristics:

  • Morbidly elegant – deathlike, yet charismatic motifs
  • Surreal imagery captured in a bizarre, mystifying way
  • Scary creatures and monsters roaming through nature
  • Feelings of darkness and solitude
  • Often contains scenes of graphic gore set against stunning backdrops

Click on the image below to explore my Mystical Horror Pinterest board for more ideas

Mystical Horror. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com


5. Gutter Punk

Gutter Punk. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

Characteristics:

  • A transient punk subculture often associated with Crust Punk
  • Modern-day hobo lifestyle that can be urban or span across rural and wooded areas
  • Grungy settings like abandoned buildings or box cars
  • Dirty, smelly, and generally grimy vibe
  • Gutter Punk characters often have dreadlocks, facial piercings, and wear dirty, unkempt attire

Click on the image below to explore my Gutter Punk Pinterest board for more ideas

Gutter Punk. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com


6. Vaporwave

Vaporwave. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com

Characteristics:

  •  Started as an electronic music movement in the 2010s and evolved into an art and fashion aesthetic
  • Soothing and hypnotic elements
  • Imagery includes cyberpunk, outdated computer renderings, and glitch art
  • Motifs often embrace nostalgic elements from the 1980s and 1990s 
  • Strikingly colorful with vibrant neons shining through darkness or bright pastels of pink and turquoise

Click on the image below to explore my VaporwavePinterest board for more ideas

Vaporwave. 6 unique aesthetics for speculative fiction story settings. BerniceRayHollins.com


For further inspiration for worldbuilding or storytelling, check to 5 growing subgenres in the world of sci-fi.

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