Tuesday, March 24, 2009

World Building

I have to run a workshop for the Australian National Romance Conference on World Building for paranormal, fantasy and futuristic writers. The thing about World Building is that if you do it really well, people don't notice it. The World Building goes on behind the scenes and motivates the characters.

So I've decided rather than create a shopping list of attributes for created societies, I'll work from the other direction (which is what I do anyway). When I write I start out with the person and their problem and the world evolves from there. This may sound really crazy and cause all kinds of problems, such as how can I be consistent? But I've always been fascinated by the way societies evolve and the pressures this places on people. So I've done a lot of reading and I trust myself to wing it.

If you stop and look at a lot of the things we do and why, they seem very arbitrary. As long as the created society has an internal logic, even where it is inconsistent, people will accept this. After all, why would you withhold education from half the population, then complain that they are stupid and can't be trusted with the vote?

Besides, I think creating a story with character, plot and world building will be a better hands-on way to explore the craft of World Building. I'm hoping the problems that arise as we come up with stories, will cause discussion and clarify points. And I'll have my back up list of questions in case I need them!

2 comments:

John Lambshead said...

Worldbuilding is an interesting one because critics often dislike 'real' worlds.

I know a very successful SF author who based his culture on a real model from the ancient world. A critic said it could never funtion - which would have been news to the citizens of the Roman Republic.

I wrote a Bronze Age story one based on Greek Mythology, Perseus and Andromeda. A critic hated it because it had an 'illogical magic system'. Actually, I used 'real' Bronze Age magic. Of course it was inconsistent, it was magic.

Of course, consistent magic is just science & technology on imaginary priciples.

John

matapam said...

I guess, just like readers expect a story to have a satisfactory end, they expect a fictional world to make sense. Something to do with the way our brains are wired, rather than a reflection of the real world.