That movie represents an interesting question to me about how to go about writing something with sci-fi or fantastic elements. Anything based in a society that is slightly off from the current reality that we know. Like, how and at what pace do you introduce your audience to the world you’ve constructed? And how do you not get so lost in the details of world-building that you fail to develop characters?
In fact, I think a significant bit of sci fi—as much as I love it—does fall prey to that problem. Characters that fit within the mold of the presented society, sure, but which don’t have their own humanly struggles and details.
It seems to me there’s something more challenging in the making of characters in such a scenario, because every aspect of their lives is related to the society that, although new to the reader, they do not consciously notice the details of. How do you introduce readers into the world your character isn’t a newcomer to?
How do you use story arc to create the world instead just slapping down a blueprint at the start and saying to the audience, “Okay, this is how things work here. Study it, and then we’ll move on.”
…Yeah. I dunno. Advice welcome.
I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense. It’s two AM. I’m sick.
One of my teachers used to say, whatever you’re stuck on, think of how it’s already been done in the stories you love most. (Or even if it’s not your favorite story, if it was just one part of one sentence, that’s fine too…)
Basically, remember what you’ve read, or seen if you’re thinking films. Pull things apart, in your head or on paper or however you want. Bite sized pieces. Ask yourself “how did they do that?” and don’t let yourself say “I don’t know they just did” because it’s not true and you know it.
Maybe start with something easy, like Harry Potter. We follow Harry into the wizarding world, right? We discover it as he does.
In Star Wars, we just get plopped in. Even if you exclude the information from the films, there are little hints for the reader. Like if there’s a new word… it’ll be like “his lightsaber blade hissed through the air.” There lots of information there right? You know it’s a blade thing made of light and it makes a hissing sound. Done and done. You don’t get stuck, you just see the lightsaber and move forward. Brains are fast like that.
My teacher also said, build your world, then sit inside it and write.
Assume your audience is at least as intelligent as you. Make them use their “context clues” and don’t try to lead them by the hand, just give them a guiding light. They won’t see everything precisely the way you do, but they don’t have to. They’ll be able to make out enough to go on.
my teacher was a nut, but he was kind of a smart nut.
aaand my commercial break is over, which is lucky because i think that’s all i’ve got anyway. now i’m going to go watch donna noble save the universe.
hi good luck feel better