Sunday, February 23, 2014

World Building!

For my Critical Thesis for the MFA Program, I'm focusing on world building in Dystopian fiction.  I've read some great craft essays and books that deal with the subject of bringing the reader into the world of the story and I wanted to share a few of my personal discoveries with our contributors and readers.  First of all, these books are a must have for anyone who writes, especially if they branch out in genres such as science fiction and fantasy: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by Crawford Killian, Burning Down the House by Charles Baxter, and Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway.

The first one on the list has been instrumental in giving me ideas and source quotes for my paper as well as informational in my own endeavors to create bigger, better, more concise worlds.  The novels that I'm going to use as primary sources in my Critical Thesis include Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Feed by M.T. Anderson, and either The Windup Girl by Paola Bacigalupi or Battle Royale by Koushun Takami.  I might use all four but that depends on length and on what new ideas and examples each book brings the table when it comes to world building.  Just to give you all a taste of what I'm working on right now, please enjoy a snippet from my four page intro:
What does it take to make a world? It takes time, lots of it, and a certain amount of chemistry. And what does it take to destroy one? According to Star Wars, it takes a Death Star. But the real answer is much more complicated and raises more questions than it answers. Is it too much power? Not enough? Too many cooks in the kitchen? Or perhaps no one in the driver’s seat? Historical precedent indicates that a man-made or natural disaster is often the cause, but even something as seemingly localized and specific as a political rising or falling can destroy the fragile balance of what we consider to be civilized and humane existence. Dystopian fiction deals with these unmade worlds.
Merriam-Webster defines dystopia as “an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly,” or “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives.” Utopia, on the other hand, is “an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect,” or “an imaginary and indefinitely remote place.” In a nutshell, dystopia is the anti-utopia. Both extremes are defined as imaginary, but of the two, only one is make-believe; there is no such thing as a real utopia. Ideals are impossible to achieve, but dehumanized and fearful societies happen all the time. One of the reasons that dystopian literature has become so popular and even controversial over the past century is because it holds up a mirror. The reflection back depends greatly upon the novel. Sometimes we see the horrors of our past, sometimes the injustice and terror of the present, and, quite often, the mirror gives us a glimpse into a plausible future. ~ Amanda LaFantasie

Amanda LaFantasie © February 2014

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! I cant wait to read the whole thing when you are finished with it!