Thursday, 26 September 2013

World-building. Like a sandbox, they're only interesting if they've got more than just sand in...

A fascination with dystopian worlds doesn't have to mean clanging emptiness
I've been concerned for a long time about huge heavy-hitting best selling books "building better worlds", books where the actual setting becomes as much of a 'star' as the characters.

The lure of dystopian pasts or futures, like the divided "Districts" in Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" or the sprawling Elder-Scrolls / King-of-Thrones style fantasy landscapes of "The Future King - The Waking World" by Tom Huddleston, feel like places we can't wait to visit as vicarious observers hovering far above the landscape safe from its troubles and torments.

So many authors tie themselves to creating rich and detailed worlds - but what of the world's contents? What of the characters who populate these worlds? Is it possible that the newest trend in writing is also leading us down a path where 'literary tourism' is the substitute for dialogue and character development?

We've seen this happen in video games. With the advent of more powerful systems, we have seen "The Sandbox Game" become more and more popular, as developers begin the process of world-building themselves. But as the caption on our header image suggests, are authors now falling into the same trap that games developers are already struggling to claw their way out of - where those worlds are just empty hollow clanging shells, suffering because of a lack of content?

World building is tempting, inveigling. As an author, you are god - you possess the creative power to build a world, shape it, fanny around with the wibbly wobbly Norwegian coastline and all those Fjords, you can make cities rise or fall, produce architectural wonders to rival the ancient seven wonders of this world. But will you lose yourself so entirely in the process of world creation that you suddenly realise you need characters to populate that world that have as much impact as the scenery?

Worth a thought...

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Post a Comment

Thursday, 26 September 2013

World-building. Like a sandbox, they're only interesting if they've got more than just sand in...

A fascination with dystopian worlds doesn't have to mean clanging emptiness
I've been concerned for a long time about huge heavy-hitting best selling books "building better worlds", books where the actual setting becomes as much of a 'star' as the characters.

The lure of dystopian pasts or futures, like the divided "Districts" in Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" or the sprawling Elder-Scrolls / King-of-Thrones style fantasy landscapes of "The Future King - The Waking World" by Tom Huddleston, feel like places we can't wait to visit as vicarious observers hovering far above the landscape safe from its troubles and torments.

So many authors tie themselves to creating rich and detailed worlds - but what of the world's contents? What of the characters who populate these worlds? Is it possible that the newest trend in writing is also leading us down a path where 'literary tourism' is the substitute for dialogue and character development?

We've seen this happen in video games. With the advent of more powerful systems, we have seen "The Sandbox Game" become more and more popular, as developers begin the process of world-building themselves. But as the caption on our header image suggests, are authors now falling into the same trap that games developers are already struggling to claw their way out of - where those worlds are just empty hollow clanging shells, suffering because of a lack of content?

World building is tempting, inveigling. As an author, you are god - you possess the creative power to build a world, shape it, fanny around with the wibbly wobbly Norwegian coastline and all those Fjords, you can make cities rise or fall, produce architectural wonders to rival the ancient seven wonders of this world. But will you lose yourself so entirely in the process of world creation that you suddenly realise you need characters to populate that world that have as much impact as the scenery?

Worth a thought...

No comments:

Post a Comment