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TheEarCollector
October 9th, 2004, 05:44 PM
I need people's input on my worldbuilding because, to be entirely honest, I am caught in a vicious cycle. I am trying to create a world that has to meet some restrictions and I don't quite know how to overcome all of the minor problems that result...

These are the requirements for a world:
#1 There has to be a frontier
The world I am creating needs to have a boundary between the "civilized world" and the wilderness.
#2 The frontier must be urban
The place that society has pulled back from is the city itself, this means that ruins of modern cities are basically the wilderness.
#3 It has to be set in the future
It is implied that these buildings are modern/post modern
#4 Society must still exist
Even though people have pulled out of the formerly large cities, there must still be some form of organized civilization
#5 Society must have a military
Whatever the society is that is still in existence, it has some form of a military that is trying to maintain order in the frontier

Alright, now that you have the REQUIREMENTS down, I want to try to explain some other ideas that I have been toying with that can fit into this, but I am having trouble completely adapting.

*Corporate Revolution
Corporations become more powerful than the government because people rely on them more and find more loyalty to the employers.
PROS:
-Allows for a feudal government where corporations/companies control isolated city-states inhabited by employees
-Corporations hire mercenary armies to combat other corporations in the "ultimate monopoly" type of situation
-Corporations may very well pull out of cities to set up strongholds
CONS:
-How would a corporation that makes software create a self sufficient city?
-Where would the corporations set up their city-states?

*Post Nuclear Apocalypse
The world goes to nuclear war and everything that is not in a fallout shelter dies.
PROS:
-You have the desert feel for the most part
-Huge expanses of frontier since there is no formal government really
CONS:
-No form of government means it is hard to revive society... who wants to go to school?
-No form of rule means no reason for a military... hard to work with

*A Whole New World
Create another planet and make everything start from the bottom up.
PROS:
-Can manipulate the world to be whatever I want
CONS:
-More difficult for people to relate to
-Still requires reasons for the cities to be abandoned

*Underworld Culture
The world is as it is now, but rogue city states pop up
PROS:
-Rogue city states give a reason for normal citizens to pull out of an area
-Government would use martial law against these rogue city states
CONS:
-Wouldn't the government just carpet bomb them?
-If they don't have loyalty to each other (criminals) then could they ever really form a breakaway city... let alone many?
-Why would the government pull back the borders of its country and allow the rise of these city states instead of destroing them?
-How would a rogue city state survive long enough to develop their own subculture when under constant attack

Those are basically all my ideas. I have a skeleton to begin my story but I can't flesh out much more until I know what the main character is going to have to deal with. Right now his main complaint is trying to get into a private school, which is the reason why society is required. My personal favorite idea is the corporate revolution, but all of these ideas are somewhat decent to me. If you can come up with any ways to deal with the problems of any of these ideas, list them. Thank you for your help on trying to build this world.

Jamza1986
October 9th, 2004, 06:04 PM
World building is secondary to characterisation. Don't think too deeply abou the world until you have your story clearly mapped out.

Expendable
October 9th, 2004, 06:33 PM
James is right. Ask yourself where your story's going and then when you've got that figured out, the rest will fall into place.

But let me ask you this question - since the start of the Cold War, the US Government has been planning for a nuclear attack. So after a post-apocalyptic disaster, do you really think there wouldn't be a government?
Oh, and it would be cold. Very very cold.

Mugwump
October 9th, 2004, 07:53 PM
World building is secondary to characterisation. Don't think too deeply abou the world until you have your story clearly mapped out.

I disagree. The 'world' can often be more interesting and entertaining than the characters created to occupy it. The best example of this is Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings which, at just about every point, promotes the description of surroundings above characterization.

If you feel more comfortable describing environment over people, or vice versa, then don't be afraid to do so.

SubZero61992
October 9th, 2004, 09:53 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^


Everything he said.

Jamza1986
October 10th, 2004, 09:34 AM
I'd say this form of worldbuilding is why our genre gets marginalised. All great fiction is about character. LOTR is unique in its preoccupation with historical details. It has good characters and excellent things to say about morals to back it up. That is what makes it good literature, as well as inspiring our imaginations with Middle Earth. Concentrating on characters is a must, both for marketing and for the work being considered a good piece of literature. Work hard on your world by all means, but put twice as much effort into the characters and the story. I think ppl in the business like Kat would agree with me.

Wildeblood
October 10th, 2004, 12:26 PM
These are the requirements for a world:
#1 There has to be a frontier
The world I am creating needs to have a boundary between the "civilized world" and the wilderness.
#2 The frontier must be urban
The place that society has pulled back from is the city itself, this means that ruins of modern cities are basically the wilderness.
#3 It has to be set in the future
It is implied that these buildings are modern/post modern
#4 Society must still exist
Even though people have pulled out of the formerly large cities, there must still be some form of organized civilization
#5 Society must have a military
Whatever the society is that is still in existence, it has some form of a military that is trying to maintain order in the frontier.
Plague. AIDS, SARS, BSE, Spanish flu, doesn't matter what plague. Buildings exist to house people, if 90% of the people die in a plague, 90% of the buildings will be left empty. Instant urban wilderness.

Then the survivors start to think, "My neighburs all died in the plague, I might as well pop over to their house and make their plasma TV my plasma TV." Then the government declares martial law to try to control the inevitable looting.

Of the alternatives you gave, corporate revolution is easily the most interesting. Look to GE's recent dealings with Nauru for a real world example of how it could start.

ShellyS
October 10th, 2004, 01:36 PM
World building is secondary to characterisation. Don't think too deeply abou the world until you have your story clearly mapped out.

That works if you start with story. For me, story is last. I start with characters and setting. That combination of factors -- who the characters are and what they can or can't do in their environment and what can possibly happen in that setting -- is what dictates the story. My stories always come from characters reacting to something and they develop as I write. My first drafts are, apparently, very elaborate, 80,000 word drafts. ;)

And the one time I tried to write from an idea, I had to set it aside, because I can't nail down the setting. I can't figure out what the characters can or can't do, will or won't do, because I'm still too iffy on certain aspects of the technology. Without that set in my mind, the story became a muddle by chapter 4, which is where the thing is now languishing while I'm back working on another novel, one where the setting is very firm in my mind.

Mugwump
October 10th, 2004, 05:00 PM
I'd say this form of worldbuilding is why our genre gets marginalised. All great fiction is about character. LOTR is unique in its preoccupation with historical details. It has good characters and excellent things to say about morals to back it up. That is what makes it good literature, as well as inspiring our imaginations with Middle Earth. Concentrating on characters is a must, both for marketing and for the work being considered a good piece of literature. Work hard on your world by all means, but put twice as much effort into the characters and the story. I think ppl in the business like Kat would agree with me.

In my opinion you should write what you are most comfortable with. Some people instinctively know how to put together imaginative and, more importantly, convincing environments that, in effect, assume Character of their own.

Larry Niven is a perfect example. In his early years he couldn't write a decent protagonist if Alfred Bester handed him one (some say things haven't changed much).

His characters ARE his worlds. The (vacuous and often silly) people that inhabit them merely serve to peel back further layers.

I don't have the precise earnings of Niven to hand, but I think it's safe to say he's done remarkably well for someone whose characters barely survive even cursory examination.

KatG
October 10th, 2004, 07:15 PM
Well, you have gumption, Ear, having just signed up and asking us to write your story for you. :) Welcome to the forum.

It sounds like you are writing a western set in a sf setting, which puts you in good company. There are schools, emerging new cities, marshalls, but people aren't easily tracked and there's plenty of lawlessness. You've thrown Aztec-sort of ruins into the mix. Your protagonist would presumably be from one of the frontier cities, trying to better himself by getting into a desirable private academy. So....

Which scenario do you like best?

Corporations not only own the world, but rule it -- this is a sf favorite. It's the lynchpin of the whole cyberpunk movement. You might want to check out William Gibson's "Necromancer," Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" and other similar works.

Post-apocalypse -- another favorite, though the reasons for the disaster are not always nuclear. Try "The Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler, "Hot Sky at Midnight" by Robert Silverberg, "Darwinia" by Robert Charles Wilson or "The Postman" by David Brin. Also of possible interest, apocalyptic fantasy novels "The Stand" by Stephen King, "Galveston" by Sean Stewart and "Ariel" by Steven R. Boyett.

Whole New World -- see large body of colony, alternate world or alternate history sf stories, too numerous to mention. Might like "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg or "Mission Child" by Maureen McHugh.

Underworld -- "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Phillip K. Dick,"Gun with Occasional Music" by Jonathan Lethem. Underworld stuff does tend to combine well with post-apocalyptic or corporate rule set-ups.

Also might want to look into any sort of novel, particularly historical or suspense, set in Mexico or Costa Rica, or someplace like that.

I agree with Mugwump that Larry Niven's characters are not his strong suit, though he's fun just the same. But I would speculate that your main character might lead you to the right setting. What about the main character's dilemma is particularly important to you? Do you want his attempt to get into the school to be a matter of survival (so maybe post-apocalyptic,) ambition (corporate,) world changes (new world,) or suspense (underworld)? Not that any of the four set-ups you propose couldn't be used for just about any character motivation or dilemma, but which loose world view that you have in mind seems to best fit the character, and perhaps even more importantly, most interests you? There's no sense in building a brand new world if you'd really rather not. If you like seamy, atmospheric crime stories, then the Underworld may be your best bet. If you want to make the setting very western, with a big loss of technology but some guns, then post-apocalyptic may be the way to go. If you've already figured out a lot of the story details about what you want to put your character through, then you're looking for the setting that best supports those situations.

I do understand what you are talking about. I had a problem with one project in that I had an idea for the setting, the details of the characters and the basics of the plot, but the details of the setting kept tripping me up. It can be difficult to write the thoughts of a character if you don't know what circumstances he or she is dealing with that would effect those thoughts. So it is something you will probably need to figure out, since the setting seems to be important in setting up your main character properly. But any of these choices -- or others -- can be taken in many different directions, so figuring out what you most need for your main character may be the way to settle it.