Creating a Culture/Philosophy Novel? - Page 2


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Thread: Creating a Culture/Philosophy Novel?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
    If you want to sell the world rather than a story set within it, then you could make a Wikia out of it and show it to the roleplaying game fraternity. If the world's original and intriguing then they'll use it as a background for their own stories... and you might well find that people will fund a kickstarter to make it into a print book.
    That's an interesting idea. Thanks!

  2. #12
    There is enjoyment to be gained from testing a contrived world to see how stable it is and what maintains that stability. Is your world stable in social terms or will it eventually evolve into something else? If it is stable then what might be introduced into it to destabilise it and how would it react? There isn't really any difference between writing a story arc about a specific character and writing one about a world. Fundamentally there is little difference between, say, a story about a person who has to deal with a life-altering illness or a new-found ability and a world that has to deal with a new religious cult or a new scientific discovery. In fact many stories set in contrived worlds, or even just contrived situations, work simultaneously at both levels with the experiences of individuals being related alongside world affairs. This can be seen in stories like Lord of The Rings, the somewhat similar Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Anne McCaffrey's stories of The Dragonriders of Pern, to name some of my favourites. In each case the author is drawing on a substantial compendium of background information and progressively feeding it to the reader as the need arises.

    If you throw your entire world structure at the reader in one fell swoop then there isn't anywhere to take them in the future. On the other hand, if you keep that world to yourself and only share with them what they need to know, then you will take the reader on a journey of discovery and hold their interest for much longer. In the case of the books about Pern, the first book Dragonflight focuses on the experiences of just one girl, who remains in the entire series of books even if she figures very little in some. Even when the story has expanded to cover the entire northern continent of the planet the southern continent turns out to be different and the story opens up even more. Ultimately the spaceships are discovered and the truth about the dragons comes to light. What starts out as almost a medieval swords and sorcery story ends up as pure science fiction. If the author had just presented all the facts about her world to the reader from the outset then it is doubtful that the stories would have got the following that they did.

    I would suggest that you keep the full details of your world to yourself and only drip-feed it to your readers. It is your investment in the future. I have written my first attempt at the first novel in my trilogy but very few people know anything about the complete story and where it would take the reader if I ever completed the other novels. Personally I think the whole thing is a tale worth telling but if I can't win over readers with the way that I present the first novel then I will not use the merits of the later stories to lever support. Even without the overheads of world-building there is a lot of groundwork to do to acquaint the reader with a science fiction environment in our own world. Anne McCaffrey took things very slowly at the beginning because her world was so unique in its way and she informed the reader through the telling of a story about a girl. You need those devices, those vehicles to carry the information into the reader's mind without just information-dumping. If you are yourself entranced by your world then you will have no problems with following and writing about the lives of individuals who inhabit them.

    One final point. Being a mathematician at heart I based my story on the principle that three variables are sufficient to create a chaotic system which can evolve in complex ways. That is also the basis of the classical "three bodies problem" in physics. In world views the equivalent is three aspects of society which interact. These could be religions, economic systems, political ones, or any mixture of whatever you have in your compendium. Just give some thought to the possible interactions between these, what would happen and how it would affect individuals and groups. Having done that write about the individuals and gradually bring the bigger picture to the reader. That's the process then, to design downwards from the global viewpoint but to write progressively upwards from the personal one. That brings me back to what I said at the beginning, to find how stable or unstable your world is when somebody or something gives it a big kick.

    It's my birthday today and I've just spent a significant time typing all this, so I hope it is helpful.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by 4xdblack View Post
    So I've had a recent idea for a novel. I want to create a new culture, with it's own philosophy, fables, history, religion, government, economy system, ect.
    However this is far from the normal fiction novels I like to write. So I was hoping you could tell me where I might start, how I might approach it. Although this is sort of a world building novel, I want to still want to create a piece that people would enjoy reading. I already have an idea of the culture I want to create, but how do I put it into an engaging and comprehensive fashion?

    Thanks!
    Examine AVATAR, where the Na'vi world is underpinned by a philosophy that is opposite to the human, material philosophy.

  4. #14
    The culture you create is ONLY the backdrop for the characters behaviors and framework of thought. It's mentioned by the characters only in how they interact, it also sets up moral issues and guidelines.

    A good book to check out how to do that well is Brandon Sanderson's "The Way of Kings". He never directly addresses the culture much, but it plays a big part in how the character's behave and interact.
    Where you can purchase a copy of Fallen Sun, my second novel. Hidden Content

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by JustRob View Post
    It's my birthday today and I've just spent a significant time typing all this, so I hope it is helpful.
    It most assuredly did. Happy birthday!

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Examine AVATAR, where the Na'vi world is underpinned by a philosophy that is opposite to the human, material philosophy.
    That is a good example of the type of things that I wrote about in my previous post. The viewer is led through that world by the exploits of a specific character, which are in themselves a story, so the story evolves at two levels, individual and global. Also the world of the Na'vi is fundamentally stable and returns to its normal state once the threat from the humans is removed. The question is whether your world is also fundamentally stable, in a state of change through internal forces, or subjected to a new external influence as in Avatar. If you haven't given sufficient thought to this then you may create a world that is evidently inherently unstable but claim that it has been like that for a very long time. This will appear unrealistic as readers will wonder why change didn't occur sooner.

    Many stories revolve around metastable societies, that is ones where a relatively small influence, often just the actions of a single person, could cause a chain reaction of change to a new stable state. All in all I would say that how well the forces in your world are balanced against each other will determine its plausibility, so be careful about adding factors too randomly. Avatar used a very simple stable structure by including a universally accepted god-like entity which governed the organisation of the planet.

    The story embodied in my novel introduces fictional scientific discoveries which could totally disrupt conventional human society if widely known, so I have had to build in factors which prevent this from happening, otherwise it would be a very different story about apocalyptic changes that I don't want to write. Of course, on my website I then speculate about the possibility that these things may not be entirely fictional ...
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

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