Lifting the Fog

As a note – I’m not touching the election results.  No sir, no way, not interested. I played poker with friends, ate chili and got drunk last Tuesday night…you know, the important things in life.

This is something of a continuation of Monday’s post…mostly because I left that thought (very) unfinished. Oh, not in concept – characters and people are still the genesis of pretty much every story I can picture – but rather in what follows immediately after.

Those writers/dreamers who have ideas that manifest in terms of plot are, in some ways, a step ahead. They already have an idea of what needs to happen, and of what dynamics are in play, and can “fill in the blanks” around that proto-plot {random edit thought – why the fuck does spellcheck deny “proto” as legitimate?! Gah!!}. Character folks – and those who see settings first – get to wrestle with making everything fit neatly together…or not-so-neatly, depending on who you like to read.

I’m hip-deep in background material for the next story (yes, there’s a probable title and no, I won’t share it yet…call it “DockRat 2” for now), so I’m thinking of all the little things I have to do before a story really starts to come together for me. I’m not talking about the level of detail I need to write a scene (or even plan one), but the background material that helps define the world the characters inhabit. To be honest, this process really helps me to finalize the story itself: as I take barebones thoughts and work through them to put some meat on those bones, the socio-economic and political dynamics that define the world in question begin to take on a life and depth of their own.

Those dynamics are important – those dynamics help create the details of the plot. As an example: it wasn’t until I worked through what dockside was really like that I understood the powerful role the Families played therein.

What I am defining right now for Connor’s “new” world (nope, not on dockside again…at least not yet) is how the various levels of society – from the rich elites to the bottom-of-the-barrel – interact and function, both in social terms and in terms of the economy. Throw in mega-corporations, government bureaucrats, criminal syndicates, and people just trying to get on with their lives and all of a sudden the fog starts to lift and I see opportunities I hadn’t thought much about before.

I can’t tell you how important it is to spend enough time (maybe not as much as I do…but at least a day or two) thinking about the unwritten dynamics of your world. How do the minor and background characters function? What drives them?  What are their everyday needs? Why are things the way you as the writer chose to make them? Doing this step correctly helps to see complexities and realities you might not  otherwise have considered…and to bring in elements you might not previously have so much as seen.

On a related note – that tone your idea had when you first dreamed it up? That’s vital to this part of the process. If I were going for optimistic and utopian in this story, the planet and its population would be vastly different. I am, however, going for a darker and more gritty feeling, and that colors everything I create as I work through the process. And that, in all honesty, is the way it needs to be.  Screw this part up and you end up with all of the ruthlessness and violence of Game of Thrones set in the innocence of Narnia…

And don’t even get me started on identifying the root society and language from which everything else descends.  For me – as a linguist and historian – identifying and defining that is huge…and also probably is a post in and of itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s