Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Happy Ending/Last Thoughts

The young man from Seoul, South Korea who started this whole conversation about world-building with his database in need of a critique, wrote to me the other day.  He gave writing a short piece about his world a try and asked if I'd be willing to look at that.

I did.

It wasn't half-bad, either.  In fact it was quite good.  There was drama, a bit of humor, a sympathetic character, and an out of control spacesuit. One thing was very clear to me, and I told him so in my response: the work he'd put into building the background of his universe came through. 

It amazes me, actually, how sometimes you can just tell.  There's nothing specific about what a person has written that you can necessarily point to, but somehow you get a sense the universe extends beyond the here and now of the moment.  You just know, if you turned a corner, there would be more there--that you wouldn't have that Twilight Zone experience of discovering a stage set (did anyone else see that episode?  It was creepy/cool.)

In someways, that to me is better world-building than anything else.  We struggle as writers to have our prose be invisible, for our hand to disappear.  I think the world-building version of that (at least for me) is for a subconscious sense left in the reader's mind as she or his is reading that this is a fully-realized world, and that they should feel free to open all the drawers and look under the beds--because it's all there, whether or not we open those doors or lift those bedsheets to check...

1 comment:

Shawn Enderlin said...

My editor sent me this quote from Hemmingway: "If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things he knows, and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of these things as strongly as though the writer had stated them."

Good world building is essential, but knowing what to write in and what to leave out, and how to show it all from the characters perspective, is the real trick.