Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Build a Story World
Whether we plan it or not our worldviews will rise to the surface. Are our characters’ general perspective ‘glass is half empty’ or ‘glass is half full’? Do they see through Eyeore’s POV, or a Pollyanna disposition. Obviously this affects our overall story question such as, will the dystopia end in complete annihilation, or will a root of promise bloom at the end? But it also impacts the inner and outer conflicts and introduces a strong source of conflict throughout heresy and history as well as language and culture. And the root values influence the basic perspective of coinage.
Deliberately choosing a worldview that either coincides with our personal beliefs, or challenges them gives the setting an edge, even if the actual foundation is never even mentioned. Its reality filters the essence throughout the details. What is our world’s creation story? How far from its roots has it stayed or strayed?
Theories of the Universe, by Gary F. Moring, introduces four main concepts that impact our view of the universe today, and upon which we can borrow templates for our imaginary worlds to strengthen mythic connections. Over the next few posts we’ll look at a very generalized and much reduced synopsis of each and a few heartbeat characteristics of each.
The oldest and first two epics interestingly enough parallel a similar structure but from opposite positions. The creation of Mesopotamia is told in seven units in the Enuma Elish, a story of seven generations of a family of gods, filled with passion, gore, feuds, murder and fury. Moring chooses not to expand on the “horrible account” however he points out that many early civilizations related their myths to family dynamics.
For example, Greek literature has made us familiar with the ongoing strife of Olympian gods and goddesses with Zeus as ruler. What is not as familiar is that Zeus is the third generation of rulers. He warred against and defeated his father, his uncles and his own siblings in order to gain control. The level of graphic detail is much reduced in these stories, unlike in Enuma Elish, but the principles behind the battlegrounds for power and prestige along with disregard for human life is still the primary focus.
Exercise: Put together a three generational genealogical pattern for a direct descendant family in your story world—whether one member in the present time is a key character or not. Make the entire pattern based on an ongoing grasp for power and control. How far have they gone to ruin each other financially or socially or morally?
Share: What part of your version did you find intriguing? What part made you very uncomfortable?