Beyond the world

Inside Out full

One of the challenges of writing Sci-Fi and some fantasy novels is finding the right role for the world or worlds to play in the story. In this type of fiction, much of the fascination for both the reader and the writer is with the dystopian or alien world and the technology that drives or destroys it. Often such a story is born from and driven by a vision of the world or some social context rather than the characters and their interaction. This was a difficulty I had to confront with the dystopian novel I am currently writing. From a narrative point of view, it is the characters that drive the story not the world. Of course, the world may be a character, but then that world must come to life and breathe and move and feel. Two examples spring to mind. Maria V, Snyder does this in an artificial world in her two books, Outside In and Inside Out. In quite a different vein, Arthur Machen makes the countryside come alive in Hill of Dreams, doing so was one of the hallmarks of his writing. When the characters are eclipsed by the world and its history, then the story lacks depth and fails to engage the reader lest it be purely intellectually. So the challenge for the writer in such fiction is to go beyond the world to discover how the characters feel and act within it.

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