Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Joys of Worldbuilding

A few months ago, I got a story idea that felt could end up being a good-sized series. I was hoping it could end up being 5 books or so, but the plot I had was... rather weak. It was a post-apocalyptic world with a focus on protecting, guarding, and discovering lost tech. I liked the base concept, the characters, and the magic system/lost tech, but the villain and the overarching plot were mediocre and the worldbuilding I had ahead of me was very limited because I had limited the area the main characters had to explore.

On Sunday, I went to see a movie with my friend/coworker, and we saw a preview for the Mortal Instruments movie. I'd heard of the series, but never knew anything about the premise. Seeing the preview got me thinking about the popularity of the concept of "average person gets drawn into a secret world alongside our own." In novels, you have Harry Potter, Narnia, this Mortal Instruments series, Percy Jackson, even old classics like Alice in Wonderland. Outside of novels, there's Doctor Who, Supernatural, and many other TV shows that have similar ideas. And I can understand the popularity. TV, books, movies, they're our escapes from reality. Something like Lord of the Rings, it's a temporary detachment from the norm, but there is no Middle Earth, no connection between Middle Earth and our earth. Science fiction may happen, but not likely in our lifetime. These other stories, though, they let us believe, even for a moment, that we might glimpse someone casting a spell out of the corner of our eye. That we might open a closet and find ourselves in a wintry wonderland. That a strange man might drop out of the sky in a blue box and drag us off for an adventure across space and time. The escape from reality can last so much longer than the book, the movie, the show, the game.

That was the idea I wanted for my novel, that it wanted for itself, but I'd never managed to put it into words. I'd tried to make it happen, but with a post-apocalyptic setting, it didn't work, and it didn't like it. I didn't like it. So the story got pushed aside to come back to later. And after I got to thinking about that style of fantasy novel, after I could put my finger on what this story wanted, when I was lying in bed just on the edge of sleep, one word came to my mind.


I have always loved lost things and their discoveries (or lack thereof). From dinosaurs to the lost colony of Roanoke, the Titanic to Amelia Earhart, I love the mystery behind them. The concept and possibility behind them fascinate me. And I have always, always loved Atlantis. It comes from having a dad who was a Namor the Submariner fan. My first introduction to superhero comics was Marvel's prince of Atlantis. I knew I would eventually set a story in the lost city. And now I had it. There wasn't any doubt in my mind that this is where that post-apocalyptic story needed to be.

So for the past day and a half, I've been replotting, moving things around, and most importantly, worldbuilding. I finally get to do what I've always wanted and make Atlantis come to life in my own way. The magic system/lost tech fits so much better here than it did before. The characters are really coming to life now. And the city. Oh, the city. There's so much going on and I've barely brushed the surface of it so far. There are genetically modified mermen, and canals and falls and rivers for them. There are universal translators and advanced robotics and code-based "magic" gauntlets. There are krakens and sirens and kappas and aquariums with any underwater creature you can imagine, museums with lost treasures from sunken ships and a library with any book you can imagine in every language. And the city moves. It has the freedom of the entire ocean. I have the freedom of the most unexplored area on earth.

Can you tell I'm excited about this?

1 comment:

  1. You're excited and I'm hooked! How is your story progressing? Are you still having fun with world building in Atlantis?