Thursday, February 07, 2008

For Your Consideration...

I found this interesting post on myth- and worldbuilding in comics courtesy of author Chris Roberson.

I thought this was of particular use for me as a writer because this is one aspect that I've always liked when reading fantasy genre. That is, authors like Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin and Steven Erikson-- to name three-- would usually pepper their stories with references to past or current events of their created world's history.

These hints (or as another author, Dennis McKiernan puts it, 'red slippers') somehow create the sense of a bigger world-- better, a bigger story-- than the one currently being narrated by the author. And it helps that these are specifically hints: the veil of mystery is used cover the surrounding of the Story. After all, if we don't know everything about what's happening in our own world, what more in a story we're reading?

To apply what siskoid mentioned in his post, these references gives the sense that the story is not just a linear narrative with a beginning and an end. Rather, it stretches all the way back to the world's prehistory and the opposite direction as well, to its future. Moreover, these hints give an indication that-- as well as those events being elucidated in the story-- other stories are also happening at the same time.

China Mieville did this quite well in his Bas-Lag stories, wherein he noted the bigger events happening in the world even as he related those stories happening in the city of New Crobuzon or the floating city of Armada.

Of course, when talking about worldbuilding, we can't rule out M. John Harrison's rather wrothful points on worldbuilding here. As a matter of course, I really have no problems with Harrison.* One way to reduce the aforementioned mystery is to write/define/explain all the hints you've mentioned in your story, and this reduces the strength of the worldbuilding concept itself.

You're reading one story, not a multi-volume encyclopedia after all, so when Harrison says, "Enough already!", he does give some good advice there.

(*Though really, it does make my head split in that Harrison is trying to be both writer and reader of his own work at the same time. But I digress.)


... In other news, when you're sad, pissed off or in need of a smile and a laugh, check out the two sites below. It works for me.

Bookmark these sites. Now I'm going back to work for a bit.


cat with a fiddle said...

i love ICHC! these are also mindlessly fun: and kittenwar even has a book! how insane is that?

banzai cat said...

yeah but ICHC has the text which adds a whole different color to the picture. ;-)