Sunday 11 June 2017

Knowing your world

Book 3 of the peace Child trology

When I first started writing The Prophecy, formerly known as Peace Child, I spent a long time inventing its world. The Prophecy is the first part of what I now call the Peace Child trilogy. It formed part of my PhD thesis, Peace Child: towards a global definition of the young adult novel. It is set in 3500. We have colonised many other planets and then withdrawn again at the beginning of the story. Earth is now called Terrestra. We are afraid of contact with others because we are disease-free. However, it is not all good news: climate change has caused a poison cloud which makes outside air unbreathable.
I am now writing a fourth story, as yet untitled. Believe it or not, I’m having to reread the first three. I have to brush up on my world. I have forgotten some details.
I worked on the setting for months before I began writing. I spent time in cafés making notes on aspects of this world.
I had to work out:
·         How they dressed
·         What they ate
·         If they had a democratic society and how that worked
·         How their education system worked
·         What their values were
·         Whether they had any religious beliefs
·         How their transport system worked.
·         How their environment presented challenges.
·         How their healthcare system worked.
·         What they did for entertainment.
I had to make up some more rules for it as I went along.  
Hidden Information and Golden knowledge emerged.  
“That just wouldn’t happen,” said the publishers. No, we just have fake news, secret bunkers and alternative facts. We have spooks who know more than we do.
Always these dystopian / utopian worlds resemble our own though they are objectified. I don’t quite have an orange president but I do have a hung parliament and lots of political surprises. Oh heck! Days before the cyber-attack on the NHS I have the health care system crashing.   
The Peace Child books are young adult / new adult so are essentially Bildungsromane. So says my PhD thesis. Protagonist Kaleem must set his world to rights. I had to start on this fourth book as he seemed to be crying out for attention.
For young adults the science fiction fantasy settings add an important distance. It works the same way as glove puppets and picture books for younger readers.  A properly managed healthcare system free to all might eradicate disease. Climate change might lead to an unbreathable atmosphere. 
Writers are told to write what they know. This may seem difficult in fantasy and science fiction. Yet here I take what we have now and work out what it might become. It’s important too, here to make sure the rules of your world are consistent and can work together.
Happy world-planning.

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