Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Design Fiction and Telling Worlds

This article presents the idea of design fiction.  It is described as "telling worlds, not stories."  It does not do that.  It tells products, not worlds.  This is also useful, but not at all the same thing. 

I would, however, be interested in exploring how the evolution of cyberspace as a transmission medium is changing the art of telling worlds -- the art of worldbuilding. 

For instance, my Poetry Fishbowl allows my audience to help me with worldbuilding.  Sometimes prompts come with specific worldbuilding points, or even links to articles.  In a bonus fishbowl, we concentrate on a single setting all day (or try to) and that gives the audience a lot of concentrated influence on development, especially if it happens toward the beginning of a series (as with Path of the Paladins and The Steamsmith).  I've started offering bonus material occasionally, such as character cast lists, for the popular series.  We'll see what people like.

Over on kajones_writing, I help the author with worldbuilding.  Mostly it's just prompts ... but her awesome credit system lets me create characters, create buildings, etc.  I also have a habit of looking at stories and extrapolating, "Okay, if this happens, then it implies the existence of either X or Y, because..."  I can also trade credits for bonus material that contains information on how a given world actually works. 

Then there's Torn World.  As a shared world, it pulls in contributors with many different talents; we have writers, artists, editors, crafters, etc.  We post not just fiction, poetry, and art but also articles about the world itself and how it works.  Supporters and contributors get to see some stuff that isn't available to the general public.  I believe that cyberspace is the natural environment of the shared world, what all previous versions were reaching toward.  It makes sharing the background material so much easier.  This is where "telling worlds" really takes off. 

All of these options have high appeal for people who love milieu fiction in which the setting acts as a main character.  You can see some of the different things that can be done with worldbuilding.  This stuff used to live in writers' desks and artists' studios, most of it never seeing the light of day.  Once in a while someone like Tolkien would come along, awesome enough that people would open up the archives after the author's death.  (Yes, mine are that elaborate too.)  But now it's feasible for creative folks to get online and share ... whatever it is that the audience likes enough to request or fund.  That can go anywhere you want it to.
Tags: cyberspace theory, news, reading, science fiction, writing

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