Tuesday, June 5, 2012

World Building and Swearing *gasp!*

The reason for my blogging hiatus can be found in the title of the post. That's right. World building and swearing. Who'd a thunk it could take months from your life? Maybe swearing really is evil.

I have been engaged in an all out revising war with my manuscript. I had a deadline to get a revised copy my editor (yes I made it, just under the wire) and so began the war. The trouble started while brainstorming 12th Dimension book 3 with my writers group. We had just read and discussed the first draft of book 2 and discovered how much set up was lacking in order to provide book 3 with a satisfying conclusion. This meant R.A.G.E. itself needed to be put under a major remodel if I was to ever be able to write book 3. This involved taking a major character with a bare bones back story and giving her her head.

Yes, I had to descend into the mind and the alternate-dimensional world of this character and build her world. It went well, honestly, as much as it scared me. I enjoyed the world building. I loved/hated writing the character (she's psychotic and I didn't like being in her head) and I sent off the new chapters to my writers group.

They read and mere weeks before my deadline, we discovered some holes. As I mentioned above, this character I've been fleshing out is psychotic. And she swears. A lot. The trouble was, my writers group didn't feel like it fit in her world. In my new world of science, logic and for the most part non-religious, the expletives we use in our society whether they be religious terminology, or biological terminology, simply didn't work. As one of my Alpha readers stated, "Swearing is cultural and you've created a different culture."

No, this is not about propriety or offending people's sensibilities. This is about being true to your world. So began weeks of research concerning this topic. My aforementioned brilliant-Alpha-reader suggested looking up one of the Writing Excuses podcasts (go and listen because it took me an eternity to find myself) about religion and world building.

What it came down to is this: Find something that your world's society cares a lot about . . . and take it in vain.

Electricity/power is of supreme importance, lack thereof would be worth swearing over. Science/facts are important, philosophy and possibly religion would be looked down on. (I'd love to add some of my made up cuss words in this post, but I won't. Mostly because I'm getting more protective of my novel the closer it creeps to publication.)

What this exercise really did for my novel, (aside from discovering and creating some cool words for my characters to yell at each other) was that it made me dig deep into my world and discover what matters most to the society I've created. I had to think of history, wars, leaders, conflicts, religions(or lack thereof) and build it from there. It gave depth to the surface story I already had on the page. It gave my characters deeper motivations and their opposition clear motivators as well. And it made the make believe world feel real and ancient. And after all, isn't that what a fantasy/sci-fi writer is going for?

All that from the need for my characters to swear authentically. Who'd'a thunk, eh?