Still working on the characters and world-building of my story. I’m knee-deep in research about electric eels, king cobras, octopi, poisonous trees, and other random things. And, by research, I do mean internet searches. My local library is still closed to the public. The story I’m doing research for is going to be sci-fi. Normally, I don’t write sci-fi. I tend to write modern day fiction, usually dramas, but this particular story doesn’t work well in a modern-day format, and I want to make some points that are a little too, umm, on-the-nose, if placed in a recognizable place setting. So, sci-fi it is. I do enjoy reading it.
It’s a bit slow-going. I’m not used to having to construct a whole world and world history from scratch, as well as the characters and plot. I now have the two main characters fleshed-out, and that’s making the rest of it a little easier to put the pieces into place. And I have the bare bones of a plot, subject to change if the story wants to go a different way.
I’m still struggling with a question in my head about the tone and general feel of the piece.
How dark do I want this story to be?
There’s elements of this world and it’s backstory that are quite dark, quite evil. There’s war. There’s cruelty. There’s some harsh stuff. It’s not in the forefront of the story. At least, it doesn’t have to be. But it’s going to be floating in the background. It’s the canvas of the painting. The question I have to answer for myself is: how much of that canvas do I let show through into the front of the painting? How much of it do I address in the daily life of my characters? Do I just let it bleed through a little in the way they act, how society is constructed, and the assumptions and choices of the people? Or do I really, actually dive into that history and tell it? Is there something inbetween?
The main themes of my story are going to center around finding your place, in family, in culture, and your cultural identity. Whether or not that’s important. And the struggles of people who end up, through no fault of their own, being outsiders or outcasts in society. So, obviously, I’m going to have to show, through the narrative of what people say and do, what that society is like. And I’m going to have to address preconceptions and prejudice inside the society.
But, I have a choice to make… in talking about outsiders, I need to decide how cruel I’m going to make people dealing with them, and how much I push that envelope to show the end result of those actions.
I’m a little torn. I don’t want to write a fluff piece with no theme or moral. But I’m also worried about going too much the other way and end up turning off readers because it got too dark and the “bad guys” got too cruel.