Monday, March 10, 2014

World-Building in Prose and Theatrical Set Design

Last year at Baycon, Juliette Wade and I did a discussion and reading on "World-building." One of the members of our audience, a theatrical set designer, offers some great insights into the similarities...and the lessons we can learn from one another.

The biggest lesson I learned from Ross was to present the world incidentally through the action of the story. I don’t want to imply that Ross was Worldbuilding by accident, far from it. Instead she introduced readers to the complex concepts of an alien world as she was dealing with other writerly stuff such as plot and character. While Wade’s reading demonstrated rich narrative passages that allowed the reader to see the world, Ross’s reading jumped straight in to the action, but carefully crafted that action and her telling of it to expose the world we were visiting. Ross’s approach is also one that relates organically to the theatrical designer. Theatrical designers do not get to give the audience a two minute guided tour of the design so that they can take in what it is and what it means. Instead, the curtain goes up, the actors enter, and the play is off and running. The audience has to pick up the world of the play while following the action. Is this the sort of play where a Styrofoam cup and some string symbolizes a phone? If so, designers show that to the audience. Whatever the world of the play is, it is important to show it through the action of the play.

Read the whole blog post here:
World Building | setsandlights

PS The selection I read was from Collaborators, my Lambda Award-Finalist novel that takes place on a planet whose indigenous race is gender-fluid.

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