Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fashion: A "Dive into Worldbuilding!" hangout summary with VIDEO

We had a great time with last week's discussion of Fashion!

The importance of fashion in fiction varies across genres. Some genres, such as steampunk, historical, and romance, put a great deal of emphasis on fashion details, while others, such as science fiction, tend to spend far less time. A focus on fashion detail in a genre where it is not expected can come across as irrelevant and unnecessary, but fashion is actually far more useful than it may appear.

Fashion is about world. It is also about cultural and personal identity.

What a person wears tells you a lot about the world, because it reflects available materials in the environment. It can also tell you a lot about the character, because we use our fashion choices to show our identification with different social groups as well as to distinguish ourselves as individuals.

The "what" of fashion may not be as important as the "who," the "why," and the "how."

Often in science fiction, fashion gets de-emphasized or even made unrealistically uniform. Literal uniforms are common to many scenarios, especially military ones. Utopian societies and those that strive for equality will often be given very uniform fashion choices.

Costume designers work on symbolism in their fashion choices, and so can authors.

There is a pretty common view that fashion is frivolous, that it is frippery. This feeds into the sexist view that it is a feminine thing to care about (hint: it's not). The identity marking that we engage in with our fashion choices is common to both men and women - it's just that the two are typically associating themselves with different social groups, and thus differentiating their choices.

I explained how the caste marks work in my Varin world as an example of how you can have a regulated system of identity markers without falling into uniformity. Some fashion choices are regulated; others are traditionally associated with caste identity even though they are not required by Varin law.

School uniforms are often accessorized for individuality by their wearers.

There is also a utilitarian aspect to fashion. Dune has the stillsuits, which are a means for the inhabitants of Arrakis to retain their precious water. Armor is also utilitarian - but even utilitarian items are often decorated as much as a person can afford. Wealth shows in detail.

There was a trend in 1960's futurism toward stripping away detail both in fashion and in architecture. However, at the same time, there was a trend toward more detail, more art, more reference to world ethnic traditions, in the counterculture.

We talked about the contrast between visual media and text. In visual media, an entire outfit in all its detail can be conveyed in a split second. In text, words and implication are required. You don't want to put a lot of words on fashion choices without a very good reason. That said, character judgment and other reasons can function very effectively as supports for the relevance of fashion detail.

I gave an example of fashion being relevant to plot and character from my novel, For Love, For Power, and from my WIP.

Fashion and its significance are all around us. We can choose to notice or not.

Fashion has a lot of very specific terminology that comes with it. Within the industry are formal terms. There are also colloquial terms and regional terms. These are very important to research and track when we work with fashion in our fiction. When you work with a real or quasi-real (i.e. period influenced) context, accuracy is very important. Specific time periods bring with them certain kinds of value judgments, and those will be brought along with the fashion unless the author deliberately changes or subverts them. There is a lot of subtext. Words and terms come with baggage. When you find generic terms being used, and fashion choices being made generic, that can be a method by which authors try to avoid subtext.

Kim suggested it would be hard to create a context in which a Hitler mustache was considered endearing.

Ask how beauty and ugliness are defined within the cultures you're working with.

Reggie pointed out how some kinds of simple visual cues become iconic, such as the Groucho Marx nose/mustache combination. You could have something like this in fiction, but none of us could recall seeing it used. In the 1800's facial hair fashion was the rage for men. It influenced not only itself but other things such as the invention of the mustache cup. An unusual object like that can bring real interest to a story. Fashion has also influenced other things, such as how sidewalks and saddles were constructed. Other inventions influence fashion, such as how bloomers arose when women wanted to ride bicycles.

How much detail matters? We reveal as necessary, but small details can make for big implications, and even have multiple functions in the narrative. Details help us to avoid a sense that the world only exists for this story. They also help us to define what is normal and build reader expectations.

It's interesting to ask what value is placed on newness (of fashion or other things) and by contrast, what value is placed on old things such as antiques or vintage fashion. Also, if you are designing fashion, be careful to avoid too much uniformity of time frame in fashion (different generations will often dress differently).

Thanks to everyone who attended! Today's discussion (in 20 minutes from the time of this post) will be about Naming Characters. I hope to see you there!





#SFWApro

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Come see me at Convolution!

Next weekend I'll be making an appearance at Convolution, taking place in Burlingame, CA. I'll be reading on Friday night and in addition to the writer's workshop, I'll have panels on Saturday and Sunday. Here's my schedule - I would love to see you there!


Friday, September 26, 8-10pm    Reading

 This is going to be an awesome time. I'll be reading aloud from my work alongside a number of wonderful authors: Deborah J. Ross, Helen Stringer, Setsu Uzume, and Christopher Villa.




Saturday, September 27, 9am-12pm    Writer's Workshop

Saturday, September 27, 2-3pm    Autographing 
Come and see me, and bring your copies of Analog and/or Clarkesworld... I'll also have a few copies available for purchase!


Saturday, September 27, 4-6pm    Handling Rejection in Writing
 Sometimes your skin just isn't that thick. How to cope with a chorus of "No" on the path to a "Yes!"
with Gail Carriger, Matthew Marovich, and Deborah J. Ross.

Sunday, September 28, 10-12am    Bend it like Bechdel
 Finding an alternative to the Bechdel test. The Mako Mori test isn't quite right either. We know when we've found a movie or story that we feel is at least some better representation of women. But it doesn't always pass the test. So, what does it need? What do we want? Or, what are we willing to accept?
with Elanor Hughes, Lance Moore, and Michael Rhodes

Sunday, September 28, 12-2pm    Social Worldbuilding
Let's talk about designing societies and their behaviors and institutions, and the kinds of real interactions those will lead to between characters. While we're doing it, let's try to look beyond traditional European-based models and get really diverse and interesting.
with Marie Brennan, Steven Mix, and Madeleine Robins

We're going to have a ton of fun and talk about loads of great stuff. I hope to see you there!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Villains: a "Dive into Worldbuilding!" hangout summary with VIDEO

Here's my summary of last week's discussion of Villains! We had a great time, and talked about a lot of great stuff, so I hope you'll think of this summary as a way to get ideas and possibly follow up by checking out the parts of the video you may be interested in.

We felt that villains were distinguished by their motivations. Good villains have motivations that make sense to them, and are grounded in them as people. You can answer the question, "What makes them bad?"

One of our participants said Stephen King had felt that even bad guys have friends across the street. We all agreed that it was better to make villains complex rather than simple.

They stand in opposition to the hero, which means that their goals, and/or the means to accomplish those goals, are socially unacceptable. Note that this will mean different things depending on the cultural and social context.

Generally we felt that villains were destructive and chaotic rather than creative. However, we do see some pretty destructive heroes like Superman leveling Metropolis in his last battle. It's a good thing if a hero has concern for bystanders; generally a villain does not.

We talked about the question of killing in fiction. Are characters being killed off too often and too easily? It's a big problem if a character dies and we don't see the effects of loss, or other effects such as legal ones. Game of Thrones provides a cultural environment where there is no concept of a modern police force that's not supposed to be in the rulers' pocket. However, being in different social circles can change the expectations for accountability for deaths. Soldiers of a regime are different from police (even if those police are somewhat corrupt).

How do we create villains? One participant immediately said "they're really hot." Certainly there is a recent trend toward attractive villains. The much older style of villain typically had the evil within expressed in their physical form, and thus were marked with "unattractive" qualities, whether that be deformity, overweight, underweight, etc. These days we're more inclined to treat villains as human beings and separate things like body form from the quality of the spirit. (There's a pretty horrid beauty standard/ableism problem in using the old way, too.) Villains often get to wear the coolest outfits!

Raj noted that there was a time when the unspoken rule was that you couldn't kill heroes, and that killed the tension in stories. There was a time when such deaths were very powerful because they were unusual, but now we are becoming more desensitized. If we know that "everybody's safe" there is less tension, but too much killing can cause people to detach themselves from caring about the story.

There are fates worse than death. Also, there are consequences for the living when someone dies.

Saving the world is not enough. Killing the villain is similarly not enough. The stakes have to be personal. It's best if both the hero and the villain have personal stakes in their own victories. Revenge motives are tried-and-true, but old.

All-powerful villains are boring without limitations and character. Tolkien, in The Silmarillion, ended up creating backstory for his villains because he was seeking reasons for their evil. Moral restrictions create more interesting situations, because they put systematic restrictions and expectations on what your villains are willing to do. Without these, they can seem too random and unmotivated, or motivated simply by the author. Examples came from Alphas, X-men, and the 4400.

We talked about insanity in Bad Guys. Just saying "he/she is insane" is sloppy (and insulting to people who deal with mental health issues in their daily lives). Go into the research and figure out exactly what these people struggle with, and how it affects their behavior and decision-making.

Raj noted that it's good to ask if the ends justify the means, and whether the villain believes this. Are they willing to do horrible things?

Sometimes we see stories where a single event breaks a bad guy's soul, but it's more interesting if they have a complex and developing psychology. It's good to have the villain change over the course of the story, not just the hero. Look at the social and power dynamics surrounding the villain as motivations for their behavior. A villain can change to be much more evil, or much more good, as the story goes on.

Villains are often given a personal agenda that is more important than "justice" as it's defined by the larger society.

Villains can also just be people who are acting within the confines of an evil system. The evil system can be designed to break people down (it's always good to read about the Stanford Prison Experiment in this context). In my own Varin world, I have villains, but in fact the larger system is where the true problem lies; the villains are, in part, explorations of how people would develop within that system.

Zero-sum games, where one person OR another person can win, but not both, can cause characters to do villainous things. If you want to protect yourself or another, then someone else has to suffer.

It's good for villains to have plans and a worldview. Also, it's good to know where villains get their money to do all their nefarious things, hire their clones or build their high-tech hideouts.

Thanks to everyone who attended this discussion.

Next week (9/25): Naming Characters! You are welcome to "bring" examples of names you have developed or changed or love from your own work.



#SFWApro

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Heroes: A "Dive into Worldbuilding!" hangout summary with VIDEO

We had a great discussion last week, with a record number of people attending! Due to the demands of my current schedule and the amount of time it takes to write up what are almost field notes on the content of these discussions, I'm going to try to take a slightly different approach. This will mean somewhat less detail and direct attribution, which is why I'm calling it a summary rather than a report. The purpose of this post is to give you a sense of what we talked about, so that you can follow up by looking at portions of the video if you'd like to know the precise details of the discussion. Thanks for understanding!

So, Heroes.

Note: I'm not going to use the word "heroine." All instances of the word hero apply to all genders unless specified otherwise.

We discussed the need for heroes to have human qualities of compassion and care, and possibly to engage in personal self-sacrifice. This led us to discuss how a sociopathic hero (such as Sherlock Holmes) is most effective when framed by a supporting cast with these compassionate qualities, allowing the sociopath to keep an element of mystery without ruining the sense of caring.

The goals of heroes must align in some sense with the audience's goals.

Bad guys have to be worse than good guys (good guys need not always be good). Context is everything.

Heroes need not be effective individually, but may be more effective in groups, as in Guardians of the Galaxy. Superman suffers, narratively, from his overwhelming powers, especially as we continue to write stories about him. He doesn't make a good team member. He is something of a prototype hero. Groot, by contrast, starts out seeming useless and then becomes more and more amazing as he develops abilities.

Animal heroes, incomprehensible heroes like R2D2, and "strong silent type" heroes are similar in that they are mysterious and often need translators. A silent and mysterious hero lets the readers/audience project emotion onto them. They speak with their actions, and sometimes with internalization in close point of view narrative. Silence may also imply a past they can't talk about, or be a "sign of badassery" (Thanks for that phrase, Che Gilson!).

Heroes have a kind of simplicity when it comes to knowing the right thing to do and not letting other motivations or problems get in the way of them doing it.

Heroes often get thrust into impossible situations, and this helps readers relate to them because people get thrust into difficult/impossible situations also, regularly.

Heroes are known by their actions. These actions lead to results that are judged as "good" by the people around them and by the reader or audience. "Good," however, is culturally defined. Thus changes in worldbuilding can significantly change the nuances of good action done by the hero. Motivations can complicate actions, while silence tends to magnify action.

Are female and male heroes different?

Certainly they are portrayed differently. Chihiro from Spirited Away is kind, reliable, and always cleaning things. Miyazaki often has female heroes cleaning things as a sign of their strength. Pazu from Castle in the Sky runs errands and fixes things but doesn't clean. The trend toward the Strong Female Character tends to pull female heroes toward the stereotypically masculine, aggressive side, but we shouldn't neglect the importance of feminine qualities. Cleverness and trickery often work for a female hero, much as for a male hero who does not possess overpowering strength.

Evil is typically depicted as being overpowering, but dilute (lots of soldiers, none of whom can aim, while the hero never misses). Heroism is often distilled into a single character, but the qualities of the hero can also be distributed across the team (as in the Guardians of the Galaxy reference above).

More recent depictions of heroes spend a great deal of time exploring gray areas. This could be an interest of more mature writers who have more life experience dealing with ambiguity, or it could also be a historical trend.

As I mentioned, more detail and examples can be found in the video, which lasts roughly an hour. I've tried to report this in order, so if you want to click through and find a piece of the discussion, you'll have a rough sense of where it may occur.

Thanks again to everyone who attended! You're all fascinating to talk to!
#SFWApro



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gatekeepers - you're one, too.

There are always gatekeepers.

I think when we writers most commonly use the term we're thinking of editors, because editors are he most famous. We think of the magazine slushpiles and those assigned to read them, whether they be designated first readers or head editors. We think also, of course, of the agents and editors in the novel-publishing world. Gatekeepers are the ones who get to say to you,

"Alas..."

or to put it less gracefully,

"No."

Here's the thing, though. The editors and agents aren't the only gatekeepers here. Every one of us who participates in this enterprise is a gatekeeper. It's just that the job of gatekeeping without an official title is far more complex, and more likely to go unnoticed.

Say I'm online and I get approached by someone I don't know, asking to connect or even to have a live hangout with me. How do I know that person is for real, and not some sort of spammer/scammer?

Or...

Say I'm at a convention and someone wants to come up and talk to me about my writing, or their writing, or writing, or science fiction and fantasy in general. And I have somewhere to go, or I feel uncomfortable, or I've been deluged by fans (not that this happens to me!) and have had enough, etc. etc. I say no or back out of the conversation. There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to do this. Some of them have to do with mental bandwidth and exhaustion rather than anything else.

However, this is also where inclusiveness succeeds or fails.


Let me tell you about an experience I had early on in my writing career. I found my way to the local convention because I had started writing, and absolutely loved it, and figured that was a way to meet people in this business (guess what? It was a great one).

At my first visit, I had a three-month-old baby and was just trying to figure out which end was up, and I approached an author after a panel and asked how to get involved, and he very kindly directed me to apply to the convention's writer's workshop. It was a super-brief interaction, but just what I needed. So I went off and a year later showed back up with a story for the writer's workshop, joined the workshop and really enjoyed it... At that point, when I approached the same author to thank him and attempt to have a conversation, he didn't want to talk to me.

This is a hard one, of course. Why should he feel obligated to talk to me? Nobody is obligated to talk to anyone, are they? People have demands on their time. The better known they are, the more likely they are to be deluged with people. They might just be having a bad day. It's not all about me in this world! But the thing that bothered me was that after several consecutive years of attempting to approach him, I showed up with a copy of Analog with my story in it, and his attitude changed instantly. Suddenly he was back to being willing to have a conversation.

That's gatekeeping. Every time we are agreeing or not agreeing to have a conversation, we could be opening a gate or shutting one for someone who needs it. It's a tough responsibility - and involves tough decisions. It would be so easy to lose every moment of our time to people who won't be able to have constructive interactions with us. We have to protect that time, or we can't function as professionals.

So we are always looking for reasons to say no.

Legitimate reasons.

I'll get back to that word "legitimate" in a second.

First off, what exactly is it that says to us at any given point, "This person can't be serious" or "This person is a waste of my time"?

I come out of academia, and in that context, the best way to be taken seriously on the most basic level is to engage with the texts. Of course it depends on whom you're dealing with, but if you can come in having read something, and not just say "I read this" but express an opinion that refers to a particular part of a scientific argument, or a contentious quote, etc. then you are more likely to be taken seriously (this is obviously not foolproof!).

When I approach an author whom I want to interact with as a fellow author and not simply as a fan, I make sure to have read something and thought through an opinion about something very specific. Worldbuilding, most often, since that's my geeky thing. "I liked what you did in X book when you created Y in Z way" is something I like to be able to say. It's sort of a statement of good faith - not foolproof, but at least has a better chance of receiving attention because it's my way of saying I care.

It's important to realize the person just may not have time for you at that moment. And that's okay. They don't owe you, just like you wouldn't want to feel like you owed anyone else.

On the other hand, so many people have helped me that I always feel inspired to some degree to help people out. This is why I find my way to workshops, which are structurally designed to give me a forum for interacting with people and discovering their work. That makes it much easier than just chatting in a hall!

There's something else going on here, though, that comes back to the question of legitimate reasons to say no.

This is a place where bias creeps in. Right there, in that split second when you're turning around to see someone and decide whether to interact with them. When you're looking for a reason why you need to be off to that lunch you have, or why you are too tired to deal with anyone right now, etc. etc. Something about the person can make you say no without you fully making the connection as to why. These are little tiny moments. They pass by us so quickly, but they can be terribly important.

And they are also the places where we can make a big difference for inclusiveness. If we try to think consciously. If we give it a second or two, a word or two of encouragement.

I won't claim this is supposed to be easy. Everybody has a different balance of introversion and extroversion, a different threshold of safety - and maintaining that safety is vitally important. But I also think it's important for people to realize that we are all gatekeepers. We are all constantly re-creating the inclusive or exclusive environment of our social milieu, whenever we say yes or no.

It's something to think about.



#SFWApro





Friday, August 1, 2014

Where is the best place to put worldbuilding exposition in my story?

One useful definition of "worldbuilding" is the construction of a sense of world on the page. I like to use this definition because I feel that the word "setting" fails to capture the active process that authors engage in. In order to build a sense of world, we have to use several tools - implying world in the actions and judgments of characters, for example, or in their dialogue. Of course, the most obvious and straightforward (if not complete) way to accomplish worldbuilding is through descriptive exposition in the story text.

I am going to call this descriptive exposition rather than "infodumping" because in my view, the latter is simply the former done badly. We definitely want to avoid "infodumping," yet descriptive exposition is quite critical to the success of our worldbuilding.

I've written before about how to get this exposition done with as much finesse as possible, but this summer I had a different aspect of exposition brought to my attention:

When is the best time to include worldbuilding information?

As finely wrought as any verbal carrier of worldbuilding information is, it won't work well if it's stuck in the wrong place. As a general rule, the beginning of a story is better for exposition than the end, and high action or high tension spots are not good for it. There are possible exceptions, of course, such as whenever a new environment is introduced, and the author must take some time to establish the parameters of that environment.

But the general principle is quite a strong one. I'll give you an example. I was working on revisions of my novel, For Love, For Power, and my agent suggested that I should put in a bit more explanation of the Varin pantheon. I therefore had to go back and try to figure out what might be the best place to add in this information. Two possibilities suggested themselves: one in Chapter 3, where my MC Tagaret went to visit a chapel that had been converted into a concert hall, and another in Chapter 15, where Tagaret went to visit someone's home for the first time. I was intrigued by the idea of putting the description in Chapter 15, using statues of deities in the home both to elaborate the pantheon and to demonstrate the host's desire to hide his affiliations with musicians by publicly displaying an icon of a non-musical deity.

Except.

Though the idea of using statues for multiple story purposes was more interesting than simply sticking them in the converted church, it really didn't fit. By that time in the story, there was just way too much going on. My protagonist had just come under threat, and had no room in his thinking for noticing anything like a statue. It would have been irrelevant to him, and therefore he would not notice it at all. Making him do so would have been entirely unnatural.

So I went back to Chapter 3, and sprinkled the information in carefully. I started by establishing an overall paradigm for the deities by referring to them as the Holy Celestial Family (which gives readers a sort of filing cabinet to store forthcoming information on the pantheon's members). Then I had Tagaret discover one deity on the way in, and once he was there, explore different areas of the chapel as the action progressed, so he could encounter different deities in each place but eventually cover all the critical pantheon members.

The whole experience got me to thinking about information distribution through a story. I think of it a bit like a river (this one is from Wikipedia):
 At the start of the story, the pace is the most relaxed. This does not mean the pace is slow! However, this means that there is more room to examine the environments that surround your characters. As the story goes along, the river narrows and its pace quickens. This allows much less room for exposition, and even new environments are best confined to only the most optimally relevant information. Action, and escalation of stakes, act like a block put into the river (as in the picture below of a wall contributing to the creation of a surfable wave in a Czech river).


So this means that you should avoid putting exposition in anywhere that action must occur. Keep it to a minimum in critical set pieces where the reader's attention needs to be on events and how they are occurring. If there is some piece of information about the environment which readers must critically receive in order for the set piece to work, put it in earlier: have them discover the environment in some way before the set piece fully takes off, or seed the information into the narrative even earlier.


It's something to think about.


#SFWApro


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pause in your writing for intense worldbuilding - "the grocery store" edition

I'm always discovering more about my Varin world. This makes sense, since every time I enter a new environment in my real world, I discover things, too. New people, new experiences. A species of caterpillar I've never seen before. Woodland flowers. New languages.

I've written an article before about how to worldbuild after you've already started a story. At the time I approached it as though this were something special and unusual. It's not, though. Even if you've spent bunches of time building your world before writing a story in it, you will, and should, keep worldbuilding as you go. You never know when you will encounter an environment that will require some thought.

I documented one example of this here on the blog when I talked about designing a pharmacy. That was fun, and you can read about it here.

Last night and this morning, I was designing a grocery store. Because in all my years of thinking and planning, and writing an entire novel in this world, none of my characters had ever visited one.

There are a surprising number of considerations that go into designing something like this, which is why I encourage you to take a pause and think it through.

When I think "grocery store," I think of the stores I always go to first thing. When I think "not like my usual store," I usually think of the grocery store I went to in Japan, Kitamura, which was quite different and which I describe here.

First things first, though. This isn't "a grocery store." This is a grocery store in the small cavern city of Daronvel, which is up in the mountains of Varin, built with the help of drills and quarrying equipment in a set of lava tunnels. You're not going to be seeing high ceilings here. The other thing you won't be seeing is a lot of lowland foods, because all of those would have to be imported from surrounding cities on the connecting roads. Imported stuff is going to be expensive, and not a lot of people in the city are going to be able to afford it - possibly a few nobles (maybe around 10?), police, and some top-level bureaucrats. Conceivably some of the region's engineers will also make enough money to afford it.

That brings us to the question of "what is local?" The region surrounding Daronvel is alpine, so I took inspiration from a place I've visited in the Alps. Honey will be available, and bushberries (like blueberries), and products of the mountain creatures that most resemble goats and sheep (cheese, meat, etc.). There are also food plants that can be grown in the caverns, such as river lettuce (a form of edible algae) and mushrooms of various varieties. The special conditions that prevent large-scale construction and agriculture on the surface - namely, wysps, for those of you who may have read Soul's Bargain (in Clarkesworld 94) - mean that there isn't a lot of grain grown here. Note for those readers: things have changed a lot socially between Soul's Bargain and the story I'm currently writing.

Okay, so at this point I have a pretty good idea of what's going to be in the store. But there's a social twist: the character going to the store is a member of the undercaste. She's not welcome in the front. So she has to go in the back door, and the merchants will be assuming that she's likely to be a shoplifter. They have quite a few undercaste customers, though, so they have a specially designed back access.

My character will have to go to the back where the loading dock is, and enter a door to one side of it. That door has a handle on the outside, but not on the inside, which means she can't open it to go back out. At that point she's standing between two rows of stainless steel bins holding merchandise. These rows are a continuous line, so she has to walk between them, picking items out of the bins. There is no wall behind them, though - it's at the back of the staff area for the grocery store. I imagine the way it feels looking through into the back of a shop or post office. Conceivably, there might be a curtain set up to keep the customer from seeing the merchants working with each other. So, back to the bins. The items there are often going to be seconds or nominally expired merchandise. At the end of the rows of bins is a counter with a merchant-caste cashier. That person has a tall shelf behind him/her where the more expensive items are kept, so they can take them down upon request. The customer is then expected to pay and package their own items in a bag or basket they have brought for themselves. Only once they have paid does the cashier release the door-latch allowing them to leave.

My immediate thought upon understanding all of this was that this is going to be a pretty nervous place to go for my main character, who is currently on the run from the police. Being trapped is not so great when you might have to escape at any moment! But she needs the food, and she's hoping to find a friend there, so I have to send her in.

Now this place feels really different, and not at all like the stores I know.

Some people might say that this kind of intense worldbuilding of such a quirky location is more fitting, or more likely to happen, in a novel. However, concentrating a lot of worldbuilding effort on a single item or location can actually gain you a lot of mileage in a short story, because this tiny peek actually can imply a whole lot about the world overall.

It's something to think about.



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