Speculation and Society

Today's the last day we're going to really focus on your speculative element; after today, you'll be spending time fleshing out whatever aspects of your world-building you feel most interested in, pulling everything together into a cohesive plan, and getting ready to write!

Look at your exercise from Day 10, where you focused in on an area of your culture. Now ask yourself how the addition of your speculative element, with all of its powers and limitations, affects your culture and society. How are people different in your culture, now that you have this new element? If you have a magical force in your world, does that change how people react to unexpected situations? If the gods meddle often in the affairs of humans, do people still bother to pray? If science has made it possible to immediately punish criminal activity, how do crimes happen, or do they not happen at all? If werewolves openly roam the streets at night, how does a teen go on a date?

How is society the same? Fundamentally, people are people, and even cultural differences don't change certain basic behaviors. What do you think those behaviors are? What do you think people will continue to do, with or without your speculative element?

Finally, how do "ordinary" people react to those with or without the speculative element? In any culture, there will be outsiders, people who do not have what others have, or who have something that no one else has. Your speculative element is one example of something that can separate people. There are many books about the lone wizard or wizardess, born with immense power in a world where magic is gone. But how about the opposite? In a magic-rich world, what happens to those born without it? [The DarkSword trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is an example of this, as is the very first Xanth book by Piers Anthony.] Similarly, technology can be a divider as well as an equalizer-- Archangel Protocol by Lyda Morehouse is a cyberpunk novel in which everyone is linked into the non-secular 'net, except Deidre McMannus, the protagonist, who has been excommunicated from the net. Horror seems fraught with separating one of the characters from the others-- usually so they can either fight the big horrific monster, or so they can be picked off, one by one.


Revise your cultural write-up from Day 10 to include your speculative element, and to answer the above question. As a bonus, you can get back to your character sketch and figure out where your protagonist and supporting cast fit into your speculative elements and society.