Amateur-hour author over here in need of some thoughts regarding worldbuilding

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Post by Guest »

I recently started a total rewrite (amidst a stream of tears) of my dystopian thriller, The Great Nation. An editor gave me some great advice which I'm applying to my rewrite.

That said, he also told me that my weakness was the world-building. Said I limited myself and should consider how "sci-fi" opens up so many options for technology etc etc. But I don't want it to be SciFi or futuristic. Think 1980s Russia and you have a good picture of the kind of technology level I have in mind.

I even considered making it an almost 'alternative' future of the USSR but somehow that just feels lazy..

Everything I've read about world building assumes I have futuristic societies or alternatively fantasy genre type worldbuilding with Warlocks and Ogres.

Any advice or learnings you could point me to that would allow me to better build my world?

Post by Jelly »

Leave your thriller book alone and go write the next book with what you learned. Pay more attention to all the senses involved in your world in the next book. If you don't want to do sci-fi, don't. If that editor doesn't like your book, send to another editor (given if you really want to trad pub your book)

Post by Iustin »

Perhaps the weakness is not in the world building but the way it is presented. If there's no reason behind the technology being still very basic readers will be a bit confused. For example in 1984 since countries were permanently at war, poverty was abound and most technology evolved to control population / improve warfare. Without reading it it's hard to tell, but I would consider a second opinion or simply going with your gut of what you actually want from the story as a world and perhaps simply explaining it better?

Post by Melissa »

I'm really uncomfortable with your editor suggesting to you to make your dystopian thriller into sci-fi. Why are they trying to tell you how to write your book? I grew up in the 80s but not in Russia so it makes me think of the tech I remember from my childhood. Anyway, world building doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be worked in bit by bit by what the characters see around them, what they're doing, and things that are happening around them. How they travel, what they eat, their clothing, their homes etc, etc.

Post by Patrick »

"Dystopian" and "fantasy" both have a tendency to conjure up certain expectations, so I can understand why your editor expected "sci-fi" elements. But using 80's Russia as a tech base is as valid as anything else.

Show your readers how what ever caused your world to become dystopian has affected it the present day and what challenges it presents to your MC.

Post by Lisa »

You don't need to stray too far from the truth, if at all. You can use the technology the USSR had access to, technology they couldn't get to work or technology people thought they had.

Post by Lynn »

Read extensively in the source material of the time. Immerse yourself in everything you can get your hands on. For example, ads for vacuum cleaners didn't focus on their features, they focused on the actual concept of getting rid of dust using electricity in long, boring paragraphs. Read about Boris Yeltsin's trip to the US in 1989 and how he reacted to Western capitalism.

This probably won't fit into your book, but what was crazy about that time was the Soviet Union's research into ESP (extra-sensory perception). The documents were declassified a few years ago. They make fascinating reading.
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