Religion and World-building, and some updates

Keeping regular is difficult for me (no jokes please), so I’m just going to throw out the draft blog I mentioned last time as a few thoughts rather than something coherent. I may get back to the subject someday. Alongside it, I’ll update you on a few things.

Just a Kiss only got two scenes in, but I at least have a full idea of what’s happening in the first half. Since it means the second scene has to be rewritten, though, development has been arrested somewhat. Not sure when it’ll resume, but it will be written.  In a week’s time I will have cast my plays for LUTheatre, and from then on will be full-throttle into rehearsals, which is exciting. I managed one review for The Ripple, which had to be brutally cut down to 100 words, alongside the extended creative writing piece I mentioned before. I’ll enthuse about it here if/when they get published.

Last new thing, I had an dream the other night about a wolf, laying exhausted in the snow, and how she gets discovered by a man driving a sled.

“You are not the first wolf I have discovered on the snow. Can you see the leader of my team? Many years ago I found him, cold and abandoned, just like you. Except he could only communicate through biting and barking, which he did not hesitate to do. Despite his protestations, I took him in, fed him, warmed him, and adopted him as my own. Within a very short time he was strong and healthy, and soon began to sire the strongest wolf pack I have ever been fortunate to have. He has brought me great luck, and I imagine you will do the same.”

“I do not bring luck,” she said.

I’m not sure about anything beyond what I learned in that dream. As you can tell, I typed it up ready to discover what happens next. If it’s interesting, you’ll hear more about it.

Now, if you are in the business of creating a fictional world, a key aspect for me is the handling of the concept of religion. Since I am not religious, and the society I live in has become so secular, it can sometimes be hard to remember the dominance of religious viewpoints throughout history and across the world. Its presence (or absence) dominates the way people relate to each other and, by extension, how society functions.

I’ve been reading Dune by Frank Herbert, and that novel handles religion in an interesting way. The Bene Gesserit, the religious order in the book, are portrayed as an explicitly manipulative organisation. A lead character, Lady Jessica, is part of the group which makes it a central thread. They use prophecies and religious devotion in order to train civilisations into accepting and safeguarding those of their order. Their full motivation, beyond accumulation of power, is left mysterious. This serves to foreground their actions, but keep their full impact on society a more subtle, insidious presence.

Religion is an element which helps serve believability, but also a ready source of motivation and conflict. If you have characters who are serving something other than themselves, you can contrast them against characters who may not be, or those whose claims may not be entirely true. It also recognises the fact that everybody believes in something. If you keep this in mind, then everything becomes richer.

More soon.