Thing the first: I have been following a blog series on dealing with matters of faith and religion in fiction, and it’s made me pause to think about how I am handling it in my new story. Most of my characters never talk about religion and don’t seem to have any. I have one devout Christian who is a peripheral character and probably not a sterling example of that faith, and then I have my main character, who is a scientist and an empiricist in a way that is devout enough to call it a “faith” of a sort (she is not an atheist, though, her belief system would pretty much demand she be agnostic).
Her belief systems are her own and not really a problem, per se, the problem is whether my novel is espousing a point of view in a soap-boxish way both through her and in the mythology itself.
Last fall during NaNoWriMo, I was struggling with the lack of a fantastical, magical allure in my “urban fantasy” story-world, and quickly realized it was because it was a novel with every appearance of being urban fantasy, when it is in actuality science fiction. That is to say, there are apparently supernatural creatures, but in the underlying reality of the story world, they are not supernatural at all, but natural, just really, really off the beaten track of contemporary science.
Because, when you get right down to it, that’s what I need them to be. Or, to put it another way, I need them to not be supernatural. Because in a very non-trivial way, I don’t believe in the supernatural. Doesn’t mean there aren’t vampires and demons or what have you, just that their existence doesn’t break any natural laws, or it only breaks the inaccurate “laws” of nature as we understand them in this day and age.
That is my “faith”, my belief system, and I worry I get preachy about it through my characters. Because, as I said back in November, “there is something I want to say with this story that makes taking this approach important to me.” And it’s when you have something to say you run the risk of getting preachy. But “having something to say” is what makes us write in the first place.
Thing the second:I am reading old blog entries and came upon this description of story series that I love: “[It has its] own fully-realized, ever-expanding and detailed World, complete with its own metaphysical rules and social customs which it sticks to with fair consistency. Along with an entertaining story, an intelligent story, and likeable, complex characters. It has heroes and villains and folks in between with real motives and flaws, causes worth fighting for, and a fair bit of action and fun.”
I wrote at the time that that is what I wanted to emulate: the Buffyverse, Dresden Files, Harry Potter. But so far, the metaphysical rules of my story-world, or “mythology” if you prefer, have been a lot of hand-waving short cuts. Which is just not good enough for one who deigns to call herself Masquerade the Philosopher: I know how to world-build a Metaphysics, goshdurnit. I suppose a big part of the reason it is currently in a cursory state in my story is the same deal as above: I am writing science fiction that *looks* like urban fantasy. So my characters are doing what appears to be old-school magic, and I have not thought through the way in which it is *not* magic.
I think I am procrastinating that because I don’t want to take the sense of wonder out of my story that I get when I absorb myself in a genuine magical world like the above story series.
Time to emulate Trek somehow?