Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The World Sandwich

I was reading The Sandwich-Maker description from "Mostly Harmless" today and my thoughts wandered, as they often do, to world-building. But I hate that term.Writing isn't world-building. Writing is character-building. The world is just part of what builds characters.

Allow me to split 'world-building' into three broadly-defined but manageable chunks: Environment, People, and Scenery. there, that was pretty easy. People is all the characters, taken as individuals. Environment is what the characters interact with, whether that's climate or politics. Scenery is all the cool stuff that accentuates the other two.

Now allow me a metaphor. It's like a sandwich, People is the meat and cheese, Environment is the bread, and Scenery is all the rest. It can be thick (but not too big for a mouthful) or thin (but not so thin as to be soggy), but above all it should be a damn Sandwich: greater than the sum of its parts.

If readers are spending all their time looking at the Scenery and not enough time looking at the People while mostly ignoring the Environment, that's not a Sandwich.

That's just a pile of meat and cheese and bread with some tasty condiments.



If you ever feel the need to lecture somebody...

Please don't do that.

It's almost, but not quite, as effective as leaving a passive-aggressive note, and at least we can all laugh at those later instead of yelling across each others' verbal broadsides.
250 words? Yes
Short Story "Kritarchy"
Short Story "A Blot on the Escutcheon"
- - - -
Reading - "Mostly Harmless" (Douglas Adams)



  1. Interesting breakdown there, David. I almost want to decide what all the different types of meats and cheeses would represent. =P

  2. Don't overthink it, but bonus points if you can guess which Science Fiction movie was in my mind when I wrote the negative example.

  3. Haven't seen Avatar yet. But I like your sandwich analogy!

  4. Avatar starts awesome, but then gets lame. Pretty throughout with science fiction goodness. Highlight: A remarkably plausible spaceship. But, I realized that there was a problem when I was sympathizing with the Human oppressors.

    I usually hate sandwich analogies, but I've made an exception for myself. As I often do.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...