Monday, May 28, 2012

We Are Building a Religion

500 words, which I just finished at 10:45pm because I spent half the day mooning over this woman's uh-frickin-MAZING illustrations. Check out the Tarot deck! And the book covers she's done! *swoon*

I wound up over there because I was looking for mythic/fairy tale images to inspire me to do a little retroactive worldbuilding for TOB. The isolated culture to which my heroine belongs is a mostly rationalist one: they don't have any gods, and the closest thing they have to a Holy Book is an encyclopedia of pre-plague knowledge (which is not really a book at all, but a bioengineered ROM device that reproduces asexually) (my novel is weird, okay?). They're living in small, agriculturally-based villages, for the most part at a Middle Ages level of technology-- except for the few pieces of ancient technology they've retained (such as the asexually-reproducing ROM device mentioned above), which look more and more like magic as the decades and centuries pass.

They have stories about the early days of their people, which happened after the encyclopedia ends (the ROM devices can be neither added to nor subtracted from) and for which there is no one official story or set of records. These stories are part history, part tall tale, part fairy tale, and are told to small children at bedtime and around bonfires at village festivals. They are just beginning their metamorphosis from myths that no one really takes literally, to the basis of a belief system.

I sort of knew the skeleton of all that, but I didn't work it out in even that much detail, because I didn't think it was going to be relevant to the story I'm telling.

Turns out it is.

I'm not going to go nuts with it (so I say now; building religions is like my favorite thing ever, except maybe building educational systems), but I do think I need to sketch out a few of these myths, create a few characters that are about to become gods, and work out the meanings of some symbols in order to add this layer to the story.

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