A way with worlds: 38 - Parallel Earths
by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum
Page 2 of 2
Now what's the point of this
(besides noting Y2K apocalypse stories are a waste of time)?
- The "net of the
world" is what you have to deal with when writing
about the world - and writing about parallel worlds. To
really make a radically different earth requires a hard
yank on the "net" or several good pulls at the
- One event has multiple
subtle, widespread effects. Fixing Y2K issues didn't
involve radical shifts, but many subtle alterations,
people doing more work, etc.
The Y2K issue illustrates
the folly of the Big Critical Event mentality as well as the idea
that change is often localized in our world.
THE NET OF THE WORLD
In creating a parallel Earth a person usually picks some events
that caused the Earth to be different than ours. The important
thing is to make sure the impact of this change or changes is
understood and written and developed.
The challenge of writing a
parallel world is figuring out just how the "Net of the
world" distorts and changes from the events you've decided
differed from our earth. Too much change and it's unbelievable.
Too little change and it's not really that different an earth.
Too many events and you just may have a world face Armageddon
This is not an easy or fast
process - forget the tales you've seen of
"slap-a-change-on-the-earth-and-write-it." Don't expect
things to be perfect, don't expect them to be planned quickly.
Writing a parallel world is usually an act of subtlety and not
force, of careful thinking and consideration.
(You can see why sometimes
it just seems easier to go with the domino theory.)
My recommendation is to take
the time to think over your ideas, to write things down, and even
to do research. Think about the "Net of the world" and
just how far your changes will spread. Keep the following
elements in mind:
- A change may not have
enough significant impact to make a parallel earth truly
different from ours.
- A change's impact
usually is multifaceted.
- Changes can cancel each
other out or alter each other.
- It takes a lot to get a
cascading effect (a domino-like effect) but it can
WRITE, WRITE, WRITE:
My final piece of advice on making parallel Earths -
write things down. Take notes. Write your ideas down and then
edit them. You're juggling a lot here - but it's worth it.
In writing parallel Earths, remember the world is an
interconnected series of events - events can have wide impact,
but the world adjusts and adapts.
with Worlds is hosted at fanfiction.net, lit.org, sffworld.com, and Woman-to-Woman.
A German translation is in the works at Christian Spliess's
It is archived at the Way With
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.