Feb. 19 Writing Prompt

Before we dive head-first into the weekend, I want to wrap up the segment on dystopian/utopian worlds.

We have spent all week learning how to make a new world, and make it engaging for our audience.

There is one more thing to consider, though, and that is what I like to call “reminders.”

If you recall, we started out by giving the reader something comfortable to cling to. It made our world believable from the start. Then, we ripped it all away and left them with our new world, be it dystopian or utopian in nature.

One of the biggest issues with building brand new worlds is keeping the reader believing.

Sure they can accept that your new planet has laser-guns and alien beings. But if you don’t stick to some sort of basic physics, things can get out of hand quickly.

Robert Heinlein was a master at “reminders” and his worlds, no matter how far-fetched, allows the reader to remain comfortable enough to keep believing.

What is a Reminder?

Well, essentially it is something that triggers a memory. Something in your new world that reminds the reader of the world they left behind.

As a writer who is creating a new world you have to remember one thing: When your reader closes the book they are back in their own reality. They are on Earth, in real life, on their time and doing real world things.

However, when they pick your story back up, they aren’t going to start over at chapter 1, where you put your comfort items. No, they will open the book to the bookmark and continue where they left off.

A reminder, then, gives them a chance to make the transition again, without starting over.

Let’s see the prompt, then I will continue.

February 19

Add a few reminders into your new world to keep the reader reminded of where they are.

There are literally thousands of great stories out there that utilize reminders. In both film and literature, you can find examples almost everywhere.

Reminders Work
Reminders can be big, small or easily overlooked. Placement and frequency will depend on your new world.
Let’s take a look at some great examples
  • In the film Enemy Mine, Davidge comes across a trash pile with cans of Coke left behind by the miners.
  • Robert Heinlein uses reminders in Job: A Comedy of Justice to keep the reader in the location. Buildings, monuments, and simple things like combs, help wanted signs and other “normal” devices are placed strategically throughout the story.
  • In the film Demolition Man the radio plays commercials and jingles from “the old days” as a reminder of where we are now. Taco Bell and other known brands are scattered throughout to also keep the viewer planted on Earth.
  • Ready Player One is a nostalgic time capsule for the 1980’s. Those alive in the 80’s remember. Those that were born after will remember the names, and brands their parents and grandparents have talked about.

As you can see, a reminder doesn’t need to be a slap in the face, with a brick, thrown by Dwayne Johnson.

A subtle soda can, a famous building, or even just a street name can trigger the reminder to your reader.

All you want to accomplish is the small reminder that your reader is no longer on Earth as they know it, and are now enveloped in your new world.

Write a few reminders into your current story we’ve worked on all week.

If you are having trouble, or want to brag, post your reminders in the comment section below and let everyone see your skill, or help with your sticking points.

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