How do you build community where none exists? This is what I’m facing in my next science fiction WIP.
Community comes from common culture, common upbringing, or common kinship. In my story, I’m throwing a disparate group of people together with little in common other than being gathered by the government and put in this location. Once there, they have two options – form some kind of self-sufficient community, or live in virtual apathy under the control of the government representatives co-located with them.
Since I don’t want a bunch of apathetic lemmings as the background for my main characters, I have to find a way to build up community where none existed before. This may not seem as far-fetched as it sounds at first. After all, humans are social beings, and we create community wherever we are. At school, we are a community in our class or grade. We even have subcommunities formed by common interests.
In my story, I’d like to jumpstart community building using a crisis or two that speeds up that common bond between the people. Nothing says cooperate like a life or death situation, eh? What I haven’t decided yet is – do I bring those government representatives into the community, or do I leave them external? Both have good plot/storyline potential for adding conflict and driving change. So will I have sneetches and star-bellied sneetches? Or will they all collaborate as one community?
Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get closer to it, eh? Stories have a way of unfolding and drifting as you write them. A certain amount of upfront work certainly helps me, but I also leave room for letting the story build itself along the way. Which side those government folks end up on will come out as I write those sections.