I'm writing a short story for my english final - I'm a junior in high school; we've already taken our AP exam, but our teacher wanted to finish the year with something meaningful.
Anyway, I have been jotting some notes down on a phenomenon very personal and familiar to me. I would like to express this in the form of a short-story. I think it would be excellent practice for me as a writer to produce something both creative and insightful. And of course, make it enjoyable to read!
I would like feedback for my world-building work; I've described my complete process and the outline I've produced so far. What do you guys think of this world I'm thinking about? Really my only concern is that it resembles some already renowned literature (1984, for one). Do you think what I have going so far is a good start?
The unit I need to respond to is adaptation. The thing is, we can choose to respond in any way we see fit. So, taking the word at face value and applying my own experience has resulted in me noting the following:
Lack of purpose => Apathy => Failure to adapt => Vicious cycle
Message: With no ultimate purpose, one enters a vicious cycle where apathy replaces drive - and an inability to cope with this newfound apathy spawns more apathy rendering one a hollow shell of one's former self.
Life becomes a game. Not your game, but a game in which you let yourself become the controlled.
Going through the motions the way life is supposed to be "played".
Origin of the lack of purpose?
Is it effected as a result of society?
Or, if entirely void of society itself, would a lack of purpose still be prevalent?
Next, I attempted to construct a world that would facilitate the delivery of such a message:
Time Period: Post-Nuclear Holocaust (in the not-so-distant-future)
Setting (specifically): A totalitarian society (founded by the Great One [Magnus] Post-Nuclear Holocaust to prevent the "tragedies" of Pre-Nuclear Holocaust society) [Opatia] advocating free choice - paradox? With overstimulation, rejection and dissent ensues. Leading us to our protagonist.
Protagonist (Salim): Overwhelmed by so much freedom causes him to lose his mind. Additionally, he sees through the façade of freedom that Opatia (and Magnus) advertises. He understands that in reality Magnus is a corrupt leader who uses his control over the Opatians to gain capital in the still-existent "real world".
Narration: Third-Person Omniscient. Allows reader to be privy to the thoughts of others besides Salim. This also facilitates occasional blatant theme poundings.
Tense: Present. Past (although also implying a story worth telling) in my opinion implies an afterthought. Present tense also effects reader suspense if solely for entertainment purposes (à la Amusing Ourselves to Death).
Here is what started out as a description of Opatia, but turned out to become a general overview of the short-story:
Opatia is a realm devoid of natural life. It is founded on irony. Despite claiming to protect its citizens by granting them “liberty”, it revokes them of this very promise through a strict and brutal totalitarian regime. Its endless choices (in the very few sectors where choice is provided like job “opportunities”) lead to a massive decision that must be made at an early age (satirizing the current educational system). Additionally, once one selects a job, one must keep this job for the rest of his or her life with nothing but a mere superficial promotion as an incentive to continue one’s work; this further negates Opatia’s claim of choice and liberty (further satire). This all becomes too much for Salim, and living within these constraints becomes unbearable. Unable to creatively express himself, (a fundamental impossibility considering what Opatia demands with its concrete definitions of jobs and lifestyles) Salim must either conform, or rebel and sacrifice the inevitable rejection he will face from both his peers and society as a whole, especially, Magnus. Salim decides to live a life of quiet desperation where his former youthful passion and energy is replaced by apathy (must show Salim’s dynamism in order to achieve this effect; perhaps time period shall range from Salim’s adolescent period to early adulthood). After some time so bogged down with his own cognizance of his failure to adapt, his situation once again becomes unbearable. Therefore, as a result of his cognitive dissonance - a mental breakdown (and possibly ultimate suicide) ensues.