Bright Future Thoughts

These posts are a thought experiment to help us engage in thoughts that would help us inform our writing. It’s a perfect time to discuss writing as November is also National Novel Writing Month and a lot of authors are beginning or continuing their novel work during NANOWRIMO. This time we are looking at a bright almost utopian world that has risen from the ashes.

Imagine that you are living in a society which formed from a catalyst. This could be; war, climate change, political upheaval, you decide. This new society is peaceful, it has none of the current issues we are living with, instead, everyone has equality, everyone has worked, society is functioning very well. The government is some kind of a mix between open democracy run by fair elections with term limits, and that laws may or may not exist depending on if you want to assume that a utopian society would even have laws or need them.

  1. Write a brief statement (2–3 paragraphs) describing the reasons for your formation of a utopian society. In other words, what specifically don’t you like about current society? How has the current society broken trust with you? Why do you feel the need to form a “more perfect” society?
  2. Using some of the ideas below, write sentences that would express your feelings on each. What would you think if you were living in this utopia? You can in this case use your current knowledge of the current world to inform your answers. Reflect on how you personally would feel about each question, and create a paragraph or two to explore the ideas further.
  3. Economic ideas: Money is abolished. Citizens only do work that they enjoy. What would it feel like if you only had to do work that you wanted to do? What job would you have in this world? Why?
    1. Governing ideas: Society is controlled by the citizenry in a large individualist, communal, social, and sometimes libertarian “government”. The term government is used loosely, as power is seen to corrupt, so constructed government systems are warned against. Which society type do you feel would be best for this utopian world to be built on and why? Why do you think this governance would be likely to succeed?
    2. Technological ideas: In some cases, technology may be embraced to enhance the human living experience and make human life easier and more convenient. Other ideas propose that technology drives a wedge between humanity and nature, therefore becoming evil to society. What technology do you think we would have? What would improve our lives or make travel better in our perfect utopia?
    3. Ecological ideas: Back to nature, humans live harmoniously with nature and reverse the effects of industrialization. What species might exist in our utopia? Is it possible that we have a new wave of species that might have been close to extinction? If so, what species do you think is doing the best in this new world?
    4. Philosophical/religious ideas: Society believes in a common religious philosophy, some fashion their surroundings around the biblical Garden of Eden. In inter-religious utopias, all ideas of God are welcomed. In intra-religious utopias, a singular idea of God is accepted and practiced by all citizens. What would this look like? How in the world would religious groups get along? What do you think happened to bring them together, and how do you think it’s possible that all of them exist simultaneously?

In a book called Writing with intent: essays, reviews, personal prose, 1983-2005 by Margaret Atwood she mentions that utopia was coined and used by Sir Thomas More as a title for his fictional discourse on government. The concept of utopia may have been to look at the possible betterment of the people of England at that time as many people saw life under Henry the 8th as a golden age. She mentions that utopias can be written in an almost satirical way/ They reflect backward on the shadows of the past. In this light, what is the one thing you see as still being slightly shadowy in our utopia? In the same book by Atwood, she talks about how we should view terms like human and freedom. She mentions that utopia is not open-ended and so therefore could have extremes. Imagine in this fake world we are invented a world of free abandon, maybe this utopia is not all good and wonderous {The Purge} but its benefits outweigh the negatives, Atwood asks a good question that might be a good prompt for us, do we really want to live in this utopia? When writing our fictional world, it’s important to focus on characters, what story are we trying to tell. It may be interesting to know what is in the background, but lets, for example, take the life of a child who only knows this utopia, what would they feel about it? What would they see? What would they eat? Again asking our What, Where, Why, and How are good jump-offs here. However, as Atwood cautions us, be careful not to get into the weeds too much and create essay level sections about the type of sewage system, or elevators in your utopia as these details are interesting but not at all relevant in the grand story. Write instead smaller, personal reflections on the world around you. To wrap up this exercise think about how external factors like climate might affect the above. In our utopia consider what it might be like if nature was allowed to be free. Movies like The Time Machine and Cloud Atlas are good for examples of a utopian society formed through complex and harsh realities.

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