Dogworld

We’re past the formal creative writing class now and into the world of self-propelling writing circles. The tricky thing here is that people aren’t financially motivated to participate in the writing circle – I mean, it’s not like you paid $300 to take the class and so you have some motivation to produce; instead it’s just the desire of the participants to keep the writing workshop going. So. Take that as you will. For the first workshop we had only 3 pieces to review and that comfortably took up a couple of hours, so maybe it’s alright if we have only a small number of pieces each workshop.

 

I wrote a piece called “Remembering Trevor” for the first workshop. It wasn’t particularly well received as far as I could tell, but truthfully I wasn’t expecting that much from it. Not to say it was a throw-away piece, but rather that it was a piece that started with a kernel of an idea and had to be massaged and kneaded vigorously to produce a short story. Anyhow. Next step is to start something new, I suppose. Between you and me, I’m not sure the feedback is of sufficient quality in this workshop to really generate meaningful improvements to the work. My hope would be that through the workshop process, a story could be revised and rewritten over and over until something great emerges, and then that new version could be reworked and the process would start all over again, until eventually the story was of a quality that was really worthwhile – maybe even publishable. We’ll see if that ends up being the case or not.

 

For my next tale, I thought I’d branch out and try to do something sci-fi-ish. I had this idea of a setting in a dystopian future where people have been bred like dogs into a number of breeds, each quite anatomically different from the other. The outline of the story as I’m envisioning it is this:

 

The world is ruled by the one breed that’s remained pure natural human. All other breeds are pure-bred by the ruling breed for specific functions. So there’s a bunch of working breeds, some water breeds, cold weather breeds, and guard/fighting breeds. These breeds are still Homo sapiens, but they’d be like the difference between a wolf and a domestic dog – lots of anatomical differences based on how they’ve been bred. So the cold weather breeds have thick fur, the guard breeds are powerfully muscled but fiercely loyal, worker breeds might be small and tough or stout and powerful or whatever based on the type of work. But besides the ruling breed, they’re all pretty stupid.

The story concerns a protagonist of the ruling breed who’s in university to become a genetic engineer of breeds, basically one of the guys who guides the genetics to ensure the breeds stay healthy and pure. He starts seeing things that make him doubt the morality of these breeding programs, which initiates the tension in the story. The big reveal is that he finds out that the ruling breed he’s part of isn’t natural human at all, it’s just another selective breed – this time selected for intelligence over physical qualities. The conflict is that since there are no natural humans left, there is no unbiased view of moral life – everyone is just acting according to the demands of the behaviour and conditioning built into their genetic selection.

As the story unfolds, our protagonist encounters ‘feral’ humans, breeds that have cross-bred outside of the genetic mandate. These humans are outlaws always on the run from the fighting humans bred to hunt them and destroy them. But, the ones that survive and reproduce for a few generations across breeds start to regain their intelligence and become natural humans again. So our protagonist is drawn to this outlaw life of renegade human breeding. I’m seeing the story closing as he finally joins them, and the final scene is him running with a pack out into the wilderness with the sound of fighters chasing them in the distance, and he has this feeling of terror and exhilaration and freedom all at once and he loves it.

 

Anyhow – that seems like an interesting sci-fi tale, and it is a departure from the other few stories I’ve written. I think I might start chipping away at it, and if there’s space in the next workshop it would be nice to squeeze it in, but otherwise it can wait for March.

 

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