Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creating a "realistic" costume... and implications for the means to create in your world

The other day I checked out a post by my new friend Anders Hudson, here, where he discusses how to make your own realistic Battlestar Galactica flight suit. In fact, it's a fascinating post. I confess I am not ever going to be interested in making my own Battlestar Galactica flight suit, but it certainly got me thinking!

Here was my thought sequence.
  • I got to thinking about the resources available for making costumes, and how the people who work for TV shows access them, and afford them...
  • Then I considered how TV watchers with enough time and inspiration might accesss them, and afford them (which is somewhat different from the first group).
  • I realized Anders' post really shows that you can do something very convincing, with materials that are pretty widely available, even if they aren't all very easy to work with.
  • And you can do this on a budget.
  • And this is very, very relevant to questions of worldbuilding.
People in your world are going to have belongings - clothes, tools, luxuries, necessities. And they will have to acquire them...and that means either they or someone else will have to make them. So it would be good to ask some or all of the following questions:
  1. What is the process of creation like in your world?
  2. Are there a lot of raw materials like paper, fabric, foam, or metal, etc. easily available?
  3. Where would a character find the materials necessary to create something? At a sewing shop? An industrial shop? A general store? A specialty boutique? At the mine/factory?
  4. How expensive are these materials, and where do people earn the money to buy them?
  5. How much time and training does it take to create the objects that a reader would see on the page? Is this time and training a net financial loss for the creator? Or a means to better his/her financial situation? How much respect does the creator gain by being able to complete all this?
  6. Of all the steps necessary to make a complex and valuable (useful) object, which are easy and which are hard? Which steps would form bottlenecks or create delays in the process?
  7. How easy or difficult would it be for people of different financial means and social status to obtain similar objects? Is there more than one way to acquire the same thing? Are there any legal restrictions on materials or on finished products?

Thanks to Anders for the inspiration. I hope you find these questions useful in your worldbuilding process.