An exercise in world building
I spend a lot of time creating stories. Most stuff never sees the light of day. It just sits in my subconscious as one off snippets of dialog or vague plot concepts. Sometimes those small ideas take off. Rapidly. This is a peek behind the curtain for one of those.
About seven years ago, I was working on a new story (which you can read here). It started as a simple writing exercise. The initial premise was for the main character to be stuck in total darkness. We're talking the kind of dark where you could touch your eyeballs and still not see your finger.
That was it. There was no real plot, just an arbitrary gimmick to force myself to write something a little different.
What unfolded as I started writing was a horror story that featured a group known as the Cult of the Faceless. The cult's members wore form-fitting, featureless masks that covered their entire face. Think along the lines of white morph suits, but almost leathery.
The point of the masks was to keep playing with the darkness gimmick, so that even in the few moments the lights came on, there was still something the main character couldn't see, and faces felt like the most unsettling option.
In the story, the main character is a prisoner of the cult being tortured for some sinister, unknown purpose, and inevitably, that got me thinking. Why? What does the cult want with the main character? Why put him through this?
For the sake of the story at hand, it didn't matter. He was never going to figure it out, but when you're crafting a story, the most believable worlds exist beyond the page. They were there before the first sentence, and they continue past the end—well, except when your story is about the literal end of the world, I suppose.
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