Worldbuilding at Teignmouth

Last week I went to Teignmouth, as a guest of Teignmouth Community School. Some of the pupils there are doing a project on biography, and wanted to interview a local celebrity, but they had to make do with me.  English teacher Jane Rose had arranged a very well-organised session in which the pupils asked me questions, mostly focusing on Mortal Engines; how it came to be written, and what it felt like when it was eventually published.  Then, after lunch, I did a Worldbuilding workshop with some of the pupils in the school's beautiful and well-used library.  This is only the second time I've run a workshop (the first being at Exeter School last autumn) and, to be honest, I'm still not sure I've got the introductory spiel right, but luckily the pupils were all bright sparks, and once I left them to their own devices they came up with a plethora of strange and fascinating imaginary worlds.  Then we tried bunging bits of all the different worlds together to make one big one, and ended up with a whole fantasy solar system where all sorts of intriguing stories were starting to develop.  Here's the synopsis I typed up at the end of the day, though this is really just a taster of the weird and wonderful ideas the session threw up.

World-Building at Teignbridge Community School
The Earth has been ripped apart by mining; all that remains is a huge cloud of rubble, loosely held together by a gravity machine at its centre.  But the machine is failing, and the people who are trying to repair it are endangered by the radiation the machine gives off, and by mutant lizards with half-metre-long claws who infest the rubble-cloud.

Everyone else has relocated to a number of other nearby (man made?) planets, which are linked together by a series of vast bridges.  You can travel across these bridges in air-filled balls propelled by hamsters, although you have to be able to pay the hamsters with something that they need - otherwise they will eat you.  The most useful form of hamster-currency is baby hamsters, since the hamsters are too busy rolling balls around to have babies of their own.

The planets include:

Aquatica: a water-world, where mermaids and dolphins rule over a population of sea creatures; there is a middle class of whales and sharks, and an underclass of fish.  Sand dollars are used as money.
Rookaly: a robot world.  Originally populated by nerds, who built the robots to defend themselves. However, the robots took over (although, unbeknown to them, the robot king is actually a nerd in a robot suit!).
‘Sweet World’ A divided planet, populated by intelligent sweets, who are locked in constant warfare with equally intelligent cheeses.  The cheeses are getting the upper hand, but they are themselves threatened by the mysterious being called  ‘Pizza Boy’ who putters from planet to planet on his space scooter delivering pizzas, and has been known to grate the cheeses up to use as toppings.
Slinka: a small planet with snake-shaped continents, populated by mythical beings.
All the planets are endangered by the flocks of zombie chickens which infest the surrounding space.
Our hero, living among the machine-repair crews in the rubble of earth, sets off to explore the other worlds.  On Rookaly he meets Lukenza, who has always felt out of place among the robot people there because she is only half robot - her mother was a Medusa-like being from Slinka...

And after all that, I drew Horrible Histories pictures for everyone, and we went home.  Big thank-yous to Jane Rose and her colleagues for inviting me to Teignmouth, and to all the young imagineers for coming up with such good ideas.


Anonymous said...

Kids' ideas are scarily good, eh? That Sweets and Cheese world is brilliant. JH

Michelle said...

They were have a fun while they are making their illustration and drawing. They have a brilliant ideas and some are funny too. :D

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