I think at the most basic level, every story consists of a character, a goal, and an obstacle/conflict that stands in the way.
After a few centuries, environmental changes force the small city states to be abandoned and the people scattering into the wilderness or fleeing to younger cities, taking their knowledge and skills with them. This results in a world that has only few specks of civilization in a vast wilderness, but is also scattered with forgotten ruins from many ages.
Character I find relatively easy. I feel like taking a character you like and applying some personal touches is generally enough. I think what I am struggling the most with in practice is the goal.
What I think is soooooo beautiful about premises and themes is that each individual author will read it and interpret it in a totally different way, sort of like the prompts in the writing challenges.
I see a female... a Queen, perhaps, in her early 40's who is smarter in regards to politics than her husband... or at least more savvy than he is... but she is limited by her position as wife, mother, and being only the "Queen". She has no seat at the round table. She fights with her husband constantly, trying to be heard. She tries to get out into the world to make change, but is constantly pulled back by her role as mother... she has to find another way. She has to work with her limitations instead of against them in order to have her voice heard and see the change she wants to see in the world. (Cercei Lannister).
Look at the world around us.Wouldn't the populations in this world have tales of this, a history of it, fables about it, and the like? Are these in conflict with the realities of that world, for instance simply incorrect understandings? Also, wouldn't every new city state be populated by people who already knew the city state was doomed eventually? When a city state is destroyed and its population travels to a newer city state, wouldn't they have the understanding that this was a temporary situation—if not for them personally, then at least for their future generations? What kinds of cultural elements arise because of this constant and relatively predictable conflict between the people and the Milieu?
Then, you mention that some people have settled on the idea of using magic to halt this process. But—when did they settle upon this solution? How long has this idea existed in this world (even if only in the minds of a relatively small cabal)? If the idea of using magic has been around for a long time, what is their thinking about the futility of such an approach, given that nothing has worked so far?
Look at the world around us.
Usually geological changes happen very slowly, but for dramatic reasons this setting sees them happen within a generation instead of centuries.
And some people think that magic is the answer to stop the spirits of nature from constantly tearing down the creations of mortals and preventing a future where hunger, disease, and disasters are things of the past.
For the first three or four hundred years, nobody will worry about the future collapse of their city at all. And then the next hundred years people will see the end coming, but will just assure themselves that its still many decades off before it becomes a problem. And then suddenly the city looks like Detroit and the people in charge say they had no way to prevent it. And this isn't really anything new. This is how human society has always worked. Even when people are fully aware of repeating patterns, they are always surprised when it happens to them.
Look at the world around us.
I didn't ask to be more specific. I felt people wanted me to be more specific.Hey Yora, I can't speak for everyone, but I'm confused about what your specific issue is? You originally posted asking about how to create a plot from a theme. We had a great discussion. Then you asked if we could get more specific and you gave some background of your world, so lots of people have chimed in with support and offered suggestions of where you might find a plot...
When I am thinking about stories that I really enjoyed or found to be impactful, I am primarily thinking about the themes they revolve around.
And when I am pondering my own idea about what kinds of stories I would find worth writing, I don't have any interesting villains that need to be stopped, or original disasters that have to be prevented. Instead, my ideas are about themes and situations that are still interesting to explore.
But a theme is not a story. A plot makes a story. Things are happening, people are doing things. And I always found it very hard to come up with plots that reflect the themes that I find interesting. People often say that everyone has stories to tell, but I can never think of any.
Do you have any way by which you go from an idea for something to write about to having the basics of a story?