Cities of Wonder

Starling 12
Dreams & Schemes
Published in
2 min readMar 27, 2021


Idea: Setting

Genre: Various

Pitch: When a person travels, they often encounter amazing things and places that simply can never be truly experienced unless you’ve been there. Stories love to take this awed emotion and amplify it as much as possible. Perhaps these are long-lost civilizations, or areas hidden from the rest of the world for their own safety. Secret places, but bursting with spectacular sights, perhaps advanced technology or energy, too. Atlantis, El Dorado, Marvel’s Wakanda and Asgard, Star War’s Coruscant,Castle in the Sky’s Laptua, Avatar’s Pandora, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts (close enough), etc. Movies typically show off these places with brilliantly lit shots accompanied by majestic music. But rarely are these locations fleshed out.

Narratively, these cities usually serve as something to protect. They are the peaceful homes of the protagonists, and when they come under threat, the protagonists are motivated into action. Because of the cities’ beautiful design, the audience cares about them, too. On top of that, when an audience comes to care for a city, they usually care for the people inside it, for those who contributed to building it. This makes an entire civilization admirable, by only using a few pretty designs. And to trigger emotion in the audience, the villains will probably attack it.

By why not, instead of making the city a very large macguffin, we instead get to watch the characters build it,interactwith it, communicatewith its people? Maybe even manage it? These cities require more than just a hero to defend it. Laws need to be debated, rights need to be protected, justice needs to be enforced, all of which are delicate corruptions that seep into even the most noble of systems. And realistically, the civillians will rarely just stand aside when their safety and livelihoods are threatened. No matter how utopian this hidden place may be, it can only be so with constant vigilance. Instead of an external force being the threat, slipping its way inside, let the City of Wonder have a community that shapes its own future, rather than a few brave individuals. Perhaps the protagonists can motivate the civilians, or maybe they would only be a singular piece of a larger force. Either way, these cities deserve to be more than just some pretty scenery.