Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
He arrived on a hairy bahga that shook its head as it shuffled its paws through the sand. He war white to arm against the sun, but was slender under the piles of fabric. I saw nothing but his gray eyes, and somehow that unnerved me. I felt that I was being greated by a ghost, a vision of walking sand with storm-light eyes.
Then he reigned in his beast. It reared it’s head, sending the long gray-white locks bouncing.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Or so I thought.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Planning a world requires planning how it works. I usually like tying magic to gods, it just has always made sense. I mean, when we hear of magical things happening in mhythology, it's generally tied to some god, goddess or mystical creature that originates from the Realm of the Gods. If I go off of the concept that we need to draw boundaries in order to formulate identity, than it stands to reason that in order to wrap our minds around the concept of mortality (an unavoidable reality) we create stories of what immortality is. By understanding the fiction, we can begin to grasp fact. So structuring a belief system and how that belief system is practiced in each realm gives a better understanding of how each realm operates.
In Togan, it makes sense that the religious leader is closely linked to the herds. The person may or may not also be a secular leader. Because I picked Togan as the place to satrt thestory, and because my main character is not going to spend a long time there, it mmakes plot-sense to join the secular and spiritual in the leader that also commands the group-owned herd of Genn. Since the leader is affiliated with the Genn, it makes sense that his/her title will derive from the animal's name. Hence "Genna-ko."
In the more hierarchical realms, it makes sense to see more institutionalized forms of religion. With magic affiliated with the gods, the Temples become places that someone can learn magic.
I like magic as an inborn trait, generally accompanied with a physical representation of the magic. I have a bad habit of choosing eye-color as a representation of ability. Perhaps this was due to Dune's influence, or maybe just because I love the "window to the soul" idea. Still, if magic is in part a spiritual thing, than a "soul" link makes sense. There needs to be a tie to the divine, though. And divinity need not be perfect--they can be flawed as any Greek god--but the link needs to be there for this to work.
Now, that doesn't mean that magic is kept out of politics. Honing belief into a weapon is a skill humans have perfected many times over. This, again, I think is part of our pattern in constructing our identity based on structuring first what it is not.
The crazy bit of this is that most of the "Not" is so far from accurate that two sides can think exactly the same thing about each other "They eat babies!" --without ever realizing how fallacious their interpretation of their neighbor actually is.
But moral judgments based on fiction is how we vilify an enemy. Governments have to create an extreme "Other" to gain support for war, so propaganda goes out. That includes making war a moral imperative. and if there is a moral imperative to war, it is okay to use religious figures (priests and priestesses) and magic in the fight.
When this is achieved, however, and the people are calling for a moral impertive to fight, the political/socio-economic origins of the conflict are often obscured or wholly disregarded. Politics and economics cease to matter when humans think that war is necessary for the triumph of "goodness." So in the pursuit of maintaining "ghoodness" humans can easily sanction extreme evil, or even their own enslavement without batting an eye.
(This is me planning a plot based on some more academic/intellectual interests)
So enter the main character!!!
Ellessa will be Chianic-- the most powerful of the 4 magics.
born in Togan where there is no one to train her
--pastoral and foraging communities tend to have much smaller populations than agriculture as there is less need for massive numbers of offspring and generally a plant around that can prevent pregnancy, abort a developing fetus, etc--yes, there are natural birth control plants, but human's insatiable appetite for them over the centuries has led to extinctions of these plants. One of my profs in college had lived with a foraging society that still used one of these plants quite successfully. However, they weren't keen on sharing it because they knew their neighbors would descend and steal the rest of the plants, which were becoming endangered as it was. The most famous birth control herb was obliterated by Roman women in ancient times, and was related to licorice--
So Elessa will be sent to Lartien to train with the Priestesses.
Her ability and situation will create a manner to explore plot and story through a character who knows little or nothing, making the exploration of story easy for a half-developed world, and easier to follow for a reader.
The war can mount in the background, and the main character's outside perspective will make the situation more tense. The Lartien government and priestesses will try to use her to achieve their own ends. But the fact that her people, back in Togan, have high hopes for her as a leader make her seek away out of her training.
The Lartien don't make it easy, and she has to find a way out before her training is complete.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Because this is a fantasy and I absolutely love wold-building, I am choosing made-up names for items. I welcome anyone who wants to draw what they think any of these things might look like to e-mail me their pictures. I promise to post them!
Kwenda of the North:
Trade with Xolanh
Fish from Dwoba & Twea
Chash grains from lower Kwenda
Voi orchards--lower Kwenda
Bahga herds--Upper Kwenda
Disse wood from Dwone forest
Videsse of the North East
Fish from Rydie and Baikessa Seas
Fish from the Ehrene Lake (Sea)
Kavar furs from the Ekida mts.
Three ports & geographic location = shipping & commerce center (potential piracy)
Lartiene of the East
Fish from Baikessa and Ehrene
Trade with Jodair
Dalki, Besso, Vahg = crops
Shair, Lomi, Boona = herds
Sanara of the South
Baikessa Straight = fish
Trade w/ Jodair
Jordelle and Hallone Lakes
Fiar crops (like barley)
Fiada = (like beer)
Chash, Besso & Avikan = crops/grains
Boona and Twenni = herds
Togan of the West
Forest & Plains & Crops
Herds: Genn (like horses), Ipha (like donkeys), Bahga (like cows)
Lumber = Disse, Jolar, Enda
Crops = Fiar, Chash, Voi, Temm
Types of crops that show up repeatedly are essential to the regional diet.
The countries that have more resources are more wealthy, and also more hierarchical. Hierarchy and agricultural surplus go together.
The realms that have the most wealth are Sanara and Lartien. Seeing as they ahre a border, it makes sense that these two places are likely either a) at war with each other or b) on the verge of conflict.
The fact that Kwenda has a distinct crop region and distinct pastoral region means that it is likely Kwenda is composed of two ethnic populations. This can produce off and on internal strife as the governing system attempts to force cooperation between two peoples that see themselves as distinct. Whichever group holds authority will be instantly seen as the oppressor by the unrepresented group.
The long coastline and minimal resources make Videsse a trade center. The easy access to the outer islands mean that this people can easily have a pirate population. Videsse does not have as strong of an internal division, and so while on the fringe of the society, it is not subject to the same internal strife.
The abundance of grass plains and herd animals means that Togan is primarily pastorilist. As such, these people might not be seen as positively by the more hierarchical realms of the east. As there are some crops along the border, and trade might be common, there might be some individuals who leave Togan. The crops are likely produced on a much smaller scale in Togan than in the eastern realms. This means that it makes sense that the people would be horticulturalists rather than agriculturalists ( meaning that the emphasis is on subsistence rather than surplus) but when surplus is produced it is likely traded.
The socio-cultural and political map of Chiadina can then be developed more closely through the eyes of a particular character.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
While it may be crude and childlike, I begin all projects with a map. I suppose I work backward. I draw the coastline, make the mountains follow the coast, the water (rivers) fall from mountain to ocean, occasionally pooling in lakes and land-bound seas. Trees follow the water. People build along bodies of water.
National boundaries follow natural features. All together you have a picture of distinct realms, with distinct geographical features.
Human society and culture is an adaptive trait formed to help us deal with environment and social pressures. So once you have a map of where people live and what resources each of your realms have, you can start to figure out who gets along and who doesn't.
The creation of who "we" are and who "they" are is intrinsic to humans. We derive some of our identity (for better or worse) from establishing what we are not. "We are capitalistic," you may've heard in the 50's, or last week-- "and thus not communist."
Same premise goes for fictional communities. The wealthy countries and those hurting for resources will be the most likely to head to war. However, the circumstances are completely different.
Then, of course, there is magic that will be tossed into the mix. I like to attach magic to a main character or strong supporting character and treat magic like a resource: it makes the magic-user political, lands them in a leadership role because they have a control of a commodity that others don't.
Of course, how important magic is in a world (how much prestige and thus authority your magical character commands) is determined by its frequency in the population, how critical it is to the commercial, governing, and political realities of the world.
You could also chose a magic that cannot cause harm. Those ones are interesting because the magical person is thrown into a whole bunch of conflicts you can't touch with more weaponized magics. So the moral, social, and psychological issues that you can explore in the character and plot development explode with potential ;-)
Tomorrow's post will be about resources and how they set up politics, culture, and such. Then on Thursday I'll take it back to the individual. after the whole world is built up, how can I reduce it to what-is-seen by my character?
Monday, July 18, 2011
I am now working 3 part time jobs, and still writing. Unfortunately my writing is increasingly limited to non-fiction because that is what I can be paid for. Not that I'm currently making much, but it helps in the overall scheme of things. Also, even if it's product description s and web content it feels awfully good to get a few bucks for my writing.
A few months ago, before stress-out-craziness stole my life, I decided to do a fiction project for Writing Worlds. I had it all set, and then my map went vanishing into the chaotic swirl of paper piles on my desk.
So, I've rebooted. I have another project along the same lines. I am going to walk through the world-creation and then the writing. If I alternate between the two from post-to-post, forgive me. However, this will be my process, pure and simple.