edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
December 19: mapping worlds and fandoms, cont'd (for [livejournal.com profile] joyeuce01) [Tumblr crosspost]

I talked about mapping fandoms (or, more accurately, NOT mapping them) yesterday. Today I am going to talk about mapping original secondary worlds.

The short answer is, I do this a lot. Not always! I have written stories which, as with my fanfiction, have only verbal geographies. I have a bunch of projects I started to map but never got further than a preliminary sketch. And I have a bunch of maps that don't have proper stories attached to them. (Yet, anyway.) But I love maps, so I am going to show you every map I currently have at hand, and explain them at such length you will probably give up and click away from this post in despair before I am halfway through.

*ominous smile*

Let's start with Kerr!

cut for images and length )

(I think I am just going to continue this topic for any day I don't have an assigned topic. Like I said, I have a lot of maps and a lot of words to say about them!)


December Talking Meme: All Days
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
It is Ladystuck reveal day! I wrote three fics this year: my assignment, a pinch hit, and a treat. I will discuss each in a separate post.


Of Stone and of Sky: As the sun plummeted toward the western mountains' waiting teeth, the jagged terrain of the badlands fell away, stone dropping in layers of gray, gold, ochre, down to a vast, barren plain. This was Hammerfall, the cursed place where the gods struck the earth to raise the Anvil. No rain fell. No rivers ran. No life grew. Even the vultures avoided this place, knowing in their bones that it was both holy and inimical. Here the gathered holds of the northwest quarter came, every twenty years, to call the rain. Here they brought life from death. Rose<>Terezi, Roxy<>Latula. (5,300 words)


This is a pinch hit, written for chthonianCrocuta in response to the prompt: I attempted to prompt something in this vein during the HSWC, and to nobody's surprise it didn't get taken up: Pyropes, Lalondes and *dragons*. I do not mind how this is achieved, just that it gets done. Somehow. Someday. By someone. A few possibilities, largely high fantasy:

[list of examples I didn't use]

Anything else you can come up with would also be fantastic, and as usual you can do with the relationships as you will. This one is not for the faint of heart, but if you can pull it off I'll be overjoyed. No downer endings, please!

So, uh. Confession time. Way back in the day, like nearly twenty years ago, I had a dream that contained a high fantasy-type story. This is not unusual. I tend to dream in stories, and most of those stories have heavy science fiction and/or fantasy elements. What is somewhat unusual is that I attempted to use that dream as the seed of a secondary world, which I named Kerr. Along the way, I completely lost the original characters and plot, to the point where I had to relocate them into an entirely different secondary world. (That would be Ashes, for any who might be interested.) And Kerr itself was... well, I was thirteen. It was very derivative of Tolkien and his less talented imitators, not to mention a hell of a lot of Dragonlance. The cultures were Frankenstein mish-mashes of badly regurgitated elements of Earthly cultures that I thought were cool; the geography and climatology made no sense; and the time scale of world history was ridiculously implausible.

I did realize those problems a few years later, at which point I redrew some of my maps, threw out a bunch of my old files, and extensively reworked the rest.

What I kept, mostly, was the dragons. I really like the dragons. And in particular, I like the dragons of west-central Sarala, the high, barren, desert plateau and badland region known as the Anvil, which is one of the few places in the world where humans and dragons have not simply learned to live and let live, but have actively formed an integrated society. Of course, nothing is ever entirely sweetness and light -- that newly integrated people spent the next three hundred years, give or take, conquering large swathes of the outer world. Imagine Genghis Khan, only with an air force instead of horses. Oh, and the airplanes are sentient. And don't like you. *evil grin*

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that when I saw a prompt with dragons, Lalondes, and Pyropes, I just leapt at the pinch hit. The kin structures and loyalty conflicts of the Anvil were an obvious connection to the Lalondes' already troubled family ties, the general danger and violence of that culture were an easy match to the equally dangerous Homestuck characters, and frankly, I could not resist the chance to get some use out of my ancient world-building. I have dreamed of these dragons for years. Now I have written them for the first time. Hopefully, it will not also be the last.

This story didn't flow as easily as "Raiders of the Deep Caverns," but I knew from the start what incidents I wanted to center it around -- the raincalling, the chance of breaking down barriers between holds and recreating an alliance like the one that led to the old empire -- and from there it was just a matter of finding the right words and images to convey the story. I also edited it heavily after throwing up the first draft to meet the posting deadline, because I needed to include other members of Dry Falls Hold to show that Rose had ties to her new home as well as her old, to make the setting feel a bit more lived-in and functional, and to stick Dave and Aradia into Roxy's POV section to show that she wasn't isolated either. The language is a bit more formal and... not flowery, exactly; maybe poetic? Anyway, not quite my usual narrative voice. But it fits the sense of ritual that weaves all through the fic; I don't think the story would work as well without it.

FYI, the working title of this fic was "Dragons!!!" The initial posting title was "Raincalling." The first was unusable for obvious reasons. The second one I changed because I wanted to emphasize the desert and dragons aspect a bit more, and because the characters' conception of themselves as those who defy the gods is vital to their eventual choice to attempt to change the pattern their culture has fallen into since the Empire's collapse.


edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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