Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Turunda & The Devoted Trilogy - World Building Prompts - Presenting Turunda['s maps]

Penultimate installation of my Great Western Woods' #WorldBuildingQuest compilation, bringing together all my prompt question answers from Instagram to one convenient place, introducing the world of The Devoted trilogy.

Read chapters 1-5 of The Zi'veyn, the first book of the trilogy, for free on Kindle, Kindle app or in your browser right here.
Buy The Zi'veyn and book two, The Sah'niir, from all Kindle stores for £2.49 each, and in paperback from select Amazon stores. UK & DE Amazon ship right across Europe.

[#WorldBuildingQuest Week 4]

I originally planned to put the entire presentation on here, but I changed my mind when I realised that that tidy post was better suited to my author website. It doesn't really offer anything I've not already covered in the previous compilation posts, but if you're interested in the full introduction, check it out here ^^
Otherwise, I'm using this post to go over the other creative aspects of The Devoted trilogy.

   Unsurprisingly, in a story that involves a lot of travelling, experimentation and inevitable destruction and upheaval, I needed a map to keep track of things. It started as a rough drawing of the continent (shown below) since multiple countries are mentioned and at war, and then a zoom-in on Turunda itself, on lined paper in ball point pen. The necessary locations were marked - Rathen's home, the capital city and a few forests and rivers, and then a few towns and villages dotted along them or nearby.
   As The Zi'veyn came together, more locations were added and others were named, either through the characters passing through, an off-hand mention, or in one of Salus's reports. These two maps are those of The Zi'veyn.
   The locations grew further during The Sah'niir, and further still during Hlífrún, though the latter was more a point of naming some of the more obscure forests or some location within them, and for obvious reasons, I'm keeping those maps, and those of book three, private until the two books are released.

   To make book-ready maps, I scanned in my paper copies and drew over them in Paint Tool Sai (£20) with my tiny Wacom Intuos Art tablet (£80). I actually used the continental map first, and rather than draw around the original map of Turunda, I blew up the continental map and redrew Turunda from that. At a glance, the two paper maps seemed to fit. I discovered otherwise after scanning and trying to overlay the original on the digital drawing. It took some juggling, but I fit everything in where it should be. It just took a little rotation here and there.
   Drawing the forests and mountains took time and a few references (such as Djekspek/Herwin Wielink's), but I got there, and it came together to look rather good, I think! I'm proud, at any rate.
   As for labels, I originally only named and marked the places relevant to the story, but my husband complained that a few places were mentioned and not labelled, so I added them in once The Sah'niir was completed. It started to look cluttered, so I decided to add even more to off-set it. It sounds stupid, but I think it worked. I named passive locations like Banmar Dells, Sotwolds and so on, and made those labels quite light, then labelled every settlement and separated the dots of cities, towns and villages with different hues and sizes: cities are marked by big, solid dots; towns are marked by big, light dots; villages are marked by small dots. The only settlements labelled for each book are the relevant ones, however, but every single dot has a name and a purpose. They may not all be mentioned, and may never all be labelled, but they're all there.

   Various countries display different cultures - the same is true of our own world, of course, even those who are close neighbours. Skilan, Turunda and Kalokh all embody quite similar things, a mishmash inspired by both England and Scandinavia (ie that which is most familiar to me, and that which appeals to me). The Scandinavian traits, however, are far older than the English ones, and it shows in the wildlings.
   Doana, Qenra and Ithen, however, are of more African influence, and moved north into Arasiin centuries ago near the end of their empire's expansion. Since then, though, they've become a quiet, peaceful people, and Doana are especially watchful.
   Ivaea and Kasire have similar cultures of horsemen on the plains, with the deserts in the south uninhabited but for a few scarce wind and earth tribes. The humans across the world were subjugated by the elves, who equally had their own cultures and ideas which the humans inherited, and they never cared to live in the deserts. The various elemental tribes carry their own cultures and inhabit those places the elves had no wish to, rather than live under their subjugation.
   Which brings me to the creatures. They're all inspired by various folklores and inhabit the appropriate places, such as the crocotta of Ethiopian folklore found mainly in Ithen, while the wildlings are wide-spread wherever there are forests and, in Turunda, are inspired largely by Scandinavian folklore, and a little bit of Cornish. I had great fun researching them and giving them general personalities. I love my huldra, but, if I'm honest, I think it's between the ditchlings/Arkhamas and the askafroa for my favourites. Where magic is used among them, it's of a whole different kind, revolving instead around nature and symbiosis than anything in their blood.

   Creating cultures can be a tricky thing, because it does of course impose itself on day to day life within the world itself. If you go too far with it, it has the potential to become a cumbersome read - some writers can get away with it, but I think it's well beyond my abilities. But, if you put in too little, it can become difficult to distinguish between different peoples and between worlds, be it various worlds you've created, the world another has created, or the one we live in. There has to be something there, and the very least is the variation in spelling, pronunciation, or the formation of names (of both characters and places). The tribes have some of the thickest cultural details, and I've shaped their names around the elements they worship. The wind tribes, for example, I've tried to give airy names with few hard consonants, while earth tribes have much harder and more abrupt names.

   Which also lends itself to the creation of language. The elves are extinct, but given the nature of the story and inclusion of a historian among the main cast, I needed to create them as though they were still wandering the streets. They were generally difficult because I had to show their culture and their language in a more passive way - the reader won't learn about them simply through observation like they would the humans or wildlings - which meant small but relevant tidbits rather than a full history lesson (though I'm sure Anthis could have happily hijacked the book with a history lesson, as he is wont to try to do). Using their ruins as landmarks and reclaimed settlements, and their language in some settlement names and surnames, I think I've managed to get it across without being tedious, alongside the general theme of the story, of course, which involves closer looks at some such places and Anthis's professional studies and...erm...other things...

Here's the complete prompt list. The hosts were building their own world together at the time, and using this very prompts list themselves to outline it. They're a great range of questions to ask yourself while building your own, and I will be referring back to it when I move on to make something new.
I would add economy too, though. It's a good idea to establish the currency within your world, but an even better idea to establish the economy - knowing what costs what helps to establish reasonable rewards for bounties (be they the hunter or the hunted), individual wealth and its social impact.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Turunda & The Devoted Trilogy - World Building Prompts, Part 4

Penultimate installation of my Great Western Woods' #WorldBuildingQuest compilation, bringing together all my prompt question answers from Instagram to one convenient place, introducing the world of The Devoted trilogy.

Read chapters 1-5 of The Zi'veyn, the first book of the trilogy, for free on Kindle, Kindle app or in your browser right here.
Buy The Zi'veyn and book two, The Sah'niir, from all Kindle stores for £2.49 each, and in paperback from select Amazon stores. UK & DE Amazon ship right across Europe.

Day 22: Magic!
   Magic is born in the heart, in a third ventricle which itself is a left-over trait from the elves, and a result of cross-racial breeding. The magic joins the blood in that upper ventricle on its way out of the heart through the aorta and is pumped through the body. One's strength is dependent not upon the magic within their blood, but their resilience - their body's ability to contain, process and utilise it. One with low resilience but high magic will, ultimately, be a mage of lower ability. One with high resilience and lower magic will be either just as powerful or more than the former. One with both high resilience and high magic will be more powerful. One with extremely low resilience may not be accepted into the Order at all, as their magic would be too weak to use.
   Before their extinction, magic was cast effortlessly by the elves. Humans, however, are 'impure' in their magic and create signs with their fingers to help focus their thoughts and the commands to make up spell chains. A spell to create a chair, for example, will consist of multiple signs to determine its size, weight, material, colour, design, and strength. A spell to create fire will consist of signs to cover the size, colour, temperature and liveliness. A practised mage can create signs at the bat of an eye.
I'm using some of these gestures for the front cover of book three. I spent 20 minutes sitting in front of a camera recording my fingers making all kinds of shapes. I do not envy mages. It is hard.

Day 23: Technology
   Technology is basic. They're just discovering the use of fish oils. Magic reigns supreme, but it isn't trusted. It's only a matter of time, now, before someone discovers something that will begin to level the playing field...

Day 24: Medicine & Science
   Medicine consists of salves and basic medicines, but it has all progressed beyond lobotomies. Broken bones can be reset, fevers broken, and many ailments cured. But plagues will still get ahead of them far too fast, cancer will always win, and amputation is a frequent resort. Magic among the Order cannot be used to heal, largely due to its perception. Viewed as a tool, its use is limited. The tribes, however, perceive magic as a living thing, and so rather than force magic to do what they want it to, what few magic-wielders there are among the tribes use their magic *alongside* other knowledge to help the magic do what they want it to. It's often effective - but it's a last resort. If a salve or poultice will do, they will use that instead.

Day 25: Weaponry
   It's a sword and sorcery tale, and a sword and sorcery world. There are swords, arrows and magic abound. War still includes the use of siege engines and war machines. Magic is, by far, the most deadly, but mages of the military wing are usually used to fight opposing mages while the two conflicting non-magic militaries have at eachother. The mages are there on both sides, ultimately, to protect their militaries from the magic of the other. Petra gets special mention here: as a non-mage and a duelist, she carries an arsenal about her person: an arming sword on her hip, daggers at her back, and a bolas that comes in unfortunately handy.

Day 26: Historic Wars
   The Arishan War was a costly and bloody civil war in Turunda centuries ago that came as a result of the Crown keeping heavy secrets from its people. Royal decrees that came out of the blue were the first clue, and as they gradually oppressed certain classes of civilians, those civilians began to fight back.
   The Red Nest War, a dictatorship rising from Dweron in the south almost one hundred years ago, was put to its end by the actions of one man in Turunda, tricking the advancing military into stealing poisoned grain. When it worked, others did the same, and the military was decimated overnight, sending the dictator fleeing.

Day 27: Social Change & Revolution
   The Arishan War leveled the playing field and put the Crown in its place. Without his people behind him, not even the king has any power.

Day 28: Natural Disasters
   Mount Tolendra last erupted a about 150 years ago, casting a cloud of ash over Turunda from the north-west that had a disastrous effect on crops and disease. Floods have occurred, and earthquakes, but nothing in documented human history has been very severe. Yet.

Day 29: Other Historic Events
   The elves had suppressed humans prior to their sudden disappearance, supposedly at the hands of Zikhon due to their waning belief in Vastal, and upon their sudden disappearance seven hundred years ago, humans were elevated overnight. Some elven cities were destroyed, others abandoned, others taken over, and after a number of civil wars among themselves, order was eventually established when people rallied behind the figures who proved they could build them a future. Those individuals eventually became kings.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

It's Release Day! And...

The Zi'veyn's birthday!

   Yes, one year on from the release of The Zi'veyn comes book two in the trilogy, The Sah'niir! I said yesterday that I wasn't as excited about it because it's the second book of a trilogy and so not technically a new story, but I could barely sleep last night and woke up ridiculously bouncy today, so I guess I was more excited than I'd thought!
   Kindle is available right now, and paperback should follow in a day or two! And, as promised, here's a sneak peak of The Sah'niir, with the prologue and first five chapters viewable for free on the Kindle app, Kindle sample, and in your browser, for those weirdos among you that like to look at the second or third book of a trilogy before picking up the first. Yes, they really do exist. No, I don't understand the logic, either. I don't think there is any.

   Be sure to snap a picture of the book or your device with it open and tag me!
@KimWedlock on both twitter and instagram!
Don't underestimate how badly I want to see!!