Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 13: Question 12

Oh look, guess who’s behind in this challenge again? I’ve been busy writing my actual book. Please forgive me!

Part of the 30 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

10. In what story did you feel you did the best job of world-building? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?

World-building is actually one of the things I really want to improve in the second draft of The Mayor. Whilst I have a really good ‘feel’ for the world and the atmosphere and its rules, regulations and culture etc. there are a few things I’m not so hot on:

  • Religion. When I first started writing The Mayor, my characters made some references to made-up gods, but I decided that I didn’t like the names, so I have since stopped using them. Characters now say things like, “By God!” and, “for God’s sake!” etc. but I’m not entirely happy with this either. I have no holy scripture for someone to swear upon at a trial, but I do have churches and priests. I have religious ceremonies — like marriage — but they’re more akin to a Celtic handfasting than the Christian ceremony I’m more familiar with. Essentially it’s a bit of a hodgepodge and I am determined to straighten it out at a later date, or at the very least actually come up with some kind of working theology.
  • Governance. Whilst I’ve got the political landscape of New Hardway down pretty pat (it is called The Mayor after all), the workings of the inland capital city of Hilt are a bit of a mystery. When I first started writing I spoke about a Duke, but now he’s a king by a completely different name. Also, how does the Council in New Hardway communicate with its capital? Again, I need to sort this out.
  • Geography. Kind of the opposite problem to governance. Whilst I have an excellent grasp of where New Hardway fits in the wider world of the Liran, the actual detailed layout of New Hardway is… vague. I can picture individual areas perfectly: the docks, the market, Winship and Carson, the Main Square, the Carsons’ townhouse, the Winships’ house in the hills… But how it all fits together? That’s less clear. I want to draw up some maps once I’ve finished my first draft so I can correct any inconsistencies.

Side notes: the four corners of Liran were originally based on suits in Tarot. New Hardway is in the western Pentacles region of that map — situated in the Taro Isles — along with the City of Kintaro a bit further north. Pentacles represent material wealth. Both New Hardway and Kintaro are rich and well-versed in trade. Hilt meanwhile is based in Sword (named for the suit of Swords) and is ruled by a greedy warmonger whose people still live in a kind of Medieval Dark Age. Swords are often indicators of strife.

Actual Tarot itself does not exist in my book; I just used it as a source of inspiration.

S.E. Berrow


P.S. I apparently forgot to answer the second half of Question 11 in my previous blog post! I told you who my favourite character to write with is, but not my least favourite.

The answer is William Kale. I spoke a little bit about him in Week 2, but it bears repeating here: “Kale is ridiculously difficult to write because he is a) a lot cleverer than I am and b) involved in a lot of complicated politics. I don’t feel comfortable writing with him at all and have to work really hard on getting him right.”

Sometimes writing with Kale can be really fun though. If you’ve ever pissed me off, be sure to check Kale’s inner monologue. You’re bound to recognise yourself in his acidic hateful thoughts.

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