It never occurred to me how much can go into building the world in which you set your stories.
With a story like Colossus, which is set in a contemporary world similar to our own, most of the geography, the people, the history is set. The flip-side is, obviously, that you have to either do the research or establish that whatever differences there are between the world you depict and the world we know is due to some notion of an Alternate Reality. (Which just so happens to be the explanation behind the obvious geographical and other fabrications that go into Colossus, but thus is the nature of fiction.)
With a pure fantasy story like Tomorrow Man, set in an entirely fictional world, the slate is clean. You have to draw the map, you have to decide where the settlements are, you have to build the towns and cities, fill them with buildings and fill them with people. A world has to live and breathe if it’s to be believable, and the nature of the World is that it is fractal. It can have as much detail as you are willing to pour into it.
The bigger you make the canvas, the more paint you need to fill the gaps. The Kingdom of Asamor is a large canvas to fill; whilst at the moment only vaguer details are written down and more details held within my mind, there has to be a tapestry of interconnected parts, each growing and changing throughout history. Nothing can truly stand still, with every passing year towns will grow, sons and daughters will be raised and inherit the nation from their parents, knowledge and beliefs will change. Asamor is intended to be large and complex, with generations of history and generations of future yet to happen. It’s not the only nation in the world it inhabits, and even within itself there are numerous dynamics that have to be considered. I have determined what lies in the vicinity of Asamor, but I have not ruled out what lies beyond oceans. There’s an entire planet to wrap.
Holding an entire world in your mind feels impossible, which is why I have a great respect for authors like George R. R. Martin (Whose Song of Ice and Fire I am still in the process of reading.) The world of the Seven Kingdoms feels large and, more importantly, alive. And, like any nation or world, it lives through its people. The characters come across as well-developed, three-dimensional and real. You can envisage and describe the most beautiful world you want, but it’s only a backdrop to the story at the end of the day.
Which is why I am trying to think through my characters more, to find out who and how they fit into the world. To do that, I need to know the shape of the world I’m trying to fit them into. The intended path of Tomorrow Man may well cover a lot of the bigger-picture stuff, the overarching history of Asamor, so I need to work out exactly what that history is. (Or which one, when you consider that there’s more than one path history can take.)
But one part per month should be slow enough to fill in the details as I go. I intend to start on the next part of Tomorrow Man this weekend, looking at publishing on the 1st of July.