Human versus Eldur! (aka – World Building, World Burning, and generally torturing the characters)
When I started Sedition I had no idea about the world outside of Kiavana. Honestly, I wanted to start small so that I could get things right in the sense of the nitty-gritty details. The political structure of Kiavana was such that there were enough complications that the world on the grander scale didn’t matter to me at first.
If you’ve read Sedition then you know that I did eventually have to branch out of Kiavana Fortress. ((SPOILER ALERT)) For most of Sedition, Kiavana was surrounded by a water-like wall of magic and what laid beyond it was unknown. So, when my two reckless characters had to cross that wall, I was stumped for something like two months as I tried to figure out just what was on the other side. I already had some clue given Nelek’s mother and the Ebony Blade. I tried everything from drawing maps to coloring heraldry, and none of it really helped.
So … I did the only thing I could think to do … I kept writing. I let myself discover Dyngannon (the world beyond the wall) with my characters. This seemed to work out just fine, at least for Sedition. But when I started writing Saboteur I knew I needed to have a better foundation than that. In fact, I used what I learned from Lazette Gifford’s Two Year Novel Course (which I recommend for anyone who thinks they don’t have time to write a book) in order to build Dyngannon.
I now have scores of information about Dyngannon. I know histories that I will likely never use. I have maps that are so poorly drawn that only I can really understand them. And I know WHY the Humans and the Eldur have such a long history of war . . . But, that’s not something I can give away. The characters don’t know it yet, so I can’t really divulge it here without giving away the bulk of the next book. But I can tell you that I know, that you’ll know soon enough, and that it took me a frigging long time to create it.
And I can tell you that this history of war is what really shaped Trenna’s character. Naturally, she talks about it a lot in Saboteur since she’s on trial for war crimes.
Yes! I said war crimes! If you’ve already read Saboteur, don’t give it away. If you haven’t, I’m not going to tell you what she did, you have to go get the book and read it for yourself.
But here, let me give you a snippet of Usurper.
They’d come. Twenty-six years later, but they’d come, just as his parents had predicted. He should have known better than to doubt his mother and father, neither were the lying type. Well, sometimes his mother would weave around the truth, but he’d never seen her tell an outright lie. Father argued that avoiding the truth was just as bad, but even Kaden could see that there were some truths best left alone.
And by the gods, how he wished this was one of them.
What sort of pretentious, self-seeking man was he? How could he consider taking a throne?
The Dyngannon people didn’t know him. They certainly wouldn’t welcome him. What did it matter that a dead old woman had said he should reign? She didn’t know him either. She hadn’t ever visited, hadn’t explained why she’d chosen him. All he had to go on were the memories his parents shared with him, and those were grim.
His father hadn’t really known King Porrex, but his mother had. There was always a hardness to her when she spoke of her King – her former King – and he had the feeling that she generally agreed with Noffi’s proclamation. Or at least, she agreed that the King needed to be replaced. Kaden wasn’t certain if he was insulted or relieved that his mother didn’t want him to do this. He’d asked her on several occasions if she thought he should be King, and he’d always had the sense that she was hedging the question.
Avoiding the truth, he thought with a frown.
Dear gods, if his own mother didn’t think he could do it, why was he entertaining the idea?
Nope, I’m not going to explain that one. Read Saboteur and you’ll get it.