Apr 26, 2012

W is for...

Worldbuilding! Specifically in how it relates to The Will of the Elements.

Okay, so once upon a time, I sat through a lecture or two on The Lord of the Rings and the Inklings in general. One of the concepts I really took away from there was that in order to create a good book you need three things. First, you need to inspire a love of the world. Second, you need a catastrophe. Third, you need a eucatastrophe, or a catastrophe for good (get it? because Tolkien was a linguist, so he played fast and loose with the English language and was wont to slap things like "eu-" onto words).

So step one is obviously building a world that people will become invested in, that they will want to see preserved because there's something special about it. So I took our world and found a catastrophe... specifically some truly horrible episodes of Heroes. Now yes, they were painful to watch, but they got me thinking. I asked myself, "What if these random people with elemental powers evolved into something more? What if they became living incarnations of the element they were associated with?" So I thought this over. Maybe they would feel compelled to overthrow the civilization that tore the earth asunder, drank her blood and reshaped her bones. Maybe they wouldn't be so cool with the way mankind enslaved lightning and chained fire for their own benefit and comfort. Maybe water and wind should be paid a little homage, being necessary for life and all.

And thus began the War of the Elements. Oh man, let me tell you, it was epic. Earth awakening when he got pushed off that building, Wind manipulating Fire into blowing up that oil tanker to secure her aid, and all of them coming together to bust Lightning out of that cell where the government was milking him for electricity. And then their offensive, it was... oh, wait, I haven't actually written any of that yet. Basically, I came up with this story and realized that an urban fantasy adventure wasn't something I was comfortable writing just yet. But sci-fi, now that was a different story. I mean, I was triple majoring in math, physics, and chemistry for a little while back in the day, until I decided that I'd rather graduate than spend 60 hours in lab a week. Psuedo-science I could do. So I jumped forward by about five hundred years.

You probably remember (you know, the 5 of you who read it) my post about Sanctuary, so you know where the tech people came from. But now I had a world to build. It was time for the eucatastrophe, as Mr. Tolkien would say, and I had some serious love of the world to work up. So the outside world needed to be discovered, the ideas cultivated, and the stage set.

The Earth had actually become a pretty nice place. I was digging this whole the apocalypse happened, and things got better vibe. People were living in small towns, farming and maybe trading a little, with basically no technology, and they were cool with that. I figured that the Elements had calmed down after they destroyed civilization, maybe remembered that they used to be human once, and mellowed out the planet. No more natural disasters to deal with meant that people didn't need to work so hard developing ways to protect themselves, and the land was bountiful because the planet was on humanity's side, so long as they agreed to stop exploiting the environment. 

Some stuff happened (i.e. Sanctuary picking a fight with the world) and the Elements interceded again, this time granting a small measure of their power to some of the normal people in the outside world, the ones who caught their interest and displayed admirable qualities. These people, the elementalists (see my E post if you're interested in the earth-crowned, fire-kissed, water-seers, wind-scarred, and thunder-struck that populate my little world) drove Sanctuary back, and everything settled down again. Now, I actually wrote this one, in the form of five short stories that my lovely wife is currently illustrating. We'll have them posted right here in a month or so, but for right now I'm going to jump forward another five hundred years.

Now we're up to the events of The Will of the Elements. I've broken up the story into a trilogy, because I like trilogies and wasn't convinced I would even finish one book, let alone three. 

Book 1: Wind-Scarred, introduces Ezra Hawkins, the heir to the Legacy of wormhole technology. His adventures through Sanctuary and eventually into the outside world serve to give the reader a starting point, to build up a love for the world by revealing it as Ezra would see it, and of course, to bring in the impending catastrophe that threatens everything. What I really wanted to do was show the world I created through the eyes of someone who hadn't seen it all before. I wanted the wonders to be wonderful, the surprises to be surprising, and the tone to be one of a lighthearted adventure, with the darkness just visible if you kinda squinted and tilted your head just so. Or read to the end of the book, I've heard that does the trick as well. (By the way, this one's free on Smashwords, if you want to check it out. No pressure though.)

Book 2: Water-Seer, brings in Ciela de Leon, an apprentice at one of the Temples of Life, just starting out on her pilgrimage to become a water-seer. Hopefully (if I did my job right, at least) people will feel comfortable enough with the world on a surface level that Ciela can provide more depth, giving an insider's look into the politics and power struggles that Ezra was so blissfully unaware of, really fleshing out the world while driving the story forward. I mean, the time for exploration is over. Seriously, no more dallying about and eating waffles, there's a world to save here, and people love it after that first book (right? right?). So cut the hi-jinx and get to the plot, we need some villains, some sorta villains, some allies, and some... waffles? Really? Well, I guess I did foreshadow that in Book 1, so I'll allow it.

Book 3: Child of Lightning, reintroduces Kirstin O'Donnell, Ezra's secretary from Book 1, and her grand plan to *spoiler* her way to *spoiler*. Basically, all the pieces are in place after Book 2, and it's time get back into Sanctuary and find out what's been happening since last we saw the scientific oligarchy. Well, I could tell you more about this one... but that would involve me actually writing more... suffice it to say, I've got the first couple chapters written, the major plot points in place, and the ending fine tuned to make it look like I planned it that way the whole time. I mean, because I did. Yeah... because I did... and it's all eucatastrophic, and stuff, with appropriate consequences, because nothing worth doing comes free. Anyways, since the last book took me 3 months and it was during the holiday season, I think allowing myself another 3 for this book shouldn't be too bad. So like, late July/early August? I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading my (incredibly long-winded) blog post. My wife informs me that I still have to finish that silly D&D story that I've been posting throughout the month, so I'm guessing that'll end up as 2 of the next 3 days. Which means you can probably duck out now, as it's going to be full of Heavenly Hedgehog this and terrible lying that. So in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.

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