Today’s soundtrack, unrelated to the post. Just something bouncy. (If anything, it’s on my soundtrack for the Academy. But I don’t know any songs about epidemiology and landscapes, which are the subjects of the post.)
And a couple of thoughts from this week.
Cool story, Professor Bro, but what about magic?
THR2 continues; lots of fun. Also getting lost in reading about the history of medicine, and continuing to adapt it to the story-world by warping it through the lens of this world’s differences from ours. For starters, magic is a thing; how does that change history?
For one quick instance, in real life, there was a very long stretch of time in which we knew that germs/microorganisms existed, but we didn’t know that some of them were responsible for the spread of diseases. Most people believed that diseases were caused by bad smells, in what was known as the miasma theory. Being around open sewers made people sick; open sewers stank; obviously the stink was what caused the disease. Discovery is often about explaining what you can see with the technology you have at the time, and more importantly in practice, fitting it into the structure of ideas that people already have.
In the story-world, because they already use magic to heal people, they tend to shoehorn a lot of new discoveries about biology and anatomy into a framework of ideas explained by magic – even if magic isn’t related to the topic in question. But they don’t know that; all they know is what they’ve observed so far, and what people believe so far. According to the Church of the Divine Balance in particular, magic/life force is literally everywhere. Of course those wiggly bits you managed to spot under your new lenses are related to magic somehow. So they come up with an explanation that gels with what they believe about magic.
Less magic, more eye candy:
They’re still quite small, but I’ve opened up my scenery inspiration boards on Pinterest. So far, there are boards for Wildern, Vertal, Nessiny (the largest so far), Furon/the Islands, and I Don’t Know Where Yet, But This Is Cool, and I’d Like to Note It for Later. I’d like to work on a Kaveran Country board eventually, as well as cracking into Yanwei and at least one of the cities in Achusa. But since the main novel to take place in the Kaveran backcountry is already finished, I don’t want to get too sidetracked. That’s less “inspiration for me while writing” and more “fun side material for you while/after reading.”
(Caveat / disclaimer: Even if a location serves as visual inspiration for a location in the story, that doesn’t mean that its real-life culture is necessarily tied into the culture in the story. New Zealand is not Middle-Earth. Fiction is fiction. End disclaimer.)
If you prefer to keep your own mental image of things, that’s fine, too. If I ever get a character-based board together, I will keep that private for that very reason. Character mental images seem more deeply tied into the experience of a story, and having wrenches thrown into those works can be upsetting to a lot of people. On the other hand, it is interesting to me – and, I think, important – to realize the biases in the images we dream up for characters. As a writer, I think I can do better in portraying visuals; that’s an area I’m trying to improve.
It’s a fine line: I hope that others’ impressions of my characters are true to the spirit of the characters (ahem), but I can’t police their impressions, either.
Scenery, on the other hand, is less loaded, and I’m comfortable with sharing that. So that should be fun.