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Building a Shared Universe

In letting Series2:Book 1 (which I haven’t totally settled on a title for yet, but I’m leaning toward “Loyalty Betrayed”) settle for a few months, I turned my attention to planning for another part of the Griffins & Gunpowder world. Typically I’ll take this time to write short stories that expand the world in some small way, or give background to a character or situation. This time it was all about world building.

The problem that I ran into was that I had two different story ideas that I wanted to work on: a political intrigue drama and a criminal empire story. They’re both set in Post-Series 2 Andivar, so they already shared a bit of the same storyline so it was a natural leap to have the two loosely connected.

What I’ve found in laying the groundwork for this shared storyline is that a timeline is essential, even if characters from the two stories never cross paths (though in this case, the two stories will cross over at least a couple times, though the interaction in the early going is minimal), it’s important to keeping everything straight. Especially in the age of the internet where readers congregate to put together theories and compare notes.

Have you read any good shared-universe stories? What were some of the things that you liked or disliked about them?

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Took A While

But I’ve finally finished marking up the first round of edits for Series2:Book1. This was a “high-level” pass looking for story holes, missing information, too much information etc. I did a little line-by-line editing too, but it wasn’t the focus since I’ll be rewriting quite a bit.

I have to say, it felt good to get this done so I can move on to making the changes, but I’m always astonished/ashamed of the amount of red ink that I lay down in a first edit pass. It’s only a first draft, but I thought it was a lot better when I wrote it. I guess that’s why they tell you to leave a book set for a while before you edit it.

Now I have to go through and apply the changes and then I’ll make a second pass, which will be more line-by-line in nature.

On another note, I’ll developed half a dozen new story ideas (some set in the world of Zaria) that I think will have some promise. They’re WAY down the list, but at least they aren’t knocking around in the back of my head while I’m trying to work forward. =D

Another New Idea

While getting ready for work this morning I had an idea for a new series set within the Griffins and Gunpowder universe, though about 5,000+ years in the past. Here’s the bit that wandered through my head and demanded attention:

“We are the last of our kind, hunted to the edge of extinction by those who would have this power all to themselves. They call us abominations against magic. They burn our brothers and sisters at the stake, and entice our neighbors to surrender us to our fates. But we are not alone. The power of dragons flows within our veins and the Broods stand with us.”

That makes 6 (I think) different series that are set within this world. That’s a lot of writing, I guess I should get to it!

All of the Pieces

The Centaur Incursion is 10k words deep and The Hydra Offensive is nearly through Round 1 of Paper Edits. I don’t have classes this summer, so I should be able to tear through my workload on both of those.

There, I started with an update!

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Constantly Evolving

Something that I’ve learned as I plot and write the stories of The Ansgari Rebellion, is that stories are more a living creation than a static work.

While the core of the series has remained essentially the same, many of the details have morphed and changed.

Characters have walked into the story from out of nowhere and insinuated themselves as cornerstones of the books in which they reside and those that follow.

Plot points have moved, from the beginning of the series, to the middle, and now to the end.

Even though I am a meticulous plotter, typically drawing up a book’s outline by chapter well before I start writing it, I’ve learned the benefits of being flexible with my story. My style has developed into a sort of hybrid: still heavily plotter, but with just enough pantser to allow for more story to develop and grow on its own.

In production news, The Centaur Incursion is underway! I’ve got 1,000 words written and more ready to come out as soon as I get a chance to sit down. Also, The Hydra Offensive is more than halfway through the first round of paper edits. I plan on putting it through a second round, in which I’ll break the chapters down by POV rather than by chapter order.

I’ll be looking for beta readers soon, so if you’re interested let me know!

Edits and Beta Readers

So having completed The Hydra Offensive last week, I’ve started my first round of edits. I usually go through 2 rounds of digital editing, get the novel printed and do 2 paper runs, and then finish up with a final digital run before I send it off to Beta Readers.

I’m going to treat my paper runs a little differently than I’ve treated other paper prints. I’m going to get it printed out by chapter rather than as a whole. I’ll read through once in full chronological order, and then for my second pass I’m going to read each POV group from start to end to hone in on any inconsistencies.

Speaking of which (! nice segue huh?) I’m looking for people who would like to Beta Read The Hydra Offensive. I’m definitely looking for people who read The Cerberus Rebellion, but I’m also looking for people who might not have read Cerberus yet. I’m trying to make Hydra as new-reader friendly as possible and I would greatly appreciate feedback on how I did.

 

The Hydra Offensive Blurb, Version 2

Having completed The Hydra Offensive last night, I’m going to give another try at the blurb. I trimmed it down, and tried to make it fit a little better into my strategy of making Hydra “new reader friendly”.

Let me know what you think!
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Worldbuilding: Calendars

Time marches on.

It’s as true for a fantasy world as it is for ours.

But how does one mark the passage of time? Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years are all terms that I would wager every adult in the world would be familiar with.

But while they measure a quantifiable event (the passage of time) these words are all constructs of humanity.

What month is it? What year? These are the two most significant calendar events that are arbitrary assignments that someone long ago created.

But if we created these in the real world, then it stands to reason that the people of your fantasy world’s are going to do the same.

Calendars, as subjective measures of time, can be based on a variety of standards and use a multitude of events as their baseline.

Today, I’m going to talk about some of the different ways in which time can be measured, common events to use as a base, and give some examples from the Griffins & Gunpowder Universe.

Cycles

The cycle of your calender is what you will use to decide how long each phase of your year will be.  These should be easily defined and easy to keep track of.

Lunar Cycles will use the moon’s natural cycle to measure time. The length of these cycles will be dependent on the specifics of your world, but for our world each cycle would be 28 days long. For a twist on your world’s lunar cycle, the addition of more moons can give you more options.

A calendar that uses Equal Division will be more straight forward. The year will be divided into a group of months that all have the same amount of days. The calendar we use today is very close to this, with the distinct exception of February.

A Seasonal Calendar will use the orbit of your planet and the natural changes of the seasons to measure time. This type of calendar can be more difficult in areas of your worlds where seasons are either poorly defined. Seasonal calendars don’t necessarily mean Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter; instead, they can also use Dry and Rainy Seasons in tropical regions.

Arbitrary calendars are usually created by a powerful person or group and have no basis on any natural event. A particular egotistical King might be a good candidate to create one of these.

Baseline Events

Seasonal Events (Equinox or Solstice)

As your planet rotates around its sun, natural seasonal events will occur. The spring and autumn equinox, the summer and winter solstice. In addition to being a part of your calendar’s cycle, these can be the events that mark the passage of years.

Arbitrary calendars choose a day and make it the beginning of the calendar. The common calendar used in our world bases itself on an arbitrary day (January 1st).

Cultural calendars are a form of Arbitrary calendars, though they use culturally significant events as the basis for their cycle. These events can be religious or tribal (such as a feast schedule or holy days). The Hebrew calendar is a Cultural calendar.

•Major Event

-Rise or Fall of an Empire 

Basing your calendar on the rise or fall of an empire can give your calendar social importance in addition to just telling time. It also serves as a way to tell history and measure progress from the humble beginnings of the empire (or regress since its fall).

-Colonization

The first day of a colony’s existence can be used to start your calendar. A calendar that bases itself on the colonization of a nation also serves as a measure of history, marking each year of success for the nation.

-Treaty Signing

A less common type of calendar would base itself on some form of treaty signing. Perhaps marking the passage of time since a truce was signed, or since an alliance was formed.

Examples

In a fantasy, and even in a Gunpowder Fantasy, there are going to be multiple types of calendars. This will be especially true in a world that doesn’t have a unifying organization as powerful as the Catholic church was in our world.

On the world of Zaria, there are a dozen major calendars observed throughout the world.

The Ansgari Calendar is an equal division calendar, based on the colonization of Ansgar. The calendar is divided into ten months, divided into four weeks with ten days each.

The Nordahrian Calendar is lunar calendar, measured from the signing of the First Accords, a set of treaties that brought peace to the nations around Nordahr.

Worldbuilding: The Ansgari Knighthood

One aspect of traditional fantasy that I’ve incorporated into the Griffins & Gunpowder universe is the concept of a Knighthood as a part of the Military Apparatus.

For the nation of Ansgar, the Knighthood is part of the Chain Of Command but is not a requirement to become an officer.

While a knighthood comes with a Commission, a Commission does not come with a knighthood.

There are three ranks of the Ansgari Knighthood: Knight-Lieutenant, Knight-Captain, and Knight-Commander.

Each level of the Knighthood is considered the equivalent to a half rank. So, a Knight-Lieutenant B half a rank above a commissioned Lieutenant but also half of a rank below a commissioned Captain. The same is true of Knight-Captains between Captains and Majors, and Knight-Commanders above Majors but below Colonels.

Another unique aspect of the Ansgari Knighthood is that only the King can grant a Knighthood. Because of the distance involved, and the King’s increasing apathy toward them, the Western Nobles of Ansgar have a Muck lower occurrence Of knights within their ranks.

Depending on what parts of Traditional Fantasy you include in your world, consider different ways to integrate the title of knight.

Excerpt: The Hydra Offensive

Here’s the first bit of The Hydra Offensive! I’m just about finished with the first draft, so if I work hard, I can have it out by January! Please be advised, this is literally the first draft so it hasn’t been edited.

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