I have about 25 minutes in which to sit down and think. Not enough time to write my daily quota of 2,740, but since I tore out about 5,500 yesterday, that’s not a problem. I may even get to writing later tonight after dinner. But now, during this break, this downtime, I have a moment to reflect further on February’s novel.
So I’ve selected the Pyrenees as the model mountain range for my orcs to infest. While doing research on the area, I was hoping to come across a couple of major mountain passes, and perhaps five or six towns on both the French and Spanish side to model my world after. What I found instead was that the 350 miles worth of mountain range had about six or seven major passes through it (still very few for a range that size), and that there were tons of towns and cities in its foothills and beyond, dozens and dozens and dozens. Even when I rewound it to Medieval times there were bunches of places, especially along the coastlines, and that made me realize something.
Have you ever read a big fat fantasy novel that came with a handy little map? And upon glancing at said map, you see the capital city, a couple of other major cities on the coast or whatnot, a scattering of villages and that’s it? You go back in time to the Medieval days and while there were vastly less people, there were still scores more towns and villages and even cities to be had.
The same goes for the political processes that these fantasy writers describe. There’s the King, his attendant court of some twelve nobles, their families, a the court jester, and then a mass of cooks and servants, and that’s about it. Pared down, simplified, mostly, I believe, for the author’s peace of mind. Yet when you look at real human political machines, you’ll find that they’re much more complex, the interaction of guilds and professionals, the arm, the court, the local governments, the massive bureaucracy, much more complex than any author usually depicts.
So my challenge here is to decide which route I want to go. The simple, traditional way, with a small handful of cities and towns ruled by a minimalist government, or a complex and vibrant countryside dotted with villages and towns and cities run by a magistrates, city councils, merchant guilds and consortiums, etc, etc.
I like the complex version.
Which means a lot more legwork going in.
Time to get to it, I suppose. Wish me luck!
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