20 September 2006

Putting the Cartography Before the Horse

I've spent most of this past week worldbuilding -- creating a setting for a potential novel (not one I've actually got anyone interested in yet, I hasten to add), in painstaking geographical, historical, political and social detail.

I'm told this is one of my big strengths as a writer... and I'm inclined to agree that Of the City of the Saved... would be a considerably lesser work without the 20,000-odd words of notes I'd made on the City before I started writing it. I've tried to do similar work (to a lesser degree, obviously) for my various short stories, "Minions of the Moon" particularly, and I think it's paid off. It certainly led to my being asked by Nick Wallace, the editor of Collected Works, to design some background for that book.

I don't want to go into detail about this new setting, because it's a neat idea and I don't want people being "inspired" by it. But for most of the past week I've been painstakingly constructing (in Microsoft Paint, perversely enough) a map of Britain in the 22nd century, after some serious changes to the political landscape. It's not an approach I've used before, but I've found that as I've filled in the changed place-names and coloured in the various political entities, I've found a whole history unfolding in my head.

Of course, I don't actually have a story, plot or characters yet. But I've got a very exciting world to put them into when I manage to come up with some.

And -- if it should happen to become a bestselling sequence of novels and spawn a series of blockbusting films -- I'll have the licensed tie-in Risk board all worked out ready.

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