Lately, I have been writing a lot, and I came to realize the theme for my storyline is “trust”:
To truly believe in something greater than yourself, do you have to surrender to trust?
How can you trust what you see?
How can you ever trust in what you don’t see?
How far can you trust someone you think you know so well?
How much trust is needed for a relationship to work?
Giving yourself an honest look, how much can you be trusted?
My storyline attempts to analyze all of these questions and carefully explore the possible answers.
I get excited just thinking about it!
Also, I wanted to share a few interesting techniques I’ve read lately involving freewriting…
When you don’t know what to freewrite, it may sound crazy, but you can freewrite about ‘not being able to freewrite’.
Another thing you can do is listen to a song that brings out your emotions, then try to transpose those emotions into words.
I’ve given both techniques a try – they are great ways to break writer’s block.
Thirdly, I wanted to show you some of what I’ve done with my map-making endeavor so far.
Some things I’ve taken into consideration (and they helped my story make more sense, too!):
1. The average person can travel on foot 10-20 miles per day – At least, they can in a culture where travelling on foot is normal.
2. A highly experienced traveller can even travel 70 miles in 24 hours, but cannot do it without feeling very exhausted afterward.
3. On horseback, a traveller can go 40 miles easily, 50 normally (with consideration for food, water, rest, etc), 60 is hard on the horse and cannot be done consecutively for long.
4. A horse-drawn wagon can travel 20 miles per day.
5. A mule-drawn wagon = Also 20 miles per day.
6. Ox-drawn wagon = 12 miles per day.
7. English Flying coaches = 100 miles per day.
8. Pony Express riders travelled up to 200 miles per day.
9. Viking Longboats could travel 100 miles per day, all other ships were slower.
For obvious reasons, it’s probably a good idea to know roughly how long it should take for your characters to traverse your map. If a horse can travel x miles in a day if it is pushed, skipping camp for y consecutive days, those are things that will come in handy for positioning cities. It wouldn’t make much sense to place a reclusive, hidden village a day’s ride away from one of the biggest cities in the world (unless it was hidden very well).
And, while not necessary, it definitely helps to know a bit about physical science and the geological time scale ~ how wind behaves ~ how volcanoes form at certain shorelines ~ or what happens after an iceberg melts.
I drew a rough map with paths that my characters travel and the miles they travelled to each destination in a spiral notebook. Then I went ahead and drew out the way I would like the main continent (tentatively called Aerthai) to look. I really wanted to get a Wacom tablet to draw the details on my map (I’m still negotiating with my better half on getting one), but I figured out a way to do it with just a mechanical pencil, a sheet of fairly heavy paper from a sketch book, and a scanner.
As an experiment, I loaded it up in Adobe Photoshop CS2 to see what kind of cool things I could do with it.
I came up with this:
Now I’m going to go back to my original map and draw in a compass, terrain features, and locations before rendering the map. I think it might turn out pretty cool! I’ll go ahead and post the entire step-by-step process next time.