Night Phlox

My foolish dreams

Pudding, gardening and Areth

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There’s a lot of moments in life where we wonder why we didn’t do or try certain things before then. Only a couple of months ago I discovered the brilliance of home-made sticky toffee pudding – it was so easy, so simple and so tasty that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered making it before. The same could be applied to TV shows, bands; anything that has the potential to surprise us. I didn’t think that would ever be possible with writing – but I was wrong.

When I wrote this blog post on collaborative writing I did not think the project would go very far. I thought I would end up nagging Andrew about it and we would make a tentative start, but never really make any progress. Turns out that I was completely and utterly wrong.

It’s been about four weeks since that blog post, and three since Andrew got back from holiday. In those three weeks we’ve done a huge amount of preparation for our collaboration.

First, Andrew had written a document outlining the different nations of the world we were creating. This immediately threw me. I had not expected to be creating another fantastical world; I had expected our collab to be set on 21st century Earth. Further, this world, Areth, had magic in. A magical system that was very similar to what I had planned for the next installments of my own novels. Still, there were enough differences in the two systems for me to be comfortable with it.

Next, I tried to digest all the information he’d given to me. This part was actually very difficult – I felt like an imposter trampling around in someone else’s garden. Every time I tried to get things straight I’d turn around and get lost again. I needed the most basic questions answered – what time in Earth’s history is Areth currently parallel with? What technology is around? I really struggled for the first couple of days I worked on this project. I didn’t feel like I was getting the world straight in my head. It took time, but Areth gradually started to come together.

Areth is very similar to Earth in the early 20th century, but its history has been influenced by a substance called Aether – which effectively causes lifeforms to become magical (it is, actually, much more complicated than that).

The next stage was to construct a map of Areth. Maps make things a hundred times easier to digest. It took several hours work to produce a map with each nation’s capital, the major rivers and mountain ranges, and the nations’ borders – but I was very pleased with the result.

The next key thing to pin down was the structure and nature of the collaboration. We decided between us that the best approach would be to start our characters off at separate points, then for them to have a small, yet significant meeting, then to branch again, then to meet again for a more significant meeting near the story’s climax.

After that, Andrew started work on his character in more detail, whilst continuing to answer any questions that I had about his world. We both fleshed out the lore for each of the nations; Andrew focusing on Amretta, the starting point for his character, Violet; and I focused on Sovereign. I also thought about fashion, architecture and climate for most of the other countries.

I think it was somewhere after I’d nailed down the fashion for Volpus (Grecian style tunics, togas and dresses) that I realised I was really, really enjoying creating this world. It still belonged to Andrew, but, going back to that garden metaphor, I had begun pruning my sections of it with his approval – something I was much more comfortable with.

For the past week or so, I’ve worked on the history of Sovereign; a very rough timeline of events that have shaped the country. Now, I’m going back in time again, in this instance to the birth of Aether. I need to think about the discovery of this magical substance would’ve shaped the lives of ordinary people. What influence has it left on society, the economy, the cultural landscape; even though magic is dying out?

I think that question is the basis of the entire world of Areth. The continent was built around magic in many different ways; yet now it is gradually disappearing. In turn, this could even be stretched to a similar scenario we’re facing on Earth today. Substitute Aether for fossil fuels, if you want. All the tension that fossil fuels have caused; all the thousands of deaths in coal mines and from air pollution and from oil wars etcetera…Aether would have generated similar conflicts. When too much focus is put on one type of resource, problems are bound to arise.

Anyway, I digress. I’ll cover up that patch of green that was starting to shine through. And I’ll see you in Areth.


Written by Freya

Wednesday 31st August 2011 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Collaboration

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. […] My failure to write more than two paragraphs in our collab project […]

    Closed beta blues « Night Phlox

    Saturday 31st December 2011 at 9:26 pm

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