Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Evolution of a town

So my little Threadcaster world hasn't gone through a lot of significant changes. It's a very small world - a collection of towns within the bowl of a huge crater surrounded by mountains. In the center is the capital city called Castleton and in the four cardinal directions like a compass-rose are Dire Lonato, Chalsi Veneer, New Torston, and Astonage.

Saying the world hasn't changed through development is a bit misleading however. It's been changing constantly. The towns have changed locations, names, appearances and attitudes, but the things that are have always been; four towns in a compass around Castleton- the center around which this small universe rotates.

I just finished the final revision of Dire Lonato. Sure I'll go back and give it some shine later, but the series of events and what happens there is pretty much set in stone. I thought it would be a nice time to talk about the town's staggered history through the eyes of its author.

Dire Lonato was always named Dire Lonato. It was always Fire aligned and always the first stop on our tour of the Valley. The place was originally sort of a Disney's Aladdin looking place (further emphasizing the middle east and the allegory and ho boy that's another blog post). Square sand-brick buildings with colorful awnings and simple people who make pots and textiles. Cat and co were initially forced to adventure into the bad part of town because there are Curses among them. They left their things with a blind, toothless stable owner and got stuck in the market place on their way to Sharon Fiammetta's house.

I guess I could go back even further - in teh first first draft of this book, the place was an artistic town and we found Sharon by attending her daughter Kindle's school play. Not only was this impossibly slow and dumb but Peter's a liability everywhere we go. His trauma and hardship hinges on the fact that he's not tolerated - and walking into a school auditorium was really obviously misaligned. Instead I had Cat get nabbed in the street and trapped in a burning house. This was also bad so I had her attacked by fire monsters.

It's hard to believe these rough draft ideas ever worked now that I've got the final version - I won't spoil the events for those who will inevitably read the novel - but it does not involve school plays. What it does involve is the strengthening of global themes and the more poignant introduction of a main character. And more than one burning building - I scaled up :)

Past Dire Lonato is Fire Town which has gone through it's own set of changes. Originally it was out in the desert. Then I moved it to a dry riverbed. The final location is wedged in a mountain pass where (and here's some lore for you) the most impressive waterfall in the Valley used to fall. The hidden falls trailed down from the western mountains and carved a deep lake and snaking river out into a forest. The forest is long dead and the lake is now dry and that's where Fire Town is. It's pretty fancy. I'm quite fond of the "lake of fire" pun I serendipitously arrived at through this system. The Curse town itself still looks the same as it always has - and the members that survived the pruning are the same members that always lived there. There are about a dozen other named Curses that exist in town, but it's hard to keep track of a bunch of named characters when there's no time to flesh them out.

Fire Town and Dire Lonato's current incarnation is relatively young, but I feel like its the way they were always meant to be. When you read the book see if you can spot fragments of these old locations in the current ones.. there are more than a couple bones buried there.

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