When laying the ground work for this series, I decided early on to go about things logically–or rather biologically. My mantra when coming up with some weird new aspect of the world was to force myself to answer “BECAUSE WHY” instead of constantly relying on “JUST BECAUSE”.
In other words… if I wanted a tree or creature to look a certain way, then it had to look that way for a reason. Waffle-birds with sails on their backs? COOL. But why are these birds waffle-shaped? What do they prey upon? And why the heck do they have sails on their backs? Maybe the sail helps them regulate their body temperature? Or perhaps the creatures can flush blood into the sail for an impressive mating display? Basically, if I could explain the feature away as a logical adaptation that evolution may have granted the “whatever”, then it could stay. If not–if I just liked it JUST BECAUSE but it felt too fantastical… it had to go.
NOTE: There are no sail bearing waffle-birds in “Shatterscale”.
And so it went. Every time I thought of some new thing I liked, I referred back to nature–searching for benchmarks and justifications wherever I could find them. If I was going to make up a bunch of fake plants and animals and peoples, they absolutely HAD to feel organic. Like they belonged in my Forest and among the other fake stuff I already came up with.
As far as how these fake things were going to look–in some cases, I sketched things out but most of the beasts and trees, flowers and other junk were confined to my head. Being one-a dem “artsy types”, I have always been a very visual person. As such, if while writing some chapter, I needed a new type of tree or berry, I simply came up with the thing (and as long as it survived the BECAUSE WHY treatment) the thing was then added to the chapter first and my notes second.
Notes. You gotta keep ’em. Mine ended up being what I can only assume are Rowling’esque. (In that they are extensive, not written on napkins). There was just too much to keep straight not to. But I found that as long as I maintained a healthy relationship with these notes, continuity really wasn’t a huge problem.
I realized I didn’t really need to know EXACTLY what everything looked like, just the important stuff that would make it into the book. Still, I knew that come one day I would want to actually go back and sketch all the things.
Well the time for that, it seems to me… has come at last.
What I endeavor to do (now that the book is complete and I am in the daunting and hair-pull-outing “trying to get published phase”) is to fill a few pages of this blog with some CONCEPT ART in order to better help flush out the flesh and bones of this green world I have created (both for others and for myself). Worry not gentle reader, for eventually, I will be posting things you might actually CARE about like BEASTS, RACES and even CHARACTERS. But to start with, I have decided to go with some of the most basic building blocks of any forest.
~SVSShare this scribbling!