Let’s Talk About Scope (And Not the Mouthwash)

Friends, this week was a less productive one from the perspective of my fiction.  To say I’ve made no progress would be inaccurate, but I most certainly don’t have anything polished to show you.  Partially, it’s Christmas’s fault, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following along.  The other reason is that I heard back from a job application, so the time I spent writing this week was spent crafting the sample they assigned as the second step in the application process.  I haven’t heard back about that yet, but my hopes are high.  The final piece is that although Morgan and I have moved most of our worldly possessions into the new place, we didn’t have Wi-Fi here until yesterday, and that’s thrown most of my life off kilter. 

On Tuesday, after I’d submitted my writing sample, I realized I missed To Save What’s Lost.  This is the least writing for it that I’ve done in several weeks (at least), so I’d like to devote some time here to discussing my plans for the project.

First, “To Save What’s Lost” is the name of a novel in the world I’m creating, not the whole project or the world itself (also, one of my fiction professors in college advised us not to fall in love with the titles of things we want published, because a marketing team at a publisher will often make the title whatever they want, so that’s a long-term working title).  I haven’t worked up a name for the world or project as a whole yet, but it sits on my to-do list like a bright red zit on the nose of an insecure high schooler.  Suffice to say I’m aware it’s there, and I’m trying to figure out what to do about it.

Anyone who’s looked at the (old) new blog recently might have noticed that I changed “Table of Contents” to “Timeline.”  This is to reflect the fact that not everything put up on that site will be directly a part of To Save What’s Lost.  “Side Story 1,” as it’s affectionately known at time of writing, is a continuation of the story of the Black Wheat, yes, but I’m not sure it would be in a published volume of TSWL.  Also, representing the body of work as a timeline will help new readers understand the way everything connects, despite the standalone nature of the short stories I’ve been producing.

I continue to use these spinoffs and vignettes to flesh out details which affect Kari and Tomas, filling in little gaps as characters who see the world from other angles experience the same magics and cultures as K&T, but understand it better.  Spitballing design ideas for a video game has helped me understand the geography on a much larger scale than I had before.  Villesav is a major port, as Collins has mentioned, and the sea on which it sits is neither very wide nor very deep.  On the far side is the country from whence Alo hails (either originally or ethnically; I haven’t decided where he was born yet), and the water between Zanvya and Villesav is filled with islands, some fairly sizeable, some simply atolls.  These islands are the subject of an extended conflict between Villesav and Zanvya long before Kari and Tomas venture over the Mountains.  They are my fertile ground for all sorts of different little settings and monsters with private domains.  My preliminary idea for a game in this world is during that conflict.

You, a pirate from seas further south, venture into what could be fresh new territory with your skeleton crew and wander into a war.  Primary gameplay loops are sailing and sea combat reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and on-land exploring and sneaking around a la Uncharted or indeed Black Flag.  Rewards will include ship upgrades, crew members, weapons, disguises, gadgets, and funds (up to three currencies?) to gain access to same.  My unique selling point is a narrative that reacts to the level of involvement in the war the player chooses to take.  Both Zanvya and Villesav have an army and a navy, each represented by an interpretation of the Nemesis System from the Middle Earth: Shadow of… games.  Rather than infighting like the orcses, various types of engagement between the two armies, two navies, or a coastal fort occupied by an army being assailed by a ship (or ships; I haven’t done enough naval history research to write that just yet) will occur in a similar structure to how the Middle Earth games run.  Territory changing hands will affect plot thresholds, leading to maybe three different endings, one for each side decisively winning and another for the potentially more canon ending: a tragedy that shocks both nations bringing their need for peace and cooperation into focus.

Obviously, this is all just a prototype right now, and in an even broader sense, it’s just a new forum for me to explore the history of my world and the cultures in play.  I have plans, of course, but until I put those plans into practice, there will be wrinkles I don’t even see coming.  I really do have vignettes begun which I intend to complete and then post, but life has worked very hard to prevent me from having time to expand and explore those little pieces.  I hope this glimpse of a prototype project that isn’t TSWL gives you an idea of the scope of my vision for this world; there’s so much beyond the horizon.  We need only keep moving forward.

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