As my book, In Honor’s Shadow, gets closer to being complete I find I want to talk about it more and more. This is obviously something of a minefield since saying too much could easily spoil the story. After some thought I’ve decided that there isn’t anything wrong with me talking about the main characters of the story, provided I give myself some basic guidelines before doing so.
In this instance, I think the best course is to talk about how the characters evolved from their earlier conception to today. Considering how much the story changed, from the overall conflict and a jump to a new setting completely, it isn’t too surprising that the characters have changed radically.
At some point while working on In Honor’s Shadow I began TAKING notes in a 70 page spiral notebook. The first 15 pages are filled with notes about Japanese swords, their cultural significance, and my own ideas of how I wanted to have that reflected in my setting. There are details on everything from the etiquette involved with swords, to the process of their construction, to the societal rules that revolve around them.
Keep in mind that what follows applies to my setting only and should not be used as an example of Japanese culture. Much of what I present here is simply made up an intended to emphasize various details that come up with traditional Japanese weapons.
One thing I love about World Building is how as things flesh out new questions naturally begin to arise. When I first fleshed out the social structure that surrounds my story I based it off of what I had read about feudal Japanese society. If you look to social pyramid to the right you will notice it looks very much like what I laid out in my last world building post.
Although I already knew why merchants were considered the bottom of the social order historically, I found myself intrigued by the idea. How do these people survive when they are mostly viewed as a necessary evil?
What challenges do they face? Are the stated reasons for their place in society the same as the real reasons? Are shop owners considered merchants if they sell goods they haven’t produced themselves? For that matter, with so much stigma how many merchants exist and how successful are they?
This is a lot of important information for me to know. True, my story focuses on the nobility, however knowing at least the basics of the empire’s economy is a good idea. At the very least I need to know who makes what, and how goods get distributed. Perhaps I have no immediate plans to use the information, but by virtue of having it at my disposal I now have more tools for future stories should I need them.
So, as a fun exercise, I’ve decided to do a very basic outline about how I think things work and post the result of this early work. Things won’t be set in stone at such an early stage, and I may decide to revisit this at a later time. If so I’ll likely share the changes I make as well.
Since I am doing a bunch of work pre-writing for my next book and a few other projects this seemed like a good time to share some of my world building. There are actually a bunch of different things I could talk about on that now, however with all the effort I’ve put into getting things ready to publish, I’ve been in a mood to share details that aren’t really explicitly addressed in the story.
I’ve actually got this whole notebook full of notes. Some of it isn’t usable, either because it spoils the story itself or reflects ideas I’ve moved away from, however one thing that has remained more or less consistent is my image of the social structure of the society.