City-Building

I’ve mentioned on occasion that I’m a gamer, and some of the games I’ve played and enjoyed are the empire-building, strategy types. They scratch an itch for me, the urge to build something up and see how far and high I can take it.

Sometimes, writing scratches that same itch. I mean, in Fantasy you tend to build worlds for your characters, right? I haven’t gotten as exhaustive in my world-building as some authors I’ve known about, but there’s still been a lot even so. However, it’s often been high level because that’s how I’ve thought of it until now. And often it’s what I needed, but right now, I’m doing some and it’s a bit different from my usual stuff. A few days ago or so, I was sitting around, thinking about a couple of story ideas I’ve had on the back burner for a while. I like to do that sometimes, take a mental wander through my list of stuff I want to write, touch on the ideas enough to see if they’re still cooking.

This time, it was Saul, my Fallen Angel, I was checking on. I love his story (Ashes and Angels), at least what I know of it so far, and I love him too. I can’t stay away from this one for very long. I don’t even want to.

As I skimmed through my notes, I was thinking about my plan to create a fictional city for Saul to play in. See, this story wants to be urban. I mean, really badly. Though I’ve been known to read urban fantasy, I’ve rarely written it, and never more than a short story. So you can imagine my surprise at Saul being so adamant that he lived in a version of our world. Still, he shares the goods quite often, so I wasn’t going to deny him. I just didn’t want to use a real city. I don’t know, maybe I’m addicted to creating my own stage for my characters. Maybe I just enjoy the freedom.

In any case, that was always my plan for Saul’s story, to create a fictional city in our world, one that ends up being a place you can find angels, of both the Heavenly and Fallen varieties, and demons. I knew there would be a human population to this city who were largely unaware of what was going on in that supernatural realm. I hadn’t gotten much past that and a vague set of geographic details. I haven’t been ready to write Ashes and Angels, really, so I wasn’t worried.

As I was thinking about Saul this time though, my eyes happened upon another story idea I had. This one’s a relative newcomer, only a month or two old, currently going by the code name Tattooed Familiar. It’s about witches and their familiars (big surprise on that second part, I know). As I glanced at this one, I realized something interesting. Tattooed Familiar lives in the same fictional city as Ashes and Angels.

This surprised me more than a little and before I had time to recover, I realized the story I started writing with pencil and paper recently ALSO lives in that city (Spirit Vampires). Wow. Crowded much? I even have a couple other stories that are trying to move into this city. I’m starting to wonder how the humans aren’t going to notice all these supernatural beings. 😉

Of course, all of this, and the inspiration to write what was supposed to be a short story and may turn into the start of Saul’s first novel, has made me realize I need to get busy building this city.

Which I am doing. To begin with, I’m working first on a list of requirements for this city. I’m doing that in a number of ways. By looking at what my city has, and also scanning the news for things I might not have realized are part of a city (especially cities other than mine). And I’m trying to think of things that might set this city apart from others, beyond its less human residents. It’s been an interesting exercise so far.

There are a lot of things I need to build out for this city, and I want to give it diversity in both the human realm and the supernatural one. So far, that isn’t proving a problem, because each story idea that adds itself to this city involves different creatures.

I made a good start on it today while waiting to go see a movie. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s nice to have a jump. This place is starting to take shape. I think I have a name for it too now, but I’m going to sleep on it, see what I think of it in the morning. It would be a bit amusing, if I keep it. I’ll share what that is when I’m ready to share the city’s name.

At the moment, I’m just enjoying being excited about this city, its possibilities and the stories I can tell in it. And being nearly done the short story (or first chapter, whatever it turns out to be). Definitely excited about that too.

Now, to get back to work. This stuff doesn’t write or build itself after all. 🙂

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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