It’s NaNoWriMo prep season and I’m revisiting select World of Ontyre location posts to provide a different perspective. In those posts I gave basic information about certain locations or regions, but this month I’m examining how my work before and during drafting helped them evolve.
This week I’m returning to the Lost Hills, the confusing region of bent river valleys choked with evergreens and smothered with low clouds and drizzle. The region was the backdrop for most of my periphery novel, Torment Surfacing.
Long ago I wrote a history for Carrdia and one less detailed for the continent of Tremjara. From those histories I already knew the following:
• Though not easy to cross, the Lost Hills represented easier east-west passage than the Colossus Range to the north and the Barrier Range to the south.
• For that reason, the Emprensen Empire crossed the hills to invade the Kingdom of Aramon.
• To Carrdia it was the frontier, a buffer against threats from the east and, at times, not even a part of the country (thus the lost in the Lost Hills).
Just as important was creating maps that further brought the region to life, including many important landmarks, though large settlements were few:
• The region is well defined, the most notable land feature located at its northeastern tip: massive Beacon Peak, which towers above all around it.
• At the regions southwestern tip is Kryorphia Falls where the Repose River empties into the Rift River.
• Speaking of the Repose River, it forms most of the eastern and southern edges of the Lost Hills’ forests.
• To the west is the Rift River, which moves as swiftly as the Repose moves slow.
• A few settlements exist, and most are located close to the Rift River in the northwest.
It was during the planning stage for Torment Surfacing that the region truly came to life and revealed its mysteries and dangers:
• The largest settlement in the Lost Hills, Twistaria, was destroyed by a catastrophe of unknown origins.
• The mining peoples of Tremjara, the hobs, live beneath Beacon Peak.
• A mad witch is trapped in a small, perpetually fog bound valley between Twistaria and Beacon Peak (believe me, it’s a lot more complicated than that).
• The region is the hunting grounds for the tribal grolns who come up from the southeast, and who hold no fondness for humans owing to centuries of persecution.
• Outposts dot the region, especially on the rivers, but some are abandoned.
• In modern times, the Carrdia military maintains a minimal presence, especially beyond the northwest.
When I drafted the novel, and even more so during the first editing pass, I discovered much more, a little of which I can share:
• The hobs, of whom little is known, possess a far richer culture and level of technological sophistication than suspected.
• There are ties between the witch, hobs, Twistaria, and the evil Dioptric Ministry.
• Ancient Empire ruins exist in the region, especially along the Repose River.
• There’s more to the Falls of Kryorphia than just water falling over a cliff.
Looked at the right way, what you see here in total are building blocks, each block yielding more details and, more important, richer details. What I uncovered while drafting was possible because of what came before.
Far more important, the facts I possessed going in made it easier to write the story and explore the characters, and that’s what writing is all about. It’s that last block set on the top that you most want to possess because it goes beyond facts to a place where the characters come alive.
For instance, the Emprensen Empire crossed the hills to invade the Kingdom of Aramon becomes the Repose moves slow, becomes is the hunting grounds for the tribal grolns, becomes ancient Empire ruins exist in the region, becomes Kasaria, the mysterious girl rescued from a groln attack who’s on a raft floating south with Journ and others…