Scroll to the bottom for this week’s ROW80 update.
When creating a fictional world, it is important for an author to work out all the relevant details even though those details won’t make it into the final story. The author determines the minutia of tradition, geography, politics, and everything else so that all the details that do make it into the story are consistent and make sense.
On Kingdom Come, the political system is a combination of elected officials and nobility. The nobility is not hereditary. Counts and contessas, dukes and duchesses, and even kings and queens are appointed for life (er…until they retire) similar to the US’s supreme court. Upon retirement, they continue on in the position of dowagers, acting as advisers to the newly appointed.
In this polyamorous society, a traditional marriage consists of several men and several women. A noble appointment comes with an arranged marriage of eight; four men and four women. There are eight divisions of government (health, education, finance, etc.) and the noble marriage must have one representative in each. The ‘best’ candidates are not always the ones who are selected; personalities and soft skills are just as important as professional capability. A working team is put together, consisting of eight people who complement each other both personally and professionally.
The brides and grooms get very little say in the ceremony or the honeymoon. Everything is planned for them. For seven days and nights, they are paired off with a different spouse, and then on the eighth day, they are all together. Day one is with an opposite-gender spouse, day two is with a same-gender spouse, etc.
If the story I’m writing is about an eight-sided noble marriage, I’m not going to tell the reader about every pair’s experience every night. That’s four pairs over seven nights. Definitely not worth twenty-eight chapters, or even twenty-eight scenes! I only tell the parts from the POV characters that move the story forward.
Even though the reader doesn’t need to know the exact pairings, I will still work out who’s with who each night. If I mention that Raimi and Roman are together on day four, I will know which spouses each of them has already been with and which spouses they have yet to be with.
This is where it starts to look like a Sudoku puzzle… making sure every character is represented once and only once in each column, and that they are paired with each spouse exactly once. I start with the same-gender days, which are pretty easy. Then I move on to the opposing-gender days. Once I’ve checked that I have everything organized, I put it together.
Of course, once I start writing, I might realize that Fahari and Compassion need to have both been with Korwyn before they’re with each other because they’re going to spend a significant amount of their time together talking about him, which means I need to rearrange who’s with who all over again. I can’t change one thing without having it affect everything else.
My writing update for the week?
I totally fell off the wagon. Kaputz. Splat, all over the place, face down in the mud. This happens when I know what’s coming up, but not what’s happening next. In this case, I need a particular kind of conflict to come to a head when a specific other thing interrupts. I know the interruption. I know the next thing (the wedding and honeymoon…which is the mid point of the story,) but I do not know exactly what the conflict will be. It has to naturally follow the escalation of the conflict that already exists.
Although I hate doing it, I might skip the actual scene where the conflict comes to a head, and move on to the next part. I don’t like leaving huge gaps in my rough draft, but if that’s the only way to move forward, I’ll do it.
Time to climb back on the wagon.
I definitely slack in this department. Most of my details are made spur of the moment while writing, and then written down in my little notebook so that I can go back over the details later. Trying to make everything up before I start would be fairly impossible for me.
I now keep a ‘notes’ file open whenever I have my WIP file open. Not every detail can be planned in advance, and the notes file gives me a place to put misc. stuff as it comes to me.
Amy, that social arrangement is very original and intriguing. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Please keep us informed!
Two rejections down…out on submission again! I’ll let you know if it gets picked up.
Wow! That is quite the social structure. Certainly could make for an interesting story. Best of luck with submitting!
An impressive setup, AmyBeth. I’d have trouble trying to describe the multiple levels of the relationships in the personal/public/private arenas well. Though, I imagine in such a society, with expectation being so different for newlyweds we’re dealing with a different layering system there as well. Is the personal private? Do we need to even dwell on the actual personal levels of most of the characters…
I struggle to give the proper level of detail for my characters. In an 8-way marriage, I can’t concentrate on all of them…that gets too complicated. But if I choose a couple primary and a couple secondary, I can tell a good story.
This sounds really cool! I’d love to read it when its done. Good luck with your soduku “game.” 🙂
As I am over half-way in my current wip and really struggling with issues, I enjoyed how you laid it all out — in post its and talked about the planning. Thanks for giving me some ideas and for reminding me that not every draft makes your heart sing all the way through. Back to work!
Back to work for me too!
Oh goodness, that sounds like a difficult puzzle. I thought I had a rough time working on a riddle for mine. Interesting concept though. Good luck from a ROW80 blog hopping friend.