Sunday, December 08, 2002

So, what the heck am I up during the famous rewriting of the Battle for Carnillo, Book Two of the Estorian Chronicles?. Well, at the moment, I'm working my way through the prickly problems created by deciding to set this trilogy in a preliterate society. In the last draft I had a group of political agitators referring to a map. The problems are many.
1. In a preliterate society, what sort of material would this map be written on?
2. With what? Why would anyone invent any sort of permanent ink as well as the tools to apply it to an appropriate surface if nobody knows how to write?
3. What kinds of symbols would be in common use in a society where storytelling/the oral tradition is the primary means of sharing information?
Given that I need some way for groups of people not necessarily in the same room together to share information and history useful to the rebel cause, my editor made the brilliant suggestion of using some sort of quilt (think Underground Railroad, gumboot dances, etc. where one item or action takes on a completely different use/meaning within a suppressed group) to record and convey information.

This made perfect sense to me until I started working out the logistics of these story quilts. Who owns them? Who contributes to them? Do they have any magical aspects? If so, how do those magical aspects work? Were scissors of some sort invented in the Estorian/Campriano world? (if not, how will the scraps of cloth be cut into meaningful shapes... likewise for needles and thread... are there dyes? Can one have coloured cloth and thread?)

At the moment, the quilt that Dominique sees is 12 X 12 squares in dimension and is one of 1000 quilts known to exist in the world. Once all of the squares have been filled, 144,000 chosen individuals will have contributed to this recorded history/knowledge/story compilation... So, what is the significance of the 144,000 chosen in the context of this trilogy? What will happen when all the squares are filled? Will recorded history as these people understand it stop? Or will a new means of communication/recording of story/history begin?

With each decision made (and this second book introduces a whole slew of these seemingly innocent objects that are actually causing me no end of grief. I mean, who would think a quilt would cause so much trouble??????), I have to answer about a million questions and then figure out if the answers to any of those questions are actually going to cause some other problems elsewhere in the narrative.

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