Episode 4: Starting to build some momentum



Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode four, July 24th, 2020. Once again, I seem to have a numbers problem and really it's all about building momentum through this edit.

Since Last Time


Well, I told a lie. In last week's episode, I said that I had completed nine of the chapters out of the book. That was wrong. I actually had in that three chapters, which I hadn't quite removed, which were being reworked. So the total number last week was six. So where did I get to since then? Well, another six chapters have been edited, which makes it 12, which isn't really the progress I hoped to be making at this point.

I really hoped to be able to do around two chapters per session, which would be around 10 per week. I haven't got to that Mark yet, which is frustrating me a little bit.

But, I can't really beat myself up. It's new. Well, I can beat myself up. I am beating myself up.

It is a new process for me. And I think some of the things I spoke about last week, which was the resistance I was having, a little bit of fear about facing the final story going out in the world.

I think there's a lot of truth around that. It's not everything, it's part of it. The main thing is it's just taking time and I want to get it right. And these early chapters I've been working on are really significant chapters in the setup of the book. I've had to in the chapters I've done, I think I mentioned in last week's episode, I was really adjusting my protagonists introduction to readers. How they came into the world and how they sat in the world.

Most of those ones were pretty straight forward. Then I introduced a rework completely of how the jesters are introduced to the reader. So one of the problems that we found in the edit, I'm pretty sure explained this last week, was that I had a lot of it in my head and I was trying to be too clever about when I exposed information.

The challenge of course, is I didn't want to then just create a chapter or two of exposition. That is, just a comprehensive description about the Jesters and their role in the world. What got me really excited when I was working with the editor was the idea that I came up with how to resolve that. And of course they won't be spoilers in the podcast or not intentionally anyway. But I did come up with a mechanism that I'm quite comfortable with in the real world.  And it's a real world event type where individuals interact in a way that facilitated what I needed to do as it turned out. , there were multiple scenes involved in this and several chapters and they were all, most of them, sorry, were new, not all of them. Most of them were new. Which meant I wrote, this week, three complete new chapters ,and edited them a couple of times.

So maybe I can get away with saying I did a little bit more than my single numeric count of a chapter. Really happy with how they turned out. And it actually allowed me to not only introduce the role that the Jesters have in this series better, but the fabric of their society and everything about them. Where they sit geographically in the world, where they sit conceptually in the world and what they do.

And a lot of the missing set ups is kind of the right word, but little pieces of information that hopefully make the story more complete and easier to read, going through. Funny enough, my wife and I were watching a new TV series just last night. And we paused after episode one and had this discussion about, was it uncomfortable?  Or  was it just. not very good? And we kind of agreed it was uncomfortable to watch and it came across almost as if it was trying to be too clever. The way information was being presented, everything had a missing piece. Everything was deliberately obscure and it was really uncomfortable to watch, and I think that was the problem with my novel.

In that, that there was an element of it, which you uncovered later on. Things clicked a bit, but it was too far later on for it. There was still some ambiguity about the meaning. So the purpose of what I've done now is to not  do this exposition about everything, but to, lay the foundation where you know exactly where you're at.

And perhaps I can use an example. If our story was based in Los Angeles, and we were talking about the LAPD. Already, the reader has a lot of , conceptual understanding of the LAPD unless they're very young, very new, haven't seen anything else, but at my age I could say, Oh, I've seen all sorts of different shows. I've read books, I've seen movies, I've read news articles. So there's a lot of information I already have about the LAPD. So if the story starts  on a patrol officer from the LAPD or a detective from the LAPD, I've actually got a lot of that story background there. So the story can proceed without needing to know that.

But if I was to introduce a story from Alice Springs in Australia to a new audience in the UK that had never heard of this place at all. Didn't understand where it sat geographically, didn't understand anything about it all, and then they had a unique organization there to do policing or community management.

particularly if it went by different names and you didn't know much about it, but I didn't lay any foundational work, about the organization, this group of people and their role. You start with a story and you kind of go, I think I understand it, but you're guessing too much. And depending on how cleverly you can do that and how much you give away, it can either be really good or really difficult.

And in my circumstance, the Jesters in the story is quite different to the Jesters that have been used in other stories, the way that they operate. So I think this mechanism has worked really, really well.


So I did all of that. And then I moved into an introduction of a new character, adjusting some of that and had to adjust the discoveries and revelations that they had and how they worked around the people they were involved with to tell their part of the story. So it was the third group of characters being introduced and most of it was actually only really small, but, uh, in this particular chapter, there were a lot of little typographical and grammatical things that just needed adjusting as well.

And I guess I'm just being very, very cautious at the moment. The last couple of days have definitely been quicker . So there's a little bit of momentum building and I feel like I'm saying sitting in the world properly in Book one, I think the other problem previously was I got into Book two world. I was really excited about book two and where it was going and I had to pull myself back to book one. Thinking, Oh, book one's already completed. And it isn't well, it is, but it isn't. And I need to get these things, right. Not only for book one, but for book two, three, four. So I think I understand what was causing me problems. I really feel like I'm starting to progress a little, what will be interesting we'll see how we're going next week. But  it's been, been encouraging. I'm happy with the story. I'm pretty happy with my writing. My chief critic has reviewed the key mechanism that I worked on and she's given it a thumbs up.  Which is really, really good and feels that it's answered, answered is answered the right word. I don't think answered is the right word. She feels that it's tick the boxes that it needed to, that it's resolved the issues that were there. And that's how I feel about it as well. So that's exciting. I'm excited about that and I feel like going into the weekend where I get an opportunity to do more work on the book, typically that I might be able to get a flying head start on the week.

I'll look forward to seeing if I actually live up to it. So the new total is I've currently done 12 chapters, so six in this last week. Let's see if I can do better next week.

Some Back Story


In the previous episode or episodes, I covered a lot about the map building. That was, I talked about it and I mentioned the concept of adding layers. So started with an outline and then layers of geography. That continues the more detail that you get into . I talked about placing cities and towns onto the map and how those need naming.

In this episode, I was thinking that's probably what I'm going to talk about mainly is how I added those layers and how I named places on the map. To me when I created the map and I then drew in the realms and created a bit of the history of those realms, I created the cities and towns that were the major cities and towns. Not every single element of the map, roughly around eight to 12 key locations per realm.

And I named every one of them.  The way I named them, different probably to how other people name them? I don't know, a hundred percent for sure. I've read a little bit about how people do it. I did reflect a lot on how, city planners, town planners have named things historically, or name things. Now, some countries around the world, you know, in the inner cities, there's a first Avenue, second Avenue or fourth street and fifth street, main street, very simplistic naming like that.

And more detailed as you might go out into the suburbs. Or there's very clear patterns named around historic figures. We have tree types, animal types, bird types, colors,  there's just so many ways that individual streets are named. And then there can be North pine street, South pine street, and variations like that as well, where the street might've been divided by something such as a river or stream. I think those principles we're pretty comfortable with  so I didn't want to necessarily veer from that, but cities and towns can be different. Some are really clear, some not so.  Washington, we kind of understand where that was probably named from, , Adelaide in Australia named after a queen.

I identified not 100% similarity to earth countries, more regions and ethnicities possibly,  more regional or location based. And I would say this realm, I want to use this type of linguistics. And I used a website online, which gives you words in other languages.

that was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed doing that because what you would do is you might put in something like Lake. So if you think of a town called Lakeside or a city called Lakeside, how would I rename that potentially? So I put in Lake or Lakeside into this site. And if this particular realm that I was writing about, I had defined as I wanted to use South Asian languages  to create those names, then I would look at the groupings of names that were generated by this website. And there would be some which just resonated with me and then I would build a name from that. And that's how I did a lot of them. And what it helped me to do was give it added meaning to what that town or city might be called.

Yeah, it's in the middle of the forest. So it might use a  derivative word of wood or tree or Bush or forest and something from that. That gets challenging of cours., there's 10 realms tomorrow. Um, the main land or the Midland called Dharatan and I didn't want,  everything that's beside a river to be called river or Riverside in another language.

But I used those sorts of derivatives to build it. I had a lot of fun with it.

There are name generators sites for places and people. I chose this method to do it.  Once I laid out all the names, it helped me build a little bit more history for  the world and in my Wiki that I have, where I try to maintain all of this knowledge so I can keep up with all the data.

I would have notes in there. I identify what was the capital, what wasn't, they're all drawn into the map. The core map I have has all of them. The map that we've produced for book one, doesn't have them all exposed. It has all of the realms, but it doesn't have everything exposed. Whereas future books will uncover more of the names of places as we need to. And that way it doesn't get too complex, particularly in print book format, it can be pretty small. I think over time, I'll put electronic versions up on the website so that people can see them in a bit more detail. I've worked with one designer initially on the map and now introduced a second designer and we've modified that map slightly, and we're going to expand on it and I want to be able to print things, stick them up on my wall. I do that as part of my methodology. I have the book cover or covers now printed up on the wall. I have a color map there so I can refer to it regularly in my studio.  that added a level of another layer,  to the, the world.

But I didn't spend then months and months and years and years, it feels like it. But going into one city , and mapping out the whole city. The way I've worked is where I'm writing now I've added more detail at that point, and that was probably partly because I wrote book one as a pantser. So the terminology of pantser and plotter. Plotter is someone that outlines the novel upfront and then writes it. And the pantser is someone that operates more by the seat of their pants. As far as the story in book one, mostly I was a pantser and in these edits and moving into book two, that's changing, I'd be a hybrid now of the two, but it's certainly early on I was definitely a pantser. And while I did the world building to the level I did, there are some people that would go to much further degree.

I mentioned Tolken, how he wrote languages first and then had all these concepts before he did his story. That's going down an extreme end of the scale. So I had a fair bit of detail. I've added detail as I went, and it's a layering effect. So when I am in a town the story comes alive in that town. I start to identify things and name things, and I record them not only in the words and writing, but I make sure that I start to record them in my Wiki so I can refer to them again.

And also if I'm going back over this story, if I find myself using the same words and phrases to describe roads and gates and buildings, town on town, city on city, I can identify that, more easily by looking at them outside of the story.  that's the next level of layering that I've added is as a character interacts with the space around them.

I make sure that I paint that picture in more detail. I add more levels and layers so that hopefully the reader then will be. Oh, now I'm in this place and I understand how this is different to the others. It means that you're always uncovering new things,  which is exciting when you're writing particularly the early drafts, and then as you start back editing that early draft, you can crystallize that. Which is different to what I'm doing with the final edit, I'm not doing a lot of that world-building  I'm doing work on the story and the dialogue. So there is quite a difference there, and I think that's why the first drafts can be a lot of fun because you just let it all come out.

But I wouldn't be able to get that to come out without the early work of the map, or certainly it would be less coherent, I think. Now going into book two and future books, this part of the world has already got lots of layers and I can distinguish elements quite easily. And I don't have to do the same amount of world building in the story either.

So a lot of the future books, it was just going to be a lot more story and a lot less world-building except where we go into places we haven't been before, or we spend more time in a town or a city. And again, I haven't necessarily detailed every component of it. But there will be a couple of locations that I know in book two, I'm going to want much finer granularity in my mind. Oh, sorry. In the understanding, in my mind of that location. So I will be likely drawing a detailed city map, you know, placing the key buildings and adding that additional information. My plan is I'm going to do it as I'm going through, and as I need to. That's what I wanted to talk about in the backstory section this episode, if I added a little bit more detail for you on how I do it, a little bit of,  information about naming, how I got about the names.  when you get to read the book, you'll probably see a bit of that influence in it, when you see particular styles to names, that's about all I've got for this episode.



Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.