Last week, I dug out my ten-year-old, hand-drawn map of the world of The Unremarkable Squire. The book takes place on the Isle, which is split into 40 nations after the Splitting of Rael (see footnote). I have a decent map of those 40 nations, in pencil. The book’s plot takes place in just one of those nations.
I’m not usually a world-builder, but I did a fair amount (for me) for The Unremarkable Squire, probably more than for any other project but Children of the Wells, which is multi-author, and the unwritten Twilight Dawn, which was co-created with a high school friend.
What I noticed about the map is how much it doesn’t matter to the novel. In a notebook somewhere I have a creation myth and the origin of demimen and Nephilim. I have an idea how the world ends. I have thoughts for sequels and unconnected novels. I know why the colors in the sky exist.
And it doesn’t matter. Nor should it.
That’s what I really enjoyed about looking at my old notes and maps. They reminded me how focused the novel is. The world is decoration. It’s called The Unremarkable Squire because it’s about Obed Kainos. And even though there are lots of characters running around, they’re all supporting characters.
I had trouble figuring out where to end the story. I initially planned an epilogue to wrap up loose ends for all the characters. But that wasn’t true to the book. There was only one story I needed to wrap up. Everything else was extra.
I’m sure this concept of narrow focus isn’t new to lots of writers, but I’ve written novels in multiple ways. Trouble on the Horizon and its sequels, for instance, are written in such a way that they spiral outward. They expand. The Unremarkable Squire only expands at the fringes and only as far as the character of Obed Kainos expands. There are advantages to both methods.
In any case, it’s been interesting to resurrect all those nooks and crannies I never explored, which are alluded to obliquely in the novel or not at all.
Perhaps I can explore a few someday.
FOOTNOTE – I’m sorry for throwing terms The Splitting of Rael around, but this blog entry would be ridiculously long and wretchedly boring if I had to explain all the references to the plot of the novel. Perhaps it’ll just pique your interest.