Early Epoch – #5: 14/12/2020 – Parallel Development

Almost a full month between posts. Amazing. Thank you for checking out this next post in the Early Epoch blog series.

I’ve been working on some projects for my University degree, which are set in Epoch purposefully so that I can get some good quality feedback on the world, its characters and fundamental rules. That’s been going really well, Milo as a character is coming along nicely through that, and it puts me in good stead for spinning any threads from those projects off into newer ones in future.

The title of this entry is ‘Parallel Development’ because I find being the author of a world concept like this a really interesting challenge in exactly that. You can’t really solely focus on just one thing, not because it’s not good practice but because in a lot of cases (at least in my experience) it’s inherently not possible. The nature of writing within your own world is that everything you write is expected to adhere to the canonical rules or themes that you have already established, whilst also establishing new rules and themes at every turn. A new city name mentioned off-hand in one story becomes canon for everything else; if you name a character, that character becomes a possibility in every other character’s story; a magical power or firearm behaving in a certain way sets that precedent for future uses of the same. It’s a lot of pressure, in a way, but it’s also really exciting.

Sometimes I find myself spending weeks simply writing notes; bullet points and ideas for locations, species, organisations or plot points that might work well down the line. Then, on rare occasions, I might spend a week or two delving into any one of those items, writing a story about a specific organisation’s origins or actions on Covenant. But I’m never not doing the former, even when the latter decides to grace me with its presence. There’s always a new idea, whether being tested in the story I’m writing or written out in shorthand for later use in something else. I love it, not because it’s particularly efficient or productive but because I’ve created my own canvas. I can choose the dimensions, the material I paint onto, then I have an infinite number of brushes to apply an infinite number of paints with. It’s always changing, always incorporating new concepts that might shift the genre, medium or themes that I’d previously established in order to function, and as long as I’m careful with where I’m adding paint, it’s pretty difficult to end up with a mess of brown.

A piece of writing for this entry: the continuation of the tavern bar scene from a couple of entries ago. As always, keep in mind that whatever is in these blogs is absolutely not going to be the final version, and names/concepts/locations will all probably change somewhat (this is in present tense, where I think the last entry had earlier parts of the story in past tense, for example).

“I asked him about his mission, ‘What will I have to do for you?’ and such, and after some badgering he obliged. He claimed he was a scholar, hence the Tome, travelling about Earkran and collecting information on all manner of things. I asked from which academy he hailed, but apparently he existed as a lone wolf in that field, apart from the Apex, the Carvers and the rest. He was interested in me, he said, and wanted to better understand my abilities.”

At this, the booth fills with chuckles and scoffs. Her abilities are, much like her mission, famously inscrutable and infamously dangerous.

“I’m sure that went swimmingly for him,” says the Acolyte, who has spent years following the journey of the Old Timer, as we all have, and attempting to ply her for similar information. “I imagine he only got the basics, ‘manifest Chaos’ and the mechanics of raw Magick? Nothing beyond what you’ve enlightened me with, I hope?”

The Old Timer shifts her gaze for just a moment, eyeing the Acolyte with a wry smile that he returns, shaking his head and chuckling.

“Yes, well, quite,” she says. “I told him before he began that he was welcome to try, but I couldn’t guarantee that he would gain anything useful from such an analysis. He did his best, certainly those two points and a few details of where the powers originate from within my biology. I tell you, this man, he was – unique, shall we say. He spoke with the tone of a much older figure than his voice and demeanour betrayed – much like me, I imagine, wisened by years of travel and toil.” A pause.

“It reminded me of my own people.” She chokes out the last word, caught in the memory. We all wait patiently this time, knowing how hard it is for her to speak of them. Eventually, she finds herself. “We were in the South District by that point, having met as we both approached the gates, so we slowly ambled over to where I was staying at the Boar’s Tusk and I bought him a drink.”

I hope you’re doing well, whoever you are reading this, as we all continue to weather this pandemic storm.

Stay safe, stay well, all the best for now.

Thom.

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