Summer Camp 2023: Diamond or Dust!
6|5: Power, Power, POWER!
As an author of fiction, I truly believe there is no plot hole that cannot be filled with an appropriate amount of world-building.Thoughts on Power
I got a late start on Adventure April, so I'm getting a head start on Summer Camp. I'm showing up to have 8 beers-es. I'm in it to win it. Hence the ambitious title of my goal: Diamond or Dust! My goal is to improve Argentii with no fewer than 32 articles, hopefully writing an average 500 words per article, though I will settle for 300.
Because it's Camp NaNo, too! And I set my NaNo goal to 12K words.
Homework: Meditations on Power
Set up pledge article.
Fill out the pledge certificate.
Theme Preparation: Power
And right away I can tell that this is going to be beneficial, not just for my world-building, but also for revising the novel. This is very much a pressing theme that needs to be developed more. I've written a bit about Shiv Moonsong and the United Guild of Scribes, Calligraphers, Illuminators, and Engravers, examples of a powerful individual and a powerful organization.
There is still so much more to explore. For instance, the Monarch of the Eastern Union, and the Imperial Martial of the Western Empire. And the Union and Empire in and of themselves are still in need of exploration, explanation, and exposition. Then, there is the Shadow of the Wing, and no one really knows who or what that might be. An assassin? A secretive crime boss? An organization dedicated to...something? Only a few dozen people will admit to having heard the name, and only a handful know what it truly is.
While many might mistake these power struggles as political, or cultural, it's really much deeper than that. Those who are actually pulling the strings, for all sides, know that what they are fighting over is control of the narrative of history. It's a tug-of-war over what really happened during every critical and trivial event in the written memory of history on Argentii.
History will be written by the winners, quite literally.
Feature Hint: Tracking Power and Relationships
I have this set up between Shiv and Daltheeb Moonstrike, but there are others I could establish as well. I think one of my personal goals for this Summer Camp will be to establish better article-creation habits. I'm good at organizing them into categories, but bad with tagging, relationships, and some of the other more advanced features.
I really like that these homework assignments (and challenges?) force me to up my World Anvil power-user game, as well as fleshing out parts of my world that I've not put much thought into.
Extra Credits: It's A Meta Makeover!
I went through my Argentii Meta page and found myself pleasantly surprised at how little editing I had to do. A little clarification of some details that were fuzzy when I started, and some naming updates (i.e. changing Eastern Kingdom to Eastern Union) were all that was needed. I take this as a good sign. I think it says that I've got a pretty good handle on the world, and the stories I'm trying to tell within it.
6|10: Frontiers and Back-ears, Ba-Dum-Bum!
If you find yourself stuck or blocked while writing, then stop and read. Fiction or nonfiction, a novel or a short story. You'll find new words, new perspectives, and new paths for your own writing.Thoughts on Frontiers
I got to tune in for a good portion of today's World Anvil stream on Twitch, which was a discussion on frontiers in worldbuilding. The focus was mostly on geographic frontiers, but there was a lot of interesting discussion on both the literal and metaphorical use of the term. For example, I live in the corner of my county, where it meets two other counties. And it creates some unusual situations and perspectives. We are also a tiny suburb of the capital city, which is its own sort of frontier.
Homework: Exploring "Frontiers"
Theme Preparation: Frontier
Today's stream effectively got me thinking about the frontiers in Argentii. Being a known and settled continent with thousands and thousands of years of documented history, it was hard at first to imagine many unexplored frontiers. This forced me to drastically expand the scope of how I was viewing frontiers, and apply that to my world. In the process, I tripped over the big thing that's going on in my novel, and worked out a HUGE plot hole involving that!
One of the more obvious-not-so-obvious frontiers is Division River, as it separates the Capital Territories of the Eastern Union and the Western Empire. The shores of the Division are lined with scores of little towns and villages and collectives of people who consider themselves independent. Technically within the borders of, and being taxed by, one side or the other, but loyal to neither. These people tend to be farmers, fishers, and ferry drivers, with a dotting of larger towns controlling bridges.
Another geographic frontier is the liminal zone between the famous smelting factories of Glass Island and the Great Sands that supply the raw material for those factories. It's a dangerous area full of narrow alleys polluted with dust, foul odors, constant cacophony, and the inescapable persistence of people. The only way to find any breathing room is to venture beyond the Wind Wall into the Great Sands. But getting out is much easier than getting back in.
(Daydreaming about this actually spawned a manuscript, so...apparently these prompts are doing their job, and we're not even into July yet!)
One of the more philosophical frontiers is the frontier between the status quo and the unknown future, or even the frontier between what we think we know about history, and what is actually recorded about history, and what really, truly happened. And then there's the frontier between what we know about life and what we don't know about death. After all, everywhere is haunted and everyone has a ghost story.
Finally, there's always that unexplored frontier of the ocean's depths. Well, nearly unexplored. And just because no one from Argentii is traveling to the moon, that doesn't make the reverse true.
Feature Hint: Maps!
Right, ok! I'm not the best with the maps feature, but I've at least used it before. I even have a map of a frontier, Crossroads Island. It exists as a sort of political entity unto itself, beholden to neither the East nor the West. I'm also going to be hitting up Inkarnate this week to fiddle around with a map of Glass to go along with that manuscript I mentioned. I'll explore the map features more when I upload it. I know Janet's made a great video!
Extra Credits: Category Cleanup and Tag-Tag-Tag!
Pretty sure I mentioned already that I'm bad at tagging things. In fact, this is the first article that I've tagged, and it was only because I rediscovered the Articles List by Tag feature that is so thoughtfully built into WA for us. But because of that rediscovery, as well as this homework suggestion, I'll be going through my (relatively) small list of articles and tagging them, at least with some basics, like "river" or "capital city," as applicable.
I'm adding to my list of personal goals to use camp to establish better article creation habits. It took me a while to get used to adding new articles to categories as I create them. Now, as I edit them, I need to remember to add tags.
I need to work on some new manuscript habits, as well.
6|11: An Interlude Near the Azul Pool
Sometimes you just have to dive in, blind and unknowing, and trust that your gut was right. Honestly, it usually is.
I have submitted my application to be a Summer Camp Community Sponsor!
I'll update this article with more information as soon as I'm able if they select me. And if not, then at least I dove into the water, and I'll try again with Worldember.
Got the news this morning via email that I have been accepted as a Community Sponsor for one of the prompts in the DIAMOND WAVE!!!
That's all I can say right now, so STAY TUNED!
6|12: An Update on My Updates
CAMP FERAL! OM-NOM-NUM-YOM-YUM-NOMMY-NOM!
I spent most of yesterday doing some administration stuff. First and foremost, I went through and tagged all of my articles that could be tagged. Some of them, mostly characters, I don't know how to tag just yet. But I'm glad that I got this done while I've only got a few dozen, rather than wanting to use it later when I've got hundreds or thousands of articles.
In the process, I found an article that had been created on the wrong template. No big deal, it was a title-only stub, but it was still one of those things that I would not have noticed for some while. I caught it now because Summer Camp Prep Homework has me sitting down and doing things that I keep putting off until later.
Because I, too, like to pretend that difficult tasks somehow magically get smaller and easier the longer you leave them and the more you build onto them! Fact check.
Once all that was taken care of (it took me less than a Pomodoro to do, btw), I went to my Discord server, The Bard's Secret Stage, and made some updates: I set up some Patarons-only channels, made a webhook to update Discord when I update my articles here on WA, and set up an onboarding process for new people.
Finally, I came back over here to WA and played around with my Crossroads Island map, adding a couple of locations to it just to refamiliarize myself with how adding pins works. I also played around with the styling on my world a bit, brightening the font and upping the size a bit, to make it easier to read.
It was a relaxing and fun bit of work, all in all.
6|17: Relics, Antiques, and Heirlooms, Oh My!
There is no such thing as the mundane in fantasy. Because it is all unfamiliar, it is all exotic! From the minute to the grand, from the tiniest insect to the most dangerous apex predator. No topic is too small, too ordinary, or too boring to write about.Thoughts on Relics
Today has been all about Camp Feral! I've been interacting with the community voraciously today, from voting on open feature suggestions, to going through articles and leaving comments and love, to tuning in to both World Anvil's and Strixxline's streams this afternoon. I snagged a statblock for organizing my Summer Camp goals, and I even enquired about joining a chapter!
Homework: Relatable Relics
Theme Preparation: Relics
This is a topic I've not touched on yet, though there are scores that spring to mind already. I've been more focused on some of the bigger issues, such as places. Knowing where things happen, then who they happen to, then the tools and things that they use. But already, just in my prose, I've introduced things such as the journal of an ancestor, copy-quills, instele ink, ever-warm cups, ever-hot kettles, a ruined-and-rebuilt castle and palace, and a missing library.
None of which have even been given stubs, yet!
History, and the truth behind past events -- both from a factual standpoint as well as within historical context -- is a major sorce of tension and conflict across the disapora. In the time of Tige the Uniter, there was a consistent historical record maintained, but large swaths of that history were lost to The Conflagration. In the generations since, copies of many of the books that were lost when Library Palace burned have been collected into the new library, but The Queen's Royal Library -- which housed all of the personal journals of all of the rulers, regents, and council members since Tige and Talla united the lands -- are presumed to have been wholly consumed by the flames.
Among peoples who are remembered, we must not neglect to mention the Lost Souls of the Caldera. It is vital that their mistakes, and their sacrifices, are neither forgotten nor repeated. And the Shadow of the Wing is...are?...quite content to be forgotten.
Feature Hint: Going Back In Time!
Next to Manuscripts, the Timelines feature is one of the biggest reasons why I came to World Anvil. Being able to not only keep track of the history of my world, but also just keeping straight the order of events in any story where chronology matters (such as a novel where getting ready for a large event in limited time is a main plot point). I haven't delved into making a Chronicle yet, though. I think that might actually be a project I turn over to Shiv to handle as an in-character bit of world management. We'll see.
Extra Credits: Image Review!
Haha! I accidentally got a head start on this last week. As I was tagging articles, I also went through and made sure that all of my pictures are properly titled and credited. Currently, much of my art is created by me, using Canva. Some of the art also utilizes one of Canva's AI features, Text-to-Image. I'm using these as article covers and place-holder images to convey ideas and themes, rather than as actual illustrations of places, objects, people, etc. Ideally, I would love to find an artist with an interest in contributing illustrations for Argentii, as I don't have the time or the patience to do them myself. (Though I did create Argentii's logo, with it's neatly divided font and that rippling g that represents...so much.)
6|24: The Final Countdown: Communications!
Get involved in the community. Your writing, your world-building, your life will all be fuller for doing so. You will discover new friendships, new perspectives, and new inspiration.Thoughts on Communications
This last week of prep has been languid and lazy and full of unexpected twists. I've been more social than I usually am, hanging around on Discord, helping and getting help in return. It's been quite wonderful. I even overcame the problem of how magic is exploited in Argentii, with the help of another world-builder!! (Thanks, Yarnith!!) All in all, my hypothesis that the more I put into World Anvil, the more I get in return is playing out as expected. Sort of like smiles, kindness, and love.
Homework: Communication Clarity vs. Connundrum
Theme Preparation: Communication
I've been diving deep into this one. Because I am treating magic as a form of elemental energy, the same as electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear bonds, then I can power all sorts of communication devices, especially in technomancy-friendly areas.
I accidentally got a head start on this one last week when I fell into a linguistics rabbit hole. This happened because I was simply exploring some of the different template options that I've yet to take advantage of, and I found a link to Vulgar Lang on the Language template. And while I swore that I wasn't going to start making up words for my world...it turns out I went and did exactly that, and ended up changing my main character's name in order to fit within the phenome structure of the new language.
Of course, there is also Seasign, the universal sign language that allows everyone to communicate, even across distance or in weather that would normally prevent or strain clear verbal communication. For longer distances, there is text messaging. This is accomplished through the use of ink made from bioluminescent algae that are grown near and harvested from the waters that feed hydromagic generators, thus imbuing the algae with the magic that makes this possible.
Likewise, the paper that makes this possible is treated in a tincture made from those same algae, conveniently what is left over after making the ink mixed with a pulp made from a hardy and fast-growing kelp. The paper is made in batches, and each batch can communicate with others in that batch. This is popularly sold bound in books for two people -- lovers or families separated by the sea, students away at academy communicating with family back home, even delivering news reports to one's home town printer as one travels! Other batches are printed in secret for government ministers and officials to communicate with each other.
Feature Hint: Delicious Dictionaries and Wonderful Whiteboards
YAAAAY! I'm familiar with both of these! I learned how to use whiteboards back in Adventure April when we were encouraged to use them to lay out a choose-your-own-adventure-style story. And, as for dictionaries...well, that's how I discovered Ancient Argentin and Vulgar Lang. And now Ancient Argentin has over 3,000 words in it! (Also, whether you're into conlanguage development or not, Vulgar Lang makes it really, really easy. You CAN use all of its options to custom build a language, or, if you are like me and know very little outside of your native language, then you can just play around until you get something you like the look of, and still rest assurred that your funny, made-up words have a real linguistic structure.)
Extra Credits: Self Communication!
I've given this a bit of a twist. My world is young, my article count is small, and things are in a great deal of fluxx as I flesh out this amazing world in which my novel is set. I've been through my articles recently, when I tagged them all, and as I'm in the process of renaming several important locations, I'll be checking in again, again!
So what can I do to earn this extra credit and stay within the broad bounds of the assignment, while twisting it to something I need to accomplish? Easy. I'm having an in-depth discussion with myself -- including a pro/con list! -- regarding how I want to present articles to you. What voice are they going to be in? Who is writing them? Are they from Siobhan, or does she just leave a note on them? That's right, for my extra credit, I'm doing a deep-dive on possible choices around communication style, and will go through my old articles and adjust them accordingly!
My Final Thoughts on June
A few years ago I had the opportunity to meet Steve Whitmire at GenCon, and attend several of his classes and talks. I was always early for the events, always in the front row, always just so incredibly excited to be there! I mean, this man literally had both hands in crafting some of the most important stories of my childhood, from The Dark Crystal to Fraggle Rock to The Great Muppet Caper! He's STEVE FREAKING WHITMIRE!
At one of his talks, he spoke about first getting hired to work with Jim Henson and be a part of the Muppets crew, and how he annoyed everyone around him with his enthusiasm. How he wanted to know everything, be a part of everything, learn everything. He would pester people with questions, and even when they stopped answering, he would just stick around and observe and learn that way. Because...he was just so incredibly excited to be there!
That's what this month of Summer Camp Prep has done for me, it has given me that sort of enthusiasm and joy for my own writing, my own imagination, and the world that I'm creating. It's the way I used to feel, in my 20's, when writing and world-building were my only escapes from the drudging, awful reality of my crappy life. Then, I misnamed my passion as escapism, and when my circumstances improved, I put the writing away. It wasn't until I started therapy and my therapist said, within three messages of first talking to me, "You have the soul of a writer," that I remembered how happy I am just to be playing in a world of my own making! And it's wholly refocused my goals as a writer. I want to be better, and I've begun investing in myself and that goal in real, measurable ways.
7|22: Summer Camp Community Sponsor and Diamond Wave Document Prompt Judge!!
Holy cats, y'all, I'm so freaking EXCITED!!!
If you've been following along, you might remember back in the middle of June when I applied to be a sponsor. Perhaps you were on stream with me on July 1 when I announced I had been accepted and would sponsoring one of the Diamond Wave prompts! Were you there when I announced on the 8th that I would be awarding a copy of the board game Azul AND it's expansion Crystal Mosaic, to the winner of my prompt? And finally...this week I revealed that the template for my prompt is a DOCUMENT!!!
Finally, today, Janet and Dimi announced the actual prompt I am sponsoring.
Somewhere in your world . . . an important public announcement that one person addressed to many!
But now that we know what the prompt is...I'll bet you'd like to know WHAT I'll be looking for! Well, fortunately, I'm here to tell you!
First off, don't worry about your grammar and spelling. Summer camp is about quantity, not quality, so I trust you'll polish these up later. Also, I recognize that English is not everyone's first language, and I think it's bold of you to submit ANYTHING in a second, third, or fourth language! Well done, you!
So, as long as I can understand you, that's all that matters. If you need help, hit up the World Anvil Discord and get a native English-speaker to give you some feedback! People there are happy to help!!
Next, I'm looking for articles that draw me in and make me want to know more. Bonus if you can make me laugh or give me the chills, if I'm being honest.
And that's pretty much it! I'm just really excited to see what y'all are going to contribute, and how the growth of your world-building will benefit from it.
Summer Camp 2023
Community AND pirates? Yar, count me in, matey Sailing Ocelot!