Summer Camp 2023: Round 3, BEGIN! in The River | World Anvil
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Summer Camp 2023: Round 3, BEGIN!

It's June again, and that means Summer Camp is almost here! I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also dreading it a little. I have pulled off Diamond for my last two Summer Camps, and both times I felt wrung out by the end of July. So I have to ask myself--is it worth aiming for Diamond a third time?


I don't write unless I have either divine inspiration or a deadline. Inspiration doesn't strike as often as I like, which is why I've spent a quarter century messing around in my world without getting much of anywhere. I was referred to World Anvil almost four years ago, and I've made tremendous progress since then. Most of that has been driven by challenges. The prompts get me looking at my world from new angles, and the time limit gets me to prioritize writing. Summer Camp has been particularly fruitful, so once again I'm going to dive in for Diamond.

The World

In all my time on World Anvil I've had just one world: The Ocean, an alternate Earth with an additional magic-like natural law. Although the bulk of my work has been concentrated on its recent events, I've had articles scattered all over its 12,000-year history. But now, just in time for Summer Camp, I've taken all the prehistory articles and moved them to a world of their own. It's called The River because I'm still bad at names, it has a shiny new meta, and it will be dedicated to the Neolithic precursor of the Ocean civilizations. There isn't a lot in it right now, so it's the ideal setting to focus on for Summer Camp. In fact, it's a really good setting in which to explore...


Power in the world of The River is held exclusively by women--so exclusively that there is no such thing as men, just older and larger boys. The woman with the most power is the village matriarch, called Woman Woman, who has the authority of a mother over other women. Her power is rooted in her position within their religious and social hierarchy:
the moon > trees > Woman Woman > women > girls > boys
A threat to the chain is a threat to Woman Woman's dominance, giving her plenty of incentive to enforce participation in the ceremonies.   Another powerful woman is Spirit-talker, who has influence in the realm of intangible conditions that affect the body. Her role is more secure since it is based in the efficacy of her work with spirits, but that itself depends on mystery and secrecy. By holding her knowledge back and performing complex rituals, she makes sure the rest of the women stay dependent on her--including Woman Woman. There is always some tension between these two roles: Woman Woman can command Spirit-talker, but can never quite trust her; Spirit-talker can advise Woman Woman, but can't contradict her.   Because the setting is so limited--a single village--the power dynamics are all small-scale...but there's nothing small about it to the women involved. To them, the village is the whole world. All conflict is serious, because their greatest need is stability. As long as their way of life is steady and unchanging, the women can feel secure in their safety despite the inherent dangers of the…


The village of my setting IS the frontier, the last village in the chain, the farthest humans have settled. It is also the most isolated, as each new settlement has to be farther from the last to benefit from a sufficiently clean section of river. That level of isolation is risky, but it's a better alternative than starvation. Their agriculture isn't efficient enough to feed a dense population, and when a village outgrows its ability to provide, someone has to take a chance on starting another settlement in new territory.   But just because there are no other humans in the area doesn't mean there are no people. The valley is also occupied by giant apes who have already learned that any confrontation with these invaders rarely turns to their own advantage. As the villages advance down the river, the apes have retreated for their own safety, limiting contact with the dangerous strangers. The women have stories about giants dating back to the earliest encounters, useful for scaring children into good behavior. Contact is rare now, but is always possible as women continue to push their boundaries.   There is also an ideological frontier. The hierarchy described above has gone unquestioned for many generations, but it won't hold forever. New ideas are inevitable, and once they shake up the system it will either adapt or collapse. Those who adapt will be the ones who survive to become...


This world is the ancient history. Their everyday tools will be their descendants' relics. Well...some of them. Conventional wisdom holds that history is written by the winners, but in this case it's the losers who will leave their mark on the future, and the winners who will disappear without a trace. In the aftermath of the conflict will arise a number of new practices that will become long-standing tradition. In all my articles I will include a glimpse of what the future holds, whether the subject is something carried over to the modern world or lost to history.   That said, these people didn't spring up out of the riverbank--they have a history of their own. However, being mostly concerned with living year to year, they don't tend to keep well-preserved artifacts out of sentiment. The only relics they have are the stories they tell, the games they play, the skills they teach, the customs they follow, and the rituals they perform. Of course, that doesn't preclude the existence of some artifacts. There just might be, say, some perfectly round and white rock that Woman Woman believes is evidence of her connection to the moon, or maybe Spirit-talker has a carved figurine that she's sure knows where to find the sacred mushrooms. Who knows?  


In my limited world of a single culture, it's not a question of how different cultures communicate with each other--it's how such widely separated villages maintain a single unified culture. Women almost never travel between villages, and the dense forest rules out any form of line-of-sight communication. Contact between villages depends on the boy packs that migrate during the dry season. They carry news news up and down the river and, by keeping the villages connected in this way, they are also the reason that everyone speaks the same language.   That's not the only language in use, however. Each social group maintains its own particular style of speech for their own purposes. The women use a ceremonial register to discuss matters that boys and girls aren't allowed to know about. Likewise, the girls in each village speak an ever-evolving dialect with each other to keep their mothers out of their business, and boys have a code they use to alert each other to trouble without also alerting any women or girls within earshot.
As much as I'd love to do Summer Camp completely in this new world, I can't make any promises. I'll use the wild cards as much as I have to, but I reserve the right to go back to my primary world for prompts that I can't fit into this one.

Copper update

I finally submitted my eighth prompt...but it's been nearly two weeks. That diamond badge appears to be fast receding into the distance. Not because I can't match the prompts to my world--I have ideas for every one of them, which I didn't think would be possible--but I'm having far more trouble than I anticipated just sitting down and writing complete sentences. But the good news is the ideas. Whether I can write the articles or not, my world has exploded into details just like I'd hoped.

Silver Update

I made it to 16 prompts, but it's the 24th. It'll be an ugly week if I'm going to reach diamond. But I have ideas and drafts started, and just adding a hundred words to multiple articles every day could get me to this finish line. In the meantime, my world now has so much more history than I ever knew! Other villages actually exist now!

Gold Update that I've reached gold I'm feeling so much better. I really like yellow, so I wouldn't be too disappointed if I don't end up hitting diamond. But...I still want to. I have enough ideas to do it. If I can just throw enough words at them...


Happy dance! I wrote all the articles I needed to reach my goal! I don't have to write any more! Except...I want to. I have ideas I haven't finished, and ideas I didn't have before. It wasn't until Dimitris revealed the last surprise prompts that I realized my world has a secret society guarding an ugly truth revealed by a continuation of the creation myth, and that there's an initiation ceremony for this society that involves the use of a significant object, and...and...
*cracks knuckles*
Well I'll just see what I can do.

I don't believe it.

I...I actually made it.  All 42 articles.  All the ideas that were spawned, everything developed--not fully, exactly, but well enough to submit.  And with 59 minutes to spare.  With that,
Yes, I'm wrung out.  But I'm also feeling so good.  Even though I now have to go back and rewrite my story.  But it's going to be better, because of the richness and depth that was missing before.  Summer Camp, you have done it again.

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Sage nnie
Annie Stein
8 Jun, 2023 18:17

Best of luck with Diamond! I hope you take good care of yourself, so that you can feel better come august.

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore! | Summercamp in Solaris
9 Jun, 2023 05:58

Thanks, nnie! I'll be careful not to burn myself out. The prep made last year's Summer Camp easier than my first, so I'm optimistic. Also, thanks to you, I'm heading into it with quite a bit more confidence.

From The River to The Ocean, a civilization grows up.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
9 Jun, 2023 07:07

So glad to hear it! You have all reason to be confident. You've got this!

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore! | Summercamp in Solaris
8 Jun, 2023 22:28

Good luck on your diamond streak! :D You've got this! Which kind of article template are you most hoping for in the upcoming prompts?

Creator of the dark fantasy world of Melior
9 Jun, 2023 06:12

Thanks, TJ, your encouragement is always such a boost! I'd have to say I'm hoping for characters, if only because 85% of my stub articles are characters. That aside...maybe traditions?   Best of luck to you as well!

From The River to The Ocean, a civilization grows up.
9 Jun, 2023 14:56

Thank you! :D Oooo yes - and those two kinda go hand in hand and are easy to link together as well!   I'm super excited to see what the next theme of prompts will be... not long to wait now :D

Creator of the dark fantasy world of Melior