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19th Anniversary post: What I Would Have Done Differently - Joelle's misc
February 17th, 2012
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19th Anniversary post: What I Would Have Done Differently
[Originally composed Feb 2012, tweaked January 2018]

Looking Back: What I Would Have Done Differently


From reading my two chief 15th anniversary essays, 'Defender Rising' and 'Characters and Transitions,' it is apparent that I was far from methodical in the development of The Defender and Geren's 'world.' Characters originated from mental images, while world-building itself spread outward through and from the oldest stories: Imro's tale, Brann getting the Mastersword, the first meeting of Geren and the Defender, the death of Heruvael. The closest I got to being really organized about my world-building was through making a timeline as early as 1994, and keeping it since then. Maps didn't get started until years later.

Because it was so organic, character-driven, and rather random, and because I was so young, it's easy to guess that I would do things differently now, were I in the same position. At least it wasn't my first time world-building. As 'Defender Rising' and my 18th anniversary essay reveals, I'd spent much imaginative time in other places as well. But when I first 'met' The Defender in February of 1993, I had no idea that dabbling with story-spinning would grow and spread and keep me occupied for just a year shy, at this point, of two decades.

So yes, there are things I would do differently, were I in the position to 'start over' right now, or slip my younger self a note back during those college days. But I am very glad to say that there are not many.

The World and its Sister

This one goes first and foremost, since it irks me the most. I don't know how much I discussed this outside of my entry post for (now-defunct) Renewer_Rising LJ page, but when I first conceived of t'DoL and Geren's world, I imagined it as lost history in our own world, set during the tale-end of some ice age. I subsequently abandoned this, for a number of reasons. However, it left me with the relic fact of the world and its Sister being a similar size and proportion (and orbit, declination, rotation speed, etc) to each other as the earth and the moon.

What I wish I had now was a proportion between the world and its Sister more like that between Pluto and Charon, size-wise. Something much closer to a binary planet system, though probably not tidally locked. So why didn't I make this change years ago? One big pesky reason: Kepler's third Law of planetary motion!

So if I make the Sister larger, and also back it away from the world to mitigate the damage of too-strong gravitational pull (yielding destructive tides and a lot more volcanoes), I'd end up with a longer period. And, alas, that would destroy the lunar calendar the humans and hyarmi use in my novels. I would have to tear up a lot, just to deal with the repercussions of a larger Sister, which does not even have any direct beneficial effect on my Geren books. (The Fourth Emissary and the 'Renewer Rising' novels are another matter.)

Not only that, but the story in the latter two Geren books (let alone the Triune novels) would be altered by the fact that a longer period for the Sister would mean longer intervals when the Sister was 'new' and the Subverted were free to hunt unseen, as well as longer intervals between those intervals. Worse than all that, I'd have to throw out the eclipse data I'd used (based off real-world stats/intervals) and that would be an ugly loss indeed. The off-stage eclipse in Geren book 2 is key, as are the ones in book 4 and especially early book 5. A larger Sister could make solar eclipses commonplace and complete lunar eclipses impossible, while a longer period would make those events more spread out.

Hence, why I've been 'trapped' by Kepler's third law into staying with my old arrangement from the mid-90s. The other related change to the world that I might have made lay in changing the continents to be less obviously like those of our world in an ice age. But there are too many stories and too many maps for me to endeavor to make such a sweeping overhaul now. So be it.


Of Things with Wings

Well, the avarii in particular. Fretting about avarii body structure and how it is too overtly human-like in most externals, at the expense of biological realism, is something I've done at regular intervals over the years. Yes, I've done things like give them gravity shields and work that trait into their racial history, an amazing digestive system, and other such tweaks. Yet the reason I've resisted going in the direction of the avarii being more externally birdlike is because the tension of the effect of avarii glamour on avarii-human relations is just too important, and deep, a thing for me to forsake. Thematically, emotionally, artistically, viscerally, philosophically...just can't give it up. And I will certainly have fun with exploring the matter in more depth through my work with the Triune novels. Yet it still niggles at me from time to time, pesky perfectionist that I am.


The Five Spirits and Their Races

Yes, I realize that it's the six spirits of creation which get mentioned in various stories and novels, but the as-yet-unrevealed fact is that one got lumped in that group which doesn't quite belong. Yet over the years, as I've gained a little more familiarity with the Lord of Forests, Lord of Air, Queen of Meadows (later Earth), Queen of Night, and their races, it's become more clear to me how much the Lord of the Sea just doesn't 'fit.'

Alongside this fact is the realization, years too late, of how much fun it would have been to work with an ocean-dwelling/water-dwelling race. (Though not a cobbled-together, human-obsessed chimera as too many mermaids seem to be.) Since I have no intention of abandoning the Defender or his world ere I die, that won't be happening in this lifetime. It would change affairs enormously, of course, to have such a race around in Geren's time, and it would have caused a huge impact on the 'Renewer Rising' novels in particular. But the idea came to me far too late to tear everything up and redo just for the...fun of another race.

So I'll just have to content myself with enjoying such creations from other authors, and grit my teeth over the niggling fact that the Sea-Lord doesn't seem to 'fit' with the other four guardian spirits. Considering how my mind works, I'll probably have a revelation someday that will snap that oddness into place. But it hasn't happened yet.


And that's it! I'm glad the list is so short, though of course it'd be nice to have it shorter...

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