The World Is My Oyster (or associated mollusc)

Let’s talk a little about Project: Carpark.

The first thing you need to know about Project: Carpark is that it is not a story set in either of the Warhammer worlds. It’s an original baby, with original characters. But the world in which it is set is boggling my tiny, tiny brain.

When I first got the writing gig with the Black Library, a few people said to me ‘it must be easy to write in an existing world’. Wrong. It’s actually pretty complicated. For a start, the world has ‘edges’. Boundaries. A set of rules and regulations of things that already exist. Writing within the confines of an existing universe is a lot harder, I think, than people might realise.

A lot of people write Warhammer fanfiction. A lot of it is exceptional. But a lot of it doesn’t colour in between the lines of the world as it exists. It goes over the edges with cheerful abandon. And that’s absolutely fine – it’s why fanfiction exists. To shape the world around your story, not the other way around. You are writing within guidelines that have been in place for a long time and if you stray even a few feet from the edge, someone somewhere is there to gently pull you back in. (Or possibly drop-kick you back in depending on who it is).

By comparison, Project: Carpark is set in a world that’s partly of my own devising (cryptic, I know, but y’know. I’ll explain more when I’m allowed to). So that means I can bend the world in which it is set to fit the story I have to tell, right?

Wrong again.

This story requires some alarmingly careful world building, but it’s world building with certain constraints. Let’s put it this way. I have to be exceptionally careful with the geography and it’s starting to become a hindrance. In the middle of writing a scene, my brain will suddenly go ‘wait, is this actually geographically right?’ Then I have to check. Then, as I am wont to do, I get distracted by something entirely unrelated and the next thing you know I’m attempting to bake macaroons and the writing’s forgotten.

Which isn’t to say that I’m not enjoying the freedom of my ‘own world’ – there are certain elements of it that are great fun to play with and the characters are evolving nicely. Of a core group of six main characters, I now have four in place and am about to bring in the fifth. The fifth will be fun, because her impact on the other four will be highly entertaining.

Not for them, though. My laugh is an evil laugh.

Now that I’m working on the edits to Project: Loophole as well as writing Project: Carpark, the other thing that’s happening is the division of time. I have to juggle a full time job, writing a novel and editing another, along with my own personal need to ensure I have ‘me’ time. Tuesday night, for example, is now officially my ‘day off’ from writing (although I will still bimble through and do the odd edit here and there). Tuesday night is SW:TOR PvE night. Massively therapeutic. I’m starting to get something of a rhythm going: an hour on Carpark, an hour on Loophole, another hour divided between them both then Me Time. (All timings are approximate and are subject to change at the management’s whim. Please keep your arms and legs inside the blog at all times and remember! No flash photograph!)

Project: Carpark is now about 2/3rds into first draft completion and I’ve realised that the story I want to tell is probably twice the size of the planned word count. Again, this isn’t an entirely bad thing. I’ve adopted a slightly different approach to this story, which is to get the core of the story written and then go back and ‘pad’ out the world and surroundings accordingly. It’s actually working rather well for me. I’ve also broken my ‘linear’ rule and am writing out of order. I’ve found that if I’m struggling with a particular scene, I’ll simply put a placeholder in and jump forward to another scene.

If this sounds haphazard, don’t be fooled. My draft document is full of comments and mark-ups. It will all slot together. Like a jigsaw puzzle.

It will. Slot. Together.

[Insert boundless optimism here]

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