The novel I’m working on writing, tentatively called The Ascendants, is my most ambitious to date.
This means more storylines, more characters, more places, and more cultures. More of everything. More chances to fuck things up.
It started as a world-building exercise between myself and my brother. I created a spreadsheet with a list of details I might need to know about a region, its people, and their culture. He and I filled out several of these, creating the foundation of the world that I then used to develop the concept for the story.
This process helped us create a unique and interesting world, full of details that I’ve personally never come across in speculative fiction.
For example, one culture’s currency is literally their word. The wealthiest aren’t necessarily those who have amassed the most stuff, but those who most reliably keep their promises.
There’s a religious sect that shuns vision so worshippers wear blindfolds throughout their lives. They have developed a tonal language where every word is a unique series of notes. Each individual must become a virtuosic singer in order to be understood.
One country is full of trees with a variety of magical powers. The wood of one tree, for example, remains connected even when separated – if one piece is lit on fire, all of the wood from that tree spontaneously ignites, wherever in the world they might be.
These are all things that I might not have come up with on my own and cumulatively, they will ensure that The Ascendants is the most unique fantasy novel I’ve ever written.