Ashcombe man thy vanity keep thee
Till Love shines Beauty and in purity
Till shattered heart within pierce free
And with single breath, mirror pass’ed be
If you’ve read my book ‘Shattered’ you’ll recognise these words, and know how they fit into the ‘world’ of the story. When I wrote the story, I didn’t realise that I was writing a ‘world’. I thought world building was what sci-fi and pure fantasy authors did. I mean JRR Tolkin created maps and languages, histories and cultures. I had a girl show up in a ‘haunted’ manor.
A few months ago an internet friend showed interest in how I created the ‘mirror world’ in Shattered. I really, really had to think about it. After thinking about it, I shook my head and told myself that I hadn’t created a world. After all, the story is set in England. That’s not a ‘created world’. It exists. As I’ve mentioned before, past high school English, I don’t have an education in writing, so I’m not always aware of the exact ‘science’ of writing a story. However, the question kept going through my head.
So, to shake it off, I went on a research mission. I researched ‘world-building’ in writing.
There are many blogs, websites and tips/tools for world building. They teach similar things. I’m not going into a list of the things I learned about world building (although I’m planning another post for that), but I am going to mention the main ‘theme’ as it were, that I picked up from my research.
World building is basically ‘the rules and boundaries around the internal workings of the world’. And it doesn’t simply relate to ‘place’.
Like a stunned mullet, I came to realise that I had actually created a ‘world’. The world of the curse and the workings of Bastian’s reality within the mirrors. Now that I had a grasp of that, I had to go back and find how I had actually managed to implement the mirror world.
The curse only potentially affects men of the Ashcombe family line.
The curse is activated by a particular action. (No spoilers – go read the book 😛 )
The curse is set against one particular mirror, and traps its victims in a solitary world behind the mirrors of Ashcombe Manor.
The ‘one particular mirror’ cannot be smashed, broken or destroyed by ‘normal’ means.
The riddle of the curse is the creation of the curse and the clue on how to break it.
There is one more rule about the ‘particular mirror’, but it’s a huge spoiler. Um…ripples are involved.
“Reflections…like sunbeams into a room.”
The mirror world
The world is empty darkness.
There are no solid items.
The mirrors of Ashcombe Manor are like windows, allowing the victim to see into the ‘solid’ world.
Reflections enter the world like sunbeams into a room. This a ‘rule’ I consciously added. It was an image in my head that I couldn’t get rid of. Instead of light, translucent images of furniture and items ‘beaming’ into the world.
When an item is reflected into the mirror world, the victim can solidify it for his use.
Solidification requires concentration and if the victim loses concentration he loses the use of the item.
The victim doesn’t require sleep.
The victim doesn’t require food.
There is no hot or cold in the mirror world.
The victim doesn’t physically age.
No sound passes from the mirror world into the solid world.
Sounds from the solid world into the mirror world is distorted. All sounds are muffled while shrill sounds are amplified.
No one can fully and sustainability see the victim of the mirror world unless there is love between the two. –> I have a confession to make. I may have bent this rule just a little bit. I needed to have Mattie see Bastian for the story to work. So in their case … unless there was the potential for love between them. (Hey, I’m the author. I’m allowed)
There is one more rule between worlds, but again…spoilers. Think – mirror-reversed writing.
“Once the rules are set into place…”
Although I did bend one rule slightly, the research I did, emphatically emphasised that even the author cannot BREAK the rules s/he has created for their worlds. Once the rules are set into place, they are fixed.
Since the world within ‘Shattered’ was organically created, as in without knowing I was creating a world or creating rules and boundaries for a ‘world’, I think I did a pretty good job at not breaking any of them. As to the ‘why’ of creating the rules as I did, to be honest, I don’t know. Other than…that was what made sense to me as I was writing.
Now that I know more about world building and what it actually is, I’m finding it a fun process. There’s a certain megalomaniac element in creating rules that the characters (and I) must follow. And I thank Susan Roberts for setting up the challenge for me to discover the hidden world within Shattered.
If there are any more ‘rules’ that you’ve found in ‘Shattered’ that I may have unwittingly created, and I haven’t mentioned above, please feel free to let me know.