Thursday, February 12, 2009

When is a Mile Not a Mile?

Last night I tried to draw some maps for the Ghost of Ping-Ling. A few of the early readers suggested it would be helpful, but so far I've put it at the dark depths of my too-hard basket. As soon as I started doing it I remembered why.

Unfortunately, when I wrote a lot of the story I failed to sit down and work out basics like how long it would a person running to get from A to B, or how long a person on horeseback would take to get from C to D. This means realistically speaking some of my characters could not be in the place they are at the time they are, unless some of them flew while others chained concrete balls to their legs (or hooves).

To solve this I need to redraw the map, but when I do that I introduce other timing issues at earlier or later points in the story. Should I just throw my hands up in the air and hope nobody notices this? Probably I should point out that none of the nine readers identified this as a problem - although two of them said they had a gut feel something was wrong with the timing. To which I replied something thoughtful along the lines of 'gut-feel gut-schmeel'.

But I think when it comes to this book I must be something of a perfectionist, I just can't let it slide. So I started redrawing the map, writing out timelines for where everybody is and when, researched how long a horse takes to travel at trot, canter, gallop and walk, and so forth. It's still not fixed, but it will be, whatever it takes...

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