I just had a breakthrough. I realized why I’m stuck in my current WIP. I had all this research about the Tang capital of Changan, but once I left the city, the geography becomes vague. As a result, two of my books became plagued with what I’ll call “stuck in the forest” syndrome. The characters travel through nebulous trees and mountains and rivers until they emerge in the inhabited world.
I’ll blame the wuxia trope for part of it. A huge component of those stories were travel. Technically, the fictional world where all those stories take place is Jianghu which simply means “rivers and lakes”. If you think of Tolkien’s Middle Earth as the characters traipse through Hobbiton and all the surrounding lands on their way to Mordor, that’s sort of what Jianghu is. And, with all due respect, Tolkien had a bit of “stuck in the forest” syndrome too. 🙂
So early on as a writer, I was criticized for becoming bogged down in description. As a result, I started glossing over details to skip to external action. But then, I was always given a lot of positive feedback for description. I think I learned something in the course of writing the subsequent books. I learned how to move my characters through Jianghu, through places and settings that were important. But now I’m back here, back at Book #1 and I realize I’ve got to get these characters out of the forest because Jianghu has more interesting adventures to offer them.
So I’m researching, honest! And not ummm…wasting time on the Internet when I should be writing.
Here’s a quick tour through some ancient sites. It’s amazing what they do with digital animation. *sigh*