This is the fun part.
After soliciting 4 editors’ perspectives plus a few read-throughs from my partner, I’ve now got a much better sense of what I need to do to communicate the story more clearly.
The number one comment from all of these readers was that they’d like to see a map of the story’s context, and this was shared across all off them. So, here we go–I’m finally beginning to scribble out some maps on my iPad and I’m soliciting professional map illustrations from some freelancers on Upwork. Those should be ready by the end of May, if not before.
My initial scribbles, with some commentary, are below.
What I’ve found is that some of my careful initial thoughts about dimensions of various objects–such as Range pillars, captain’s towers, and the Great Pylon–had to change as I began drafting this out. These kinds of details are the “tail that wags the dog”, in a sense.
For instance, it makes far more sense to have 77 Range pillars comprising the barrier (as opposed to a smaller number, such as 21–my original inclination), because this allows for segments of energy barrier between each pillar of roughly 200-250 feet, and 200*76 = 15,200 feet, so the Range can span around a roughly 3 mile curve.
The reason I point this out is because I wanted the captains in each of the towers to be able to easily keep tabs on a few segments of Range barrier, each, and that puts an upper limit on the size of those segments. Military messaging has, in ancient times, even, included drums, audible signals, flags, and horse messengers, to name a few. But the military context in this story is one of a constant siege defense, as demons assail the settlement(s) from the Deep Desert, to the north. Thus, I wanted something more straightforward, like verbal commands and signals relayed up and down the line. There is no artillery or gunfire to shout over, and even the demons make no noise as they attack, so the only sound would be the strum of bow strings and the grunts of humans.
Because of this, verbal commands make sense, and so do small monitoring areas for the captains in the towers. And by the way, the choice of 77 pillars of roughly 200-250 feet apart meant that I would need about 21 towers along the same, 3-mile stretch of barrier, because each captain could monitor a span of roughly 1/8 mile to the east and west of their position.
Then, everything else had to be drawn to scale, as well. The width of the deployed tents of the defenders stationed along the Range would comfortably be about a half-mile, north to south, to allow for flexibility in redeployment of the Range barrier (the task of the Range Commander). Then, there are the buffering sands spanning about 1 mile north-to-south between the Range and the core, because this distance has to be great enough to allow for a retreat and regroup if a horde breaks through the Range (minimum), while also being close enough to the Great Pylon for the individual Range Pillars to draw power from it (maximum). That, and the feasible footprint of the dozens and dozens of stone and wood cabins in the core itself, which houses all of Gamma’s civilian population, allowing for grazing land for animals and farming land for crops (especially harkroot, Gamma’s chief export and main crop), rounded out the rest of the scale considerations for Camp Gamma.
Boy, this has been an iterative process.