Saturday, May 19, 2018

Building a battleship

Worldbuilding is an essential part of speculative fiction, and it’s something I enjoy at least as much as the actual writing. In fact, there’s a visual part of worldbuilding that I’ve come to regard as a natural extension of the visual arts that have always been a part of my life long before I started writing.

While I’ve been writing The Ashes of Home some of my time has been devoted to a massive drawing project. The project is a detailed deck plan of the ancient battlewagon Admiral George Leonard that forms the backdrop to about a quarter of the story.

Because Shayla spends so much time on board this vast battleship I needed a clear idea of the general layout, and enough detail of specific locations to be able to write scenes effectively. I’ve previously posted about the importance to me of visualizing the physical setting as a way of avoiding the dreaded writer’s block.

Of course, I fleshed out enough detail for story purposes ages ago, and I could easily have stopped there. But this project has gained a life of its own, and is close to completion.

Over the next few weeks I plan to talk a bit more about the parallel processes - conceptualizing the ship itself, the influences and thinking that went into its design, and the challenges of converting this into drawing, keeping track of a wealth of detail across two thousand feet in length and thirteen decks.

And in case you are wondering, yes, this is the ship depicted on the book cover.


  1. I never put that much into any of the ships in my books. Except the last one since the Dragon held a living entity within its walls.

  2. Hi Alex, purely for the purpose of the book, I had no need to either. However this kind of activity is an interest in its own right for me, quite separate from the writing.

  3. Sounds cool. I did do a sketch of a spaceship for *House of Stats* -- but it was a much, much smaller vessel!

    When I was a kid, I never tired of drawing plans for huge multipurpose spacecraft. Looking forward to hearing about this one. :)

  4. Rick, that was me too, always drawing stuff like that :) I'm hoping this will interest some like-minded folks out there. More coming tomorrow.

  5. Hi Ian - how lucky you are to be able to create your illustration as you've seen its development in your mind's eye while writing your book and putting Shayla in various places on the ship. I look forward to reading, seeing and learning more - cheers Hilary

  6. Hilary, more forthcoming ... like today :)


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