Words and Chaos

Month: May, 2016

A Novel Idea, Week V – Laline Paull, The Bees

For May we’re talking about Laline Paull’s ‘The Bees’.

Published in 2014 by Fourth Estate, this is Laline Paull’s debut novel. It was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2015 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize for New Fiction 2015.

Listen to it:
Laline Paul, The Bees

Scenery clusters

The other day I posted about the scenery generating clusters I was using. I thought I would post a few up and perhaps give some people a couple of ideas.

Small island Channel Trench Crater Shrubland
Savannah Narrow river FeaturesTorch Urban – Town
Steppe Basin An irrigation ditch Animal Bones Flagstones
Tundra River Stones Cobblestones A pile of logs
Desert Natural arch Bushes Burial site Plains
Woodland Estuary Stocks Stones A chair
Small island Valley Tunnel Dormitory Dairy farm
Woodland Crater Pathway Lava flow Crumbling wall
Woodland Headland Alcove A bedroll Mesa
Large island Gulf Scene generatorRotten food Crater
Steppe Dale Vale Torch Smithy
Desert Valley Alcove Glacier Smithy
Savannah Valley Winding road Animal skull Cross roads
Grassland Oasis Workbench Wall Boulder
Jungle Glen Bank Fresh blood Stream
Sandy coast Plateau Lake Berries Pools
Shrubland Gully School Poultry farm Plains
Grassland Peninsula Floodplain Butchers Peak
Woodland Shelf Some tablets Tanning frame Impaler’s spike
Jungle Mountain pass Signpost Overhang Dense undergrowth
Small island Volcano A fresh meal Crater Floodplain
Mesa Peninsula Mountains Small religious building Human skull
Large island Lagoon Natural arch Poultry farm A firepit
Steppe Vale Marsh Market Grassland
Forest Narrow river Bank Dune Church
Sandy coast Trench Rocky coast Stairwell Bell
Savannah Geyser Tomb Prison Sign
Shrubland Oasis Fallen Branches Cottage Lookout post
Subterranean Shelf Sand hill Skilled Carving Watermill
Woodland Lake Bell tower Pyre Herbs
Forest Natural arch Discarded Wagon Wheel Forest Standing stones
Sandy coast Waterfall Road Pond Gulch
Shrubland Shore Kiln Mountain pass Few trees
Mesa Ridge Large island Furnace Taiga
Mesa Channel Roadside inn Stream Impaler’s spike
Sandy coast Channel Fruit Overgrowth Ranch
Marsh Sinkhole Lava flow House A doorway
Small island Crater A herb garden Carving A ditch
Woodland Dry lake Chains Knoll Dung
Marsh Urban – City Pillar Old blood Bog
Desert Natural arch Alcove Terrain:Some chairs
Woodland Mountain pass Pool Fallen birds nest Thicket
Mesa Urban – slum Gorge Gem mine Elaborate altar
Large island Vent Shelf Discarded Wagon Wheel Ruins
Desert Peak A ditch Rocky overhang Natural arch
Tundra Urban – City Kiln Wasp nest Desert
Mountains Lava lake Bee hive Library Carving
Shrubland Narrow river Breaking wheel Pit Church
Subterranean Pools River River A crater
Grassland Crater Gulch Pit Lake

Scenery Shenanigans

I’ve been experimenting with scenery generation. I divided it by biome, terrain type, and then three features. So it spits out something like this:

Mountains Cape Few trees Bars A crater
Woodland Knoll Small religious building Flagstones Furnace
Mountains Bay Old Ash Many boulders Ore mine
Jungle Peak Boards A bed Bench
Taiga Saltflat Cross roads Plain obelisk A lean-to
Taiga Dale Gallows Bee hive Gutter
Marsh Chasm Quarry An irrigation ditch Broken wagon
Shrubland Flatland Carved Obelisk Pile of stones Standing stones
Rainforest Overhang Fresh corpses Lighthouse Bell
Rainforest Estuary Skilled Carving Ring of sharp stakes Ruins

I’m not sure if biome is technically the correct term, to be honest, but it’s broader than something like ‘a hill’, so it’ll do. Regardless, it works pretty well for me. I was able to get the following out of it in about ten minutes:

‘There’s an island off the cape. At an abandoned building site on the island you find a single chair and a wagon wheel.’

‘A stretch along the peninsula is dominated by seed strewn shrubland and haphazard nests of insects. There is also a discarded crate.’

‘In a savannah, on a river bank, the road runs out. The end of the road is marked by a broad pillar besides which is a scruffy merchant’s shop.’

‘A rocky glacial coastline where someone built a lighthouse. Apparently they had a preoccupation with punishment. The bottom of the lighthouse features a prominent scaffold and a pair of heavy chains nailed to a rockface.’

‘Through the highlands, beside an inlet, you find a bedroll tucked under a sign directing you to a pig farm.’

‘The woodland ravine used to contain a river. That river has long run dry. Now there are just disparate bones and skeletons. And a noose…’

‘A series of bluffs out in the plains mark the location of a temple surrounded by high fences. A nearby tree buzzes with the endless work of a beehive.’

‘A stone-strewn estuary, where they set prisoners to work on a farm as a means to earn their redemption. When they weren’t planting crops and looking after animals, they’d make things in the workshop. There’s still the famous blocked up tunnel under the walls where some of the prisoners made their escape…’

‘A coastal hamlet with a prominent bell tower. It sits on a broad hill surrounded by a ring of sharpened stakes. At the foot of the hill, by the side of the road, there’s a scaffold with a noose.’

‘A dry river bed threads through the bluffs of a small island populated by nothing much apart from the berry bushes. Outside of the dry riverbed, the only thing remarkable about the island is the tall impaler’s spike.’

I was able to sketch a little map out based on ten of these. The geography f the whole thing almost certainly doesn’t make much sense – there’s a lava lake more or less next to a tundra. Also, because it goes from the macro right down to the micro, if you’re trying to use it as a mapping inspiration it’s a bit weird to try and mark something like a beehive in a forest. There’s ways and means around things like that – a key or something at the side, but it was an interesting experiment and kind of worked.

Word Clusters #31: Moist Whip

Looks like I missed April. I did originally post this back on the 15th, but I think I posted it as an entire page… rather than a post. Well done me.

They’re Storytelling
Cat-folk Loopholes
Breakwaters Sagacious
Theorise Jet Boat
Overt Longswords
Grievance Unprotected
Courtly Funicular Railway
Slopes Facility
Extended Dissension
Regional Face
Serving Platter Warranty
Universe Freshly
Tenet Sweet
Moist Whip
Measles Advancements
Hornes Bull Snake
Schooner Retaliate
Hoped Dismembered
Alemannia Doomspinner
Support Beachcomber
Chaotes Non-Standardized
Vitalizing Woolf
Mississippi Circumvented
Sovereign Consultation
Nsa’s Rebellion
Accompaniment Breadknife
Cryion Cracked
Wing Chair Soybeans
Gold Leaf Garnished
Family Tree Looted
Wished Generalized
Standin Receding
Icicle Headmaster
Useless Peak-Capped
Deely Doleful
Showroom Faults
Knock-Back Causeway
Surf Waterspout
Economy Soaked
Rending Daytime
Hairline Invention
Taker Rile
Glamorous Committed
Meat-Eater Noon
Cart Whispers
Elusive Viking
Climatology Megaraptor
Wedge-like Swarm