Chekov’s Sea Monsters

I am one of those writers who must have an explanation for everything. It’s pretty annoying sometimes, but always necessary for my “process.”

The Lightning-Maker’s Daughter is an alternate-history thingamadoodle, so that means I have to justify all the alternate-ness. Most of it is confined to my own noodle, or my Excel document I have to keep track of just this kind of thing.

I have airships in the novel, because airships are a pretty integral part of the aesthetics of dieselpunk, and I thought omitting them would be a disservice to the feel of the world. Also, airships are awesome. But since I have a compulsion to explain everything, I had to reason why my population uses airships rather than regular waterships.

Wrong watership! WRONG WATERSHIP!

The obvious answer is, of course, that there are giant sea monsters that make sea travel impossible.


Since The Lightning-Maker’s Daughter has nothing to do directly with these sea monsters, I didn’t mention them. They seemed like an extra bit of information that readers don’t really need to know about. Bringing them up would set up the expectation that later, there would be some kind of epic sea monster battle, and that is not going to happen. Chekov’s sea monster.

Until someone asked about the airships. “Why are there airships?”

And of course my answer was:

I’m not saying it’s sea monsters, but…

And this person said, “You have sea monsters that have a profound effect on the world and you didn’t think bringing them up was important??”

I said, “Well, when you say it like that…”

So now I’m adding sea monsters. Well, I’m adding references to sea monsters. It’s going better than I’d planned. And this means I need an extra column in my spreadsheet.

Good feelings all around!

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