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Some readers have expressed interest in seeing what I’ve been writing for my novel, Map of Daggers. I’ve been hesitant about putting it out there for all to see, but I can’t hide it forever if I want to get it published, right?

The following is my draft of Chapter 1. It’s rough. It will be revised multiple more times in the future. In particular, I’m aware that there’s a great deal of telling, but not a lot of showing. I would like to have that information come out more organically, rather than as an infodump at the beginning. 

Nevertheless, it is a window into the world of Tinggo, and I hope it offers a hint of the kind of book I’m writing.  Please feel free to add your comments if you like. 

Chapter 1 of Map of Daggers

The world is shaped like a thumb, bent back as though it was hitching across the Sea.  Most people only know the shape of the world because it’s written on a map.  But I’m the one who made the map.  Unlike most people, I have seen the far reaches of the world with my own eyes, dutifully transcribing every inch of the island’s coastline.  I have stood on the rocky northern shores, the sandy southern reaches, and even the very tip of the thumb, beyond which no one knows what lies.  This world is Tinggo, and it’s the only world we know.

My name is Zinke, the Head Cartographer of the Kingdom of Tinggo.  The maps I create have been lauded as intricately beautiful and faithfully accurate.  For this reason, five years ago when I was only 25 years old, King Meridian appointed me to the role of Head Cartographer, on his Council of Advisors.  It was an honor to serve my state, but my allegiance first and foremost belongs to a higher authority: the Cartographers Code.

I swear to carefully, honestly, and accurately depict all geographical features which I have been asked to depict. I shall not knowingly or intentionally create or publish a false map.  I aim to promote the enhanced knowledge of the physical world for the benefit of all people.  When helpful, I will assign metaphorical terminology to physical locations.

And so forth.

By correctly identifying the world as a thumb, I excelled in my duties under the Code where others have fallen short.  Rival cartographers dared to suggest that the world resembled a big toe or even a canine tooth; they were clearly wrong. 

What is it about maps that so capture a man’s imagination?  Why is it that the most complex concept can be so easily expressed by mappage*?  I can’t answer these questions, but the power of maps is evident to every man, woman, and child on the island.  Not everyone learns to write or even read, but everyone begins learning mapmaking from the tender age of 5, and a select few such as myself are accepted into the Cartography Academy at age 14.  There is no end to the number of uses for maps.  A map by a hostess to her party guests, showing the location of her home and the stall in the market where she expects each guest to purchase a dessert or flagon of wine.  A map by an angry boss to an unfortunate employee showing the route to the exit, and subsequently the “help wanted” board down the street.  A map by a hopeful boy to a girl with the location of a proposed amorous encounter. 

As for me, I am concerned with the most critical maps of all, based on census data and meteorological patterns.  The King displays my maps for all to see, in every public building across Tinggo.  With their wealth of demographic and economic data, my maps empower and free people, since no one is consigned to his own plot of land.  What comfort it is to know that my purpose is fulfilled, and the Code is honored, through my tireless efforts.  I always sleep easy, knowing that my work is for the good of all.

After returning from my most recent survey of the island, however, I began to fear that I had mapped myself out of a job.  I had finally confirmed definitively that Tinggo was the sole island in the Sea, without any other landforms in sight.  Now it seemed there was nothing left to map.  Although the King and I were good friends, I wondered how long I would retain my usefulness in a fully mapped world. 

But as the King and I reviewed my latest map in the office of his castle, a carrier pigeon from the West dropped a freshly-sealed scroll on his desk.  Chuckles were swallowed by the stony silence that suddenly set in.  I watched as the King solemnly unfurled the scroll and his worst suspicions were confirmed.  It showed our familiar map of the island, though crudely drawn.  The triangle of land on the Western tip, just where the fingernail of the thumb would be, was shaded a deep purple color, as typical, to signify the independent Kingdom of Divol.  But now the whole island had been shaded purple as well.  In the middle of the map, the Capital City of Cartopolis, where the King and I now sat, was a burning pyre.  The whole island had been renamed: Divol. 

The King looked across his desk at me.  We both knew that this was a declaration of war by the Divolians, no longer content with their corner of the island that they had occupied since breaking off from Tinggo forty years earlier.  The King seethed, immediately ordering a review of military resources and the drafting of battle maps.  It was back to the mapmaking board for me.


*Note: I know mappage is not a real word; my character is the type to make up new word structures to sound smart.