modelling mountains

I finished the first draft of a new book a couple of weeks ago, and as usual, started drawing maps as I read and made notes. However, maybe partly because of all the photographs of papier maché and clay Nim's Island mountains kids have sent me, I kept feeling that this time I had to do it in 3d. I didn't have clay, so I pulled out the old recipe for homemade playdough, and mixed up a quadruple batch.

After a happy afternoon of squeezing, shaping, pinching and rerolling, I had my mountain peak, and I'd learned a lot that I hadn't expected. Physically shaping it clarified the shape of the mountain and the trail - pretty much as I'd described it in the first draft, but instead of simply fixing it in my memory to ensure that it stays the same right through the book - so that my characters don't see the sunrise from the same point as the sunset a few chapters earlier - it gave me new insights. The physical reality firmed up some plot details, but it also seemed to point out new metaphors and meanings in the story.

I was hoping it would even give me a title, but it seems there's a limit even to playdough's powers...