An Editor’s View of the U.S.A.

Dear Sam,

I have just completed an initial read-through of your manuscript. As your editor, I have some concerns about the setting for your story. Basically, your attempt at world-building just doesn’t work.

Let’s begin with the clunky, uncreative name: “United States of America.” What are citizens of this land going to call themselves? They can’t be “Americans” because according to your own world map, you’ve included two continents labeled “America” that contain over thirty distinct countries. Your citizens would have to be “United Statesers,” and that’s just clumsy.

Speaking of your map, let’s take a look at the one you submitted for your country. It takes up an entire continent, spanning some 5,000 miles from east to west. That’s not even taking into account the completely disconnected areas in the extreme north and far south. Have you stopped and thought through the logistics of administrating a single country of that size?

Let me answer for you: No. You have not. You’ve broken this vast swath of land into fifty separate regions. 50! That’s insane. Nobody would be able to keep up with fifty distinct states.

In fact, even you ran out of interest, judging from how you drew your map. Here, let me refresh your memory:

ancient-antique-antique-map-269646

It’s obvious that you just stopped trying somewhere around Missouri.

And let’s talk about some of these names you’ve slapped on these “states.” Lots of “new” states. Where are the old ones? Are these some kind of post-apocalyptic areas that have risen from ashes? In that case, why are three of them clustered in one section, while the last one is clear across the map? No logical sense here!

And you have 3 pairs of states: North and South Carolina, North and South Dakota, and Virginia and West Virginia. What? What happened to North Virginia and South Virginia? Or at least EAST Virginia and West Virginia?

It makes sense that the regional divisions would have capital cities. But here, once again, you blew right past the logical decision. If you’ve got a place called Massachusetts (for whatever hellish reason you would), then your capital ought to be “Massachusetts City.” Same for Florida or Colorado or Nebraska. You got so close with Nevada and Missouri. So close.

I saw that you did include a Kansas City. Then I looked closer and — I’ll be honest with you,  at this point I cried.

I have a few suggestions for how to clean up this mess of a map you’ve created.

1.  Reduce the size of your country. As it is, the landscapes, environments, available foods, and economic stresses will vary wildly from one border to the other. Nobody can keep all that straight.

2.  Some states appear to be interchangeable, such as: New Hampshire and Vermont; Alabama and Mississippi; New Mexico and Arizona; Oregon and Washington. I recommend consolidating them.

3.  In fact, I’ve just noticed that your super-capital over all fifty (sob) states is named Washington, D.C. (what does that even stand for? Da Capital?). You’ve got a state named Washington, but consolidating it with Oregon will solve that problem. Otherwise, how will people keep straight which one you’re talking about:

United Stateser #1: “I’m going to Washington.”
United Stateser #2: “Which one? D.C. or Washington state?”

See what I mean?

4.Once you’ve consolidated and reduced, I think you ought to relocate your capital (“United States City”) to a central location. Looking at your map, the choice is obvious. A state situated in fertile land and rivers, borders eight states with easy access to others — probably a trendsetter that adopts ideas and fashions ten years before everyone else… I’m looking at Tennessee, of course.

This is by no means an exhaustive discussion of what’s wrong with your setting. I apologize if I come across strongly. I just need to emphasize to you that this entire setup is a practical nightmare, and — to be absolutely frank — insane.

I’m afraid we can’t move forward until you give me a country that could actually work in real life.

Sincerely,

Your beleaguered editor

 

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