Saturday, September 20, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Earth

This the second in my How, How, How, Where series. Today's post is about research. Yay!

As you will no doubt come to realize, I love to research. Everything. Seriously. I have so much useless information crammed in my brain, I can't even start to catalog it. Having said that, conversations with me are usually long and meandering. I like to go off on tangents whenever I'm reminded of something I've read. As my grade school teachers would say, "She likes to talk." 

But their version was much longer. Tedious. Very tedious.  

Anyway, here is a basic break down of how I roll. Research-wise, that is.

How I Research

Where do I start with my research?

With the story. I take the bare bones of the story and poke at it until I figure out where the gaps in information lie. Then, I go and look for more details.

For "The Catalyst", I had to do research into biotech, archaeology, and biology. It was really fun. With my writing, I like to put a decent bit of science with my fiction. I also blend from a variety of sources. I remember doing a few days of research into future technology a little while ago. It was fascinating, to say the least. Anything I don't use in one story, will eventually pop up in another one later.

Do I travel to the locations in my books?

Yes and no. I usually use places I have been for inspiration, but I don't actually use the places in their entirety. Just bits and pieces.

For example: The layout of Ameritat, the city in "No Light", is loosely based on Clinton, Missouri.

The stairwell into the earth is based on a tour I went on to Bonne Terre Mine. Yes. That stairwell from "No Light" exists. The horror. Most of the mine is underwater, and you can take a boat ride through the massive underground cavern. The water is extremely clear, so three hundred feet looks like ten. Very cool. Or nightmare inducing. Depends on your opinion of deep water.

Have I ever worked at the jobs any of my characters have, or have I shadowed people in those jobs?

Not Sarah, that's for sure. But seriously, I did do a bit of research into prisons. Both modern and historical. I wanted an idea of what a day in prison would look like. I interviewed several people who had been to prison, watched documentaries, and spent a few weeks at the library. Not to mention the amount of Googling I did.

What are the fun parts of research vs. the tedious parts?

It's all fun to some degree. I like science, especially biology, so researching the science-y bits is interesting and I get to wander into all sorts of things I would not have discovered otherwise. I get to do a lot of research into body armor, weapons, predators, psychology, attraction, love, romance, etc. All sorts of things.

I really can't think of anything I've ever had to research that was boring. I have a harder time trying to figure out how to blog or update my website. Sad, but true. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Importance of Being Earnest

I've decided to give blogging a try (again). 

Turns out my writing is either in book form or way too heavy. In anything other than novels, I end up waxing poetic and lamenting about the state of humanity. Which is a drag. 

(I actually giggled just now thinking about it. Weird sense of humor, sorry.)

By the way, the blog title comes from the definition of the word rather than the play by Oscar Wilde. Though there was a decent movie back in...2002, I think. Really funny. 

So, the definition of earnest (sincere or intense conviction) seems to fit with my attempt at blogging. Okay. Maybe not. But it does fit my feelings on writing stories. Which is why I've decided to do a short series on writing. 

I call it a who, what, when, where, and how. In reality, it's basically a how, how, how, where. But that doesn't sound as cool and well thought out, so... 

This is part one. Part One. I feel like it should be capitalized. You know. To give it a bit of weight. Without further ado- Every time I say or type 'ado' it makes me think of "Much Ado About Nothing". Which makes me think about one of my favorite actors, because his name is similar to one of the characters' names. But I digress. Back on topic. 

How I Write

Long Hand or Computer?

Both. I carry a notepad everywhere with me, which is why my purse is massive. It's basically a black canvas bag I found at Walmart for five bucks. Oh, yeah. I'm rockin' big time style over here. It looks almost exactly likes this.

It's also big enough to fit my laptop. Quite convenient. :)

Detailed Outline or Just Jump In?

Usually (like with most things) I just jump right in. I sometimes do a version of an outline. It's just a blob of random thoughts and dialogue for the coming chapter. It makes no sense out of context at all. I've found that outlines make my writing seem forced or stilted. People do things that are out of character or (more often) characters show their metaphorical 'hand' too soon. 

How Do You Know When a Book is Finished?

When the story ends. No, really. I've always felt like the story is fully formed out there in the wild, blue yonder somewhere (ether, if you will) and the writer simply plucks it out and puts it down on paper. So, the story is done when there is none left to write. 

A series is a little more complicated. For example, in "Darkness Blooming", seven hundred years have passed since the end of "No Light". I started it there because, in all honesty, nothing super amazing happened in that time. I'll talk about it in another post, but it was a time of peace. For the most part. A little upheaval, but I'll cover that later.

Do I Imagine Movie Stars in a Film Version of the Story?

Yes and no. I don't write with certain actors in mind. Mostly, because I haven't written many characters that could be played by my favorite actors. 

But at the same time, the story plays like a movie in my head as I'm writing and it is tempting to imagine it played out the same way for others. Especially the really big fight scenes and explosions. That might just be the Rambo, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard lover in me. I blame my parents. :) They raised me on action movies and romance novels.