Monday, November 13, 2006

On Writing

OK, I just finished the draft of the book and sent it to Cathy yesterday (see yesterday's post). But one of the things about writing that a lot of people don't "get" is that, even if it's fiction, you have to get your facts straight.

For example, in this manuscript I had to research a TON of information including (but not by any means limited to):

(1) The layout of international and municipal airports and private airstrips.
(2) Aztec and Incan religious cultures & temples
(3) Colombian geography.
(4) Arizona geography, farming, and in particular the growing of peanuts.
(5) Box cars, flat cars, and east-west track lines for the railroad.
(6) The quetzalcoatl
(7) Goth/Rock clothing for guys
(8) The 2005 Volvo, particularly the safety features.
(9) Hotel layouts in Flagstaff and Daytona Beach
(10) Sunrise/Sunset times for Arizona and Florida
(11) Travel times from various cities using various modes of transportation
(Thank you
(12) Flight times and routes from Albuquerque to Daytona Beach
(Thank you and
(13) Luxury residences on the Florida coast.
(14) Route 66
(15) A little bit on guns (although I reused some of the research I'd done for Howling Moon to speed up the process)

There's a lot more, but these are just the ones that either spring to mind or got bookmarked because I was going there so often. A lot of people think that because it's fiction you get to make it up. Well, some of it you do. But if you want your readers to invest in the characters and what's happening to them, you have to make it believable. That means that if it takes one hour to drive from the location where you put Pony, Arizona to Albuquerque according to a map, then you can't have them driving all day and not getting there and your readers are going to notice if you "lie" or "fudge." It will piss them off and pull them out of the story. Now, if you're writing from the point of view of a character who doesn't know guns, you can have them look at it and say -- "Ah a gun" and not know what kind or how many bullets, etc. On the other hand, if your POV character is a cop or a mercenary. They're going to know. So you have to know. And you have to tell the reader.

If you have your character having a power that would be useful, but they can't use it here, you have to explain why (and make it make sense) or the reader's going to go "Bullshit" and throw the book down. (OK, maybe they use better or worse language, but they will definitely be unhappy with the book. The goal is to make them happy, not frustrate them.)

OK, enough lecture. I have to get moving. Have a great day.



Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, in writing you definitely need to do a lot of research first, you learn a lot in the process too. I'm surprised that your on-line research list you posted didn't send a "flag" up to the U.S. Government's secret service or something, ha, ha, take a look at you're list again.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving!