Tag Archives: research

Everything Old is New Again

This morning I went through the closet in my old room at my parents’ house and pulled out some old toys for my son: some Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures, a Harley Quinn doll (with two hyenas!), and a very perplexing Jonny Quest figurine (Hadji in… a mech suit? With a machine-gun arm?). The kid is pretty dang into them. And that’s not the only connection between past and future that’s going on today.

I haven’t really written much (any) sci-fi before, but one of my current WIPs is “cli-fi,” aka “climate change fiction.” It’s about as sci-fi-y as The Hunger Games, in that I’m aiming for a world that seems basically like ours only after some kind of disaster, with some technology that’s basically magic and just there for plot reasons (sort of like in Star Wars, only there’s no Force. Yet?).

buffy1b
Countdown to when these looks are back on sale at Forever 21

Obviously even when you’re writing something set in a contemporary world, you have to do worldbuilding: small town? Big city? What details of technology give the setting? Buffy is contemporary to when it aired (and boy do the outfits look hilarious nowadays, except for the ones that are somehow back on-trend) but still has tons of worldbuilding around the magical/supernatural elements.

 

BURN NOTICE -- "Breaking and Entering" Episode 201 -- Pictured: Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe -- USA Network Photo: Dan Littlejohn
Oh, he’s real. HE HAS TO BE.

Something like Burn Notice has a world built up of some real places and organizations (Miami, the CIA, the IRA) and lots of fake people (all of the characters except Sam Axe, because I refuse to live in a world where Sam Axe isn’t real).

 

Worldbuilding for a world that’s not our own is trickier… but pretty fun.

Continue reading Everything Old is New Again

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GO TEAM!

go-team
Go, team! (Not to be confused with The GO! Team, but they’re also excellent)

I’m really loving the posts that Jenny Crusie’s doing about “Story Teams” over on her blog. She’s analyzing why they work (or don’t). She analyzed the teams from Leverage (LOVE it), Person of Interest (tried to like it because she loves it and writes such interesting analysis of it, but…), and Legends of Tomorrow (uhhhhhhh) in preparation for troubleshooting the team she’s building in her WIP.

Reading her posts made me think about some of my favorite TV teams (Burn NoticeChuck, and Buffy being standouts, and White Collar too, although that’s a duo with support more than a team most of the time, and, of course, the Quest Team/Venture Brothers–Oh, and I guess Archer?).

So I want to analyze these teams the way she’s doing it, mostly for fun but also for comparison to the team I’m trying to build in my Lilly grant novel (YA cli-fi starring Anika, as-yet-untitled).  I listed too many, so I might just pick a few from the list.

Of course, that requires me to a)do that analysis and b)figure out what the heck is going on with my team.

And tonight’s not the night for that; I’m going to go to bed and sleep on it, and see what thoughts manage to crawl across my mind in the tryptophan-haze that is post-Thanksgiving relaxation time.

But teams make a pretty satisfying story unit. I’m excited to dig into this more!

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Na-No-Na-No-Na-No-Na-No-WRI-MO!

The inspiration pic for Our Hero (a model named Luke Armitage)
One of my favorite inspiration pics for Our Hero (a model named Luke Armitage)

Wrote another 1,184 words on the Romantic Suspense WIP that I’m writing with my friend Chel. (She wrote about 3,300 so like… dang.)

Spent a long time googling ways to describe faces. IndyScribes buddy Laura recently found out she has some face blindness; based on how long it took me to describe Our Hero, I’m not convinced I don’t have face illiteracy. Like: WHAT EVEN ARE NOSES. 🙁

And one of the major benefits of co-writing with someone with a different skillset is that I can feel free to type in phrases like…

The bar itself was polished, dark wood, and the atmosphere was REAL CLASSY OR WHATEVER PLEASE FIX THIS.

She gets her revenge when I get dialog with comment boxes over it that say things like “This is supposed to be witty flirting. It is terrible. Make it sound cool.” (I do my best.)

This picture of noses is much less fascinating that that inspo pic of Our Hero.
This picture of noses is much less fascinating that that inspo pic of Our Hero.

And maybe I should’ve put more terrible words in there – I mean, after all, it’s NaNoWriMo – part of my goal is to just keep writing, just keep writing, not to get stuck in an endless rabbit-hole of Google image searches of various types of noses.

And sure, I could’ve just slapped in some filler. I’ve already got Our Heroine responding to him in a way that should tell the reader he’s a looker, and I know that if I get too specific I run the risk of it being like the scene in Pretty in Pink where Andrew McCarthy shows up and I know I’m supposed to think he’s teh hawtness but at the same time I’m actually just like, Uh… him?

But you can definitely go too far the other way. One of my big stumbling blocks tonight was something a little silly, but: I’ve realized that I have a real knee-jerk reaction against anything being described as “perfect.” (This is possibly Twilight-related, as I seem to recall quite a few instances of Edward’s features/face being described as “perfect,” and/or him having ” a perfect nose” etc.)

To the point where I spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to describe this very nattily-dressed man’s tie without saying it was “perfect”… I mean, I know a lot of words! My vocabulary is seriously extensive! But… I mean…

It’s a tie.

I only care about it inasmuch as it characterizes Our Hero as someone who dresses very carefully. I don’t even have a color in mind (leaving that up to Chel–the suit is navy, so… not black? IDEK YOU GUYS).

Anyway, I gave up at “the knot on his tie perfectly symmetrical,” but I suspect editing (and/or Chel) will find a way to improve that.

At least, I hope that’s the case…

And I need to figure out how Our Hero thinks about his own hair in the mirror – currently the line (in deep 3rd from his POV) reads,

Running a hand over his perfectly placed hair, he waited to see if Rahul would actually manage to verbalize whatever he was thinking.

So if anybody out there can tell me what a(n admittedly vain) dude in his 30s would think about his own hair in that scenario…

Maybe I’ll ask my husbro.

 

PS–brief shoutout to myself for breaking 10,000 words for NaNo2016!! By rambling about noses to get this blog post up over 352 words… BUT STILL.

😀

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Step 3: Profit

money-finance-bills-bank-notes Everyone has get-rich-quick schemes, but as somebody with an infant, I’ve been thinking a lot more lately about passive income (“get-rich-slowly-but-steadily,” maybe?).

I’m currently “supervising” anime club, by which I mean I’m updating my blog instead of grading papers and the anime club is watching netflix on my projector. I had lots of plans to use this chunk of time productively. Some of the better ones:

  • Work on writing (too distracting in case of emergency–the anime club does occasionally require some supervision and/or intervention from an adult).
  • Publish lesson plans and materials that I’ve developed over the last ten years to Teachers Pay Teachers (requires a lot of polishing and also double checking that I’m posting my stuff, not stuff I begged/stole/borrowed ten years ago).
  • Draw line-art for a literary coloring book (coloring books are in right now and I’m a huge nerd with passable drawing skills… this idea has merit, but I’m not sure where to start).
  • Start querying for a line of children’s board books based on famous classic (read: old enough to be out of copyright) American poetry (this is also a good idea, because baby lit is trending and also the baby book market is crowded but much of it is grim in terms of stuff that isn’t stultifying to the adult or too complex for the baby, in my nine months of experience).
  • Update my blog (the current winner).

So, I guess I’ll close with a question…

What scene from literature would you like to color in first?

I’m thinking I’ll probably start with stuff to go with Romeo and Juliet, since my frish-frosh will be reading that in a few weeks. Or maybe some poetry, which they’re starting later this month…

But I’m open to requests!

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Aloha!

Today is a wonderful day, and a terriblilo13le one: I’m headed to Hawaii for the first time ever! I’m going for my cousin’s wedding, with my husband and without our son (which is both awesome and terrible, of course). And, being a well-organized person, I obviously was up packing until almost 2am, up with the baby at 3:30, up for the flight at 6, patted down and bag-searched thanks to my breastfeeding supplies… and about to spend the next 14 hours on planes/in airports (if I’m lucky… if anything gets delayed, it’ll be longer!).

But, as I sat in the waiting area with Cameron, we were joking about trying to find a way to write off this trip on our taxes as a writing expense. Sadly, I’m not working on anything set in Hawaii… and none of my cousins are getting married in post-apocalyptic Siberia this year.

So, dear readers, where in the world would you go to research a novel if you could go anywhere in the world?  Continue reading Aloha!

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