Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Knowing Places

I've noticed more and more how much I don't really notice. I always used to have my head stuck in a book. It's only this year that I've actually started looking around me and I have noticed so much more. The way the bark peels from the trees in late Spring. The different amounts of birds. The many types of gardens and homes. I've also started doing a bit of minor research (mostly Wikipedia and Google) into some of the local areas. I've examined Google Earth views of my home city and tried to wrap my head around where everything is.

I live in what would be to Americans (and most other countries), a large country town, but which is a capital city in Australia. I've always considered it just the same old few streets but, really, when I look at it now I see so much more. There is so much you can learn about your home town or city. So many places that you won't see if you just whizz by in a car.

I've walked through Rundle Mall and paid attention to what I heard or smelled rather than what I saw. I've travelled the O'Bahn and noted how the River Torrens grows more shallow or deeper depending on the season, temperature, and recent rainfall. I've even noticed how what was green grass and weeds in winter became clover in early spring and is now this yellow reed-weeds that just blankets everything. How even the grasses seem to have died and it's not even all that hot or dry just yet! I've noticed how dark it gets and how quickly in winter and how much better it is in spring when I can get home and its still daylight.

I've noticed all kinds of things. These all help me as a writer and as a person. We spend so much time trying to figure out the right adjective or metaphor to describe something we've never seen, that we don't bother looking around us to take inspiration from things we can experience.

So, as a writing exercise, learn to look around you. You can learn so much more that way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mood and Other Links

This post gives us a number of really simple and easy subtle techniques for drawing readers into the mood rather than slapping them over the face with a 'Be scared now, this is scary, look at me signposting the scariness'.

Glorious Breaks & Sea-Faring Links

Well, I took a month off all things to do with writing. Critique Circle, this blog, editing, and everything in between. I brushed up on my oral storytelling skills through some rousing games of World of Darkness and now I'm back with a vengeance. I've got my story chapters all printed out and I'm going over them with a lead pencil.

First chapter required quite a lot of editing. Dozens of word changes per paragraph. *sigh* Next chapter has only a few dribs and drabs here and there. That first chapter is SUCH a pain but I guess that's what I get for writing in a three-year-old's perspective, especially when so much needs to be established in those few pages. You try portraying a non-medieval fantasyland through the eyes of a traumatised three-year-old in a servant's bedroom in the basement of a manor.... Oh well, it's certainly flexing my creative muscle. I have no excuse to info dump the answers, after all.

Of course, I have the distinct feeling that it's difficult to establish a non-European/non-medieval fantasyland no matter what your protagonist is. I mean, not unless you've writing a Japanese samurai-style fantasyland. Regrettably pants and frock coats and clock towers haven't put the point across well enough. I might need to underline kettle-drums, rapiers, and canons.... Sure, my fantasyland isn't really Napoleanic but it is, at the very least, closer to the 1700s than it is to the 1100s so it would still be a definite step up.

I wonder how many other authors find it difficult to help the reader realize that this isn't a medieval 'verse.

Oh, and also, a neat link for those tired of hard biscuit and weavils: