Saturday, October 19, 2019

Unique Situations

This month’s topic is about unique situations occurring in the writing process. For me, this might include unique things that happen within the actual writing of a story.

Thinking through my initial ideas is where I usually come up with situations for my stories. A few times during the writing process I have stalled out and had to rethink the stories events to find a new avenue, but I'm a plotter, so most ideas come int the prewriting process. Most often my unique situations involves either the setting or the characters. This, I am sure, is part of the process of writing in the science fiction and fantasy genre, which led me to use it in other genre, too.

For instance, when I thought up Home World Aginfeld, it was the setting that formed a unique situation. I didn’t initially come up with the plot or idea behind it until I first wondered how foreign planets could  be inhabited. The action in this story takes place on a distant planet where the people have lived in huge habitats for a thousand years because the first settlers need places to live as they began the process of bio-forming the planet. Yet after all that time indoors, the population became leery of leaving their secure habitats. Once started, another unique situation occurred. The story starts out on a misogynistic world where a woman commits a burglary. The main female character doesn't start the story but was misidentified as the culprit which lead to her capture and a death sentence in the now feudal type society of Aginfeld. The real burglar turned out to be her sister.

Most of my research for bio-forming at that time showed only possibilities. With the current interest in inhabiting Mars, more scientific information is now available, but it is still only probabilities, no promises.

In Crewkin it was the characters. I imagined companies raising groups of genetically altered children isolated together to form crews for spaceships spending years in space. The for-profit companies no longer saw these crews as people, but merely tools. The story revolves around one ‘Crewkin’ member who didn’t want to follow company dictates and sets out to find a new life.

The focus in the Black Angel Series was also focused on a character. The main character survives a massive overdose of a drug known to destroy minds. Her mind divided into six different personalities. Much later in the writing process, I discovered a symbiotic organism had invaded the character to evoke this change.

In the fantasy Aegis Series, it is also the characters who are unique. This is a world where the ‘magic’ certain characters perform is not hocus-pocus trickery but mental abilities.

Stories set in historical or contemporary realities can also have unique changes. These often happen during the writing process where readers expect difficulties. While creating these, unique ideas can form that change the planned plotline. This happened to my writing quite often in Constantine’s Legacy. I’ve discovered it is part of the enjoyment and diversion in writing.

A.J. Maguire
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Judith Copek
Beverley Bateman
Helena Fairfax
Dr. Bob Rich 
Diane Bator

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Mind to Mind Invasion in Progress

Woman Reading a Book by John Salatas

Novels act as invasions. If the story is compelling the writer invades the reader's mind. I know my mind has been invaded many times. Some reading has left permanent thought and outlook changes.

When I don't want to put a story down, when I keep reading despite the call of chores or tiredness, I know my mind has been invaded. I don't care. The reality in the story is so compelling I just cannot stop reading.

This can happen in non-fiction, too. Some personal essays and biographies are compelling reads. Compelling as in I must keep reading.

I suppose such a read is like taking a vacation. I escape my own life and reality for short periods.

This type of mind invasion lets the reader come away with the similar benefits of a far more expensive vacation. It allows a reader to let go of their problems for a while. At the end of the story, this makes the reader happier or more satisfied while calming and satisfying the mind. Now, not all books are calming, but finishing even a story full of horrific misdeeds and situations, leaves a reader glad of what they might consider their own boring life or overwhelming busy day-to-day.

So read! Help keep your mind active and healthy. Let a writer fill your mind with meeting new characters, learning about how similar we are even when very different, going to different places and times. Learning, understanding, and a growing knowledge of humanity comes with the experience.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Developing Plot Lines

This month's topic is about plots and how they are developed: from personal experience, imagination, or research? For me, as I believe it is for most authors, it is a combination of all three with maybe more stress on one than the others during particular scenes.

In my case the plot for a story develops from imagination, but this is often based on research supporting different aspects of the setting—especially with science fiction and fantasy features of most of my stories. I do use
personal experiences, although a lot of they come from interactions with others and I use my knowledge of their tribulations or achievements to add drama to a story.

Most often I hope my plot is tightly bonded to the setting, as setting often influences the story's progression. I base my science fiction on imaginative settings developed from some knowledge of science combined with some fanciful ideas about where known science and society might take humans. For one of my science fiction novels I had to research the possibility of bio-forming a planet, how it could possibly be done and how long it might take. Because of scientific speculation, many have the idea that humanity will eventually move to distant off-world places. This was also the case with developing super soldiers for two stories. It turned out these soldiers were too dangerous to keep but too valuable to destroy, so they ended in cryogenic containers as property rather than people.

On the other hand, the often dual part of the scifi/fantasy genre, fantasy, is often based on a historical settings, which also takes research.

I’ve written contemporary stories, and some might think them easier to write, but contemporary society is fast moving and under constant change. Remember how Jane Austin wrote a contemporary romance which evolved into historical romance? While the purpose behind the plot may be easier to develop, realism comes from investigating locations, weather, travel, housing, and fashion. Plus police departments operate differently from location to location. In the United States every county of every state has its own local laws. These cannot contravene state or national laws, but they can affect a plot.

The important part of plot is the story's purpose, the difficulties in reaching it, and the ultimate outcome. Reactions between characters produce the drama and
impulsion contained within the plot, which is where personal experiences often becomes important.

A plot with a strong purpose, an accurate or at least believable setting, and realistic characters all work together to create a good story and are all dependent on my willingness to research, and then use my imagination and experience.

Please visit the following authors to read their take on the subject:
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator
Connie Vines
Anne Stenhouse