Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Writer's Report

Had a good week, comparatively speaking. Have had to slow down to take 2-3 research days, as the story approaches new geographical and cultural challenges.

Much of my research has been in animal behavior. So far, the story has stayed within relatively predictable and populated areas. The E tribe has ventured outside of their known territories, meeting new people and new lands (to them), and it's fun to write about.

But I want to do it right.

I'm going to be putting up a few tiny animal video clips from youtube over the next few days. I want to share what I'm doing. I've probably logged 20-30 hours of watching documentaries this past week.

A book would be more informative, but raw video I find to be inspiring for conveying imagery. Movement, behavior - that's stuff you have to see. I'll take my own African Safari after the book has sold.

Currently Reading: Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley, from my mother. Not sure if I've mentioned this book or not yet, but it has really helped me get over the writer's block I had, and stay focused on the end game. It's arguably "new age", but he presents things in such a way as that they are pretty easy to understand. More later.
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams. I'm having a hard time with this one. Either it's slow to start because it's part of a trilogy, or it's a YA book and I missed that in the description. It's an older book, and I've heard very good things about Williams, so maybe this one just takes a while to get into, or it's not a good sampling of his work.


Interesting discovery of the week: Raptors, as made popular by the movie Jurassic Park, were incorrect in one depiction - they should have had feathers. Cool, huh?

This world that we live on is so full of fascinating geologies and biologies, cultures and histories, that I really don't understand why we don't see more of it in fiction. Maybe I haven't read enough.

Why create an imaginary creature when the ones that used to (or still do) walk earth are infinitely more interesting? I think centaurs are cool as a semi-intelligent creature goes, but dinosaurs and poison frogs and ambushing snakes and bears, wolves, giant cats that will stalk humans and eat them? So much better! Ah, you'll see. I got some fun videos coming up.

Til the next.


  1. I think that it's a great thing to do whatever research you feel is necessary to strengthen the narrative. I had just recently finished a short story entry for a contest, and found myself continually immersing myself in new information in an attempt to better visualize scenes. Of course, as I read in an article on, there is a balance to writing and research - it is possible to inundate yourself with enough information that it becomes a rationalization as to why you're not writing.

    Books can be more informative, but even with pictures to visually interest, I find that nonfiction can be rather dry reading. The thing that is so wonderful about documentaries or informative television series such as those on History Channel, Discovery, or Animal Planet is that the information is portrayed in a way that is immediately compelling. There are visual cues that can be conveyed more easily through an image or moving pictures simply because of how we've evolved as humans to recognize nonverbal communication.

    Sounds like fun reads, Bill. I am not really familiar with Mike Dooley or Tad Williams, but they might be worth investigating sometime.

    I agree with you that there are so many fascinating things and creatures to our planet. But I also think that creations from fantasy and science fiction have their place as well. Mythology and folklore can be wonderfully insightful into the values of a culture. These things may not be grounded absolutely in reality, but they can give you some new perspective by showing you another way to look at things.

    Put more simply, I think animals on Earth are awesome! But I still love seeing the creative visions of others willing to play around with new fantasy and science fiction creations. ^^

  2. Let us know how it goes with the contest, Brian. Good for you!

    That was a good article at io9. Thanks for the link.

    I have a number of non-fiction books lining my shelves, but as you said, it becomes dry reading. (The only non-fiction I can burn through is psychology.) That noted, once I finish this WIP and enter the editing phase, I will be tackling some cultural histories, for future instances of the on-going tale.

    But as you stated, and the article as well, the research is allowing me to grasp relative realities that I felt were critical; it's easy to write about Dark Ages/Medieval as there's more available information. There seem to be less stories written in the Stone/Bronze Ages, but the sense of 'new' or 'raw' or 'undeveloped' is a key component to the story. That's where the research helps.

    There are mytho creatures in the WIP, some classic and some new; I have reinvented their history and stereotypes, and have laid groundwork to introduce more into the mix as time passes.

    Aside, still waiting for your Dragon answer. :-p

    Thanks for stopping by, always enjoy the discussion.

  3. Okay, I was able to find this on what D&D thinks of dragons and their procreation:

    "D&D dragons are able to eat almost everything, but each race have a preferred diet (some prefer flesh, other prefer to eat precious metals or gems, and so forth).

    Dragons are inherently magical beings, and in no case should dragons be considered reptiles, despite of obvious similarities such as reproduction by laying eggs. In fact, Dragons are more akin to feline creatures than reptiles. A good example of this is the placement of the legs: Reptiles have their legs placed on the sides of their body, while most mammals have them placed underneath their body.

    The number of eggs laid each time depends on the race of the dragon, but is usually low (between one and ten). Dragons can also cross-breed with virtually any other creature, creating a half-dragon. The most commonly heard of are in the humanoid races, particularly with human and elves. Any combination is possible, however, even with devils or angels."

    I'm still not entirely sure I want to think of the logistics involved in dragons and other fantasy races succumbing to the waters of a love spring. At least there is no need for post-coitus cigarettes since dragons can blow their own puffs of smoke. >.>

    I think that the Stone and Bronze Ages could make for interesting settings in a story. But likely, research sounds like it would involve a lot of archaeology, anthropology, geography, history and psychology (one good thing is that the human mind is endlessly fascinating, both in its ability to adapt and give insight to a person's motivations).

    It also sounds like "New", "raw", and "undeveloped" sound like good words to describe a world that is focused on primal nature.

    Keep up the good research and writing. :)

    P.S. It will be a while before I find out anything as far as contest results go, but thank you for the words of encouragement.

  4. That's some good Dragon info, thanks. Although, some of my worldbuilding creation is going to disallow Dragons breeding with other races.

    They're not part of the story so much just yet. You know, in a balanced eco-system, say like nomadic tribes in Serengeti (the Massai come to mind, Aborigines, et al), there isn't a great deal of conflict between man and beast, because the populations retain their "territories".

    As the population of the multiple tribes grow, then we see more unusual creatures, and Dragons make more of an appearance. Maybe I'll do a little research post on Dragons come this fall, after the draft is complete.

    "Catalyst" is a prequel in many ways, because we basically start with a semi-primitive paradise that is slowly developing towards trade, creation and advanced primitive technology. Then, of course, something unexpected happens, and the world changes as a result.

    That always annoyed me, in reading other fictions, they'd have their world histories - but they were just "there". If the histories were so exciting, why doesn't the novel start with them, let the reader BE there?

    That's why I'm writing from a pseudo-Bronze age, then the next chapter is 150 years after, and it's almost a different world; but, you can read about the descendants of some of the protagonists from the first book (the grandson or daughter of the warrior king, the seer, etc.)

    That's why the documentaries are so helpful. From what they ate, to how animals act outside of a zoo, when they're not hiding from humans due to population stresses.


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