Writers – lets pool our resources… the revisit.

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About six months ago I suggested the pooling of writers’ knowledge in an attempt to create a sort of go-to page for any writers who were struggling with details of a particular concept. True, Google and Wikipedia can provide facts, but I still believe there’s little substitute for direct experience. Alternatively, some writers may have thoroughly researched a theoretical subject (who has direct experience of star drives, or ancient Greek rituals for instance?) and added their own spin. They may be worth consulting.

I’ve added the names of willing volunteers to my page ‘Writers who have offered their knowledge,’ my own included.  If you feel that you are able to assist other writers in their endeavours, please step forward. As stated below, we’re not trying to rival Wikipedia… just offer some helpful advice to other writers.

Here is the original post from mid-2013;

Some time ago I posted Jack versus Einstein– a post that discussed whether it was better for a writer to be an expert, or a Jack of all trades.

Whilst I’m quite happy to be the latter, it occured to me that many of us will still have some knowledge of a subject that others may find difficult to research. If I was to include a scene in my next book where a character baked… for example… cupcakes, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking. Alright, sure… Google would probably be my first port of call, but there’s only so much you can learn from trawling websites. Some scenes need the personal touch that only an experienced friend can provide.

This idea popped up whilst I was leaving a comment for Setsu (Hello and thanks for the follow!), an expert in martial arts. I wish I’d known Setsu when I was crafting my scene in ‘A Construct of Angels’ that involved a swordfight between Michael, the constructed angel and his Anakim foe, the self-styled Damocles. Instead, I had to trawl the interweb for sword-fighting techniques, finally chancing upon a gentleman who had written a book on sword-fighting and who was able to give me a few pointers.

Later, when I was writing a couple of triage scenes for the same book, I was lucky enough to be able to send the relevant passages to a paramedic I’d met in York. I’d done most of the research about the (serious) injuries on-line. He returned them with complimentary notes, but suggested some useful improvements – most likely stuff that I wouldn’t have found on-line.

So, what do you all think about this; listing what you consider yourself to be fairly good at?

Perhaps you’re not expert, but we’re not writing reference books here. We just need enough to craft a scene that is reasonably accurate and fairly thorough. I would be the last person to consider myself ‘expert’ in anything. I’m sure that I share that feeling with many of you (aren’t most writers self-doubting introverts, after all?). But I have amassed a fair bit of knowledge of a few disparate subjects in my twenty-five fifty years on Earth (who changed that line?).

So why not put that knowledge to good use?

For instance, I may be in a position to advise writers who are struggling to craft a scene that requires knowledge of *takes deep breath* quantum physics, or starship design – both subjects I love (yeah, I know. I’m a Geek. I admit it). I also love geology, cosmology, and a few other ‘ologies’ that I won’t bore you with here.

This is my proposal; Could you help a writer who was stuck for some details? Would you be willing to answer questions from other writers? Could you spare some time to read through some extracts and help them on their way? Could you at least point them in the right direction?

We could all benefit from this – and write better and stronger stories as a result. Think of this as a long-term project. It may not be something that would benefit your current WIP, but can you be sure that it might not come in useful for the next one?

So, to kick off, I’ll list what I can offer to other writers. If I can’t answer questions on these subjects immediately, I have a good stock of reference books to hand.

Here goes…

I have a good knowledge of;

Cosmology (star formation, beginning and end of the universe).

Quantum Physics (atoms, particles, energy and radiation).

Starship theory (drives, environments, construction).

Theory of time travel, plus cause and effect.

(Dare I say this?) Rocket Science.

Planetary behaviour including some aspects of geology and geography.

Some World War 2 history, mainly European Theatre.

And on a more day-to-day basis;

Mechanical engineering.

Vehicle mechanics, some military strategies, aircraft behaviour.

Chemistry, physics, engineering.

Movie-making (scene construction to post-production).

Factory production-line techniques.

.

Perhaps you could add to the list and we might build a healthy database of subjects that would give our writing that ‘expert’ touch.

It doesn’t matter if your knowledge overlaps with that of another writer – we all know different facts about similar subjects. List what you know, and a writer who is stuck can always throw out a question to more than one ‘expert’…someone is bound to know the answer.

If this is successful, ‘experts’ might be able to advise on single scenes (like my sword-fighting scene) and tidy up the facts a little.

I read recently how many film-makers are simply ignoring physical laws for the sake of drama (don’t get me started on ‘Independence Day’ – although I still love it, or ‘Armageddon’ – which drives me craaaazy).

Let’s be better than that.

Let’s get it right. 😀

.

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Writers; Lets pool our resources – what do YOU know about?

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riesp books

Some time ago I posted Jack-versus Enistein – a post that discussed whether it was better for a writer to be an expert, or a Jack of all trades.

Whilst I’m quite happy to be the latter, it occured to me that many of us will still have some knowledge of a subject that others may find difficult to research. If I was to include a scene in my next book where a character baked…for example…cupcakes, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking. Alright, sure… Google would probably be my first port of call, but there’s only so much you can learn from trawling websites. Some scenes need the personal touch that only an experienced friend can provide.

This idea popped up whilst I was leaving a comment for Setsu (Hello and thanks for the follow!), an expert in martial arts. I wish I’d known Setsu when I was crafting my scene in ‘A Construct of Angels’ that involved a swordfight between Michael, the constructed angel and his Anakim foe, the self-styled Damocles. Instead, I had to trawl the interweb for sword-fighting techniques, finally chancing upon a gentleman who had written a book on sword-fighting and who was able to give me a few pointers.

Later, when I was writing a couple of triage scenes for the same book, I was lucky enough to be able to send the relevant passages to a paramedic I’d met in York. I’d done most of the research about the (serious) injuries on-line. He returned them with complimentary notes, but suggested some useful improvements – most likely stuff that I wouldn’t have found on-line.

So, what do you all think about this; listing what you consider yourself to be fairly good at.

Perhaps you’re not expert, but we’re not writing reference books here. We just need enough to craft a scene that is reasonably accurate and fairly thorough. I would be the last person to consider myself ‘expert’ in anything. I’m sure that I share that feeling with many of you (aren’t most writers self-doubting introverts, after all?). But I have amassed a fair bit of knowledge of a few disparate subjects in my twenty-five fifty years on Earth (who changed that line?).

So why not put that knowledge to good use?

For instance, I may be in a position to advise writers who are struggling to craft a scene that requires knowledge of *takes deep breath* quantum physics, or starship design – both subjects I love (yeah, I know. I’m a Geek. I admit it). I also love geology, cosmology, and a few other ‘ologies’ that I won’t bore you with here.

This is my proposal; Could you help a writer who was stuck for some details? Would you be willing to answer questions from other writers? Could you spare some time to read through some extracts and help them on their way? Could you at least point them in the right direction?

We could all benefit from this – and write better and stronger stories as a result. Think of this as a long-term project. It may not be something that would benefit your current WIP, but can you be sure that it might not come in useful for the next one?

So, to kick off, I’ll list what I can offer to other writers. If I can’t answer questions on these subjects immediately, I have a good stock of reference books to hand.

Here goes…

I have a good knowledge of;

Cosmology (star formation, beginning and end of the universe).

Quantum Physics (atoms, particles, energy and radiation).

Starship theory (drives, environments, construction).

Theory of time travel, plus cause and effect.

(Dare I say this?) Rocket Science.

Planetary behaviour including some aspects of geology and geography.

Some World War 2 history, mainly European Theatre.

And on a more day-to-day basis;

Mechanical engineering.

Vehicle mechanics, some military strategies, aircraft behaviour.

Chemistry, physics, engineering.

Movie-making (scene construction to post-production).

Factory production-line techniques.

.

Perhaps you could add to the list and we might build a healthy database of subjects that would give our writing that ‘expert’ touch.

It doesn’t matter if your knowledge overlaps with that of another writer – we all know different facts about similar subjects. List what you know, and a writer who is stuck can always throw out a question to more than one ‘expert’…someone is bound to know the answer.

If this is successful, ‘experts’ might be able to advise on single scenes (like my sword-fighting scene) and tidy up the facts a little.

I read recently how many film-makers are simply ignoring physical laws for the sake of drama (don’t get me started on ‘Independence Day’ – although I still love it, or ‘Armageddon’ – which drives me craaaazy).

Let’s be better than that.

Let’s get it right. 😀

.

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Instantaneous feedback – and some embarrassing praise.

1 Comment

This week, several events coincided and left me walking on air…

I was assigned, as part of my day job, to the sparkling town of Blackpool (you know, the Northern English town with its own version of the Eiffel Tower)

jason31 tower

During my time at the sweet (candy) factory there, I found the largely Polish workforce to be very receptive to my book and I’ve already seen some sales from the bookmark handout, the concept of which I covered in several previous posts.

That might be the end of the sales run, but I’d like to think that the Polish community might pass the word around. After all, one of my minor characters DOES have a Polish Grandmother… 🙂

I also found a fan in a colleague who not only bought my eBook whilst we were working together, but took an active part in promoting it on my behalf, reinforcing my bookmark spiel with his own enthusiastic endorsements.

Thank you Peter! 😀

His sister, Penny, has also bought a copy (on Peter’s recommendation) and she is peparing to read it as I write this. When he told Penny that he was sitting next to the author, she became curious as to my personality and asked him all about me –  something that brought a warm glow to my insides.

Peter read through several chapters of ‘A Construct of Angels’ each evening, allowing us to discuss the events and characters as we worked through the next day, although I had to be very, very careful not to utter any spoilers. As he talked about the book, his obvious enthusiasm for my writing left me with a peculiar feeling of conflict; I was happy that he was enjoying the book and took some pride from the fact that I’d created something that had affected him in such a positive way.

And yet, I couldn’t help but feel slightly embarrassed when he offered praise. It’s a wonderful thing to receive and I ought to soak it up like a sponge as it’s a rare beast. However, being somewhat reclusive in nature I don’t feel at all comfortable when it comes my way – I really don’t know what to do with myself.

So, Peter, if I appeared to squirm and look mildly uncomfortable as you enthused, you were doing nothing wrong.  It’s not you…it’s me. 😀

And yes, please feel free to nag me regarding the sequel, ‘ A Vengeance of Angels’, which has fallen behind schedule due to other committments. I WILL endeavour to get it finished. Plus, you’re now on my beta readers list for when it’s completed. 🙂

hortongrou nag nag nag

McCaw #1:nag nag nag
McCaw#2: All right, all right, I’ll finish the book – I promise!

One other event that cause me to stare and utter the immortal phrase ‘No Way…’ was an abrupt and completely unexpected spike in the number of followers of my author page on Facebook.  In the space of twenty-four hours, the followers rose from a rather sad 11 likes to a staggering (relatively speaking) 256 likes.

:O

There are two possible explanations for this unprecedented event:  I’ve been part of two promotions this week.  One was Cassandra Giovanni’s cover reveal – a reblog on my previous post (as well as being echoed on Facebook and Twitter)  – and the other was ‘The Mega Giveaway’  on the ‘For the Love of Fiction’ Facebook page.

If you haven’t already seen this, please take a moment to check it out. Although if you are reading this on a re-run (i.e. after June ’13), the Giveaway may have ended.  Still, you could always drop in and have a peek at my author page whilst you’re there. 😀

All the events of this week illustrate the power of communicating effectively, whether it’s by word of mouth or by using the Interweb.

Stop Press; I’ve been told that it was ‘The Big Giveaway’ that boosted my author page.  One of the requirements of entry via Rafflecopter is to ‘like’ the author’s page.  That boost to 256 indicates a good response to the giveaway…

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