Sunday, April 17, 2011

Observations - 2011-04-17

Sunday, April 17

Today, I wish to look at the subject of observations. As a writer, I try to observe what is going on about me. I look for something that when placed in my work helps make my writing seem a bit more real.

I’ve heard that the truth is more fascinating than fiction. So, we as writers tend to mix a truths in with our fiction. Writers tend to pull from experience to build stories and adding a little more detail, I believe, can make a scene seem more real.

To do this, I tend to observe things, events, and sounds. I make note of them and see if they would fit in any of my stories. Yet, I write Sci Fi and it usually involves creatures and peoples from different worlds. Still, I adapt what I observe to fit my world.

For instance, right now, some neighbors are shooting up and down a dirt road in front of our trailer. I know this because I hear the high-pitched sound of the four-wheel ATVs produce as they shoot past our property every minute or so.

What if my character, Marcus, had his ride taken? What if on this world, stealing one’s all-terrain vehicle is treated like horse theft was treated back in the old west? What if these vehicles were viewed as a lifeline for the person? What if his life would be endangered because of the ATV’s theft?

Now, how do my observations from the ATV above have to do with these questions? My argument would be that Marcus used the sounds the device made to track the location of his ATV.

As the ATV approaches, the whine its engine makes gets louder and has a higher pitch. As the ATV moves away, the whine decreases in volume and has a lower pitch. Marcus uses these sounds to track the location of his vehicle, so he can capture those who took it and retrieve his property.

For example:

Marcus pulled the limb down and looked over it. With the other arm wrapped around the tree trunk, he leaned out from the tree top and scanned toward the whining ATV. Trees blocked his view. He intended to give the teens he met earlier a thrashing for stealing his ATV.

Movement to his left caused him to look toward a meadow. One teen chased after a rormana driving the creature to the other teen. The second teen roped the hairy horse-like creature, which is not an easy feat to do on foot.
Returning his gaze northward, Marcus realized the whine of his vehicle no longer moved away. In fact, the whine sounded higher and got louder. Then the two men on the vehicle popped up over a distant hill as they hit an open section of the trail. One man kept glancing back.

Marcus released the limb which slapped him across the face. He jerked back his and as his feet slid off the branch. He grabbed a limb that stopped his fall. He lowered himself to the next limb. With each step he made down, the engine whine grew louder. Sitting on the lower limb, the two men and his ATV appeared around a corner.

Focusing on the men, he leaned forward in preparation to jump. A roar brought his attention to a creature that looked like a giant ape chasing after the two men.

Well, I would keep going but I think I got what I wanted to get across. I used the sounds from a vehicle I observed to add detail to my story. We all do it one way or the other. So, what have you observed lately that you would like to use in a story?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opportunities Missed

Wednesday, April 13

Today’s topic covers missed opportunities. Have you ever skipped an event and then realized that you missed a great opportunity.

That happened to me this past weekend. My writer’s group decided to go to the mall to eat lunch. Not only did I miss out on networking with my fellow writers, I missed an opportunity to do some character study for some of my projects.

Back in February, two of our members held a book signing at the local Barnes and Nobles. I did not realize until I got in there that I forgot to bring my note pad with me. This was a mistake on my part. This was another opportunity because the characters were out in full force that day.

I did manage salvage part of that opportunity when I took a few photos that would help me because of the way the people dressed and looked. I got descriptions for two of my characters. In the wings are more characters who are tired of being formless. Plus, this is one of my assignments in my The Weekend Novelist book.

In Natchitoches, there aren’t that many venues one can go to observe a large number of people other than Wally World (Wal-Mart). Every once in a while they have an event on the riverfront. Actually, I think there is one this weekend but I am not sure.

My arsenal in this is a steno pad and a note card containing the questions that I want answered on the characters. I mentally record as much about a person and then attempt to write down as much as I could remember. I hope to do this before they leave my view. Can’t afford to follow interesting people for fear they may think I am stalking them. I know it would freak me out if someone I did not know followed me around with a notepad and pen in hand.

Thus, my characters end up being a montage of several people whom I observed. I take bits and pieces from person or another and assemble my character from those descriptions. Very seldom will I use one person as my character. But it does happen.

Well, gotta go. Need to look in on my characters to make sure they are behaving. Might observe something worth recording.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Kitty Kat

Sunday, April 03

Hi and good day to you. Earlier this week, I decided that I wished to dedicate my blog to the art of writing. Yet, today, I intend to discuss a new kitty that seemed to have adopted us.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, in the past I have used my cats as inspiration for some of my writing. Our last two cats until this one showed up had been black. To keep from stepping on them at night, I watched for black holes in the darkness to move about.

This inspired me to call some of the harbingers of evil in my books to be nicknamed ‘Black Holes,’ because they take on the appearance of dark objects moving through the shadows of night.

We still have one of the black cats which we call Fuzztail. The new cat is white with big brown spots in its coat. He remains skittish, yet, I was able to pet him yesterday. Feeding it some cat food has broken the ice-so to speak.

He walked up and down the porch getting closer and closer. I tried not to move suddenly because that would result in the cat shooting off of the porch. I placed my hand down low enough so that he could rub against it if he chose to do so.

He eventually made it to my hand and I scratched his head and back. Trust had been established. He remains skittish but he doesn’t run as far as he used to do when we approach.

Over the last 15 to 16 years, the only way we seemed to be able to keep a cat is if it starts off with a healthy case of skepticism. It’s not the neighborhood dogs but the area owls and other predator birds that seem to cause the problem.

Also, every cat we acquire seemed to show up on our doorstep. They selected us as their keepers instead of us picking them out.

My older brother has one that picked them. They went to an animal shelter to get a cat, and the one they walked out with began playing with them immediately as they approached her cage. The shelter personnel said the cat never did that before.

I intend to use these cats as inspiration for my writing and include some of their characteristics in the pets in my stories.

How about you; do you have pets that help you write? Mine sometimes realizes that I should take a break and force me to rub her head. I suspect the new kitty will soon do the same.