World Building

 

This past weekend I attended an online seminar on world building host by Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Productions and Gumshoe Research Consultants.

 

Already it is making a difference. It has slowed me down just a little but will be a boon in the long run. The work sheets and the information I entered as part of the exercises is already helping me catch continuity among the stories in the anthology I am writing.
The slowdown is I am catching continuity problems here and there. Having those sheets handy is making it easier though. As I come across something I need to decide upon or fix they are a great place to organize the world structure.
The work sheets are cool, but the other part that sank in was the discussion among the participants. Being able to discuss the points made in lecture among a great group of authors really drove home some ways of thinking differently about how I was handling some of the points in my current project.
Writing several short stories set in the same universe, being able creating and having this resource is great. It’s definitely having an impact on the Fairy Tale Noir Anthology and will carry into projects.

If I walked away with anything it is there has to be a story regardless of the world setting, but the better I know my world, the richer and fuller it becomes for my readers.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

 

 

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April 18th, 1942 The Doolittle Raid

Last week I spoke about heroes. Some say this day in history created heroes. Eighty men took off early that morning.

There are those who decried this as a pointless effort and waste of life. These 20-23 year old kids climbed into and flew planes off of an aircraft carrier. Did I mention these planes were never meant to do that? AND they did it knowing they did not have enough fuel to make it back, hoping they could make it to mainland China.

The results? A boost to Ally moral, a blow to the foe who thought their island untouchable and perhaps most importantly, causing the Japanese to pull back forces to protect the homeland. As bloody as the battles of Wake, Guam, Midway, and Okinawa were, those brave men and women were not facing all they could have faced. Many have sacrificed for us, thank a soldier for their efforts and give a thought to those who have gone before.

Like all stories there is more, to it. Because some Japanese fishing vessels spotted them, they took off early. This made their raid a daylight one rather than the intended night raid. Coincidentally though, he Japanese air defenses were down while an air raid drill was being conducted.

That was the last event which went in most of their favor. Eleven of the planes crash landed with crews bailing out. They had to make their own way to friendly territory. Eight were captured, of those one starved to death in a Japanese P.O.W. Camp and three were executed.

Those who survived the war began a reunion with a special ritual, a toast of Cognac in silver goblets. Each goblet had a raiders name engraved upside down. Every year, as their numbers dwindled, if a raider passed away, their goblet was turned upside down.

The last such gathering was held in 2013. Only four raiders remained to attend. At the time Lt. Col Richard Cole made a toast raising his glass before a large audience at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and said, “I propose a toast to those who were lost on the mission and to those who have passed away since,” adding, “May they rest in peace.”

Lt. Col. Richard Cole, Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot, is now the last surviving member of the raid. At the age of 101 he was interviewed by Richard Roth of CNN at the Pacific War Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas.

“I asked Cole his secret to living past 101. He simply said, “Keep moving.” He said he would like to be remembered along “with the rest of the people that had an impact on winning the war.” I asked Cole if he felt he was a hero. A quick response. “No.”

You make the call on this, the 75th anniversary of one of America’s greatest military accomplishments.”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/18/us/75th-anniversary-doolittle-raid/

Anyway you call it, if you want a stirring, spine-tingling read, I recommend “30 Seconds over Tokyo” by Capt. Ted Lawson.

Thanks for reading,

Ernest

Researching stories

Learning is a pleasure of mine, and researching stories is a portion of the fun writing them. So many things to learn and you know the hardest part for me? Knowing when I should stop. Researching is often a rabbit hole and forms a part of the problem for me of procrastination.

Research is an important part of writing but remember time spent researching is not time spent writing. Right now I am working on a weird jazz story. The story must have jazz at its core but an element of the weird or supernatural.

It is always good for research to be focused. Knowing Who, What, Where and Why of your story is a good start. But expanding on those ideas is important and to do that you have to know what pieces you need to research in order to expand your initial ideas into a story.

Several of my stories have had essential elements based in history or real locations. Ned Land vs. The Kraken Cult had a lot of research into the whaling industry and culture of whaling in the 19th century.  A burst of inspiration added a character midway suddenly needing research into children’s attire and customs. The Australian Gold rush was a topic in Birds of a Feather.

And because research can be fun, after this is not a term paper, one piece of information or topic always leads to another, and another and the rabbit hole of the internet can be bottomless.

  1. Common wisdom is performing your research first.
    1. I certainly perform a good deal of preliminary research but by no means all of it. Mainly because I cannot anticipate everything I may run into as I write, perhaps as I gain experience this will change. For now though, if I run into a question I sop and research it.
  2. Prioritize your research.
    1. You have the idea, but is it plausible? What do you need to get started? This is the overview research I begin with, my concept. For a recently completed historical fiction, Winter Tales, the concept is about the first journey of a Viking Merchant. There are plenty of stories about Viking raiders and plunderers but they were also merchants. I used archeology articles and historical documents. It was easy to confirm the concept.
  3. Visit the library.
    1. There is a lot of information there. It can do you some good to get out from behind your computer. I have found it is often easier to focus on one research topic doing this too.
  4. The internet these days puts almost anything within reach of a creative search.
    1. It is also my favorite rabbit hole. Since I have a hard time knowing when to stop I will often set an alarm. It usually works. A time limit helps me focus on the needed research and provides me a stopping point. Do I always listen? Well, not always.

Right now, as mentioned I’m writing a weird jazz short story. The research need I have now? How a jazz playing mystical guardian deals with physical threats. As the old D&D saying goes, the answer to any magic user is cold steel. But what about fangs?

Thanks for reading,

Ernest