Thursday, April 22, 2010

ReSearching for the Story

Every day I come to work and do research for documentary television specials and series. My job is to discover new worlds, people, places, and facts that I never knew about or even knew existed. Being a writer, this could be the best job ever. Or could it?

I am bombarded with so much information on a daily basis it makes my head spin. It's a good thing I have the noggin firmly locked in place (that's what I tell myself). The best part of doing research is that it opens you up to new story ideas. There is the universal question to all writers "Where do you get your ideas from?"

Let me tell you a little secret. Do some research. I am going to use an example from this morning's research that I was doing for my middle grade book. I was wondering what kind of creepy flowers were out there in the world. So I Googled creepy flowers. Boy oh boy, did I find some gems. Have you ever heard of the Corpse Flower?

What about the Voodoo Lily? Or known as Dracunculus vulgaris

And did you know that both of these flowers put off a savory stench of rotten eggs or rotted meat? That is to attract bugs that they can feast on. Well, that's really good news for me! This works perfectly into my story and it gave me more ideas of something to do within the story and with the characters.

One secret revealed - Gasp! What, that doesn't sound like a secret. That sounds like a cheater cheater pumpkin eater move (I know it was Peter who ate the pumpkin - but this sounded funny to me). Ahem, as I was saying, this is a great way to get ideas. One smelly flower can lead to a click on who discovered that smelly flower and where that smelly flower might live.

All of a sudden you have this image a kid discovering some meat eating plant that might be taking over his whole town. By the way - you can't use that because I currently am.

Okay so that is great positive to research. What is the down side? The down side to doing too much research is that you now have way too many facts that you feel you need to squeeze into the story to really show off all that awesome research that you did. If you want to put all that down in your story, then go write a text book. Don't get bogged down with too many facts or images. Take the little nuggets of gold and use them wisely. Remember what happened to the greedy Nazi at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when he drank from the golden chalice? He died a horrible death. He over thought what was to be simple and he turned to dust.

Okay, so maybe you won't turn to dust, but you run the risk of boring us with all those sparkly bedazzled facts and we will be blinded to your characters and story underneath.

So yeah, I would say doing research is a wonderful job and helps me immensely. Knowing your limits to what you should use in your writing will make you that much better.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mistwood Arc Giveaway at Amy Brecount White's Blog

Want a chance to win what sounds like a really cool book about a girl who is a SHAPE-SHIFTER (can you say awesome!).

Then get those fingers clicking and enter to win the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Mistwood by Leah Cypess through Twitter, Facebook, and Blog entries. Shift over to Amy Brecount White's Blog here and give some love.

Mistwood - Isabel is a shape-shifter. She knows - deep in her soul - that she exists only to protect the king. But she can't remember how. Thrust into the dangerous world of the court, Isabel must uncover her past, separate her heart's truth from her magic's legend, and, above all, keep the new king safe, even if protecting him means disaster for her.  

Sounds great to me!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Full of Steam - Writing Prompt

I am blown away on a daily basis by the amazing illustrations that I find in books, magazines, and the web. I use images and music as a springboard for storytelling. Really good illustrations can speak volumes without saying a single word. As I work on my stories, I find that many of them seem to be influenced by the Steampunk genre. If you are not familiar with the genre, it is driven by stories and images that depict a world of what would have been or could be if everything was powered by steam. Many times it is set within the Victorian era.

Below is just a small taste of the amazing art that inspires me. Study them, absorb them, and let them take you somewhere. Use them as a writing prompt. What do you see in the picture? What kind of story could you dream up based on one image?

Title: Steamnocchio Author: Fabricio Moraes

Title: Stromboli’s Catch  Author: Lior Arditi

Title: The Two Mighty Kings  Author:Jack Zhang
Title: Titanomachy – Fall of the Hyperion
Author: Marcin Jakubowski