Monday, January 21, 2013

Things I Need to Know

There are hazards to writing something that takes place in the real world, things I didn't even think about when I started plotting my current book.  I'm used to being able to make up everything - to come up with the way the world works, how far away one place is from another, and anything else the story needs.

It's one thing to create a world.  It's something very different to have to get a pre-existing world right.

For instance, last week I bugged a co-worker who's an avid hunter about guns.  One of the book's characters decides dealing with demons up close is a bad idea, and learns how to use a rifle.  I kept the details deliberately vague, as I figured I could edit in what I needed later.  The info I got from my co-worker was interesting; he not only listed a good 'starter' rifle someone would learn with, but gave me a full description of the second gun the character ends up getting, complete with the fact that it has a 300-yard range and can take down an elk.

It's the little details that matter.

There are a ton of things I still have to look up, and much like the gun details, I expect to edit them in later.  Things like hotel floor plans, roads in major cities and small towns, and actual maps of those places so I can make sure Our Heroes' travels are accurate.  I plan to make full use of Google, maps and street views and all that, and hope I can find a place that actually fits what I've written.  Sure, anything can be fixed in editing, but still.

All in all, having to take all this into account has been an interesting experience.  This isn't something I worry about in most of my writing.  True, the book I wrote last year took place on Earth, but it was almost entirely at a college campus, which is its own kind of fictional.  And before that, it had been years since I wrote something that took place in the real world, and that was over half a century after a major change to the world so I had plenty of room to improvise.

As for fixing all of this in editing, that's another point.  I'm not as excited about writing this book as I thought I would be.  It feels a bit like it's all been done before - no real surprise, as this is my third time trying to tell this story.  I also might be suffering from Shiny New Project Syndrome; the things I still have in the plotting stages seem a lot more interesting.  But I'm going to finish this book, one way or another.

The last thing I need to know is if I can well and truly make this story work.  And I won't know that until it's done.


  1. I totally know what you mean about getting stuff right in the real world. I had a scene in the San Diego Convention center and I spent a lot of time looking up pictures from fans and the initial site before I wrote it.

    My hopes is that your co-worker pointed you either to a 2-43 winchester (looks like .243) or a 30 30 winchester. These are really popular models in the lever action world, and pretty much the stuff you'll encounter unless you have a real fan of something else. Check out this for a quick rundown if you think you need one. No pictures, but the calibers are spot on.

    If you're ever itching to fire a rifle in a "real world setting" my parents have some property, but I think only some paltry .22 longs. If you're interested in a gun education, it can be had up in NorCal from my other relatives, but you know... they actually go hunting. All you need is some time and the inclination. We got you covered...

    Oh, and you'd talked about trading reads at the beginning of the month, yes. I'm totally into that, but I have some editing to do before I let other people see this 5h17. I'm sure you understand.

    (FYI, the .234, called a two-thirty-four is the caliber that is really common in US auto rifles, AKA the shit used in school shootings like Newton). Good luck and there are lots of great resources for getting the guns right (shoot, we have some at the house if you wanna see them).

    1. Let's see... my co-worker recommended a Winchester model 94 for the 'starter' rifle, and a Remington model 700 in 30-06 for the second one. He really knows his stuff, and he's also a SF/Fantasy fan, so he understood when I said I needed rifles for shooting demons. ^_^ If it gets to that point, I plan to look up videos of the rifles being used and do whatever other research is necessary to make sure I've got everything right.

      As for actually using one, hey, we'll see. I know there's no substitute for experience, but I have no idea right now where I'd find the time. Oi.

      And trading books-in-progress would be good, but odds are good I'd be handing you Skyborne. I have no idea if what I'm working on now will be worth the continued work. Probably won't know until I finish it and go back to it after six to eight weeks. But we'll see how that all goes. Let me know when you have something for me, it's not like we have to trade at the same time.