Saturday, June 9, 2012

28 Day Blogging Challenge: Still Going Strong!

Can I just say, about a week in, how much fun I'm still having with this blogging challenge thing?  I'm glad I found it.  Anyway!  On with the prompt.

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book?

The great thing about writing fantasy is that you get to make everything up.  That's probably my favorite thing about it -- the freedom to create something without having to worry about getting details wrong.  I'm that annoying person who's always watching TV going, "That's really not how that works at all." and aggravating all my fellow viewers.  So I want to avoid as much of that as I can, and writing fantasy makes that a whole lot easier. 

Not that you can get by with being completely of the wall in fantasy.  Your world still has to be internally consistent.  You have to spend way more time world-building and you only ever use a tiny fraction of all that preparation. 

Anyway, I do have my own "research" that I always do at the beginning of a new project.  As long as I could remember, I've always done this.  When I start a story, the very first thing I need to nail is the aesthetic of the world.  I'll usually go into a project with a concept and a couple of characters, but before I can figure out the plot or the themes or anything else, I need to know what the world feels like.  So here's what I do:

  1. I'll read several other books in my genre.  For example, when I was gearing up for Nezumi's Children (my 2010 Nanowrimo novel about a group of rats trying to weather a disaster together in an abandoned pet store), I read a ton of animal novels.  That's how I found The White Bone, among other things.  
  2. I find a bunch of movies in the genre.  The best part about movies is that they're quick to watch, so you can re-watch a good one whenever you get stuck during writing and it helps loosen things up.  When I wrote Tagestraum, I basically watched Pan's Labyrinth a thousand times.  
  3. Look at art and photos.  I'll peruse the web searching for images that remind me of my world.  Not necessarily specific destinations, characters or events (although those are great when I find them) but things that generally touch on the aesthetic or theme of the world.  I collect these on Pinterest, if you want to go take a look (and follow me!  I'll follow back!)  For Tagestraum, I looked at a TON of art from Jacek Yerka, Brian Froud and Joshua Hoffine.  That right there should give you an idea of what kind of book this is. 
  4. Make a playlist.  I've always written to music, and my tastes change depending on the project.  I'll always build a playlist of songs that capture the mood of the world I'm creating and help me get "in the zone."  I usually build these on Youtube so that I can share them and have access to it no matter what computer I'm on.  For Tagestraum, I listened to a lot of classical and choral music.  For Carnal Jesus, the playlist is a lot of industrial and alternative rock.  Bizarrely, Nezumi's Children is almost entirely folk metal.  I don't understand that one, either.  
Once I've gone through all of these steps, I usually know exactly how my world feels and it's easier to crawl up inside of it and explore.  The best part is that it gives me something tangible to go back to if I start to lose my enthusiasm.  The second best part is that it's all something I can share, so the creation process isn't quite so lonely.

How bout you guys?  Anybody else have any overly-complicated pre-writing rituals? 

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