Friday, March 15, 2013


Warning: media-heavy post.

I haven't been talking much about writing lately, but rest assured that I have had creative output this year. My current WIP bears the working title Orsolya, because she's the most active of (currently) two viewpoint characters. Without revealing too many plot points, today I'd like to address the research I've been doing on the side while writing, and possibly generalize for other writers and projects.

Actually, what I really want to do is post pictures of canyons and cliffs, and possibly resume the habit of writing in a general sense about my WIPs. So:

Premise: Orsolya Markov, a Peacekeeper, rescues the kidnapped Prince Nikodim of Ferren from a fortress in the deserts and the two set off on a journey home while trying to understand Nik's mysterious amnesia/brainwashing.

Metadata: Orsolya belongs to my GW-UO (Unwise Ones) sequence of stories, meaning that the time is roughly modern. The relative timeline has the story starting in summer 2011. In general, the Unwise Ones setting is meant to feel almost contemporary, but not quite because of magic and geography. I'm planning to worldbuild really big for GW, which involves turning it into a kind of fantasy kitchen sink because homogeneous societies are boring.

Setting: ...which means that though a lot of characters are vaguely European, when I want to know what my landscape looks like, I google the Badlands of the American Southwest.

There is a fortress carved into those mountains. Escape!

Bryce Canyon, Utah

White River Badlands

Gorgeous, no? Later on they run into towns that look a little like this:

Maybe hitch a ride with some wagons:

Les Mauvaises Terres, Nebraska

Of course, one byproduct of such research (if research it can be called) is that I end up running into all sorts of interesting concepts to use in the story...or that threaten to pull me away into other stories I have planned. For example: American Indian intertribal relations, economics, religion, everything. Sandpainting. (Doesn't help that one of my other story ideas, Matt of the Lekron, actually requires research on American Indians [of California mostly, but the others will get in there].)

Another danger is that the story starts to sound a little like a travel journal (and I haven't even gotten that far into the story yet...), when it's primarily supposed to be an action/adventure epic. So while visual inspiration is all well and good, I find that nothing conveys a mood better than appropriate music:

(Have I bad taste in music? So be it.)

Attempt at generalization:

While serious research will of course help make a story better/stronger, casual research (especially google images searches) can help you visualize the stuff about which you write.

To triangulate the feeling of a story, bring in multiple senses. I realize that I only have two here, sight and sound, but those can subdivide more. For example: inspiration boards. I don't use them, but they may be useful and in the future I'll probably give them a try.

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