Tag Archives: research

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

I wrote last week about doing author interviews on your blog; it will interest readers, and often be important for aspiring writers.   Here are some ideas for other types of writers/artists you may want to interview:

For a writer with a military background:

Thank you for taking time to answer some questions about your writing.

When did you first become interested in writing?

When did you get serious about writing fiction?

With many years in the Air Force and Air Force Reserves, how much has your military background influenced your writing?

Your first series was a great success — what’s next? Who is your target audience?

For a prolific writer who has multiple books out, or a considerable series:

Have you always wanted to write?

What was your first book, and how did you come up with the idea for it?

And then you wrote another, which turned out to be a follow-up in another story?

Did you write straight through all your six books in that series?

It looks like, mid-point, you went back to your earlier writing ideas.

What is your education (or business) background?

What else do you like or like to do, just for fun?

Marathon writing, for someone who churns out book after book, with no stopping in sight:

How did you first happen to come across such a radical concept as writing 60,000 words in only 3 days, one week (or whatever short time period)?

You have successfully done this how many times?

Could you give a brief run-down on the preparation necessary before the Marathon Event?

What are the steps within the Days/Weeks themselves?

What kind of shape is your manuscript in by the time you get to the end of your Marathon?

Perhaps I should also ask, what kind of shape is the Writer in at the end?

How many books had you written to completion before your Marathon attempt?

How many have you written in Marathon mode?

Which of your books are published? Please tell us their titles and where they are available.

Will you continue to write whole novels in short time periods?

Will you ever write novels in other ways too, or are you a complete believer in this method?

Sometimes writers get so involved in their book that they need an occasional break just for “fun” — how do you give yourself a break, or have fun?

What can you say to budding authors about persistence? Explain your saying “Persistence Pays”!

Any final ideas you’d like to leave with us?

For “A NEW WRITER” – after the first publication of a non-fiction book:

Thanks for your willingness to talk to us about books and writing. When did you first realize you were interested in writing?

How long have you been writing?

What genre is your book; also, when and where will it be available?

Tell us about your first publication of a book — how did it come about, how long did it take from beginning to end?

What areas are you most interested in writing about now?

Give us just a little teaser about your topic and/or genre in this book. Who do you think would be most interested in reading this book?

Now that’s it’s coming out, what do you plan to do next? Do you plan to write within the same genre the next time?

Which other authors do you most like to read?

For an Artist/Author:

When did you first think you were “big” enough or “old” enough to write a book?

I would assume you began your art work even before that . . . where your first efforts “doodling” bug or actual works of art?

What’s your favorite picture you’ve ever completed, and where can it be found?

I’ve heard you spend “most” of your time playing with your children and working as a freelance illustrator. What is your favorite thing to do with the kids, and what would each of them say is her favorite thing to do with you?

Besides your own books, what other books have you had a hand in and where they can be found?

“I never metaphor I didn’t like” *

D. H. Lawrence once described a row of distant houses on a ridge at night: “The homes stood . . . black against the sky, like wild beasts glaring curiously with yellow eyes down into the darkness.” WOW! But what if he’d just said, “The lighted houses were black against the sky.” Now the idea has lost all its color, all its energy.

Read Pearl Buck’s words about the surprise when an opened bag revealed a handful of precious jewels: ” . . . such a mass of jewels as we had never dreamed could be together, jewels red as the inner flesh of watermelons, golden as wheat, green as young leaves in spring, clear as water trickling out of the earth.”

Now we’re talking “figurative” language, which lends beauty, interest, intensity to our writings. Two such devices, shown above, are similes and metaphors

A simile compares things which may be unlike, but uses a “comparing” word such as like or as. “Her hair was like silk.” “He was thin as a stick.”

“Books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them.” ~ Samuel Butler

“Justice is like a train that’s nearly always late.” ~ Yevgeny Vetrushenko

“Books are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with ’em, then we go out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stage of development.” ~ Dorothy L. Sayers

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” ~ William Shakespeare (King Lear)

A metaphor compares things which are unlike without the “comparing” words, like or as. This is an implied, rather than a stated, direct comparison. Metaphor will often say one thing IS another: The road was a ribbon of moonlight.

I happened upon a strange (and funny) little book one day in a bookstore and had to have it. The title: “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” by Dr. Mardy Grothe. In this tome, you will find wonderful examples of both similes and metaphors (and many more, like analogies, puns, etc.). To quote a few gems, he garnered from a variety of sources:

“A committee is a cul‑de‑sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.” ~ Barnett Cocks (Why am I thinking about politics? Elections? Senators and Reps?)

“A skyscraper is a boast in glass and steel.” ~ Mason Cooley (Funny, I’m still thinking politics . . . but I won’t say WHO.

“America is an enormous frosted cupcake in the middle of millions of starving people.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine

Several years ago, I wrote a blog for the ABC Writers Guild about borrowing from friends. And friends borrowing from friends. The short of it is, I borrowed an idea from Carol Lynch Williams and Ann Dee’s blog “Throwing Up Words” (FOLLOW it, if you don’t already!). Ann Dee had borrowed and adapted a writing exercise from THE PRACTICE of POETRY by Linnea Johnson, to come up with this fun list for you/us to recreate as completed metaphors and/or similes.

So from Linnea, down the line, to me, to you — have fun finishing these metaphors/similes:

  1. Blue paint spilled on the road like . . .
  2. Cancelled checks in the abandoned subway car seemed . . .
  3. A spider under the rug is like . . .
  4. Graffiti on the abandoned building like . . .
  5. Nothing was the same, now that it was . . .
  6. The dice rolled out of the cup toward Veronica like . . .
  7. A child in . . . is like a . . .
  8. . . . is like muscles stretched taut over bone.
  9. The fog plumed through gun shot holes in the car windows like . . .
  10. She held her life in her hands as if it were . . .
  11. Lacey poured coffee down her throat as if it were . . .
  12. If I should wake before I die, . . .
  13. The security guard walks the lobby as if . . .
  14. The library books left in the rain . . .
  15. Music in the hallway like . . .

I’d love to see your best three is the comments below. And don’t forget to add color and verve to your writing by utilizing apt similes and metaphors.

*”I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” by Dr. Mardy Grothe

Put a little “non” in your fiction

Most of us started out as readers before we decided to be writers. We still enjoy reading every chance we get (when we’re not writing). It’s even recommended that we be well-read in our genre in order to know what’s out there and what’s been done before. But in case you don’t already, make space on your reading list for non-fiction. Just a book or two each year could make a difference.

Why? Well, here’s why I read various types of non-fiction:

History: No matter what genre you write, it’s good to know your history if only for a source of plots to mine. But if your work involves any level of speculation, a knowledge of history can help you ground your ideas in reality to make them feel more real. And if nothing else, it’s good to drop historical references into your work now and then. Familiar historical references can be a sort of short-hand to bring your reader up to speed quickly without spelling it all out. Stories often work better if they are grounded in historical context.Bibliothek_der_Alten_Welt2

Biography: Creating characters with depth is something we should all aspire to. Why not launch an detailed character study by picking up a biography of someone you feel might be like your character? Biographies can give you enormous insight into what might influence a character and how those influences might manifest themselves. As with history (because it is history) you might find a myriad of plot ideas, as well.

Science: Yes, science can be boring to read about, but there are many writers who can make it interesting, and there’s nothing saying you can’t skim. Knowing how the natural world works can keep you from making glaring mistakes in your writing. It can also be a source of ideas, whether for plot or setting, or even character (how would growing up in a desert, for example, influence a person’s personality?).

Current events: It could be argued this is just an off-shoot of history, but I call it out separately for a reason. We all think we know what’s really going on in any current or recent situation because we’re living through it. But in reality we’re usually getting only a small subset of information, filtered by our own favorite biases. Reading someone’s in-depth analysis of a recent event can help you understand what more was likely going on that you never heard about. It can be useful to get a different perspective. It helps us add more depth to our characters when we realize how many different ways there are of looking at the same event.

Those are just a few reasons for expanding your reading list into non-fiction. As writers, regardless of genre, we often need to “know a little bit of everything.” Sure, you can always do your research after you’ve decided what to write. But what you choose to write might improve by simply broadening your horizons and learning more about the world we live in.

If you’ve been avoiding non-fiction I advise you to start. Perhaps just one book for now, just to get your feet wet. If you find reading non-fiction boring,  consider getting an audio book. I’ve found a good narrator can make any subject more interesting. Give it a try and see if you don’t find yourself applying what you’ve learned to your writing.

If you already read non-fiction as part of your regular reading, what books have you found particularly helpful/inspiring? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Keeping Writing Research Fun

About Chas Hathaway

Chas is an author, musician, husband, dad, and X-grave digger. He's always enjoyed writing. He started keeping a daily journal when he was 13, and that started a pattern of regular writing that has continued to this day.

His first book, Giraffe Tracks, a memoir of his missionary experiences in South Africa, was published in 2010, and in July 2011, Cedar Fort published his book, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with DATING?!

Chas has been playing piano since 1994, and actively writing New Age piano compositions since 1996. He has long felt that the greatest factor in the influence of a piece of music is the intent of its author. He has also written numerous LDS Hymn arrangements, many of which are available in sheet music, including the favorite hymns, If You Could Hie to Kolob and Come Thou Fount.

So far, Chas has 4 albums out:

Tune My Heart, Released 2012
Anthem of Hope, 2010
The Ancestor, 2009
Dayspring, 2007

While music and writing are his most time-consuming work, he also enjoys gardening, inventing games, and most of all, spending time with his beautiful wife and adorable little kids.

What I learned about Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today we celebrate love and romance. For some, this day is bitter, while others see it as sweet. It wouldn’t be right if today’s post wasn’t centered on Valentine’s Day, at least sort of…

Did you know where Valentine’s Day originated from? I didn’t. I’d always just figured about this time in February when the cold is aching our bones, we’d naturally just want to cuddle up with someone—for the warmth at least. My research showed something else. Like many national holidays connected with religion, like Halloween and Samhain, so too does Valentine’s day. Originally it was a pagan holiday, Lupercalia, to celebrate fertility. Later it was to honor the death of a Saint patron named Valentine, although his actual origins are uncertain. Now it’s celebrated as a day of flowers, boxes of chocolates, and naked cupids. You might be wondering why I am giving you a history lesson on the day of love. I’m not really. What I’m trying to do is prove a point about research.

Believe it or not, readers dig it when you can give them helpful information hidden in your story. In fact, many middle-grade publishers are on the lookout for books that provide awesome stories AND insights into history, math, and science. While they might be trying to win the hearts of teachers and parents, what they are really doing is providing knowledge to young readers in a fun way. Middle-grade books don’t have to be the only ones that can give great insights into history, math, and science. Adult readers like that stuff too.

ID-10074030How do you go about research? If my advance nonfiction professor taught me anything, he taught me how to do good research. There are key places you can go to discover information about topics that you can later relate in your stories. Here are just a few:

  • Research Libraries: Yes, they have them. While found mostly on university campuses, research libraries can be an excellent source of information. Say you wanted to write a compelling murder mystery but also wanted to give insights into your main character’s job as a coroner. Well, they have the books for you. University libraries also have accounts with MLA International Bibliography which are open to patrons that visit their library. This is a great tool to find articles written on practically anything.
  • Folklore Libraries and Collections: When you hear the work folklore, it’s not just fun stories people made up. It’s history! I was very fortunate to go to Utah State University which has one of the largest folklore collections in the world. I was able to discover information on Native American legends which I used in my Dream Keeper Chronicles. I also found the records of a patient, handwritten by his doctor, from the 1890’s. I used that record in a nonfiction essay I wrote about my brother and his dealings with schizophrenia which won me an award from the Governor of Utah. While some of their collection is online, most is not, but can be handled by hand in a secure environment. I’m going to throw Museums and Exhibits in with this one because they are very similar. Although most items are behind glass, and can’t be handled, you can learn a great deal from them just by observation.
  • The Internet: This day and age is great for writers. Everything can be found online—well almost anything. From Google searches to Wikipedia (make sure to double check facts with Wikipedia) you can find information on pretty much anything. I love to use History.com, although used primarily to promote their network and shows, they have TONS of great historical information written by experts. Also check Google Earth. They can give you a view of places without even going there.
  • Documentaries: Watching a show about the destruction of Pompeii can fill my brain with more ideas than reading about it. I LOVE documentaries! Most of the shows you see are very informative and are backed by facts or very compelling theories. Some of my favorite channels to watch are Discovery, History, Nation Geographic, Nova, and Animal Planet. Do you want to learn about exotic places in the world? Watch the Travel Channel. Most of these networks have websites and their shows can be streamed live for free. There is TONS of great information disguised as entertainment. Go for it!
  • 2340-1Encyclopedias: The idea of encyclopedias may be outdated but I say they are great tools. Not everything can be found on line. Sometimes it takes just going and looking something up in a book to find what you’re looking for. I have an encyclopedia of magical creatures that I use A LOT. In fact, it sits on my shelf along with other writing resources I go to when I need an answer. I like it because it gives the origins of the myths of magical creatures and helps me to think up new ones.
  • Experts: Sometimes the best way to get correct information about something is to ask an expert. I have a guy who belongs to my congregation at church who is a DNA Analyst. I asked him a few random questions about what he does and he was excited to talk about his work. Most people are. Don’t be afraid to approach the experts. Tell them you are a writer and want their vast knowledge on the subject. I wanted to know more about a town I was writing about in my new book but I’d never been there. I found a bed and breakfast in the town and contacted the owner via email. They were so helpful and very willing to share information on their town in a way only a person who lived there could.

Tip: Try different words.  I was looking for information on the reformed alphabet which proved difficult, until I utilized the Thesaurus in a search engine.  This helped narrow down some terminology that helped me better. If your first attempt does yield good results, try, try again.

So there you go. Research is amazing. You can bring such life to your books by including just little bits here and there. What’s most fun about research is the knowledge you take away from it. Whether you are learning about the Battle of Humbleton Hill in 1402, or the origins of Valentine’s Day—you’ll learn something. Happy research! And happy writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Think a little deeper

Deep in thoughtI recently finished reading “Imager”, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. I was impressed by just how much thought he put into his setting. Granted, Mr. Modesitt is an economist, but it’s clear he took the time to really think through the implications of his magic system in the book. Imagers, his version of wizards, are able to create items merely by picturing them in their minds, but the materials to create that item have to come from somewhere.

This detail is important to the story, but not only does Modesitt adequately establish this “rule”, he takes it a step or two further. We have people who can create complex substances, and with no more energy than solving a particularly difficult Sudoku.

What does this mean for his society? He takes the time to think it through and to educate us in the process. For one, Imagers are able to supplement the government’s coffers with the occasional small batch of metals difficult to make, for only the cost of the raw materials. But for another, if they use this ability too far it will actually ruin the country’s economy, draw undue attention to the imagers’ powers, and possibly turn the population against them. Modesitt thinks through the implications, going just another level or two deeper, and the story becomes stronger for it.

The idea of extrapolating just a level or two deeper applies to more than fantasy, of course. Some of the best moments in any genre come from taking an idea, exploring it superficially–to the level your audience is likely to–but thinking it through a little farther. You can uncover ramifications that, when your audience finally is led to make the same connection, can lead them into a genuine “Oh…crap” moment, one of the experiences we all long to provide our readers.

Take for example the movie “Sneakers”. Robert Redford’s character leads a team of rogue specialists who test companies’ security by attempting to break into it. It’s fun to watch them use their various methods to pull off the perfect heist, and we can feel good about their being the “good guys.”

And sure enough, before long the government shows up asking for their help. A brilliant mathematician has been hired by a foreign power to create the ultimate decryption system, and our lovable team of misfits needs to steal it from him before he can hand it over to America’s enemies. They go to work, and soon they’ve got the device, ready to hand it over to the NSA.
Sneakers
Then suddenly the mathematician winds up dead. Before long it’s become all to clear–it wasn’t the government that hired them. It was an unknown power trying to get the device from the real U.S. Government, and our heroes walked right it. The rest of the movie is all about getting themselves out of the mess they’ve made.

It’s a lot of fun, but I especially love the “Oh…crap” moment. It never occurred to me–just like it never occurred to them–that someone would use them and set them up like that. And yet it makes perfect sense, once we think to think about it. The scriptwriters took the time to think about it, and the result is one of the most fun heist movies I’ve ever seen.

Many of the coolest ideas in novels or film come from taking a cool idea and thinking a few more levels deep. Yes, we could have a good novel from the initial idea alone, but when you extrapolate a step or two farther that’s when the fun really begins and you have a great chance of surprising your reader. Whether it’s an “Oh…crap” moment, a plot twist, or just adding another layer of depth or realism to to your setting or situation, your readers will appreciate it.

You’re always bound to have a few readers who do take your ideas and extrapolate. If you show them that you already did that, too, they’ll respect you more as an author. If you can show them you not only thought that far,  but actually took it farther, you’ll keep them coming back for more.

So take the time to think things through. Play with the “what-ifs”. You may already have a good story idea, but taking it just a few steps farther could be what it takes to turn it into a great idea.

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Trivial Pursuits

I’m going to reveal my geek roots here—and perhaps my age—but in the Second Edition of the Dungeons and Dragons rules one of the skills a bard can have is called “Know a little bit of everything”. This was a useful skill, not just for the person playing the bard character, but for the Dungeon Master trying to present the story. It could sometimes provide a little shortcut to providing the players with knowledge they might not normally have without having to go through the difficulty and time (and boredom) of finding it out.

We, as storytellers, are bards after a fashion. While it’s not essential to “know a little bit of everything”, it can seldom hurt, either. All those years you spent soaking up knowledge hoping to get challenged to another game of Trivial Pursuit are not wasted just because the game has gone out of fashion! Anything you learn can be used in a story—much of it regardless of genre!

William Gibson, courtesy Wikimedia Commons
William Gibson, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

One writer who I find a fine example of this is William Gibson. His series of books, “Pattern Recognition”, “Spook Country”, and “Zero History”, are a great example of ways writers can work in just about any bizarre little factoid. In his case it’s often to increase the “cool factor” of his books. You find out obscure little facts about manual calculation devices, fashion, or outdated and bizarre Russian military craft and you can’t help but feel a little bit cooler for knowing it. It also helps him sell a lot of other details that may be fictional, but we believe because he comes across knowing so much about everything. All of it comes together to create present-day fiction that turns our own world inside out and reveals it to be stranger than fiction. Gibson is known as a science fiction writer, but no particular love of science is needed to be transported to the oddball world we already live in.

As writers we can be well-served by an innate curiosity. Even if we don’t try to soak up everything we can find, going just a little farther into a topic than the average person can help us both surprise our readers and build our credibility. If a factoid or an image stick in our heads there’s a good chance it’ll stick in our readers’ heads, too. Michael Crichton did this very well, too. He would take known science and extrapolate from there. He was also good at explaining science to the point that it not only didn’t interfere with the plot, but we could feel ourselves getting smarter just by following the story. The only danger was that it was never easy to tell where the established science ended and the speculative science began. You could end up “knowing things that just ain’t so!”

Michael Crichton, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been trying to find a genre where the idea of learning something about everything wouldn’t be helpful and I haven’t thought of one yet. No, it’s not necessary to throw new and unfamiliar things at your readers—the familiar has its own appeal—but it’s a handy resource. For example, if you’re a romance writer, there is a certain segment of the potential audience who may never get tired of stories about doctors and nurses. But there’s another segment who might find it kinda cool if the heroine is the art director for a video game development company, or if the hero composes background music for movie trailers. Just knowing those occupations exist can freshen your characters and story without much effort on your part—or may even introduce new elements to your story.

Being well-versed in a variety of subjects, even slightly versed in a wide variety of subjects can really provide a solid foundation for writers. Knowing a little bit of everything is not just a good skill for a role-playing game. For writers, it perhaps should be a way of life.

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Seven Edits part 4: Research Revision

After the character revision, this is probably the biggest. Check your facts. Though you don’t need to go overboard, everything, be it contemporary romance, science fiction, alternate history, or fantasy, is researchable to some degree.

Specifically, make sure there is plausibility and believability with:

  1. Laws of physics. Do cars actually do that when they crash? What does it really look like when someone is shot? What happens when it falls from that height? Can a person survive a lake dive from that height? Would he really get knocked out from getting hit by a door like that?
  2. Language. Check the language against the time period. If it’s an alternate universe, make sure there are no trendy modern terms in their speech. If your setting is the future or some other world, that society will probably have it’s own trendy terms. You don’t have to make an entire dictionary (unless you really want to), but you may want to write a few down.
  3. Skills, jobs, and roles. Can ninjas really do that? Would a janitor really have that kind of access? Does the president of the U.S. have that power? Do police really behave that way? Watch carefully for that one. I see it violated all the time in books, and it pulls me out of the story every time–and I know very little about proper police procedures. Someone who knows more may just put down the book for good.) If you’re too shy to call someone in that field, no worries, a good Internet search can probably get you all the info you need. You just might want to verify your findings in two or three different sources if it’s an integral part of your story.
  4. World. Every book uses world building, even if (such as in historical fiction) the rules are already established. Your job is to research those rules. How would that climate in this area effect their efforts to search for the treasure? What is the terrain and foliage like? Keep it consistent and interesting. Can they survive overnight in that weather/temperature? If there isn’t much description, put in little samples throughout the text—not long descriptive paragraphs. Bob picked a fern leaf. “So, where should we go from here?” We now know there are ferns. Get the senses involved. The more you can use the better. Mix senses where possible. The more the reader can see the world in his/her mind, the more they will become wrapped up in the story.
  5. Fantasy rules. You can often make up your own rules in fantasy, just make sure you are consistent and keep your own rules. If there are exceptions, make the exception known (or at LEAST hinted at) before the exception takes place, so the reader doesn’t feel like you’re changing the rules for convenience.
  6. Social expectations. There are all kinds of unwritten rules of conduct that we live by every day, such as rules of proximity, common courtesies, and nonverbal communication. Your character is welcome to act outside of those rules, and if they are from another world, visiting a contemporary setting, they most assuredly will break those rules. The trick with research here is to discover how other people would react to the indiscretion. Researching that kind of stuff can be really fun, because there are a bazillion Youtube videos of people doing things that break social norms, such as ordering strange things at a drive through, eating in inappropriate settings, and saying things that you just don’t say to strangers. Obviously the joke is in the stranger’s reaction, which is good, because that’s the behavior you want to study.

See all 7 Edits

About Chas Hathaway

Chas is an author, musician, husband, dad, and X-grave digger. He's always enjoyed writing. He started keeping a daily journal when he was 13, and that started a pattern of regular writing that has continued to this day.

His first book, Giraffe Tracks, a memoir of his missionary experiences in South Africa, was published in 2010, and in July 2011, Cedar Fort published his book, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with DATING?!

Chas has been playing piano since 1994, and actively writing New Age piano compositions since 1996. He has long felt that the greatest factor in the influence of a piece of music is the intent of its author. He has also written numerous LDS Hymn arrangements, many of which are available in sheet music, including the favorite hymns, If You Could Hie to Kolob and Come Thou Fount.

So far, Chas has 4 albums out:

Tune My Heart, Released 2012
Anthem of Hope, 2010
The Ancestor, 2009
Dayspring, 2007

While music and writing are his most time-consuming work, he also enjoys gardening, inventing games, and most of all, spending time with his beautiful wife and adorable little kids.