For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.
Today, the topic is KNOWLEDGE.
My first 'real' topic for this A-to-Z Blogging Challenge was "Believability" back on April second As a writer who mostly dabbles in mysteries and speculative fiction, believability is vitally important to me.
But how do I achieve it?
Well, even if I'm writing outlandish things, I've still got to know what I'm writing about. If I'm working on a mystery where someone is killed with a hard-to-identify poison, I can't just go, "Um, yeah... arsenic's a poison, isn't it? That works." Well, no it doesn't. Arsenic was used historically as a murderer's poison, but tests such as the Marsh Test have been used to detect it since the 1840's. It has long failed the "hard to detect" criteria.
This applies to everything in my writing. If I'm setting my story in Cleveland, Ohio, I can't mention that it sits on Lake Huron (it's Lake Erie). If I'm creating a character who's running for president, I can't talk about how the first primary election is in California (it's in Iowa, and actually it’s a caucus).
Even with wildly-speculative topics, I need to get it right. If I want to write about an alien invasion, I can't just throw out half-assed details: "The evil Rutabegians left their home planet of Kumquat in their carrot-shaped rockets and traveled the 900 parsecs to Earth. Two days later they arrived and began feasting on human flesh."
Rockets? 900 parsecs? TWO DAYS??? Um, no... A parsec is approximately 3.26 light years. So even if these vile vegetable beasts could accelerate a chemical-reaction rocket up to 99% of light-speed (around 300 millions meters per second), it would take over 2900 years to get to Earth. And there's no way could they hold enough propellant in a rocket to achieve that level of acceleration.
My point is that in order to make my writing believable, I have to do my homework. I have to gain the knowledge of what I want to write about beforehand. This means research and relying on my own real-life experiences. I have to do my due diligence to anchor my story in reality, even when I'm writing about things that aren't real. If I need those rutabegians to arrive in two days, I need to research faster-than-light travel and at least propose a believable way that they could make that trip. Wormhole? Hyper-warp? Maybe, but whatever it is, I need to do my research in order to make it plausible.
My reader has to at least believe that I know what the hell I'm talking about, and I have to do all I can to maintain that illusion...
Thanks for visiting -- see you the rest of this month for more alphabetical fun!
Don't forget to visit HERE to see all the bloggers taking part in this A-to-Z challenge, and try to drop in on as many of them as you can!