Trajectory – definition: the curve that an object travels along through space (such as a bullet, a rocket, or a planet in its orbit)
What a shame this word was not on my desk diary a couple of days ago, it would have been perfect for the spectacular but frightening event in Russia. Having a massive piece of rock hurtling towards earth certainly shakes our false sense of security doesn’t it? At any time a projectile could plunge to earth devastating everything in its path or at the very least showering molten fragments into the atmosphere with an accompanying sonic boom.
Reviewing all the data that flooded the Internet and news programs made me realize why we like disaster movies so much. In every one there is a seemingly insurmountable problem that is neatly resolved at the end. You can probably think of quite a number of them without much thought. We humans are portrayed as being able to overcome aliens, the earth’s core becoming unstable, mutant animals and a host of other threats. But when it really comes down to it, we have no answer for space rocks apart from tracking them and hoping they miss. A sobering thought. No futuristic spacecraft to shoot them down or massive laser beams exploding them thousands of miles above the earth – but lots of material for ideas!
If we use the comet as the basis of a story, there are a few options. We could start with the object approaching and how the inhabitants react and plan, or the big burning ball could be viewed as a sign and worshipped or we could write about how the survivors deal with the after effects of the impact. Just one event can spark many view points and scenarios. Which view would you choose?
When we develop our stories we need to give our readers the same form of scenario – the ‘normal’ life for our characters, the obstacle they need to overcome and ultimately the resolution. The greater we can make the odds, the better we engage our readers. Obviously, we don’t all write disaster type stories but every hero or heroine needs to conquer something or someone. Finding a new perspective or view point in which to tell our story makes it unique even if the basic scenario has been ‘covered’ before. This is something I did with my children’s story, Rumble’s First Scare. Instead of the usual Halloween – people are scared by monster – I viewed the night’s events of All Hallows Eve from the monster’s perspective. Rumble experiences his very first scaring expedition.
Please welcome Dennis Collins to my blog, he has a quiet humor and strong writing trait. Today’s word is Complicit – definition: associating or participating in a wrongful act. This lends itself to the characters in Dennis’ books who live in the shady underground of mystery and thriller.
a) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
That’s difficult to answer because I began my series with a trio of protagonists, Michael O’Conner, Otis Springfield, and Albert McCoy who were introduced to one another and shared equal billing in The Unreal McCoy. In the next book Turn Left at September I allowed McCoy to acquire a love interest and made him the featured character. Then it was Otis Springfield’s turn as the star of The First Domino. In Nightmare, it’s McCoy and O’Conner sharing the spotlight. I guess it just depends on who’s carrying the load that day.
b) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Right now I just write traditional mystery/thriller kind of stuff. I must admit that I’m somewhat intrigued by the extra space you get with a paranormal kink to your story. I need to learn the rules before I dive into anything like that.
c) What do you enjoy most about writing?
I’ve been a storyteller all my life and just like the old days sitting around the campfire with the other kids, I love the look of interest on people’s faces as my imagination runs wild. I’ve matured a little though these days and strive for realism in my stories. I suppose the short answer is that I like pleasing people with my tales.
d) Have you got a favorite place to write?
I’ve tried writing in coffee shops and poolside at motels but the fact is, I’m way too easily distracted. For me, the most productive place is in my little home office with no TV, no radio, no music, and just one light turned on.
e) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
My first book was totally “stream of consciousness.” I started writing and kept going until I reached the end. It took me three years. I did a little planning, at least plot-wise with my next book and it came out just fine. I’ve sort of settled in on a combination. I write until I hit a wall and then I plan, but the secret is to keep it moving. You can always repair bad dialogue or narrative but you can’t fix… nothing!
f) What inspires your stories?
Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. My first book was inspired by an obituary; the second was just the desire to get more use out of a fictional location that I created in the first book. Then there was a family incident where no one in my generation knew the true story about an uncle who died a hero in world war two. My last book was inspired by an Internet report that I stumbled on while researching something else. Where will the next inspiration come from? I haven’t a clue but I know it will happen.
g) What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens, an international thriller about drugs, mobs, terrorists, and the CIA. Such a fast pace that it left me exhausted. It will be released on 2/13/2013
h) Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
I ride a big Harley if that counts. Been a professional (automotive powered race boat) hydroplane driver, motorcycle racer, skydiver, and scuba diver, just the normal stuff.
i) Do you have any pets?
No cats. I’ve had dogs all my life. My last beautiful little mongrel died on New Years day last year at almost nineteen years of age. She was my final pet.
j) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
A friend and I formed a writer’s group in Huron County, Michigan a couple of years ago. We have close to fifty members now.
k) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
Fourth grade. The nun threatened to kick me out of school for writing a violent story. It was cowboys and Indians. What do you expect from a fourth grader? I was terrified but later I got even with her. I put her in one of my books and I made her… nice
l) Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
My first two books, The Unreal McCoy and Turn Left at September are currently out of print but are both available for Kindle or Nook. The First Domino and Nightmare are available at Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble.com in both print and electronic formats.
m) If you could meet one favorite author whom would it be and why?
Probably would have been Hemingway just to feel his presence.
n) If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
On the shore of one of the Great Lakes and that is where I live. Lake Huron is right out my front window. Maybe someplace a bit warmer for a few weeks in the winter, but not too much. Snow has always been part of my life.
I’m working on one right now (Fool’s Gold) about millions of dollars worth of gold lost at the bottom of Lake Michigan by the Confederacy during the civil war. The truth of the legend is still under debate.
Just saying this word conquers up lazy summer days, lying on the beach or a lush green lawn looking upward in that happy childlike innocence. Here in Alberta we are very fortunate to have cerulean skies a large part of the year, yes even when its -37 degrees!
I remember waking up the first morning I had emigrated here and thinking ‘how cool a nice sunny blue skied day to welcome us’. Never imagining that I would wake up for the next eight days welcomed with the very same thing! Coming from England, which has cloud cover the majority of the time it was amazing.
The other thing I came to notice about the Albertan sky was how huge it was. Now I know that seems like a strange thing to say but it does seem to stretch forever upward and horizontally. My theory is that the land mass is so large and flat that there is no ‘interruption’ to your view. Even the clouds are different! Each has a ‘flat’ bottom instead of soft fluffy curves. Again this may be due to the prairie lands affecting them. In England we glimpsed the sky through dense trees and hills. A very different landscape where clouds were massive and covered vast areas of the sky.
As you can see from just one word a myriad of images and ideas can come to mind. Using such words enables a writer to create a sense of time and place for their readers, without having to describe them in minute detail. Too much description tends to ‘shut your reader off’ so your use of words is vitally important. Yes its that old adage ‘show not tell’, which raises its head time and time again.