Bad books on writing tell you to ‘WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW’, a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.
Joe Haldeman (via maxkirin)
Just choked on my fucking drink
I know nothing.
Know what you write, ie go and look it up, wanna write about lasagne, make lasagne and find out how it feels in your mouth, the way it slithers between your teeth, try things, and what you can’t try – research, ask people, hit the library
I’ll never know what it is to climb mount doom, but I can tell you how to climb a mountain and from there the rest is imagination
so yeah, know what you write, dont write what you know, because what you know isn’t enough to fill a postage stamp
It’s very possible that one day you’ll want to write a runaway, or someone living on the streets, or someone who is just up to no good, or all of the above! You need some good old research. Well here; I did some of that work for you!
Obviously not all of these characteristics/actions are interchangeable so use discretion (i.e. I’m not implying that all homeless people jump borders or shoplift, but some may if they get desperate. These are just suggestions).
Runawayguide – Yep, this guy ran away from home when he was 16 and is currently traveling the world. My favorite posts of his:
- How to Eat Cheap Around the World
- How to Sleep on the Street
- How to Avoid Being Robbed
- How to Hitchhike
- How to Jump Trains
- How to Jump a Border
- How to Sneak into Anywhere
- Runaway Backpacker Jobs
(Also make sure to read through the comments on his posts because a lot of his visitors tell plenty outrageous stories to get your ideas rolling.)
Wikihow – You know it. Like Wikipedia, I wouldn’t put my full trust in them, but they’re pretty thorough. Runawayguide already discusses some of this stuff, but these are good “big idea” articles.
Other articles – I can’t guarantee that any of these are 100% accurate or trustworthy, so if you’re having your doubts try to get a few more sources to back it up.
- How to Live Life on the Run
- How to Steal a Dead Person’s Identity
- How to Steal from a Vending Machine
- Tips for Shoplifting
- Working Without a Social Security Number
- Ten Things Novels Get Wrong about Homeless People
- “My First Night Homeless”
- How to Live in a Boat
- “A Message to Homeless Teens”
- Hygiene on the Road
- Interesting Chart Differentiating Between Poor, Middle Class and Wealthy
- Spent (Can You Make It Through the Month with $1,000?) – Interactive Game
Also, FYI, it is legal for adolescents in most states to run away. I wasn’t aware of this at all before my research and thought it was a cool tidbit.
Please feel free to add your own references/resources!
Books fall open, you fall in. When you climb out again, you’re a bit larger than you used to be.
“It’s not what you take. It’s what you leave.”
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Anonymous said: Can you link me to some posts you have about making up settings, specifically in fantasy?
Firstly, what is a setting? Here’s a great definition from UDL Editions:
Setting: The setting is the environment in which a story or event takes place. Setting can include specific information about time and place (e.g. Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809) or can simply be descriptive (eg. a lonely farmhouse on a dark night). Often a novel or other long work has an overall setting (e.g. a Midwestern town during the Depression), within which episodes or scenes occur in different specific settings (eg. the courthouse). Geographical location, historical era, social conditions, weather, immediate surroundings, and time of day can all be aspects of setting.
A setting is a literary component, one of the fundamentals of fiction along with plot, character, theme, and style (x). As such, it’s worth pursuing a deep understanding of the effect of setting on the story and in relation to every other literary element in your toolbox.
Along with tone, setting creates the atmosphere of your story. Right from the beginning, a story’s atmosphere draws readers in and sets up expectations for them about the story they will experience.
It was a bleak evening, to be sure. The blackening gray sky cowered low on the horizon, and the Morrow house sat straight-backed and alone on the hill, its old Victorian towers and turrets puncturing the bellies of the clouds.
The atmosphere here is morose, maybe even sinister. The beginnings of a setting can be seen at the mention of the Morrow house, an old Victorian mansion at the top of a hill (and the story’s location), and by the mention of the weather.
The tone, which complements and strengthens the setting, is conveyed by the descriptions, the word choices made by the writer. Words like “bleak” and “blackening” and “gray” as well as phrases like “cowered low,” “straight-backed and alone,” and “puncturing the bellies” contribute to the grim tone. The name of the house, “Morrow,” feels somber and austere, and the inclusion of “Victorian,” a time period known for its gothic novels and strict but often subverted moral code, both advance the tone of this example.
From your first word to your last, setting and tone work together as atmosphere to introduce the reader to the story and lure them in. To think of tone and setting as separate literary elements is to limit their utility. They are sisters, and each should be considered with the other as you write.
A believable setting lends credibility to the world of your story. If your setting feels real, whole and established, the rest of the story feels stronger and more substantial within it. Just to reiterate, the setting of a story includes but is not limited to:
- Geographical Location
- Immediate Surroundings
- Historical Era
- Social Conditions/Culture
- Time (Hour/Day/Year)
So, now that we know what it is, how do you get a setting? A huge part of setting creation is worldbuilding (world-building, world building), so let’s talk about that. From Wikipedia:
Worldbuilding: The process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe.
Though worldbuilding can include character development as well, its primary focus is on the creation of a solid setting. With that in mind, here’s a semi-organized list of worldbuilding posts from WriteWorld and elsewhere.
I wrote the first 5,000 words of William the Antichrist. It had a demon named Crawleigh. He drove a Citroen 2CV, and was ineffectual. Proper demons like Hastur and Ligur loathed him. It had a baby swap. I sent it to a few friends for feedback. Then my graphic novel Sandman happened, and it was almost a year later that the phone rang.
“It’s Terry,” said Terry. “‘Ere. That thing you sent me. Are you doing anything with it?”
“Well, I think I know what happens next. Do you want to sell it to me? Or write it together?”
“Write it together,” I said, because I was not stupid, and because that was the nearest I was ever going to get to Michaelangelo phoning to ask if I wanted to paint a ceiling with him.