novel researching

Writing Science Fiction: Tips for Beginners

We’ve seen a lot of science fiction stories over the past year or so. It’s not like they sci-fi ever went out of style, but it seems to be gaining popularity recently.

For some, writing science fiction might seem like a daunting genre to break into. Do you need to know complex mathematical equations? Do you need to know exactly how space travel works? Did you need to major in astrophysics?

Sure, those things don’t hurt, but they’re absolutely not necessary. You can write a great sci-fi novel without years of research. And you can tell a really interesting story, even if you’re not a science pro.

Here are a few tips to get started:

Consider ‘What-if’ Scenarios

This isn’t just a great rule for sci-fi novels, but I think the best ones use this approach. Start off with a simple what-if scenario. For example: what if we lived on a world made of ice? What if in this particular world only consisted of women? Obviously, you’ll need to expand on those scenarios and spend time really developing what those caveats would mean, but you get the idea.

Start with a small what-if scenario and brainstorm!

Figure Out Your Rules

I don’t think writing great sci-fi depends on being 100% scientifically accurate ALL THE TIME, but I do think you need to stick to your own rules. Whatever is a hard rule for your own universe, it’s important to keep it that way. Does your world have ships that can travel quickly from planet to planet? Sure, that’s great! Figure out your own rules for space travel and develop your world. How do the inhabitants on one planet act/grow/eat/interact compared to the inhabitants of another? Spend time developing these ideas!

No Info Dumps!

Sometimes when people write science fiction, they tend to explain their universe all in one big info-dump. Don’t. This is boring and it does nothing to serve your story. Slowly reveal information. Every plot point in your story should serve a purpose. Develop your characters through the action and show off your worlds through them. Get creative.

Keep it Vague

If you’re unsure about the science of something, write to your strengths. Don’t understand how space travel works? Maybe your MC is put to sleep during a long trip. This is just one example, but try to figure out a way to make it work for you. Maybe avoid space travel altogether if it doesn’t serve your story.

Listen, this isn’t a substitute for research, but I also don’t want you to avoid writing science fiction if you just don’t get a lot of the concepts involved. If you’ve got a great idea for a story, work it out to fit your style. Science fiction is a great platform for unique and compelling character studies, so don’t get scared off! You don’t have to write hard science fiction in order to write a good novel.

-Kris Noel

Review: Adventures in Unhistory

In brief: A collection of essays on the more unusual aspects of history and folklore.

Thoughts: This was one of the best books (writing- and ideas-wise) that I’ve picked up on impulse in a long time. Davidson’s prose is this amazing blend of literary and colloquial, almost reading like a speech transcript sometimes, and was just a wonder to read. And the subject matter was equally awesome. Davidson was incredibly well-read and manages to connect dots between all sorts of things—ornithological trivia, folklore, etymologies, poetry, ancient trade routes, history, religion, feral children, and so, so much more—in a way that’s both highly logical and highly speculative. For him, it’s more about showing that something might be possible than genuinely proving it, because he’s dealing with a lot of stuff that’s not really provable. Dragons, for instance. Werewolves. How do you account for where those legends came from? His theories are oddly compelling, though.

However, that colloquial style I mentioned? It’s got three flaws. First, it’s colloquial à la the early ‘90s, so a number of his “as we say nowadays” jokes are a bit obscure, to the point where I think some of the essays were actually written in the ‘70s. Second, because it’s all colloquial, it got a bit predictable, repetitive, and annoying by the end.

And third, and this is a BIG THIRD, he’s … kinda _____ist? Native and non-white populations? Speak in broken English. Arabs? Pictured in a couple spots as the stereotypical hookah-smoking merchant, and they’re not the only group to have that happen. Trans people? Oddly come up in the werewolf essay, I don’t even. I don’t remember any particular instances of sexist or homophobia, but I’m fairly sure they’re in there. (This is actually a little odd to me, because Davidson also spends a fair bit of time calling out people for _____ist attitudes and pointing out that the “uncivilized” peoples … weren’t.)

7/10 (would be an 8.5 without the iffy bits)

@thevajunglebook since I know she was interested.

Edit: Struck the specifics of the transphobia out because I realized they weren’t necessary and also potential harmful. It was careless and thoughtless to put it in in the first place. I’m sorry to anyone who I might have hurt by including it.

remember that mechanic!jesse au i posted about yesterday WELL GUESS WHO THOUGHT OF MORE FOR IT 

hanzo is a martial arts instructor who works part time at ana’s tea shop, but his father runs some big-shot-possibly-less-than-legal company in Japan so he’s kind of a rich, uptight guy who moved to the US to help support his brother and get away from some of the expectations of his family

genji is an artist/writer working on an extended graphic novel and in doing research for it, is in the US for a while, and part-time tutor for the students at the local high school. he also, sometimes with hanzo’s help, offers lessons for learning Japanese

jesse is the town’s resident mechanic who used to be (not well known to most people) involved in a gang a few states away, who faked his death and rebuilt his life as a mechanic.

lena is a pilot who isn’t always in town, but when she is, she’s jesse’s best friend, and the two like to go bar hopping and judge all the straight people together

fareeha works at the nearby military base, and she’s basically jesse’s sister. 

ana is fareeha’s mother, retired military and now runs a small tea shop

gabe is retired military as well and now works as a history teacher at the high school. he was the first person jesse met when he was escaping the gang and offered him a job

jack is still military, because he refuses to retire, but works in an office now that his eyesight is going. the commanders basically just let jack do what he wants as long as no one gets hurt because he’s a stubborn old man.

angela is a doctor at a private practice who worries too much about everyone and is also married to fareeha

thats all i have so far but im sure i could think of more later


Because they are a complex species! Or, rather, they are a species complex: a group of species that are very closely related to the point that it can be very difficult to differentiate them. This makes them a near-endless font of novel research. Also, they are incredibly photogenic! I’ve been writing about birds and trawling through flickr for about two years now and no other species crops up as often as the GBHE Complex; at this point I’m pretty sure I have as many GBHE photos bookmarked as I do all other birds combined!

Pictured above is a Gams! Blue Heron, known for their strikingly well-formed legs. They are also very clever and hardworking, but unfortunately not taken seriously due to their lissome appearance. Also pictured are the bookmarks on my work web browser, with every subfolder containing at least three more bookmarks.

Today I went to a PhD talk day thingy and I was VERY VERY SCARED and TREMBLY and I had to talk to people about my idea and it went like this:

Me: hello this is my actual idea which I’ve been poring over for months and months, do you like it?
Classics lady: I like it a bit, but it’s broader than a tin full of broad beans. I’ll help you narrow it down if you like, but it definitely needs some major revisions.
Me: put me in the sin bin. I am a changeling. I do not belong here. The man in the queue behind me is a fucking composer with a London orchestra and the girl ahead of me is researching psychology as represented in contemporary American novels, and I’m just here in a fucking orange jumper and a green dress and my idea is a blob and I don’t have my MA grade yet and I belong in a binbag.
Classics lady: … but…
Me: I am basically a lumpy toad in a room full of smooth, beautiful frogs. Cast me aside and salt the earth where I stood.
Classics lady: … you do creative writing too, don’t you? Maybe you could talk to someone from that department and see what they have to offer? You could do both!
Me: OK I will come up with a PhD proposal in 3 minutes, that’ll go swimmingly. Then I will go home and probably cry into some noodles.
Creative writing lady: hello child.
Me: hello this is my idea that I’ve definitely been thinking of for months and it’s a cool novel and myths are great and I have a blog and here are some fancy academic words about stigma and metamorphoses and reception and I haven’t studied creative writing in 3 years but do you like it
Creative writing lady: OH HELL YES SIGN ME THE FUCK UP MAYBE
Me: are you doing me a joke right now
Creative writing lady: here is the only business card I brought with me, email me! Also, here is the address of my colleague who would probably be even better suited. Shop around! Your idea could be great with the right supervision.
Me: I am the smoothest of frogs

Tagged by @enolah ^__^

Rules of the game: Answer the questions and tag 10 blogs you’d like to get to know better.

Nickname: Babo/Tinky (these are family nicknames, “Amber” is kinda hard to shorten lol)
Star Sign: Gemini
Height: 5′2 (shorty in the house!)
Time right now: 11:40am
Last thing I googled: Traplines…doing novel research, oh the random topics it will bring you to!
Fave artists: (music) David Gray, Florence + The Machine, Matchbox 20, Zitten, Jason Aldean, Adele, Gary Allen, Mumford & Sons, Toby Keith, Seafret, Kaleo, The Lumineers, Keaton Henson, Serena Ryder…(actors) Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz,  Ewan McGregor, Gong Yoo, Emma Watson, Lee Bo Young, Zoe Saldana, Jung Kyung Ho, Kate Winslet, Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Leonardo Dicaprio, Meg Ryan, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Gong Hyo Jin, Julie Andrews, Lee Min Ho, Sandra Bullock, Kim Hee Sun, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Lee Min Jung, Scarlett Johansson, Lucy Brown, Jennifer Garner, Diego Luna, Harrison Ford, Lee Sun Gyun, Pierce Bronson, Julia Roberts, Daniel Craig, Zacory Quinto, Matthew Macfadyen, Rupert Penry-Jones, Jung Il Woo, Richard Armitage, Ji Chang Wook, Lee Bo Gum, Karen Gillan, Lee Jung  Suk, Allison Brie, Liv Tyler, Jeffery Donovan, Jack Davenport, So Ji Sub, Daniel Radcliffe, Kim So Eun…(ect)
Song stuck in my head: Hello, Adele
Last movie I watched: Star Wars: A New Hope
Last tv show I watched: Survivor (my guilty pleasure <3)
What I’m wearing now: Gray socks and lounge pants + black ribbed long-sleeved sweater
When I created this blog: February, 2010 (!!!) 
Kind of stuff I post: This is a multi-fandom blog, I post what I’m most crazy about at the moment…and that changes quite often, sorry and I love you @ my followers! I am a 90′s kid and get nostalgic from time to time, so expect that lol. Staples of this blog include: ice dance legends Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir…JAG…The Pretender…gushing over the unpopular ships I adore (harry x hermione, obidala, norribeth, annie x eyal)…I am a sappy romantic so various period drama appreciation is going on at all times: Pride and Prejudice/Persuasion/North & South are my die-hard favorites….KDRAMA CRAZINESS…ect. I do make gifs of my favorite shows/movies/TESSA AND SCOTT <3
Why I chose my URL: I’ve been a shipper since before I had a word for it. It’s literally become apart of my identity (whoops) and I wanted to express that ^__^  She (being me) sails (the verb for shipping) ships (maaaaany) <3 
Gender: Female
Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw
Pokemon team: Mystic (woot!)
Fave colors: Pink 
Average hours of sleep: 5- 7 (idk I go to bed early but I always toss and turn??)
Lucky number: 8
Favorite Characters: (in no particular order!) Remus Lupin (Harry Potter), Miss Parker (The Pretender), Spock (Star Trek), Legolas (Lord Of The Rings), Claudia Brown (Primeval), Harmon Rabb (JAG), Obi-wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Lemony Snicket (Series Of Unfortunate Events), Padme Amidala (Star Wars), Eyal Lavin (Covert Affairs), James Norrington (Pirates Of The Caribbean), Natasha Romanoff (Marvel), Margaret Hale (North & South), Oliver Wood (Harry Potter), Kathleen Kelly (You’ve Got Mail), Li Syaoran (Card Captor Sakura), Clara Oswald (Doctor Who), Michael Westen (Burn Notice), Jarod (The Pretender), Kazuya Shibuya/Oliver Davis/Naru (Ghost Hunt), Nathaniel Underwood (Bartimaeus Trilogy), Anne Elliott (Persuasion), Fiona Glenanne (Burn Notice), Nymphadora Tonks (Harry Potter) Anthony Lockwood (Lockwood & Co), Nick Cutter (Primeval), Annie Walker (Covert Affairs), Iku Kasahara (Library Wars), Sarah Mackenzie (JAG), Fredrick Wentworth (Persuasion), Atsushi Dojo (Library Wars), Lucy Carlyle (Lockwood & Co), Nyota Uhura (Star Trek), Mai Taniyama (Ghost Hunt), John Thornton (North & South), Sakura Kinomoto (Card Captor Sakura)….ect. (this could go on forever tbh lol)

Dream Job: Author…I’m working on it!

Number of blankets I sleep with: one big puffy duvet! 
Following: 892

Tagging: @balletfever89, @frenchcirce, @myrish-lace-love, @naturalcolor, @hilarybecker@sy5starplaty, @renisanz, @iwouldlovetoeatyourtoast, @cryurname, @100years-to-live

anonymous asked:

Hello Eric. Have you ever considered starting a Patreon?

It is something I’ve thought about. In fact a good friend of mine has been on me about this for a long time; I actually made a Patreon account nearly a year ago, but never set it up proper.

I’ve started to consider this more, especially as I’m trying very hard to sustain myself on artistic endeavours alone. Aside from writing for a magazine here in Pittsburgh, I also help a good friend with catering for local theatres (concerts, musicals, opera, etc)–but that doesn’t always cover the month, which is a real drag because I’m also trying to tackle my first novel (a lottt of research to do first, too). So I’m becoming more open to Patreon if I feel like people would be receptive. The one thing I saw recently was that Tumblr has private group blogs (it’s in the Tumblr Labs option), so I was considering having bonus works for members of a Patreon group. I think something like that could be cool, but again– I’d need to know that folks were willing to back me.

If I do end up setting up my account, I’ll post about it and make sure to edit this post with all the info!

listening to the wonderful wizard of oz on audiobook for like, research/novel purposes…also cuz it’s cute…all the characters are the purest of cinnamon rolls. the tin man cries when he steps on a bug. also dorothy is literally willing to punch a lion in the face to save her dog. like…me tho.

also now i really want to try and incorporate iris punching rory in the face at their first meeting, just because that feels right.

  • Me last month: Oh yea, I'll be doing NaNoWriMo this year for sure. I'll spend all October outlining my novel, doing my research, and looking through old drafts. I'll be so prepared.
  • Me now: What is writing? What are words? Is NaNoWriMo a person? I don't know her.
3 Myths of Fiction Research

One of my favorite things about writing is having built-in motivation to educate myself on unfamiliar topics and learn about new and exciting things. But for many writers, research is a task of drudgery, and most have absolutely no idea what they’re looking for or where to start. Your process will depend largely on what it is you’re researching, but I thought I’d share what I feel are big myths regarding fiction research, based on the research I’m doing for my current novel.

Myth 1: Research is endless Googling

Don’t get me wrong. I love Google, and Google is the best place to start if you know absolutely nothing about a topic. But after a while, filtering through web pages, bookmarking, taking notes…it all starts to feel very…academic. It starts to feel like you’re gathering sources for a research paper. For me, I spend so much time on my computer when I’m actually writing my fiction, so if I can find ways to get away from the computer when I’m brainstorming, outlining, and researching, all the better. 

There are likely lots of little things you Google to help clear things up, but if you’re writing a novel about a general topic that you know very little about - a mental illness, a type of profession, a technology or science, a historical time period, ect., find a book. 

And I’m not talking about a giant textbook, or a book with lots of footnotes, or even a book with an index and a glossary. I’m talking about nonfiction that actually discusses the topic, as opposed to just teaching it. While a field of science can be very technical, there also may be a number of sociological debates surrounding it, and that’s good information to have when you’re writing a story about people that may or may not understand and embrace that branch of science you’re discussing. 

Nonfiction on a historical time period might give you more about the day-to-day lives of the people, and may even have anecdotes and hypothetical stories based on historical fact, all of which will make it more relatable and interesting. 

Ordinarily, judging books by their covers is a bad idea, but try to find books that are small and that have engaging covers. Go to a library, find the section that houses your topic and just start browsing for something. 

I love reading nonfiction as a means of research. I have more fun reading a few comprehensive books on a topic than clicking through hundreds of search results. Because each book has one author, I’m able to settle into that author’s style, and the flow from one chapter to the next ensures that I’m more engaged with the content. Plus, I can do it on my couch or in bed without a bulky laptop on my legs. 

I’ve also gotten great ideas to fill plot holes just by reading nonfiction. That’s research at its best. 

Myth 2: Research is all reading. 

Research for a novel can be all kinds of things! Some examples:

  • If you have a character that has a talent or skill you know nothing about, try learning it. You may not be very good, because it will likely take years to become a master, but if you’re going to write about an artist or musician, or even an athlete, you’ll be better able to get into that character’s head if you know more about hand positions, body movements and physical sensations, as well as the emotional feelings you get while doing it. 
  • If it’s a broad topic, watch a documentary. You’ll be able to absorb a lot of information in just a couple of hours, and if it’s a good documentary, it’ll have interviews from people who really know what they’re talking about. Pop some popcorn, grab a soda, and enjoy the research. 
  • Do some setting research. Go to places that have similarities to the setting you’re writing about. These could be settings you’re unfamiliar with, or they could be things you know very well. If you’re writing about a group of employees that work in a coffee shop, visit lots and lots of coffee shops and observe the interactions of the staff. Go to a bar, a bookstore, a rec center, a college campus…go to places that will inspire you to work on your story. If you have the money, you might also do some heavy or light traveling - going to the nearest city, or to the beach or the mountains. Go somewhere that will make you feel like you’re in your story, instead of just writing it. 
  • Talk to people. If you know people in real life you can consult about topics, that’s wonderful, but if not, find some online forums/communities you can find a home at, where people don’t mind sharing their expertise and experiences. Don’t think of it as “interviewing” people - just have casual conversations, and ask questions when you’re curious to know more. 

Broaden the type of research you do to make it more interesting, not to mention comprehensive. 

Myth 3: Research must be done before writing. 

You’ll never be ready to start writing. There will always be something that you feel you need to figure out, work out, straighten out, and basically put off the inevitable. Research can be done before writing, but sometimes it’s actually better to wait. 

Write a first draft, and BS your way through the things you don’t know. The first draft is the closest depiction of what your final draft will look like. You’ll get ideas for character backgrounds as you go, you’ll throw new plot twists or plot arcs in there to keep the writing interesting, and you’ll discover plot holes that you were pretty sure didn’t exist during the planning. If you think that researching for months prior to writing will stop all this from happening, I promise you there’s no guarantee of that. What’s worse, you might spend a lot of your time researching something that ultimately doesn’t make it into the novel. 

So if you’re ready to write, but you’re afraid of jumping into the story without researching a topic first, don’t be. Go ahead and start writing, and once the draft is finished, you can look at what you’ve got and pinpoint what specific topics need research. And the plot holes that come up will likely get filled while you’re doing that research. Then, start on the second draft with both intimate knowledge of your story and the topics you cover.

Happy researching!


Need an editor?

Whether it be an essay or a 70,000 word novel, I’d love to proofread and edit anything that anyone needs edited.

I’ve successfully edited a few dozen pieces, ranging from 500 to 94,000 words since November of 2013. I’ve also edited many fanfictions that have received positive feedback in regards to editing. My accepted writing topics and genres are unrestricted, and I will edit everything sent my way efficiently.

Here’s how this will happen:

a) send me a message via this blog or inkinglarry, my primary, and let me know these things:

  • the genre of the piece; essay, short story, report, article, novel, etc.
  • how long the piece is (word count preferred)
  • when you need the document edited by

b) My rate is $0.50 for every 100 words. For things 5,000 words or more, we will definitely discuss cheaper bulk prices. I will never exceed $100, unless we’re talking about a 6-month editing project or something. If you cannot pay that rate, a $10 minimum would be great! I’m aware that I used to not charge, and I understand not all of us have the money for things like this, but I’m in need of it. Next year I’ll need to pay for gas, car insurance, marching band ($750 to $1,000), indoor percussion ($900), and meals; saving up now while doing the thing I love would be wonderful.

c) If everything above gets settled, the editing process can be done in two ways.

  1. Email without discussion. It’s just how it sounds: your piece is emailed to me, I get it back to you before your deadline with suggestions and edits embedded in the document. What happens with the piece after it’s returned to you is purely your choice.
  2. Editing via Google Drive. The deadline for this option is negotiable and can be moved back and forth depending on how the process is going. We share your piece over Google Drive and edit it together. Google Drive works so that everything I change in your writing is visible to you in real-time; you will be able to watch as I change the spelling of a word or rewrite a sentence as it happens. This way we can debate changes, discuss characters and work together on developing them, discuss plot changes, apply feedback in multiple ways to see how it reads, etc. before actually editing the writing. The fee for this process is also pretty loose and can be negotiated as we go.

What the editing covers:

a) basic: grammar and spelling, subject-verb agreement, consistent tenses and style, syntax

b) plot-oriented: character/scene purpose and redundancy, word choice, pace, plot holes, plot enhancement, general polishing and refining of the story (expect to get questioned on why this is included there, why that was written, etc.)

c) essays and reports: question acknowledgement, consistent arguments, reliable substantiations, word choice, pace, general polishing and refining of the piece (expect to get questioned on why this proves your point, why that supports your claim, etc.)

I hope I can help you with your editing processes, and if not, maybe I can help your friends. Please consider reblogging this post in case your friends or followers need editing. Thank you!

Researchers Discover Novel Factor in Parkinson’s Disease

A team of local researchers have discovered a previously unknown cellular defect in patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, and identified a sequence of pathological events that can trigger or accelerate premature death of certain neurons in the brain seen in this disease.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, will provide a better understanding and further research towards a possible cure of Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement and other vital functions in nearly one million people in the United States. Despite advances in understanding the causes of familial forms of this disease, the most prevalent idiopathic form of Parkinson’s disease remains a mystery.

Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers discovered that the cells of people with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease have a previously unknown defect in the function of a specific PLA2g6 protein, causing dysfunction of calcium homeostasis that can determine whether some cells will live or die.

“Idiopathic or genetic dysfunction of calcium signaling triggers a sequence of pathological events leading to autophagic dysfunction, progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons and age-dependent impairment of vital motor functions typical for Parkinson’s disease,“ explained corresponding author Victoria Bolotina, PhD, professor of medicine at BUSM.

“Discovery of this new mechanism associated with human Parkinson’s disease and our ability to mimic this pathology in a novel genetic model opens new opportunities for finding a cure for this devastating neurodegenerative disease,” she added.