Archive for June, 2008


Story Bits for 6/28/2008 – Water as Protection

June 28, 2008

Plot Point: a malicious high-frequency signal that turns people into zombies/vegetables/drones, but is stopped by water.  Water would absorb enough of the signal to nullify it.  Most of the population falls prey to this signal, but a small handful of people escape its effects.  That handful eventually realize what they were all doing at the time the signal was first sent out – bathing, swimming, etc. – all things that involve being surrounded by water.  To defend themselves from future transmissions, they construct houses which have an outer wall filled with water.


And yes, this idea did, in fact, come to me in the shower this morning.


"Best Posts" becomes "Story Bits"

June 22, 2008

I’ve decided that the “Best Posts” series I’ve been running for several months now needs to evolve into something more relevant to MetaWriting.  I know I am not alone in the quest for ideas for new stories.  To that end, I’m starting a new series called “Story Bits” where interesting items on the Web become interesting plot details, character bios, settings, and other bits of a story.

Why am I doing this?  As a software developer I find myself frequently searching the Web looking for a snippet of code that performs a certain task.  Those snippets are virtually always free.  On my technical blog, I try to extend the same courtesy to other developers with my code snippets.  In this way, the development community as a whole improves and builds on itself.  I see the same need in the writing community.  I’ve consumed ideas from dozens of bloggers and hundreds of posts, and now, I’d like to contribute something back that is regular, fresh, and hopefully provides you with the seed of a new story.


  • TechEBlog had an article Friday showing an artist’s conception of a new ship planned by Royal Caribbean, which they claim will be the world’s largest.  I think this would be a cool setting; it’s not so much a cruise ship but a small floating city.
  • Another article on TechEBlog on Friday has a computer simulation of a new “smart train” that allows people to board and alight without the train ever slowing down, let alone stopping.  This could make for a cool vehicle for a story (pun intended), especially if the train was interstellar where slowing down would cost fuel.

Characters that refuse to obey

June 19, 2008

“Alina’s Gambit” has surpassed the 70k word mark, and we’re bearing down on page 300.  CJ is officially done with the school year, so she has more time to devote to editing and rewrites.  She was terribly excited about getting to work on TheNovel, and what she’s cranked out so far really takes the manuscript up a notch.

Laurell K. Hamilton has mentioned at least a couple of times on her blog how the protagonist in the “Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter” series, Anita Blake (didn’t see that one coming, did you?) would sometimes hijack the scene that Laurell was writing.  She would set the scene up, put Anita in it, and Anita would just run with it – sometimes in a direction very different than what Laurell had envisioned.  I always thought that was such an odd predicament for the writer to be in.  How can the character not do what the writer writes?  I think I found one possible answer to that question.

I had a scene in mind since the early days of the novel, and had it all planned out how the scene would further the plot, develop the characters, clean up the oceans, provide free energy to the world, etc, etc, etc.  Last week it came time to put that scene down on paper.  In the scene, Alina (the protagonist of “Alina’s Gambit”; you didn’t see that one coming either, did you?) would forward an idea of what to do next, and her three friends were going to try to talk her out of it.  Alina’s logic was going to prevail, and away we would go.

Except that Alina’s friends turned out to be more persuasive than Alina.

The problem, you see, was that Alina’s idea was a little on the illegal side, and if they were caught it would destroy all of the hard work Alina and her three friends had put in so far.  I spent over a day stuck at that point, trying to give Alina a strong enough argument to counter the friends’, but I just couldn’t.  I couldn’t find a reason that was good enough to justify breaking the law.  I had set up the four characters to be good people who occasionally make mistakes, not ones who intentionally set out to  do wrong.  If I wrote the scene like I had originally intended, it would be so far out of character for the four that I was worried that the reader just wouldn’t buy it.  The characters didn’t exactly hijack the scene, but they were quite vocal about where the line is drawn.

I think I understand a little better now what Laurell meant, and how it isn’t such an odd predicament after all.


Best Post for Week Ending 6/14/2008

June 16, 2008

Feeling the stress of a book deadline?  Ready to pull your hair out over a great scene that just won’t fit?

Do you feel like you could just break something?

Now you can!  Just step up to the Anger Release Machine, deposit your money, and release some of that pent-up frustration.


Best Post for Week Ending 6/7/2008

June 9, 2008

According to this article on Slashdot, and this one on National Geographic’s site, the 1985 search for the RMS Titanic was actually just a side excursion for Robert Ballard, the discoverer.

Was the 1997 film a cover story, too?  Let the conspiracy theories begin.