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The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: August 27th, 2012, 1:12 pm
by dios4vida
I love rocks. I always have. One of the best days of school ever was in fifth grade, when my class took a trip to the Gem and Mineral Show we have here in Tucson every year. It's massive, with rockhounds and professionals and people selling every kind of rock and gem you can name. It was miraculous. I was thrilled that my Mum gave me a few bucks of pocket change for that trip, and I still treasure the bead of copper I bought that day.

I've had this love pop up into my writing a few times, both in the form of magical crystals. This concept isn't new by any stretch of the imagination, but knowing what I do about stones and gems (which isn't much, granted, but more than most people who never stop to look at a rock) has helped me to give a interesting spin on the idea each time. I've been able to take this completely random and un-writing-related but of passion and knowledge and making something cool come of it in my books.

My next project is gonna be a crash course in psychology, specifically body language. I seriously can't wait.

What about you guys? What has been the most useful/exciting/randomly awesome thing that you've seen creep into and improve your writing?

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: August 28th, 2012, 7:01 am
by Hillsy
In terms of weird influences (as I couldn't say if its helped or hindered at all) I'd probably say the biggest influence on my writing has been, if not science, then a definite scientific approach. I write predominately fantasy, but within those I tend to write basic working formulas, or mathmatical processes, that need to be adhered to.

For instance, trunk novel 1 had a parrallel universe bleeding into ours, but one where each dimension had no size - so something is, or isn't. That's it. For Trunk Novel 2 I built a militarised economy based on necromancy. Trunk Novel 3 had a disease based around DNA degradation, integration and regenisis. Trunk Novel 4 had a multi-dimensional universe created through a diffraction pattern made of near infinite sources, which in turn created lakes of specific magic.

My current WiP sort of takes our traditional 3 dimensional space and creates sort of 2 worlds out of it that exist at the same place and time. Kind of like a twin. And the way the two generates the magic, mosters, religion, afterlife and everything.

Basically, I almost physically can't write your typical magic. Magic words, gestures, ingredients...I just cringe thinking about them. I can happily read them and it doesn't interfere with my enjoyment, but I can't work without some kind of process-flow diagram that's as logical as possible.

I've got a concept in my head of a sci-fi where another world is discovered which has, like, 160 "Magic poles" like earth has magnetic ones, and you can harness the energy but only in between the poles and the field is strongest in a direct line. So all the civilisations are utterly linear, but all built around huge Null Spots where the positive and negative Magic fields cancel each other. Which is of course where the monsters live...hehe

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: August 29th, 2012, 1:18 am
by Sanderling
From the subject line I thought you meant something that's helped improve your writing process. In which case I was going to say starting to use my daily walks with the dogs as WIP-mulling sessions, whether I have a plot block or not. Lots of interesting ideas come of just thinking about the work.

But as far as stuff that's crept into my writing... maybe that I've spent so much of my life living in the country? I find it works its way in to my writing in the form of landscapes, weather, ambient sounds and creatures, etc. Can't say it's helped or hindered, but it's definitely influenced.

The stones/crystals is a neat one. Useful to be able to put a unique and interesting spin on a familiar fantasy trope. :)

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: August 29th, 2012, 9:09 am
by Gypson
One big influence for me is horseback riding. Not just because some of my characters spend time on horseback and it helps to know what I'm talking about, but because I employ a lot of body-centered writing. When riding, I need to be aware of what various parts of my body are doing, where my center of gravity is, how soft my hands are, how to relax some leg muscles but not others. These kind of sensations have fused into my writing alongside sensory info: how fast I'm moving to the point that the passing trees are a blurr, squinting my eyes against the sun, climbing back on after taking a dumb fall and jamming my fingers. I am aware of what my characters are physically feeling, of what they are smelling, seeing, and hearing.

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: September 4th, 2012, 5:37 am
by lindsayB3462
the first random thing which helped me writing is the mountains. One day I was on top of the mountain and from there the earth looked so tiny but I felt very big in my heart. Then I imagined one mountain as a person who is standing still, have no difference in his/her life, and the world looks very tiny to him/her. Suddenly I got so many pictures in my mind and got so many questions and ideas of life and earth and place & that thing inspired me to writing. That was the most random thing... :roll:

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: September 7th, 2012, 1:45 am
by JohnDurvin
"When I learned Greek at Cheam and heard of other gods a great pity came on me for those beautiful marble people that had become forsaken and this mood has never quite left me." --Lord Dunsany
I think the single weirdest thing that influences my writing is the fact that I read more miscellanies and that kind of thing (especially short-form collaborative non-fiction, i.e. Wikipedia). As a result, I spend a lot of time world-building, and the narrative usually develops naturally from there. For example, for the YA American-folklore-fantasy series I'm working on, I currently have developed:

* A map of the continent, including names of the states, borrowed from sources including old proposed names for states, state nicknames, the names of the geological plates and features around the states, and the term "metrovania", a genre of video games resembling Metroid and Castlevania.
* Equivalents of the Founding Fathers, amalgamated from real history, folklore, Arthurian and Biblical myth, Joseph Campbell's "Hero of a Thousand Faces" cycle, and so on.
* Industrial robber-barons, inspired by real-life figures, mythology, pop-cultural allusions...for example, an equivalent for Tesla is a wizard named Jareth Langley Spruce, who is slowly losing his mind and has become a recluse, hoarding whatever he can in his ever-expanding mansion in the remote wastes of Toscalista. The character is a composite of Tesla, the Collier brothers, Hetty Green, Howard Hughes, King Minos, and Jareth from "Labyrinth". His only companion is a combination of the Minotaur, Torgo from "Manos: the Hands of Fate", and Hetty Green's son she refused to allow to go the hospital when he broke his leg, so he had to get it amputated.
* Multiple interlocking systems of magic, sourcing everything from traditional Hoodoo to the power-ups in Super Mario Brothers. One sect is devoted to "hex-marks", a sort of Hermetic rune-based system that uses magic symbols based on hobo signs, Norse runes, and symbols from alchemy, meteorology, cartography, electronic circuit diagrams, and those little symbols that tell you the right way to wash clothes.
* A full range of mundane and magical equipment, inspired from real hobo items, Warner Brothers cartoons (like canned tornadoes and boxes of footprints to mislead trackers), epic items from Dungeons & Dragons, and combination bombs and/or keys, an allusion to an ancient dungeon-crawl computer game.
* More than anything else, the animals. These include folklore's "fearsome critters", the Vegetable-Lamb of Tartary (grown as livestock), "Li'l Abner"'s Shmoos (combined, morbidly enough, with urban legends about KFC's "animal 57", a genetically-engineered monstrosity, usually described as a headless eight-legged chicken), Fiji mermaids, giant amoebas, headless horsemen, Lovecraft's Night-Gaunts, jackalopes, fur-bearing trout, mome raths, feral pet rocks, monsters from Native American myth, and "finknottles", a particularly dull form of newt named for one of Wooster's pals from the Drones club.

And it goes on. I should also mention that what originally inspired me to write this story was the work of John Hodgman, the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain", the music of Tom Waits, and a sudden obsession/fascination with Dungeons & Dragons--not with playing it, but with the world it's set in. The last was especially random, but I've learned to go where the wiki-walks take me and learn whatever strikes my fancy, because it can lead to some pretty epic discoveries. I'm beginning to think there really is something to fate.

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: September 8th, 2012, 1:03 am
by Briana
Torgo from "Manos: the Hands of Fate"

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: September 10th, 2012, 12:28 pm
by AnimaDictio
Writing songs helps me with the rhythm of writing fiction, especially dialogue. I've been writing songs since forever. Second, my experiences with rural (country/jungle) Jamaicans. They have the most colorful phrases and a fascinating culture. I intend to write a novel set in the future with a rural Jamaican protagonist where I can go hog wild with my love for the culture.

Re: The Most Random Thing that's Helped your Writing

Posted: September 10th, 2012, 12:29 pm
by AnimaDictio
Hillsy, I want to read the one about the magical poles. Super cool!