Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

I find myself still chugging away on the story boarding for the science fiction piece I'm working on. After sitting back and thinking about my initial idea, I realized it was too broad in scope. The subject mattered needed to be narrowed down otherwise I risked the chance of diluting the topic so much the reader wouldn't connect with the story arc.

While the key turning point for the protagonist hasn't solidified yet, I've been able to build up some of the background story. There's one MacGyver situation I need to research and resolve though before I can proceed to writing. The antagonists act of desperation is hard to swallow given the environment the two characters are in. Without going into any detail, I've been busily researching the involved science concepts to figure out how to work this out as it's a space-based setting. In other words, I hope to have some hard science involved. Not too much though which is why I'm trying to minimize the MacGyver scene so it doesn't eclipse the character interactions.

It requires hard work to write a science fiction story. But at the same time, it's quite enjoyable to research the background material. Preparing the material for this story has also made me realize how little I know about living or working in space. I rarely put thought into things like plumbing of liquids or basic maintenance issues. An extremely valuable source of information has come from articles about the International Space Station. It's certainly an enjoyable learning experience. I'm also hoping that through all of this, a good story will emerge that others can enjoy too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stranger Than Fiction

When looking for ideas about unusual human behavior to consider while writing, I sometimes visit Drew Curtis' Fark site: http://www.fark.com/

It's an amalgam of links to news articles, blogs and other sites that have real life stories about the strange behaviors we humans exhibit. In other words, it's lots of daily news about the zoo we call society.

After reading a few of the posted sources, one can usually come up with some interesting angles for fictional story ideas. After all, truth really is sometimes almost stranger than fiction.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Grinding Away on Storyboarding

For the last several days I've been busy creating an outline for a science fiction story. My previous SF attempt was going around and around in circles, not quite making it to the launchpad so I decided to try a fresh angle.

Instead of going with spontaneous writing, I sat down and brainstormed a few ideas. Once something surfaced that felt promising, I started building character backgrounds. Lots of details surface and won't be included in the story. But understanding attributes about the main characters, I can provide more believable scenarios.

I accumulated several pages of background details before I moved to the next stage of hashing out a few reaction-response scenes to can pull the plot along. At this point, six scenes have emerged. I'll dive back into the background material such as creating the architectural layout describing where the characters are trapped. This allows me to visualize the settings in a vivid manner and hopefully allows the story to take on a life of its own. Time to go look for more strange details to incorporate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Time for another hacked together post. Don't expect poetic words here as I'm focusing most of my writing energy to author short stories with hopes of being professionally published. :D

Back on topic, I was thinking about how I've approached education during my adult life. Once again, I am acutely aware of how our viewpoints evolve as we experience life.

Looking back, I could have cared less about school in my earlier days. It was a requirement to get into a job. Nothing more. Initially, I enrolled in a mechanical engineering/drafting program. There, I spent more time chasing girls than learning. Eventually I was placed on academic probation and ejected from the program. Nonetheless, I was able to convince the academic administration to allow me to enroll in a computer science program. That subject piqued my interests a bit more so I managed to succeed. I eventually graduated from the tech school with an associates degree and then transferred to another college to work on a bachelors degree. By the time a year had passed, I tired of the restrictive approach the college tried to enforce and ended up dropping out.

A long break ensued where I worked and tinkered about. The urge to obtain a higher education sprung up once again though so I forged a deal to work part time while I attended day and evening classes. Now, my focus was on grades and seeking the elusive 4.0 grade point. The intent was to transfer to UW and enroll in biochemistry so I took a variety of classes to prepare. And I nearly completed it too being about five classes short of the degree before the great Internet bubble crash raised its head and put an end to that.

Now, more than a decade later, the thought of returning to classes sounds appealing. The point of interest, at least to me, is less of a focus on grades in comparison to my earlier attempts (although the girls would still draw my attention). Today, the focus would be on accumulating knowledge to understand the world around me better. That means studies in philosophy, psychology as well as the sciences with minimal concern about academic standing. Mind you, that doesn't mean I would slack. Far from it. Instead, I would strive to understand the bigger picture.

Orchestrating a scenario like that is not easy though. As a single income earner with a monthly house mortgage, paying tuition as well as finding a way to attend classes is no easy challenge. Funny how life works that way. When we have the opportunities, we don't always use them to their full potential. As for me, it's back to looking for ways to enroll in classes without going bankrupt while also looking for a job that won't completely consume every minute of the day.

So what's the moral or point of the post? Well, for one thing, we live and learn. For another, we should look deeply at opportunities when they present themselves. There might be more than meets the eye.