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  1. Admin

    Admin Contributing Member

    Aug 9, 2011
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    Starting Something

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Admin, Sep 5, 2012.

    I have a desire (Upon reading Cold Mountain) to start writing a new story. The trouble is, I both have no idea where to start and don't know if I have an extensive enough knowledge on things to write competently. The setting I have chosen is a near-future world where civilization as we know it collapsed, left a short state of chaos, but small city-states and nation-states emerged from this chaos. In essence, a step back from our over consuming electricity world to a more modest one that echoes the years of the 19th century. Looking at how Charles Frazier wrote Cold Mountain I am daunted by the prospects of writing such a book, for it would require (For my characters to truly come to life) an extensive knowledge on the nature of North America, such as the avian species, how river currents flow, and where certain plants grow to how societies may evolve in the event of such a collapse. Needless to say I may need to do a lot of research before I can make my characters truly come to life. So my question is: should I simply go ahead and start writing, or spend time researching different things? Is this the kind of novel that requires life experience and the collected knowledge of years? And any other advise would be welcomed. I feel the story within me, however vague it may be, and I suppose I might just be searching for the reassurance of others.
  2. Fivvle

    Fivvle Contributing Member

    May 24, 2012
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    It's funny that you should mention such a problem; I just ran into something pretty darn similar only a few hours ago. As weird as it sounds, I realized that, for various reasons, I needed to know about the mating habits/rituals of rabbits. Trust me, I didn't see that one coming either. I've rather been enjoying the research process. But that's the thing; I didn't know I needed such information until my story called for it. So yes, just start out writing. You won't need to know the migratory patterns of birds, and you should never include anything about them, unless it directly pertains to your story. Of course that goes for the other things you mentioned like river flow. As for how humanity would act in the wake of an apocalypse, you might find the answers are easier than you thought. If you take time to really understand people in your own life, the people in your story will be much easier to write. Again, just start writing. The details you need will reveal themselves as you go.
    1 person likes this.
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    you'll have to do whatever research you have to do...

    yes, that's vague, but it's the reality of writing anything... no one can tell you how much, or exactly what you need to look up and learn, before writing this or that part of your book... nor when you must start writing or researching...

    if you have an opening line screaming to be let out, go ahead and type it and as much more as flows unaided from your fertile imagination...


    if you want to open the novel with a bit of historical/natural/cultural lore you're not familiar enough with, then start googling and make sure you get it right...

    the choice is yours to make... none of us can make it for you...

    happy writing/researching!

    love and hugs, maia
  4. ...

    ... Member

    Sep 3, 2012
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    Just keep writing till you get stuck, then google what you need to know.

    from my own perspective though I prefer to stick to what I know. I wouldn't write something set in NA if I'd never been there. I think it's fine being vague, like a jungle or city setting. But if you want to get technical then I find experience rules. You need to bear in mind that anything you get wrong will be noticed by a good many readers, especially the types of readers that may want to publish your work, I imagine.

    If you're just writing this as an experiment then it's a great idea. It's good to throw yourself into situations you are uncomfortable in, experiment with different genres, even create hybrid genres. I think it's important to know one's limitations and we can only find out what they are by getting stuck in.
  5. DanesDarkLand

    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2012
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Ever read the book by John Ringo, There Will be Dragons? He wrote a series, which I found enjoyable, but started only with one small colony to concentrate on. Even though, in the beginning, things were on a much larger scale, when the proverbial sh@t hit the fan, it started with only a small village or growing community.

    Start on a small scale, and work your way out. When you need to research certain aspects, such as rabbits, lions, or bobcats, then you will be in the position to know what you need from the information. If you do too much research into what you think you might need, you'll waste valuable time. Write and research what you need, when you need it.
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    If the idea truly excites you, don't look at the research as overwhelming or boring. Believe it or not
    it can be informative, inspirational and fun. As long as you find something that interests you.
    Browse some bios of the century you're going for , look up some social customs books. As for terrain
    nail down one location - instead of merely going for a nature guide book find a book based on someone's
    adventures in that terrain - they'll give you lots more descriptive information.
    Research gets out of hand when you try to learn it all. Instead of just what you need.

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