Sunday, September 18, 2011

Star Trek Quiz as Writer's Block Remedy

Instead of confronting my writer's block, I ignored it and took a Star Trek quiz. I learned that I'm expendable. By doing so, I discovered my time is not expendable and I should have worked in the garden, washed the kitchen floor, or worked on another piece of writing instead of taking a silly quiz that most likely filled my computer with "cookies" that I can't even eat! LOL

I must say that I'm bummed that I'm least like Worf. I would like to be a Klingon.

Your results:
You are An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Beverly Crusher
Deanna Troi
Mr. Scott
Jean-Luc Picard
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Will Riker
Geordi LaForge
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Sulu
Since your accomplishments are seldom noticed,
and you are rarely thought of, you are expendable.
That doesn't mean your job isn't important but if you
were in Star Trek you would be killed off in the first
episode you appeared in.

Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Units of Length and Time in Fantasy

sun dial
Hours, and miles, and parsecs, oh my! How does a writer deal with time and distance terms in a fantasy or science fiction story? It's something to think about while world building.

My own WIP is set on Earth, but it's a fantastic enough scenario that I don't want to always use conventional units of measure, such as yards and feet. I decided to explore the alternatives and came up with phrases like "stride length," "hand span," and "and arrow shot away."

Looking at historic terms for measurement can be helpful, whether you use them as is, or modify them for your fantasy world. This article of old-timey measurement may be of help. Did you know the old Spanish unit, vara, appeared on many U.S. land deeds? The exact length varied from place to place, but in California it was set at a little over 33 inches.

If you invent units or use ones wholly unfamiliar to readers, you may want to give them a clue as to what they mean or mentioning measurements will serve no value.
To remain vague may work to your advantage, as in, "The Orange Duke's castle was a day's ride away." Use words such as- dawn, dusk, twilight, sunset. Better yet, describe- "Our shadows were lengthening as rode across the desert." Of size- "about as big as a squirrel," or "an acorn size __ ."

lengthening shadows

For non-earth stories: Do you have a 24 hour rotation to your planet? If there are two suns, are they always in the sky at the same time? (Research binary star systems.) Does each sun have a name? Do you have four distinct seasons. More? Fewer? How will you give the reader a feel for that? "It was the season of phacelia, when the purple blooms carpet the landscape, a welcome sight after fifteen months of snow. But I shouldn't complain. Winter was short that year." (Dumb, tossed-together example, but you get the point.)

Remember, as a science fiction writer, you must know more about your planet's astronomy, geology, etc. than the reader. He/she doesn't need or want science and history lessons. They want a story and to get a feel for your world.

twin star system

* links to image sources linked in image captions

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