Browsing Tag

making up stuff is hard yo


The weird stuff I have googled while writing this book

September 25, 2015

So one of the fun things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up. And one of the annoying things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up…! because stuff must be based in realism. I always write with browser windows open on Google, Etymology Online and – and I’m constantly checking things.

I kept track of a few of the searches I made while writing Rukan… gives you an idea of what weird & wonderful stuff I have read about!

  • How soon after death should someone be buried (ugh, right?)
  • Climate where forest fires are common
  • Words that end in -mancy
  • How does police corruption typically start
  • Composition of bronze
  • When do linden trees flower
  • Symbols and colours of death
  • How fast do pigeons fly
  • End of summer harvest crops
  • Harvest seasons of ancient Israel
  • How ceramic stoves work
  • Economic sanctions
  • Animal symbols and totems
  • How long do moths live
  • How long does it take to sail Sydney to Auckland (to gauge relative distances between my book’s countries)
  • Climate types
  • Who cleans up a crime scene
  • How do you make yellow laundry soap
  • History of traffic control
  • History of kohl
  • Metals in meteorites
  • Yams (apparently most of the world call a sweet potato a yam…?! what I call a yam is actually an “oca” from South America…)
  • Early mail systems


Wednesday writing: mini Nanowrimo

November 5, 2014

OK, I’m doing my own mini version of Nanowrimo this year. I decided on 1st November. Hey, that’s better than deciding on 2nd November.

There is no way I could manage 1,667 words a day right now – snatching writing during naptimes is hard enough, particularly with the currently disturbed naptimes that require a lot of help with this crazy sleep thing. (So hard! learning how to go to sleep!)

So my goal is 580 words a day for November. That will mean writing every evening as well as naptimes. (I shouldn’t be blogging right now…)

That’ll bring me to ~90,000 words and my big goal: end of a zero draft.

I’m excited about that reaching that goal. Also kind of terrified. See, vomiting new words can be done mindlessly. You can deathmarch a story into existence. But the fixing of those words? That comes next and that is difficult. That requires actual mental effort. Sheesh.

I have a huuuuuuge amount of [square brackets] in my zero draft so far. Places where things must be explained. Historical events and persons that must be conjured. Pretty setting that must come to life. Names that must be invented. NAMES FOR EVERYTHING. (Fantasy. The making up of shit is both fun and tiring.) And I want those names to be consistent. I want names in other languages to seem like they fit together. I want a nice selection of names that have different beats and rolls and patterns – names that aren’t all double-syllable-ending-in-A (I do that.)

The naming of things takes me a long time. I flit and ponder. Bang my head on the desk. Drink coffee. Pootle around and This is why I shove stuff in square brackets as I write: rather than stop & think, I can keep the flow of words alive and come back to it later.

As well as my story file, I have a separate doc where I have every single made-up name listed, including the yet-to-be-determined square bracketed names…

[Blahblah] bazaar

Lake [Name]






So when my zero draft is complete, one of the things I have to do to turn it into a first draft is invent a LOT of things. En passant, my distinction is that nobody can read a zero draft – it wouldn’t make sense, there are too many holes & things missing – but a first draft could be read from start to finish. (Although still requires a lot of editing & fixing.)

I feel like it could take me another year just to move from zero to first.

It’s daunting.

But I just gotta get on with it.