Friday, October 3, 2014

K S Ferguson's #WriteTip for Getting Your Scenes & Settings Right - #AmWriting #Fantasy

Authenticity is the writer's watch word. If you're describing a location like Chicago or Los Angeles, you'd better get the Starbucks at the right corner of the intersection. Intend to sink a nuclear sub? Make sure you mention all the right switches and buttons on the control panel. If you don't, readers will let you know that you screwed it up.

David Morrell, author of Rambo and over thirty other bestselling thriller novels knows this rule. That's why he's attended the FBI defensive driving course, knife-fighting school, and spent months learning to sail a boat.

Of course, David Morrell can afford to spend the time and money on research to ensure that his details are authentic. The rest of us merely mortal authors aim a little lower.

In my contemporary fantasy, Touching Madness, hapless hero River Madden is both schizophrenic and a dedicated pacifist. (Think about it—would you give a deadly weapon to someone who hallucinates?) But being a pacifist doesn't excuse River from facing physical danger.

River needs to 'get the goods' on a local mob boss and his drug lord supplier. He convinces the criminals to rendezvous with him in an abandoned factory under the pretext of making a drug buy. River's plans never go quite like he intends. I needed a contingency plan that would allow him to escape without turning to violence once things started to go wrong.

That's when I thought about smoke bombs (possibly because my brother got suspended from high school for a few days for lobbing one onto the football field at half-time). According to dozens of YouTube videos, they're dead simple to make, requiring only stump remover, newspaper, string, and an empty soda can. It was exactly the kind of home-made solution River would use. For the sake of authenticity, I thought I better try it out.

Really good smoke bombs aren't as simple as they seem. To get the necessary billowing clouds of smoke I wanted, I needed to get the air holes just right. And I needed a mass of bombs all going off at the same time. Fuses were an issue. Cotton string just isn't that flammable. Throwing them was a joke. I could barely get ignition when they were sitting on the ground in ideal conditions. In the end, I ditched the smoke bombs.

But all was not lost. I had a very authentic experience convincing the fire department and my neighbors that I was only a harmless writer and not a terrorist. I'm sure I'll use that conversation in a book someday.

Touching Madness

Light bulbs talk to River Madden; God doesn't. When the homeless schizophrenic unintentionally fractures a dimensional barrier and accidentally steals a gym bag containing a million dollars, everyone from the multiverse police to the local crime boss—and an eight-foot tall demon—are after him. Can he dodge them long enough to correct his mistakes and prevent the destruction of three separate dimensions? If he succeeds, will the light bulbs stop singing off-key?

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Genre – Contemporary, Urban fantasy
Rating – R
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