Mike Morgan (dagoonite) wrote,
Mike Morgan
dagoonite

Just some musings...

I'm off and on working on a writeup of the big March project I did, but I've had a bunch of other stuff going on in the side. I'll talk more on both topics later. For now, I just wanted to mention a little something.

I've found that as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier for me to get help on my projects. Be it proofing them, research, or simply coming up with character or plot ideas when you're stuck. I've found that the great secret is... to ask.

Let's take my project. When I started, I had a lot of work to do. I wanted realism, something that you could believe in. So I started out by hitting up various forums. I didn't start out asking questions, just reading select posts. Body building forums gave me a great deal of information on nutrient requirements, military for lingo and jargon and an idea for day-to-day life aboard a ship, and even fiction sites to give me certain ideas on biology.

This was all fine well and dandy, but it only gives me so much information. From there, though, I was able to figure out who seemed both sane and knowledgeable. From there, I sent private messages to those people asking for help. I was humble and polite, with my first message spelling out the fact that I was working on a writing project and that I was wondering if I could ask them a few questions that they seemed knowledgeable in.

You know what? It works more often than not. Because if somebody feels the burning need to discuss something at random on a forum or the like, then often times they have no qualms about discussing it more privately if they feel that you aren't a loon. Especially if you sound like you're going to take everything that they say seriously -- most people like talking about their areas of expertise, and would rather you get your facts straight.

For example, I've never had a great interest in the Navy. But I had four sailors discussing ship life, with two of them having served on a sub. They couldn't discuss everything, naturally, but this insight helped me out a great deal. Some of their passing comments evolved into greater plot points. That helped out tons!

I had four doctors talking with me about the human body. "Could we do this? Is this even theoretically possible? If somebody did this, what might happen?" A hematologist, a stem cell researcher, a neurologist, and a nutritionist sound like an odd mix, but each provided me with pieces of information that made my head spin. Even when they said "No, this isn't possible" it opened doors for me, giving me possible ways to move that were unexpected.

The psychologists absolutely loved the theoretical, which surprised me a little bit. They'd bring up stuff they'd read in school or had encountered that I might be able to expand upon. One of them sent me a weekly email with ideas that he thought might apply to my story, all of them odd coping mechanisms and traditions that could be built.

Oddly, the physicists were the least helpful, being the most hesitant to accept my limitations. But even then, they provided some information that was helpful to me.

The people who reviewed the "rough draft" (which would end up becoming much more of the core story than originally intended) helped out a great deal. And not just in spelling suggestions, either -- a few brought up things that really made them feel something, or asked "Is this supposed to work like that?" It got me to think and tweak things here and there. Everybody pulled something else from it, and I was able to learn that much more about how I should apply myself.

In short, no matter what you do, share it with others. Look for those who might provide valuable insight, and politely ask them. Asking one person might save you hours of research, or push you in directions that you never intended. If you're going to stick your neck out, it's good to have somebody holding your belt.

Just my two cents.
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