Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Classic Books and Modern Culture

Saturday night, I finally finished reading Don Quixote. It was nearly a thousand pages long, though it could have been a quarter of the length if the writing style was simpler and the side characters' backstories were omitted. Despite being a tedious read, it still seemed surprisingly relevant. Don Quixote can be a warning for taking one's fandom to extremes. His difficulties in distinguishing fantasy from reality, as well as his finding explanations for facts that don't agree with his fiction, find parallels in the fake news and conspiracy theories of today.

Which classic stories do you feel are most readable or relevant today? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Baby Yoda and Alien Lifespans

If you've been anywhere on social media in the last week, you've probably seen the cutest creature ever from Star Wars: The Mandalorian (yes, even cuter than the porgs):

(Photo Credit: Disney)

I'm talking about Baby Yoda, whom I'll refer to here as BY. It's not clear yet if BY is actually Yoda's child, but since no one knows the name of Yoda's species, the child has to have some kind of name. (Since we don't know the child's gender, I'll use "they" and "them" pronouns.)

BY is supposed to be 50 years old, but they appear to be an infant or young toddler. Since BY can get out of their carrier, let's assume they're developmentally equivalent to a two-year-old human.  It's mentioned in Star Wars that species age differently, and we know Yoda was about 900 years old when he died. Still, BY has already spent about 5.5% (50/900) of their total lifespan as an infant/toddler. A two-year-old human has reached about 1.7% of her maximum life span, using 120 years as maximum age. Is that a significant difference? It's hard to judge on so little data. If species age at different rates, it might make sense that they would spend different proportions of their life at different stages. Sentient, social species like humans need to have longer childhoods to learn the rules of their world. That said, if you're going to have an extended childhood, it would make sense to be equivalent to a four-to-ten-year-old human child, not an infant. The older child is slightly less dependent on caregivers, can explore the world independently, and has enough brain power/development to make sense of it.

Of course, there are some good explanations for why BY might still be a baby or toddler after fifty years. Here are a few of them:

  • The child was first sensed while they were in an egg or in stasis, so they might not have actually been born fifty years ago.
  • Yoda's species is strong with the Force, so the Force may affect the child's development. (The Force could limit the child's growth, or the child may need to grow slowly to master the Force.)
  • There might be some environmental factor limiting the child's growth. For instance, the child may need some nutrient found only on the species' home planet to mature. (This is my favorite theory and what I would use if I was writing this story.)

Are you a Baby Yoda fan? Are you content to adore their cuteness, or do you want to learn more about their species? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Libraries of Unwritten Books

I recently read a book called The Library of the Unwritten, by A.J. Hackwith. Not surprisingly, the book is about a library full of books that have not been written. Some of these books can't be written because their authors have died, while other books have authors who haven't been inspired enough to write them yet. Perhaps it's fitting that the library is located in Hell (although the library is considered neutral territory), as not being able to finish one's books would probably feel like a punishment for many writers.

One thing that felt strange about this library to me was that the books were all stored in a fixed form, though their characters could escape and change. For me, unfinished books are constantly in flux. I may imagine some scenes vividly, but they often change as I try to capture them on the screen. For every scene like that, there are many more that I won't know about until I write it. Even then, a book may become completely transformed from draft to draft, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. For me, a book isn't fixed until it's published--though sometimes I would still like to revise books I released years ago.

How do you feel about unwritten books? Do you think of them in finished or unfinished form? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

IWSG: Weird Google

First of all, good luck to anyone participating in National Novel Writing Month! I've already written over 55,000 words in my current work in progress, Dryad in Doubt, so my goal for this month is to finish it instead of starting something new. And if I don't finish this draft in November, I'll do it in December (or whenever I figure out the third act of this book.)

Anyway, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about this group on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter account. You can sign up for their newsletter here.

Our hosts for November are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie.

Our question this month is, "What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?"

I don't remember everything I've looked up over the course of my writing career. Since my current project is about dryads, I've been researching trees, and I blogged recently about some of the extreme trees that will play a part in this book. I've also had to research the main setting: Madison, Wisconsin. Probably one of the strangest things I've looked up for this project are hospices in Madison for a scene location. While I've drawn inspiration from maps and pictures, I changed some details about the location (which I try to keep unspecified) to better fit the story. I've also looked up layouts of local hospitals.

What weird terms are in your Google history? Feel free to share them with us, since Google will probably find a way to profit off them anyway.

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