Posts tagged with "writing tool" - Faerye Net 2009-08-04T17:30:29+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Writing tools: Flickr 2009-08-04T17:30:29+00:00 2009-08-04T17:46:30+00:00 <p>My dear friend <a href="" target="links">Jeannine Hall Gailey</a> recently encouraged me to blog more about my writing process. I was dubious about this &#8211; I believe I said, &#8220;Thousands of people are working on a first novel. Why should anyone care that I am?&#8221; but I gave it some thought, and I came up with one aspect of my writing process that might be interesting.</p> <p>I use <a href="" target="links">Flickr</a> as a writing tool a great deal. By no means am I the only author who has come up with this particular expedient: <a href="" target="links">David Long</a> has also enthused about it, for example. Flickr has millions (billions?) of public photos from all over the world, many of them tagged extensively. This combination of photos and <a href="">folksonomy</a> is invaluable.</p> <p>You see, the world (and the web) is dripping with information, but much of it isn&#8217;t the kind of information a writer needs. <a href="">Wikipedia</a>, for example, is very general. I need specifics. Wikipedia may have vague or incomplete range information for an animal, when what I need to know is whether it lives in Southern Oregon. It may contain information on blights that affect a tree, when I want to know what range of colors its leaves turn in Autumn. As Flannery O&#8217;Connor says in <a href=" " target="powells"><em>Mystery and Manners</em></a>, &#8220;It&#8217;s always necessary to remember that the fiction writer is much less <em>immediately</em> concerned with grand ideas and bristling emotions than he is with putting list slippers on clerks.&#8221;</p> <p>One of the best ways I&#8217;ve found to locate the necessary list slippers is Flickr. For instance, my story <a href="" target="links">&#8220;Conditional Love&#8221;</a>, which will appear in the January 2010 issue of <a href="" target="links"><em>Asimov&#8217;s</em></a>, takes place in near-future Cleveland. Now, I lived there for a few years (it was the past when I did, though, not the future) and have a fair idea of the place. But I wanted to double-check my notion of when the cherry trees bloom, so I searched Flickr for <a href="" target="links">&#8220;cleveland cherry blossom&#8221;</a> and perused the date stamps. It&#8217;s good to double-check by using photos from several different Flickr members, since date stamps can be off or show the upload rather than the capture date. Similarly, Flickr members may misidentify the tree or deer in their photos, so it&#8217;s good to make comparisons for certainty.</p> <p>Another way I use Flickr is as photo reference. Even in fantasy stories, I like to firmly establish the geology and landscape. Sometimes I choose a real-world analogue &#8211; say, the Hebrides &#8211; and use photos of that place to inspire my descriptions of the rocks and waves, to anchor my thoughts. The same concept works for animals.</p> <p>Finally, Flickr and <a href="" target="links">Google Streetview</a> can help you research buildings and streets in settings far away. My novel is set in a future Los Angeles, so I can take plenty of artistic license. But if I want to, I can find out exactly what&#8217;s there now. I know of non-spec-fic authors using Flickr to set novels in other countries, too. Building details and atmosphere are easy to pick up as long as there are lots of photos and lots of tags to make sense of them.</p> <p>I&#8217;m very grateful for the opportunities the internet provides to me as a writer. I can still walk down to the local library and get a deep text on trees when I need to know the usual size of various species, but I can also quickly find out what a tree looks like, or whether a certain flower grows in a certain state. With careful searching, I can even figure out what name goes with a remembered image in my brain. Detail is what grounds a story and convinces the reader of the reality, immediacy of its world. It&#8217;s wonderful to have so many resources available when I go hunting for those list slippers, fallen leaves and cherry blossoms.</p> Do you Duotrope? 2008-06-18T10:20:06+00:00 2009-08-04T17:28:12+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve mentioned it before on this website, but it deserves a more prominent mention: <strong>I love <a href="" target="links">Duotrope&#8217;s Digest</a></strong>.</p> <p>It&#8217;s a free website that lists markets for short fiction and poetry (sorry, nonfictionists.) As well as listing and categorizing them, giving some indication of how much they pay (if at all), and providing links to their websites, collects information on acceptances and rejections. From writers&#8217; data, they compile really useful statistics on how long a magazine tends to keep your submissions, what percentage of submissions they accept, et cetera. You can make a free account to save favorite markets and contest deadlines, and most importantly, to track your submissions. You do the writing; they do the math.</p> <p>So if you&#8217;re a poet or a short story writer, sign up and explore the site. It&#8217;s easy to use, and the statistics and <a href="" target="links">Top 25</a> lists are interesting in and of themselves. It&#8217;s a remarkable resource, and it&#8217;s hard to believe it&#8217;s free. (Speaking of which, <a href="" target="links">they run on donations</a> and they need more this month. Whether you&#8217;re a writer or a reader, you might consider them in your charitable donations!)</p>