Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Going through the motions (Or, the power of imagination)

Today's blog post is inspired by guns.

You read it right. Guns, people.

Not that I'm a supporter of guns, or anything. They can be quite cool, but that's not the point of this post.

I've never held a gun before, but I can imagine what it's like to hold one, my index finger tense and ready to pull back at a moment's notice.

Ok, so I don't know that much about guns, except a few amateur moves on how to disarm an assailant pointing a gun at my face or back. One of the fun things about being a writer is you can imagine things like holding a gun, aiming it at a bad guy, or disarming someone pointing one at you. The best part is you don't have to ever hold a gun or have one aimed at you.


It's probably easier to write about it if you've done it. Sure, you can imagine the mountains of Scotland, but if you've actually been there, the picture won't be quite so hard to conjure up. You can imagine holding a gun, palms sweaty and nerves going nuts, but the feeling is more vivid if you've experienced it.

Case in point: One of my writing teachers mentioned that sometimes, she enlists a colleague's help to enact an action scene. She needed to know what it felt like to throw a punch, where it would land, what might happen, etc. A lot of people have problems writing action scenes, because the majority of action people have seen is from DIE HARD or BUFFY. I happen to have it a bit easier, because I'm involved in a few different martial arts. Contrary to the belief of most people who've seen MI2, if you throw one solid punch at someone's temple, or an uppercut to their chin, they will go out like a light. No ten minute long fight scenes. It usually takes less than three.

Handy to know when writing an action scene, no?

I'm sure the dimensions change when the person being hit has superhuman healing powers (like werewolves), but it's nice to have a baseline.

It's harder for me to write about, say, a biochemist, because I have no experience in that subject. Also, it's difficult to imagine a character who knows guns very well, because I dunno jack shit about it. Which is why I'm going to shoot off a few rounds (that's what he said) before I leave Texas. Everyone has guns here. Really.

So I guess the moral of this story is don't be afraid to write to your strengths. The runner up moral of the story is do your research. The saying "write what you know" is vastly misinterpreted, because the power of the imagination is often taken for granted, even by those who work theirs to the grind every day.

What experiences or talents do you have that make certain topics easier to write about?

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