We're only halfway through March, but with all the pandemonium going on in the world right now, it seems to me that now is a great time to start planning for the April 2020 session of Camp NaNoWriMo. If you're stuck at home, there's no excuses for procrastinating on reading, research, or writing right now. And with the wide-spread encouragement of social distancing, we all have an excuse to blow off social engagements without the risk of getting guilt-tripped or feeling bad about it later. Welcome to a brand-new world of state-sanctioned introversion!
One of my favorite parts about starting a new writing project is doing research. My writing consists primarily of fantasy, and this allows for a wide range of research directions. Much of what I look into before starting to lay out a plot deals with history of technology and daily living in order to make the setting and characters believable. Sometimes during the course of this research, I'll run into some, little factoid I never considered significant before, and it will lead me down another trail of exploration that has significant impacts on my plotline.
Over the weekend, I joined my parents in attending a gun show. Normally I find these events to be a waste of my time. Most of the vendors display modern weapons with composite stocks, overly-priced shotguns, antiques from WWI and WWII, or handguns with slides and clips. But none of these guns interest me. I'm not into shooting sports (although I was an archery instructor for a summer camp), and hunting in my little neck of the woods is not good enough to justify spending more than $300-$450 on a shotgun.
For the past week and a half, I have been listening to a lecture course on the history surrounding the theory of evolution, and it has left me contemplating how ideas, particularly ways of understanding, spread and change with the amount of information we have. Today, the concept of natural selection acting to produce changes in species over the course of generations strikes most people as logical and obvious, but Darwin spent many years working out that very logic after his famous visit to the Galapagos Islands. We, of course, have knowledge of genetics which had not yet been discovered at that time although experiments on inheritance of various traits were being conducted during Darwin's lifetime.
Fantasy and science fiction are my two favorite genres of storytelling whether those stories are told through the written word or through film. Part of my favoritism is due to my use of books, TV series, and movies as a means to escape from my everyday world with all its stresses and mundanity. But another part of my favoritism is due to the fact that within fiction, most real-world stories that I am interested in reading fail to create characters, settings, and communities that I find believable. They are an outsider's impressions looking in and creating stereotypes and over-simplified cause and effect. This is why one common piece of advice for writers is to write what you know.