Tag Archives: discovery

Where Will Your Writing Take You?

by Lillian Csernica on July 6, 2016

Word Destination On Keyboard

I am at work on a new short story. In order to build the plot, know the characters properly, and create a climax that is both satisfying and plausible, I have had to learn about these subjects:

Concrete screws

What a hammer drill is and does

What machinery CalTrans uses to resurface the freeways

How strong a welder’s mask really is

The auction price of three small gold coins from medieval Norway

Why the California Highway Patrol doesn’t handle a crime scene the way the Sheriff’s Dept. or the local police would.

Who owned the land grant that encompasses a large portion of Los Angeles County back when Charles V of Spain was handing those out.

Sure, research is part of a writer’s daily life. Sure, I’m already drawing on a lot of knowledge I already have when it comes to the fantasy elements in the story. No surprises there, right?

It’s one thing to have a good idea. It’s quite another to convince your readers it will work.

The deeper I’ve gone into this story, the more I’ve needed to learn. All the details matter, even the peripheral details that could be taken for granted. My two main characters have to join forces to accomplish something almost impossible in a very tight time frame against staggering odds. One knows enough about power tools and where to get them. The other knows enough about the Bad Guys and how to fight them.

The most exciting part about this story is what each of the main characters must learn about the other character and about himself. Is each of them willing to risk everything? How much does each of them stand to lose? And if they succeed, what do they do next, knowing what they now know?

That laundry list of research subjects has taken me to areas of science, history, law enforcement, and construction that are all new to me. I had to look all of that information up because I need it all to build the goals and obstacles for each character, my heroes and my Bad Guys. In discovering so much about the contexts in which my characters function, I’ve developed new insights into their motivations, loyalties, prejudices, etc.

This might sound really obvious, but it isn’t. There’s no thrill like the thrill of sudden inspiration, realization, understanding. Pieces of related information link up and present themselves as an idea or a solution or a complication.

Let your writing take you to places where you’ve never been. Don’t try to steer. Just go where your characters have come from, then take them and your readers somewhere none of you ever expected to go!



Filed under creativity, editing, fairy tales, Family, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, history, Lillian Csernica, nature, research, travel, Writing

A to Z After Party

by Lillian Csernica on May 5, 2014



Having discovered the joys of the A to Z Challenge last April, I was better prepared to make use of the advice and the diversity of blogs available.  These, then, are the strategies I started off with, the refinements I learned, and the rewards for succeeding.

1) Keeping everybody interested.  Because my blog speaks to both the life of a professional writer and the life of a special needs parent, I put considerable thought into coming up with a theme that would attract and entertain current followers and potential new followers.  Chocolate is a coping mechanism, a comfort food, and a source of great pleasure, so I thought it would be a safe bet as a topic.  I’m not a food blogger, so how would I approach the topic?  Imagination plus creativity are essential to both writers and parents.  I went looking for strange and unexpected items made out of chocolate.  It worked!

2) Inviting interaction with questions.  I picked up on this from reading other blogs while I was out visiting.  One of the best questions I came up with was, “What song would be played on a chocolate violin?”  That gets my Idea Factory going.  The folks kind enough to visit my blog left some wonderful answers that sparked ongoing conversations and further visits.  Yay!

3) Attracting new time zones.  I wanted to get my posts online as soon as the new day started so people on the East Coast of the U.S. would be able to read them on the correct day.  As the Challenge progressed, I started to get the hang of knowing when people in other countries were likely to read my blog.  One of my greatest pleasures each day became checking my Stats to see which countries were listed.  To know at least one person from India, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Finland, and other lands of wonder were reading my blog made me very happy.

4) Being sure to take an interest in the people interested in my interests.  I’ve made some great new friends this year.  Foodlikecake, I Feel A Sin Coming On, and Class, Sass, and a Little Ass are just a few blogs I encourage you to visit.  Many thanks to my ongoing friends, those of you who follow on e-mail as well as reading my posts here.  Food Like Cake posts some fabulous recipes that I’ve got to try.  Jen over at Sin shares my passion for Loki/Tom Hiddleston.  The Ruralspaceman never fails to entertain with his wonderful British wit.  My fellow special needs parents have been there for me on bad days, and I hope to keep being there for them.  This is the real meaning behind the A to Z Challenge.  It’s not just a hit-and-run game.

5) Trying something different, i.e. visiting blogs outside my usual range of topics.  It’s good to get out of my familiar mental neighborhood.  Visiting the Under 100 blogs was great for that.  I found at least two food blogs about foreign dishes I’d never heard of.  Maybe I can’t travel as much as I’d like to, but I can eat like the natives!  The photography blogs feed my visual imagination.  The wonderful Dutch lady at Resident Alien — Being Dutch in America has some fascinating tales to tell about being a teacher and a translator.

Thank you to Arlee Bird and his team of volunteers who offered much guidance and support in getting the most and the best out of this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge.  I’m already looking forward to next year.  After all, I need to come up with an even better theme!




Filed under Awards, Blog challenges, chocolate, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Food, Goals, history, Humor, love, Special needs, Writing