Monday, November 7, 2016

Building Scenes, Building Worlds

Why does it take so long to write a book?  I'm sure plenty of readers wonder.  I sometimes ask myself the same thing, especially when the words are flowing and I'm cranking out 10 or 15 pages a day, or editing 70 pages a day.  But then there are scenes like the one I'm working on this week.  Shawn and Amy are talking about forgiveness.  Just a conversation, 600 words, 1200 words, I don't know.  Not a terribly long scene.

There are two things that take time.  One is that it's a tough subject to tackle, especially given the contrast in the behaviors, actions, and people each of them is called to forgive.  I haven't even gotten to the conversation yet.

I'm starting with scene building.  While many of my settings are clear in my head from the previous four books, Shawn went and built himself a new addition on his house--a fantastic room with an Olympic-size pool and an archery range.

While sometimes settings come to my mind very clearly, this one took a little more deliberate 'creation.'  To that end, I have spent the last couple of days on a number of sites.


    The site where I originally found Shawn's house and its floor plans
    Finding out how far the archer who will be working on Shawn's archery range needs to shoot--by looking at Google Earth maps at the site where the shooting will take place and measuring 
    Re-researching bows, modern and historical 
    Researching distances archers can historically shoot with great accuracy.  Can this man reasonably be expected to shoot as far as the distances I'm looking at on Google Earth?  (Longbow--while some say it can shoot up to 400 yards/370 meters/1200 feet, one historical source says the longest distance recorded in the 16th century was 345 yards/315 meters/1035 feet.  Henry VIII's minimum practice range for adults, in the 1500s, was 220 yards/200 meters/660 feet.  Even this minimum requires me to tape a third sheet of paper to my 'map' of Shawn's property, to visualize just how far this is.)  
    Converting numbers between meters, feet, and yards--as house sites use feet, pools use meters, and archery talks about yards--in order to create one map of all of this. 

    Research exactly how big an Olympic size pool is (1 minute on a search engine, but still needed to be checked) 
    Looking at various indoor pool rooms to get a clearer idea of what exactly Shawn and Amy's surroundings are as they talk 
    Adding the 'frills' to Shawn's pool--as my reader Deborah suggested, Shawn would have a waterfall pouring over that back wall, from the terrace above!  Yes, he would!
    Figuring out how this particular room and pool are going to look as attached to Shawn's house, and how this room is going to be built so that it doesn't block off the beautiful windows of Shawn's great room, which will be above this pool room.  The pool itself will be running the opposite direction from what's pictured, and of course be much, much longer.  Yet the waterfall still needs to come over that wall and fall into the pool.  So now Shawn has an L-shaped pool so his guests can still come down those stairs to the deck. 

    Printing up multiple copies of the image and floor plans of Shawn's house, knowing how long this actual house is likely to be, knowing what room or rooms will lead out to this new wing, laying out measurements, and trying out different ways such a pool might be built on--stretching out from the house, or running the width of the house but extending beyond it. 
    Figuring out how an archer is going to practice long distance archery from such a room--which, not surprisingly is unlikely to be as long as one can shoot with a longbow.  I have a plan!  Or is it Shawn who has a plan?  It's hard to say some days.
    Drawing it all out in correct proportions, with a ruler.  (I'm sure there's a site somewhere to do this, too, but I used the old-fashioned method.  If anyone has a great site for such a purpose, please let me know!)

    And let's not forget watching this amazing video on medieval and historic archery:



    This is one scene.  Of course, this pool room will be seen (no pun intended) more than once, so other scenes won't require as much work.  Think what goes into building entire worlds, for science fiction and fantasy authors!  Actually, I have a glimpse of this, as one of my sons writes fantasy, and he has maps and maps of the worlds, and spread sheets of what the population is doing year by year or decade by decade, to create his story.

    This, of course, is the fun of writing!  As a writing prompt, what worlds do you build?  What do you research?


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    2 comments:

    1. Unbelievable archery! Thanks for the video! I also love the room you're creating and the way you're researching. Can't wait to read the book!

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