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Writing About Something You Know Nothing About - Mo's Journal
June 23rd, 2009
04:07 pm


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Writing About Something You Know Nothing About
I belong to the community little_details and enjoy it a lot. As the name suggests, it's a place for writers to ask for "little details" they can't find out through their research and need for a story. I read them fairly regularly and offer info if I've got it. Sometimes people need a little more info than they can find about a location or an event or so on, to add a little texture to a story. Some of the "little details" I have provided for X-Men writers from time to time (although not all through this comm) include answers to:

- If the X-Men went to a mall, what mall would it be?
- Where would the X-Men go to the beach?
- What's a good location for Rogue to be going for "the cure" in X3 (with specifics of the kind of location it should be)?

These are the kinds of things that someone familiar with NYC and its suburbs can answer easily, but could be hard for someone who doesn't live here, regardless of how much research they do. So I think it's good to ask - a friend or a comm.

What dumbfounds me is people who post on that comm who apparently know absolutely nothing about the milieu in which they're setting their story, yet seem to only care about a "little detail." How do they ever think they are going to write a story set in a time and place they are completely ignorant of, or within a subculture they know nothing about? And why would they think that getting one detail right would somehow matter, given complete ignorance?

::scratches my head and wonders::

(6 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:June 23rd, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
What an awesome comm!! Skimming through it I love the range of subjects people are checking out...
[User Picture]
Date:June 23rd, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
It is fun! There's another similar one (although, obviously, with less range) called writing_sex
Date:June 23rd, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
And why would they think that getting one detail right would somehow matter, given complete ignorance?

I don't know, but if you ever figure that one out, please let me know. Personally, it drives me crazy. It strikes me as the epitome of lazy writing, so whenever I come across a story that's obviously written by someone who knows nothing about the cultural setting, I hit the Back button at Ludicrous Speed.

Edited at 2009-06-23 09:40 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:June 24th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
I love that comm! I haven't needed to post there often, as I have lots of Americans on my flist and most of my fandoms are American (or British, but I can do that myself). I answer questions on historical (and some areas of modern) Japan and some medical issues. I find, though, that even when people ask the kind of ignorant, limited questions that you mention above, people give really awesome answers that open up the world of research and detail to the original poster. I suppose they won't always take the bait, but it's a wonderful education in research and thinking your problems through.
[User Picture]
Date:June 24th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
Yes, you're quite right. People are so giving of their info and experience on that comm. And generally quite gentle in suggestions that someone go back and do more work before writing.
[User Picture]
Date:June 24th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
nice, my inner obsessive geek heartily approves of that community
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