17 May 2010

Random Babble

If you have been following me on Twitter @JohnTagliaferro this might be a rehash.

I can forgive readers who might think my fiction is reality in disguise.  Fiction writers who say that annoy me Grow an imagination. - John Tagliaferro
I can't say the above enough. I try not to get frustrated with other writers, but the ones who think fiction can't consist of a made-up story are relentless.  It is as if they can't imagine making up a character out of features that make them likable or awful without them being based on a real person from your life.  It is pretty easy really.  Real-life Suki (not her real name either) and I created fiction Suki from the idea of an attractive woman with dark hair and dark eyes.  All we started with.  Yep, we both know women like that, even some who have not always been women.  Cloning a real person from our history was never even a thought.
Next step, I wrote out a list of other features.  High education, tall, lean, athletic, brilliant, exotic.  At first, she was going to appear sweet but she and her mother were really high-tech grifters.  In the next round of changes, Suki and I think Danielle talked me out of a 6' tall hot chick.  Just because I like that does not mean anybody else will.  The character became 5' 6" long dark hair, dark brown eyes (or "coal black") and a few other details.
If she is highly educated she had to go to school somewhere.  It is in the future so people are getting Masters and Doctorates like they get BA degrees today, so that had to be unique.  Geek guy mind to the rescue.  Sci-fi readers and watchers, like me, are suckers for the hot brainy girl in the lab, we love gadgetry and technology.  The character got her Mathematics degree from the University of Virginia, Bionics masters at the Tokyo University of Technology and PhD in Robotics from MIT.  I had to look up where a Masters in Bionics was offered and TUT was the first one I found.  Made for a good location if I continued the series and needed some exotic history for her too.
While outlining the first story, the mother/daughter grifter team just wasn't working for me, so that got modified, I also realized that the character needed parents, but we had not yet decided on her race.  Dark hair and eyes are the most common combination on earth, so I used Google Images to see what was most popular.  Asian, hands down, are the most popular female images that come up with that search.  Keeps with the exotic looks requirement for the character too.  We fleshed out other details, like a knack for linguistics, hobbies, other skills.  I stuck with things that I am at least conversant on, after having to look up so many other things for her.
If you have noticed my not using the character name for a few paragraphs, that is because her race and name were decided last.  I met a waitress with that name in the 1980s, who does not resemble Suki at all.  Neither do my character development collaborators.  So, I was almost ready to write, but I did not have a back story for her.  Real-life Suki came to the rescue on Google Maps, making a map of where her parents and other relatives might be from, where John is from, etc.  I tweaked a few things and Suki became a small-town girl from outside Richmond, VA.  Daughter of a now deceased South Vietnam fighter pilot and Thai/Korean mother who waited until late in life to have a child after they moved to Virginia.
Actual work time on this was just a few hours stretched over weeks, including changes.  I was working on the other characters at the same time.  John is not "me" at all, but he does have a background that I can write about.  Suki and John needed some friends, so I made up a few for them.  They were easier, since they are not as prominent, I found the farther I got away from the main characters the more I could stretch out into fields I was not as conversant in.  Suki's best friends are a CPA and a Secretary.  John's is a Security Manager, former Marine.  John's character was always going to be a nice guy, much nicer than me, so I only had to do some minor revisions when Danielle and Suki read his description to make him more attractive to readers.
With the characters set and an ever changing plot in my head, I put the first outline aside.  It had some good ideas in it, so I didn't get rid of it.  I think I had read a few things about romances and erotica that I needed to do.  The readers need to know why the characters are attracted to each other.  There has to be a threat to them getting together, can't be a "slam dunk."  Threats to the relationship have to appear and they need to triumph over them.  So, Suki and Jung, her mother, became good people.  Suki wasn't always good, she has a pretty bad past, in spite of having a great mother.  No, I don't know the people you know like that, lol, they are all over the place.  Actually, I made them becoming such a high hurdle that I felt like I was cheating giving Jung and Suki hypnosis powers.  Then I ran into enough people who think it works (I am not convinced) and like it in fantasy stories that I didn't feel so bad.  It became something fun to work with, along with the future drugs and appliances I was making up as the series progressed.
The bondage theme is a remnant from the original outline.  I didn't think anybody wanted to read about a plain vanilla romance.  They are both down to earth, incredibly successful in different fields, deeply interested in each other, and far from perfect.  I know a little about that scene, but still needed to research a few details.
With a decent new outline in hand, I began writing, without stopping, for a few weeks.  At 90,000 words I was more than double my target length.  I should have divided it into three books, but I didn't.  I did decide to make it a series and used what I learned for the rest.  An afterthought, John was supposed to be successful and nice, but that was to set him up to be the victim of Suki and Jung in a much racier story.  Nobody has said he was too nice for this.  Happy accident.
Part of my decision on making an alternate future Suki series was feedback on the first one.  Other authors use time travel as a tool in their stories.  I use it to write the story I should have begun with.
Suki Series Background Suki Series Tech Order the paperback edition of Suki V: The Collection Browse the series on Google: Suki I, Suki II, Suki III, Suki IV, Suki V Fan Fiction: John and Suki: Vacation Fun
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