Month: March 2018

The First Person to do Something

One thing I have seen a few times is a main character in a book being the first to do something that should have been done well before hand.

For example, if I was writing a book about the invention of a replicator I would expect that it would take about a week for someone to note the many ways it can be used as a weapon. Or use it to make drugs. Or for that matter to have it create an explosive that would be so unstable it normally could not be moved, therefor used.

If your character is the first person to do something, think about WHY this is the case. Would they really be the first ones?

How Much Worldbuilding Should You Do?

The thing about world building is that you CAN do it for years, and never finish. After all if you wanted to write a backstory of a world with the same level of detail that we have for the Earth how long would it take?

I can’t say how others do it but I tend to do my worldbuilding in stages. When I was starting to write my first book I wrote enough about the major powers, and enough of the overall timeline to have a basic idea about what was going on. I needed to know what kinds of tech they would have and stuff like that.

As I finished the first draft I realized I needed more so I gave it another pass and added many more details.

Around the fifth draft I did one more last long pass, I went into detail about all the major political factions within each power, enough that I could write stories set anywhere I wanted.

I did this in stages partly because I did not know what I needed until I got there. It was also helpful because worldbuilding is some of the most brain taxing work you will do, doing it all at once can be hard to impossible.

Review: A Wrinkle in Time (3/10 stars)

The first thing I will say is that A Wrinkle in time is not a Science Fiction movie, but a Science Fantasy movie. That means I will not fault it for any bad science, or even using magic as science.

I also will say that while I have read the book it was more then fifteen years ago, when I was in early high school or late middle school. So ya, don’t really recall much about it.

That out of the way I will say the movie has several problems, which kept me from really liking it.

The first is that all three of the human kids were not really good characters.

Meg, the main character, who is looking for her father, is a depressed and troubled teen who cares about her father and brother. That really is her entire character. We are told, but never shown, that she is smart and capable. I never really cared about her. This was not helped when the first part of the movie (before they left earth) dragged on waaaay too long.

Charles Wallace, her kid brother, had similar issues. We were told he was very intelligent. But like Meg they never really showen it. Worse they used every stupid cliche they could to try and rub our faces in the fact he is smart. EVERYONE called him Charles Wallace, not charlie, or even just Charles. His teachers when they were talking privately, his sister when she was running through a wind storm looking for him. Even his father, who had left earth before he was born. He acted more like an adult then a kid. A smart kid is still a kid, he still should act like a kid.

Calvin was the third, and was at best forgettable. A loner with a father who liked to yell at him for not getting A’s he started following Meg around because she stood up to a hateful girl at school. He was so forgettable that when he was left behind somewhere I did not notice it for two scenes. He spent most of his time standing quietly in the back then propping up Meg’s ego when needed.

I admit I may be too hard on the three of them. However I am judging them against the real interesting character, Meg’s father. He is more interesting them any of the three of them yet has hardly any scenes, and most of them are set before he does the really cool thing that makes him interesting.

The second set of problems is with “tessering” (teleporting from one planet to another).

When they first talked about it they showed Meg’s father with some equations, talking to NASA (where he and his wife worked). He said that he could teleport with the power of his mind.

The thing is that the movie went back and forth between Tessering being a mind over matter thing, and a math/science thing. From the talk Meg’s father gave it sounded like a science/math thing, but he had no evidence or reason to believe he was right. It he had SOMETHING, even something small and near-useless it would have been one thing, but he had no reason to believe he was right at all.

Then throughout the movie they hinted, then outright said that how you think influences the tesser. Then they had someone tesser who had no math know-how at all.

If they had stuck to quasi-science that would have worked. Or they could have stuck to mind over matter, and that could have worked. But they wanted to have it both ways.

We Are Abnormal

If you are from the west a great many things will be normal are VERY abnormal historically. I am not saying you should just assume they change back, but don’t assume things that started changing fifty years ago, and are changing today will freeze as they are now.

For example, for most of human history, people were adults when they could do the work of an adult, for a woman this was somewhere between puberty and 16 or so. For a man, this was when he was big enough to farm/hunt. Adolescence did not exist as a concept.

If I was forty and got engaged to someone who was sixteen I would be, to say the least, looked down on today. No one would have cared a few hundred years ago.

I don’t think I need to say how much EVERYTHING surrounding sex has changed in the last century, there were times and places when women would not let themselves be seen when pregnant (not even in church).

Various societies have changed how they used makeup, from only tacky women using it, to men, to everyone.