Guest Post: Today I’d like to talk about sports…& writing! @JasonJMcCuiston #SCIFI #amwriting

Today I’d like to talk about sports; specifically how they can make you a better writer of genre fiction. I think most of us (and I know this is a stereotype) who write sci-fi and fantasy are much more comfortable in a library than in a gym, or more at home at a tabletop playing an RPG than on a hardtop playing basketball. I speak from experience. No one will ever mistake me for an athlete, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

Let’s face it, in genre fiction, there are a lot of sports. As Grandpa says in The Princess Bride: “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” You get the picture. “So?” I hear you say, “How does that apply to me and my writing?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll give you some examples from my life.

I played high school (American) football, so I know what it feels like to take a bone-jarring blow to the helmet. I know that smell of blood you get in the back of your sinuses when you get your bell rung. I know what it feels like to have the instep of your foot touch your inner shin (not good). I know what it’s like when opposing forces in pads (the modern equivalent of armor) crash together and try to break each other’s lines. I know how a field smells and feels different in the rain from one that is sun-scorched or nearly frozen with frost. And I know how it feels to see one of your closest friends carted off with a serious injury.

I played rugby in college, so I know what a femur sounds like when it snaps in half (a gunshot is a close approximation), and how the scream afterward is even worse. I know what it feels like to have your shoulder torn out of the socket. I know what my lungs and legs feel like when they’ve got nothing left to give, but somehow find a way to run one more sprint and pile into one more scrum. I know how thirty alpha-males act when they try to kill each other for an hour, and then party like brothers until the dawn (I will go to my grave believing that the spirit of the Viking raid lives on in modern times as a visiting rugby club).

I also took karate and kickboxing in college, and wrestled in high school, so I know what it’s like to grapple with another human being in close quarters, smelling their breath and their unfamiliar scent as they try to hurt or defeat you. I know what it feels like (because I didn’t make weight that week) to wrestle a giant. I know what it feels like to get hit so hard that you can’t breathe and your vision goes dark and hazy. I know how it feels to throw so many punches that you wonder who’s really taking the worst of the bout.

I am into target shooting, so I know that a real gunshot is RIDICULOUSLY louder than on TV and the movies. I know what burnt gunpowder smells like. I know that after a day at the range (or, one can imagine, a lengthy battle) your hands are black with burnt powder. I know that when an ejected brass casing hits your skin it feels like someone trying to put a cigarette out on you (or so I imagine – thankfully, that is one thing I have not experienced). I know how a gun can malfunction in different ways, and how to safely fix the problem. I know that real gun experts are never nonchalant with weapons, no matter how “cool” they might be.

So you see, sports can lend a level of verisimilitude to your writing that it might otherwise lack. Even if you just go for a walk or a hike until you can’t take one more step, that’s useful information you can draw on the next time you write about a long and arduous journey. Do as many pushups as you can until you want to puke, then you’ll get a sense of what your character is feeling when she is pushed to her physical limits. Run as fast as you can for as far as you can, and maybe you can use that when you write about your characters fleeing the alien invasion. And if you go out for a team, you might make it, and then you’ll learn about the camaraderie and fellowship of folks who push themselves and each other to be their best. That certainly can’t hurt, right?

So yeah, sports.

About our guest blogger…

Jason J. McCuiston was born in the wilds of southeast Tennessee, where he was raised on a healthy diet of old horror movies (both classic and of the B variety), westerns and war movies, comic books and old pulp magazines, sci-fi and fantasy novels, and, yes, Dungeons & Dragons. He attended the finest state school that would have him where he studied art before coming to grips with the hard truth that his heart just wasn’t in illustrating other folks’ stories. Following his matriculation, he embarked on a whirlwind tour of underpaid and uninspired career paths until finally realizing that all his forays into role-playing games, comic books, and creative design were merely the manifestation of his innate desire to be a storyteller.

So for the next twenty-odd years, he slogged his way through the jungles of terribly amateurish prose, waded the never-ending streams of form rejections, navigated through the cyclopean obelisks of scathing (yet often constructive) criticisms, and finally climbed the daunting peaks of Personal Growth, Craft, and Skill in search of his goal: the fabled Shangri La of becoming a published and prolific author of speculative adventures.

He can be found on the internet at:

His story, “The Wyvern” can be found in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Dark Luminous Wings. It is a post-apocalyptic steampunk horror story set in the skies above a Mojave Desert filled with magic and dark memories.

His first published story, “The Last Red Lantern” can still be found in Parsec Ink’s Triangulation: Appetites anthology.

Do writers really put you in their books? #amwriting #writing

Some writers (A) are very open about putting people they know in their book, whether it is revenge (never be mean to a writer), or for less nefarious reasons (I admire you, I love you, I like you, you are fun, you are interesting).

Some writers (B) deny all, even vague, linkage between real people and the fictional characters in their book.

I’m going to let you into a secret. If you know a writer . . . you are almost certainly, okay definitely, in their book!

So, are these writers (B) lying? Are they seeking to mislead you?

No, not really, it’s more of a—subconscious inclusion—that a writer cannot possibly help.

The thing is, that a writer crafts their story out of their imagination, which is made up of everything they have ever seen, everything they have ever heard, and everything they have ever read. And while much of this input is from other works of fiction, a large percentage of it comes from everyday life, and that’s right—the writer’s friends, family, and colleagues . . . and even their pets!


Names

I collect names. I love names, especially quirky, or interesting names. Whenever I hear a name that I like, I jot it down. I might not have a character for it yet, or maybe I will rename an old character because I like it better. Either way, names are something we often consciously, or subconsciously use (and even avoid).


Personalities

Yep, I collect personalities too. Now, you may be FREAKING OUT if your writer friend has put a character with your name in their book who is a complete buffoon! Is that how the writer sees you?

Not quite. Writers have a tendency to mash things together. A friends name (who is not a buffoon), may be merged with another person they know who is really clumsy, and the random guy from the petrol station who couldn’t work out how to use the pump, and their pet dog who is adorably loopy! Yep, all this really does go into a single character. And then they give it YOUR name! And they are not all even human, or the same sex! That’s just wrong!

That’s writers for you.


Appearance

By now, you are probably getting a bit of an idea of how this works. And let me tell you that appearance is the worst one of all. It’s like a manic identikit has been let lose on the fictional world. Hair from this person, eyes from that person, body build from that person, a little magic dust, and voila, you have a complete abomination—just kidding, they turn out fine, mostly.


So, in answer to the above question ‘do writers really put you in their book’,  the answer is still, yes, they most certainly do. 🙂