Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Thinking Game

I've been researching a story idea for a few years now for a few years involving poisoning by toxic plant. Specifically, Spotted Water Hemlock, not to be confused with the hemlock that killed Socrates. My research has led me to learn all kinds of things about Spotted Water Hemlock. For instance, Spotted Water Hemlock is one of the most toxic plants in the United States, and grows wild in almost all climates in moist areas. It is commonly mistaken for wild carrots or parsnips.

I even find myself wanting to go looking for the plant growing in the local area. In my story, parts of the plant are put into a juicer and then used to spike the drink of the unsuspecting victim. I've actually thought about trying to produce this oil for real in a juicer, but am thinking it may be just a little too dangerous. I'm sure that I'm already on some government watch-list for all my Internet research on the plant.

The point that I am trying to make here is that all this research, and planning, and thinking, has been for just a portion of the story idea.

Why so much attention paid to just this one item? Because I want the story to be realistic. I surely would not want some reader to go out and try this themselves but I want them to think it could be done - even if it cannot.

I think it is important to spend as much time as possible thinking about what is in a story. I believe one should spend as much time thinking about what will go into the story as the actual writing of the story itself. Some writers think of the details while writing, others do their thinking and writing separately.

Whether one puts these thoughts down on paper or files them in their head while (or before) writing is a matter of personal preference.

So fellow writers - stop being so hard on yourselves. It's Okay to spend some time thinking about what happens, and to whom, in your stories. Yes, it is equally important to write consistently, but I believe that allowing your mind to work out the little things - to "game" facts, assumptions, and things you have to make up to fill in the blanks and keep things believable.