Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Launchpad Workshop

Day 1

There are so many amazing and wonderful writers in this group. I was really nervous that I wasn't going to fit in, that I would be an outsider, but (surprisingly) I'm just like the others! We are an eclectic mix, too. There are novelists, YA writers, middle grade writers, journalists, screenwriters, freelancers, comedians, etc. For lack of a better descriptor, it's exciting!

The majority of yesterday was spent talking about the size of the universe (check out this link to get an idea. It was found by a fellow student, Todd Vandemark). In many science fiction stories, the characters are seen zipping about solar systems or in between galaxies. In reality, this is impossible, especially with the science we have today. Some of the stuff is millions of light years away from each other. Millions.

It brought things into perspective. Kind of. It's really hard to imagine something that big. For our minds, it's abstract, so we don't really grasp it. How does a writer compensate for that? Well, there were several suggestions. 1) We always try to relate it back to something the reader will know. For example, if you wanted to walk from here to the sun, how long would it take? Stuff like that. 2) One of the presenters, Stanley Schmidt (who is editor of Analog magazine), said that it's okay to use fictitious science. However, it has to be used within the ideals of what we know now and it has to adhere to known rules of science. Science can evolve in your stories, but it has to do so in a logical manner.

After that, we discussed misconceptions, particularly misconceptions about the seasons and lunar phases. The main point here was that once we get an idea in our heads, it's really hard to get out, even if it's wrong. Even though we've learned throughout our education what causes the seasons and the phases of the moon, we still cling to our own notions of how it occurs.

Our goal as writers is to stop perpetuating these myths and attempt to teach the reader the real reason for these things. (There are more than just these misconceptions, but these are the examples they used.) How do we do that? First and foremost, we have to police ourselves. We have to make sure to have the best and accurate science in our work. It doesn't always mean that the reader is going to let go of their beliefs. We can only hope we open their eyes to different possibilities.

The final discussion of the day was about amateur astronomy. Jerry Oltion talked to us about the different kinds of telescopes, how to decide which was best, and all the different parts. He then talked about what we could actually see in the sky. He had some great pictures of galaxies, planets, and nebulas that he'd taken himself.

Most of the stuff he was talking about, I already knew. I've been fortunate to have a mother who's really into astronomy, so I knew the basics about telescopes. I also knew about Messier objects, and I've seen the rings of Saturn. Still, he was so passionate about astronomy, it was infectious to listen to him talk.

We were supposed to end the evening star gazing, but there were a lot of clouds. I stayed at home and absorbed all the stuff I learned. I'm looking forward to today's lectures/discussions!

The blog tour is also continuing, so please continue to check out eTreasures blog to find out what's happening!

No comments: