A Service that Helps Fiction Writers Get First-Hand Experience for their Books
Image credit: Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Oguntola Tobi Dec 16, 2021
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Is it original or innovative?
Is it feasible?
Is it targeting an unsolved problem?
Is it concisely described?
A platform that helps authors, both new and veterans, get the experience they require to write books that are factual and relatable.
Fiction writing, while fun, is also arduous. And while there are many bad fiction writers who can't string two interesting sentences together, there are also very good ones who write bad books due to bad research.
One of the hardest things about writing fiction is research. I have witnessed writers who wrote seemingly good books castigated online because they misrepresented a detail pertaining to a group or setting they are unfamiliar with. For example, a Dutch author who sets a scene in Lagos but misrepresented certain details about the city. Regardless of how good the book is, that mistake can have damaging effects on it.
I took a Coursera course on Creative Writing in 2020 and I remember, in one of the videos, a tutor mentioned an author who fully immersed herself in the lives of her major characters to understand them before writing. For example, if her major character is a stable boy, she would work at a stable for a couple of weeks, observe the language style, people, and relationships, and use this information for her book.
I believe this style of research is the best, especially since the author gains first-hand experience that will inform the psychological makeup of their characters, help them better appreciate unfamiliar cultures, and accurate settings.
That got me thinking, what if there were a platform that makes this style of research easily accessible and provides it at scale? It would be tedious for an author to arrange for these things themselves and if they can pay a platform to do that, it would be of great help.
How it Works
Once a writer has determined where they have a knowledge gap for a novel they want to write, they will contact the platform. And for a fee, the platform will help them fill this gap.
For instance, if the author has a paediatric nurse as a major character, the platform will pair them with a paediatric nurse, who they can converse and work with. From their interactions, alongside their online and library research, they should be able to develop a great, indepth character for their book. The same process works if the author is writing about members of a marginalized group or a location they are unfamiliar with.
People can sign up on the platform like they would on any other platform. They can then wait to be activated - that is, wait till someone requires their insight and knowledge. For researching settings, the platform can pair authors with natives of these locations who they can then converse with to ensure they get things right. The platform can also arrange tours of these locations, if the author thinks it is necessary.
What do you think of this idea? Where else do you think this service is applicable?
Darryl Koh Yuan Jie Dec 17, 2021
I believe you are tackling the topic of cultural appropriation and combating stereotypes. This platform you mention could be a great starting point to not only bring about more authentic stories but diversify the experiences of authors and their characters too.
One way to streamline the process would perhaps allow users regardless of whether they are authors or not to create journal entries about their livelihood. For example, the nurse you mention would have the options to create entries about her life, sort of like a public diary that invites authors interested in nursing life to read up on their entries. Thereafter, if the authors are interested to reach out personally, they can.
Another suggestion in order to improve the writings of inexperienced authors would be to pair them up with experienced seasoned authors who are already in the writing industry.
I think this idea can be implemented in other industries too. For example, actors or actresses who want to know more about the livelihood of the characters they are playing. Scriptwriters or film directors who are writers too can also use this platform as a way to flesh out their characters. Anything that has a relation to storytelling could definitely find this platform useful.
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Povilas S Dec 17, 2021
The service would be even more applicable for movie making. That is because in the movie the details have to be visually demonstrated and this at times might require some in-depth research. Directors sometimes go to great lengths to hire professionals from certain fields to consult with them on how to realistically represent certain aspects in the movie. Even though famous directors making big-budget movies can arrange such things themselves, the service might nevertheless be useful, especially for rising talents having limited resources.
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The focus on the speed and search function
J. Nikola Dec 20, 2021
There are three questions that define my way of thinking:
- Why would you need this platform, when you can go to the place or to meet people by yourself?
- Why would you use the platform for fiction-writing? Isn't fiction better if it's not "inhibited" by the real world?
- What would make this platform a better way of finding what you need than just your own search?
On the first one (and the third one, too), I was able to find an answer myself. First, people usually start writing without money for traveling, meeting, and living their future scenarios. Having a platform where you can catch a glimpse of the experience from the first hand (by platform users or platform-engaged individuals) could be much cheaper and faster than moving to another city and living the moment.
Second, since fiction writing requires a substantial dose of creativity and imagination, visiting a real place and people could "inhibit" it. Although that way could be suitable for people writing novels or travel diaries, for fiction writers even a glimpse of the experience gained through the platform could be enough to ignite the imagination, without making it too "real".
In my opinion, focus should be on making it extremely fast and easy-to-use by good and comprehensive inputted content digestion and advanced search algorithms. Then the writers could save time, money and focus more on their imagination.