Research and Fiction

Way back at the beginning of the year I participated in James Patterson’s Master Writing Class, which I recommend to all writers out there. I promise, you’ll glean at least one thing from that class that’s worth the admission price.

Such as the Outlining process, which has been golden for me. I took a whole month and did nothing but edit the outline, layer the outline, add character notes and reminders and subplot things in the margins of the outline … And yes, the product I am working with today to get this new project done is 100% better than if I’d just done it my usual way.

And I’m enjoying every chapter. Nothing feels dry. I’m excited to get out of bed and start my writing every day.

So!

Where does that leave me today?

Well, it leaves me smack in the middle of Chapter 7 where, in the middle of my outlining craze, I decided I wanted to have Devon stumble over a Hacker news report. The original idea was to have illegal or “underground” podcasters.

I enjoy podcasts/webcasts that are educational and such, so why not add them to my fiction? And while I’m at it, why not add social activism as part of the reason these guys are illegal?

Seriously.

I was so excited, I started building this little social activist underground podcast/hacker thing and began dragging in historical elements to help cement them in the novel. And for creative flavor, I chose to make them fans of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables …

And now we have to put on the brakes.

Because I realized after having plotted all this out that I might need permission to use anything from that book. So in the middle of researching Saturn (where much of this book takes place) I suddenly had to look up copyrights and public domain.

Happily, Les Miserables is a public domain work, meaning I can quote and reference and tip my hat to it all I want without worrying about people coming after me.

For anyone out there who might want to know, a very easy rule of thumb is that anything published before 1923 is public domain. You can use it. There are other rules and such, but that’s the easiest one to understand. The rest require a bit more leg work on your part to find out. If you want more information, this website was very helpful.

 

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