A to Z Challenge, Day 14: N Is For Neal

Your first love.  You’ll always have that special place in your heart for your first one.  Rachel and I wrote Burning Bright and I pitched it at my first writing conference, before I even knew what pitching a book really meant.  I knew business, of course, and that books are business, but somehow the concept of pitching a creative project made my knees turn to water.

Neal Harrison is the hero of Burning Bright.  An ex-Marine, he brought the survivors of his unit back from the mountains of Tora Bora after an operation to find Bin Laden failed and they found something far more deadly:  a Siberian tiger shifter, half-mad with blood-lust and the desire for revenge.  Left behind by the Soviet invaders, he attacked the Americans with a fervor that no one anticipated and wiped out a highly-trained squad of Marine Reconnaissance fighters.

Neal decided to open a restaurant called The Factory.  As business grew, he expanded to a gay bondage club downstairs, called The Basement.  In the process of writing the story, we needed to know where things were in the physical space that made up both businesses.  We scouted around the city so Rachel could get an idea of common building construction here, and we found a candidate (the real building that houses our imaginary restaurant is located not far from my house, as a matter of fact).  Then it was time to get down to business and draw out the space itself.

Doing this allows us to mark where things happen in the books, to develop a more clear idea of the space, and also keep stuff straight while we’re writing – and when we go back, months later, to edit a project.

What are your favorite “tools of the trade” for whatever hobby or avocation you pursue?

10 Replies to “A to Z Challenge, Day 14: N Is For Neal”

  1. Hello, visiting from A to Z today!

    Great idea and enjoyed looking at the layout you did.

    My hobby is beads/charm jewellery, and my favourite tool is my camera, when I’m trying to design a necklace or a bracelet I always take photos.

    Even of the ones that never get made for more than just that “try”. Useful later to see what works or as new beads come out what might be worth revisiting, or something I need to repeat months/years down the line.

    Pen and paper – I will often draw a rough layout of a bracelet when I have an idea so I can try it out later when I have my beads in front of me.

    Curling Stones for Lego People

    1. Hi, Mars! Thanks for visiting! Rachel does a lot of jewelry making; beading particularly. I like the idea of photographing your designs; it’s like honoring the inner artist. 🙂

      Happy blogging!

  2. I love that you actually drew up a blueprint for your story! I’ve been using the A to Z this month to put together any “tools of the trade” for writing that I can fit into the alphabet. I’m too late, but “Blueprint” would have been great. What does it look like where the story takes place? As the writer, I’m sure it helped you know where what was as the story progressed. Thanks for posting!

    Visiting via A to Z from Pass the Sour Cream. Co-Author (with my sons) of The Secret of Kite Hill.

    1. Hi, Bradley! Thanks for visiting and sharing your links; I’ll check those out.

      Let’s see. For the story, it takes place across a number of books, of which Books 1 and 2 are out now. Book 3 is being finished as we speak, in fact. 🙂 The action happens in a 3 storey brick building in Chicago, with a basement (oddly, they don’t refer to such a building as a 4 storey one, at least here in Chicago; it’s a “3-flat with a basement” or a “6-flat” or however many apartments there are. So we have blueprints for all the floors; that’s just the one for the club downstairs. We even have staffing calendars so we know how many staff need to be employed, that way, we can mention the right secondary characters from book to book. 🙂

      I could go on, but I won’t bore you with it. What I will say is, maybe use “s” for “schematic”? 🙂 Happy blogging!

  3. Wow, that’s so cool that you actually found a real building to use as inspiration and drew blueprints. I just wing it. Although I did finally have to draw a rough map of my fictional town because I realized I was describing everything in a straight line rather than an actual town configuration.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,

    1. Thanks, Jocelyn! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

      Well, some towns are built on a straight line, right? o.O… 🙂 That’s actually why we started doing maps and things. Rachel’s got a background in drafting as a hobby and I am a calligrapher and adore maps, so it was a fun way to play with our stories. It became critical, though, in writing because one cannot have one’s bedroom move from the second floor to the third floor and back again in the same story. Readers would probably notice. ~grin~

  4. Eck! I would had been neater if I knew others would see it! The real building is vacant so we didn’t get any weird looks for walking around it taking pics. When I walk and photo houses, I wonder if the owners are watching me behind the curtains debating on calling 911.

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