Friday, December 4, 2015

The Mythbusters and Writing

On Wednesday, my family surprised me with a trip to see the Mythbusters Jamie and Adam Unleashed tour here in Denver. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a bragging post (though it was awesome). As a matter of fact, I wanted to talk about something Adam said in the second half of the show: that science and art (including storytelling) are two sides of the same coin.

As someone who was convinced she wanted to be a scientist--in particular a paleontologist--for a good portion of her life, this really appealed to me. Even the driest scientific paper is telling a story, the story of the experiment or study. And, like it or not, writers can't get away from science. Even in the wildest fantasy, there has to be rules and things that we call science nowadays that might not be called science in that world. That isn't to say all magic in fantasy is unexplained science, but it has to follow some of the same rules.

As someone who's now been writing for over a decade (not that the early stuff was any good), I know there's a lot I can learn from science. How would a shock wave really affect your character(s) based on how big the explosion is and how far away they are? Hint: it may take longer for the shock wave to reach your character than you expect. Is it possible for your character to escape from prison with salsa? Hint: it really depends on how much time they have.

Basically, I think there's this tendency among the artistic and scientific folks to look at each other and sneer. And I think that's bull. There's a lot we can learn from each other and from the different disciplines and I think that's totally worth the effort.


Emily has always been that weird kid who loved documentaries. She might have developed a character completely inspired by watching a history of tattooing once.

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