Doing what your characters do

Or doing what they’ve done, or going to do what they already did, or …

Have you done what your characters have done or will do? Will you soon be doing what they already did?

Even in the universe of fiction I found that engaging in the activity makes it far easier to write about it.

The underlying theme in my mind, as I write, is the simple standard of ‘is this plausible and if it isn’t how and where do I introduce earlier elements to make it plausible?’.

It doesn’t have to be real, just plausible. (though there is one plot device where I’m intentionally using actual results to make the point, just changing the names involved)

Is it plausible to swim with a shark? Lot’s of stories and videos abound online of doing so. But to have actually experienced it?

I did.

Twice, in one scuba dive. I talk about it HERE. That Blacktip shark was right there, not even 15 feet away.

My main character in the Distance In Time series, The Chairman, was a competition shooter in his youth. I’ve done that and keep at it every now and then.

The Chairman is a pilot. I’ve flown planes, performed landings, steep turns, aerobatics …

The character’s wife, Michelle, is a computer genius. Am I? No, but I’m familiar with code, with the concept of how it works, the meaning behind the code format. Expert? No. But enough where I can write about it.

I still have to skydive though. Yeah, the Chairman has done that also ­čśÇ

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Part 3. Surprises in writing a science fiction novel

Word Count.

As I got deeper into my concept of the Chairman and his story I noticed that the manuscript would easily go into the six digit word count.

No problem … to me. I read Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising in about 20 hours.

Then I got into studying the publishing business and I discovered The Rule concerning debut authors.

First book = less than 100,000 words (at least for scifi stories).

Hmmmm. Ok.

Some people might immediately see these situations as limitations.

Avoid that. Dwell instead on how this could be an opportunity.

This ‘limitation’ was exactly the thing that gave me the idea for a series.
Suddenly the story opened up much further than I’d originally envisioned.

I’m still writing the series as one continuous outline to maintain my sanity in keeping the details right though lol.

I’m going for 9x,xxx word count in each book.

Easier to work with the system than to fight it ­čśÇ

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Small Arms Firing School 2010

Also known as SAFS.  Held every August at Camp Perry, OH.
Sponsored by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the CMP. CMP SAFS link
(pic gallery and video below)

The Chairman, my main character in the Distance In Time series, earned his Distinguished Rifleman badge (at the age of 19). I added that based on my own experience in the competition, which began with a local NRA Highpower match quickly followed by SAFS.
The Chairman being a DR also factors in later on in the series ­čśÇ

The CMP Highpower rifle program is where you gather the points to earn the Distinguished Rifleman badge. CMP DR Badge LINK

SAFS is a school where a non-DR can gather 4 of the necessary 30 points to earn Distinguished Rifleman.  You just have to place in the top 10%.

I’ll make that even clearer, it is 10%, not a certain score. ┬áThe top non-DR sets the score, from there it’s all those within 10%. ┬áSo if the top guy scores 300/400 then the remaining shooters only┬áneed to shoot 270 or better. If the top guy shoots 399/400 the cutoff rises accordingly.

It is here that I earned my first 4 points toward Distinguished Rifleman.

The CMP National Matches and Excellence-In-Competition matches are similar, just that they’re 500 points.┬á┬áAgain, it’s the top shooters┬áthat earn the DR points, not a certain score┬álevel. ┬áThis way you’re always competing against the group, ┬ánot the scoreboard. There are various requirements that help offset any funny business, such as a minimum number of shooters necessary in order to award points.

It is probably the best thought out scoring system I’ve come across for any form of competition.

In addition a spec rifle is used; Garand, M14 or M16 as outlined in the RULEBOOK.
The M16 format, at least as of 2014, is:
6.2.3 U.S. Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16
The rifle must be an M16A2 or M16A4 rifle issued by the U.S. Armed Forces or a commercial rifle of the same type and caliber. M16 rifles must be chambered for the 5.56 mm cartridge.

It is with this setup in mind that I decided that I wouldn’t simply be a collector of certain firearms but a competitor and I went with a Rock River Arms National Match AR15-A2 rifle:
Barrel: Wilson air gauged stainless steel, 20in, Wylde chamber (.223/5.56), 1/8 twist rate, A2 flash hider, A2 integral front post sight/gas block
Handguard: RRA free float handguard
Trigger: RRA NM 2-stage trigger. Failed in 900 rounds. Now using a Geissele SSA trigger
Front Post: 0.072
Rear sight: NM 1/4×1/4, .030 hooded aperture in fixed upper handle receiver.
Standard A2 pistol grip and A2 buttstock

Another benefit of SAFS is that they provide the rifle, ammo and magazines and you are required to use their rifle and ammo (you could use your own mags though). Everything else: spotting scope, stand, mat, logbook, sling, etc you had to supply yourself.

Not having to bring rifle and ammo actually greatly simplified my flight from Miami, FL to Camp Perry lol.

Here is a Flickr Photo Gallery (click on the photo), and below that, a short video I put together.

 

 

The Blue Vase University

Ah, the Blue Vase University.

Are you a graduate?

What does it mean to graduate from the University?

It is a real thing, though not a real place. It is tangible and brings peace. And just to be clear it is not related to some insurance thing.

Then what is it?

To tell you would be to rob you, to deny you the …….. well, let’s just say that the graduate of the Blue Vase University fully understands why someone would be circumspect to explain, much less to explain it in full detail.

“So, if I’m not a graduate how do I get to be one?”

If some of you readers know the answer, don’t go posting it in the comments ­čśë

For those who are still asking the question just look in the mirror and tell yourself ‘It Shall Be Done.’

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