“About magic,” I type into Google’s search bar.
“Certainly sir,” it seems to reply as it presents a list of subjects it presumes I’m looking for.
- Fun and Easy Card Tricks
- 10 Facts About Magic
- What Does The Bible Say About Magic?
- Deals On Your Next Las Vegas Trip
- Magic: The Gathering
“No, Google. You’re misunderstanding me.”
“Forgive me, sir. Am I?”
“Yes, I was looking for something along the line of essays, thoughts, arguments from hopefully credited sources? Something like that?”
“Certainly sir. My apologies,” it replies again as it reshuffles and refreshes new parameters.
- More Interesting Facts About Magic The Magic Academy of Australia
- The 10 Greatest Movies about Magicians
- MAGIC from UNICEF.org
- Wikipedia says…
“No, Google. You still don’t get it.” I lean on one hand and type lazily with the other.
“What is there not to get, sir?” Google staring blankly at me.
This is where Google sets me straight. Google doesn’t know what I’m looking for. And that’s okay. Ninety-Nine percent of the time, I expect Google to know exactly what I’m thinking and usually, scarily enough, it does. There are times, however, when its Intuition Application v 2.o is on the fritz, and it feels something akin to the honeymoon coming to an abrupt halt.
“The history of the submarine,” I would type researching something.
“SUBWAY was started in 1968… make SUBMARINE sandwiches…” Google would put at the top of the list with the enthusiasm of a slow-news day.
Since reluctantly picking up the mantle of “writer” recently, I discovered that the ways that I have been going about things in the past were actually working against me. No longer could I just glare at a blank page and have stuff magically appear on it. I have to retrain myself to crafting as a plotter… or planner… whatever the opposite of “Pantser” is.
This is especially true for projects that I have very little knowledge of, i.e. every short story or piece of flash fiction that I have wrote and have yet written. Writing a story relying on anecdotal evidence can only take you so far.
For example, I know there are volunteer firemen in the world. But I cannot completely fathom the training and sacrifice it takes to be one. I have no idea what it’s like to walk a mile in their fireproof boots. The biggest problem I have recognized in my writing is that the story seems to begin and end in that one moment in time. The cardinal rule that I never seem to regard is that a story about firemen shouldn’t exist just because we see them putting out fires, the real story exists on the days where there isn’t a fire.
That the everyday life of a volunteer fireman is something that I can only speculate about for so long on paper before it sounds ham-handed and contrived, I consider not knowing a weakness that needs to be strengthened. Hence, the need and newfound respect for researching everything thoroughly.
Researching something real and concrete like the life of a fireman is fairly easy. It’s a subject matter that exists in the real world with real people doing real things, and can be presented in realistic terms and actions. Something that is ethereal and as open to interpretation, like the subject of magic, isn’t so much. I theorize that since magic itself isn’t considered “real” as far as a common search engine goes, it therefore cannot be quantified into things that can be bought and sold.
Then again… maybe I should learn how to refine my searches.
I’m currently fleshing out a short story that’s been in my head for a long time. It’s a story that has to lot to do with root vegetables… no, MAGIC! Magic, that’s what I meant to say.
Since it is a short story, I don’t have to worry that much about chapters and what should be placed where. I will, however, think of it in terms of action, of beats. Whenever I start a story, the action always seems to dictate what the words will be. In a usual three act structure, there’s always room to move around with and explore the action and dialogue. In a short story, there isn’t that much space and your darlings will have to suffer. So, the best place to start is close to the climax of the story.
In this case, the climax a dissertation a college professor give to his colleagues.
I know! Exciting, right?
Calm down, it’s not what you think.
Weird and horrific things happen while the professor is talking, so that means the story revolves around this one scene.
The action in this scenario breaks up what would normally be a very dry monologue. My first inclination would be to stitch together poorly conceived and well-worn clichés a la old comic book banter, or the entire script for “Return of the Jedi”. But, I don’t want that. I want the words to be powerful and meaningful enough to stand on their own, like, ya know, a real speech. If it were a speech about firemen or Subway Sandwiches, then I could throw together something relatively quickly, refining as I go, and sure enough, tah-dah! A perfectly acceptable presentation regarding firemen who eat sandwiches.
But the subject is about magic. Not so easily thrown together.
Perhaps I’m thinking about this all wrong. Perhaps I should thumb my nose at what Google thinks is and is not real, and regard magic as real and as tangible as a street sign or a bowl of potato salad.
I know I’m not alone in this certain type of frustration I’m experiencing, but I’m not sure if this is something that would get easier over time. “Write what you know” is the yardstick that gets wrapped across your knuckles while you’re just a wee thing learning the ropes in novel writing grammar school. Then as you get older and get into novel writing high-school. It becomes the first rule you break. I know I’m stretching an analogy a little too thin at this point, but you get the idea. (by the way, Novel Writing High School? Trademarked! Phhthththththttt!!)
Since magic is indeed open to interpretation and could in fact be anything, I think that what I was looking for from Google, was the most obvious. The world that I create is ultimately a sandbox, and Google can’t tell you how to make it. If there’s one piece of advice that I should absolutely carry with me is this: Never forget to play, to explore, to take chances. In your world that you create, everything is tangible, everything is real, even ideas.