The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

WIP Update: Doing Your Research

Have you tried Scrivener?I picked up my first copy as one of the prizes from winning NaNoWriMo a couple years back and basically ignored it sort of used it. Don't get me wrong--even at that time I thought it was a pretty cool program. If you aren't familiar, Scrivener is a program that helps you lay out your short story, novella, novel, or screenplay in standard format. More than that, it allows you to organize your draft into chapters, offers a space for research information, provides frameworks to create your characters, allows you to write in full-screen mode, and connects right to the internet when you want to find a synonym or search out information on some new clue. It does a whole lotta stuff that you can read about if you click the link above.Anyway, I was working out some things for one of my current projects and began to think about research as I looked at all the options down the left side of my Scrivener window. I spent a couple hours today online, looking up maps and such. I didn't stick the links for them in Scrivener but I have a few photos that I can put in there. The story falls into the literary fiction realm and takes place in Center City Philadelphia. I use some real places and have some that I've created. I mention real streets. I began naming my characters and put them in the "Character" section of Scrivener. All was going along well, and then I ran into a research wall:The two main characters in my story are fictional but are based on real people and it dawned on me that before I get too deep I needed to get their blessing to create this story! I put on the brakes and hopped over to my email. I don't want to give away any spoilers so all I'll say is that I couldn't get in contact with one person and so I reached out to a family member who gave me the go-ahead.Did I mention how much I really want to write this story? Well, I really want to write all my stories but the skeleton of this one has been screaming for flesh for years. Figuratively speaking of course, since this is not one of my speculative fiction masterpieces. Anyway, I wanted to write it so much that I was willing to give it up.In my email message, I asked for thoughts about my idea and said that I would scrap it if it appeared to be inappropriate in any way. I gave assurances that the people were fictionalized and I even shared character names. And rest assured, I'll be emailing for an address to send a copy of the finished (read: published, because it will be) product.The relief I felt with the response I received was immeasurable.I write all this to say that writers must do their research to the utmost. We must honor our subject matter, particularly when it involves people. If your character is based on somebody, get their blessing before you put it out there. You might hit a challenge like someone who is uncomfortable with your story trajectory, but I believe it's more likely that you will get the green light. You might even make someone smile.

Introducing Ibrahim Johannes Naifeh: Countdown to "After"

Scribe's Cave Picture Prompt: Cure-All