Write outside your comfort zone

Dr Henry Billingsworth was a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and all-round renaissance man. In the course of his long career, he had held sub-atomic particles in the palm of his hand, excavated lava from the centre of the Earth and invented a whole new mathematical function which supplemented the old-fashioned plus, minus, multiply and divide to create a unheard-of fifth way of doing sums. At present, he was absorbed in his new experiment – observing evolution in fruit flies.
‘Look,’ he said to his assistant, pointing to one of the flies. ‘That one’s evolving. Just round the legs, at the back. Can you see that?’ His assistant nodded and made a note. Billingsworth grabbed the notepad from him. ‘You’ve got to make notes more quickly – look, it just evolved again and you nearly missed it.’
Sometimes Billingsworth thought he should just fire all his assistants and take care of everything himself, but there was simply too much work to be done. After all, if he spent all night in the lab, when would he find time to attend to his personal project, translating the novels of Shakespeare?


  1. This reminds me of one of my pet peeves. I hate it when I have to wade through pages and pages of description of the origin of a virus, when it was discovered, how it mutates, its preferred vectors, how it attaches to human cells, what it does after it attaches...

    Just tell me, "It makes zombies!" and get on with it.

  2. And it's worse when (as Clancy did once) he then tells you in the afterword that those two chapters on making the bomb were deliberately not correct...

  3. Oh, this is one of the things that make me tear my hair out when I read Dan Brown.
    It's not the completely implausible main plots. I mean, for those I can just suspend disbelief. But in his latest he had several people with PhDs in History go on and on about how once everyone believed the world was flat and Columbus had a hard time convincing them otherwise. Seriously? I'm pretty sure even high school students these days know that this is a myth and that even in Ancient Greece they already knew the earth was round.

    1. And the circumnavigation travel was made just because it was fun and exciting and half of the crew died having lots of fun.
      Of course many theorized it was round, but no one was that sure about it. Heck there were people who purposed the idea that the earth spinned around sun way before Galileu and he still had a hard time convincing people of that.
      And what was known in Ancient Greece was discredited by catholic beliefs, don't forget that.

    2. Colombus was trying to prove something: That the world was smaller than everyone knew it to be. He was wrong.

      Hence the "west indies" which are no-where near india.

  4. Yes, Dan Brown is terrible like that! I think his 'research' consists of reading the Wikipedia article, grabbing all the buzz words, and then using them for whatever he *thinks* they mean. I'm a computer tech, and fell over laughing at his book that discusses cryptography - he thought '128 bit encryption' meant 'the password is 128 characters long'. Nooo, not even close. It's referring to the complexity of the mathematical function used to encrypt the data. As he would know if he'd bothered to read up on encryption at all.

    Tom Clancy gets a bit pretentious, but at least he's actually done the research.

  5. i like the title - very compassionate. instead of, like the poisontongued creatures readers can be, saying that the author "didn't do his friggin research" your title shows a conciliating quality, presenting the writers endeavor: a poor soul leaving his zone of comfort only so that we, the readers, may enjoy some form of entertainment (in varying flavours of accuracy). awwwww, that's cute.
    in stead of thousands of hypothetical housewives i want to say "thank you" to all those underappreciated wage-slave-writers.

    oh, the article was nice, too.

  6. you make me want to write entire book series that use your tips and tricks. thousands and thousands of badly written well dialogue, description and pontification!

  7. How eerily prescient of you... D:

    Why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans? And this from a US Senate candidate!