Thursday, 5 May 2016

TK or not TK?


Only recently did I become aware of this writing method.

As I understand it, TK is used to notate spots in a manuscript.  The letter combination is not used in English*, so it is stands out with a simple “Find Word” search.  Today, I’m pondering on its use to highlight spots in the text that requires further research.  Apparently there are writers who do not wish to interrupt their flow and will insert something like:  “TK-how far can a horse gallop?  How far can a human on horseback travel in a day?”  Hours, days, weeks later they intend to return to the TK list and do the actual research for the answers.

I think it’s utter drivel.

I will grant that my occasional side jaunts into the forest of research occasionally sees me still skipping down the shady paths much longer than intended.  Such gathering of information can be seductive and distracting.

HOWEVER, it is essential.

One example seals my argument.  In one passage I had the heroes tromping thru the wilderness in early April.  I was about to start a snow storm, but then I paused.  I had to admit I didn’t know the climate-weather particulars of this part of the world.  Where I live, a late snowstorm in April is entirely possible, but a few minutes of research revealed this was not the case where the scene was set.  Rose petals and jelly beans were as likely to fall from the sky as snow in early April.

If I had “TK’ed” the moment and instead pressed on with "my writing flow", I would have wasted HOURS and PAGES describing characters struggling thru a freezing white-out.  A belated TK research would have transformed a “good day’s work” into a “fargin’ waste of time”.  It would all have been scrapped and rewritten.

BUT THERE’S MORE!  That same moment of research also revealed early April in this part of the world can see the beginnings of a rainy season with some real downpours.  I had been fully engaged in “snow or not-snow”.  I hadn’t considered rain.  So, not only did I not waste time with unrealistic snow, I was inspired with a purely fresh notion of the heroes slogging thru muck and water.

Procrastinating with a “TK Moment”  means pissing away valuable creative juice.  From the annoyance of having to re-describe a character’s costume to the horror of watching an entire plot collapse due to a missing horseshoe nail.

Not only does spontaneous research keep my work from foundering and sailing true, but the odds are extremely good for a happy factoid tidbit to enrich the writing.

So, flog your TK notions elsewhere!  I’ll have none of it!

(*Unless, of course, one is a writer and devotee of science fiction.  Then "TK" is often used as an abbreviation for "telekinesis")

No comments: