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Animals for Nonfiction Enthusiasts

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Animals for Nonfiction Enthusiasts

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  • #142328
    Andrew Schmidt
    @andrew

    Hi there, writerly folks. I have not visited Story Embers in ages; nevertheless, I have devised a topic to reconnect with you awesome people! I like fiction (in fact, I am writing a fictional “novella-ish” story as I speak, er, write). But I also love nonfiction, am taking a writing coarse, and have written a couple nonfiction articles on animals, namely Indiana Songbirds and Oceanic Masterminds. In other words, animal nonfiction. I particularly enjoy this genre. However, on a more specific and detailed level, I like nonfiction on songbird wildlife and aquarium ornamental goldfish and koi the best. In fact, I plan on beginning a goldfish retail store, of all kinds and varieties, in the future – but keep in mind, this is just an idea, and I will have to test this idea for reassurance that this idea rings true.

    So, if you are repulsed at the idea of writing nonfiction for “fun” and instead write exclusively fiction, you can just ignore this thread. But on the other hand, if you are a nonfiction enthusiasts (and also have a liking for animals), welcome to the thread!

    In this thread, I would like to discuss in detail about your experiences in writing nonfiction on animals (or not animals at all) and/or simply animals and wildlife. I would love to have a chat with any writer who shares these interests and passions, or even is just mildly interested. Thank you!

    – Andrew J. Schmidt

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    #142329
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    Interesting! What led to your interest in birds and fish, specifically? If there was a particular starting point?

    I’m not a big animal person, myself—my non-fiction consumption tends to lean toward theology, literature, worldview, and any combination thereof—but my next big project is a non-fiction book on worldbuilding. 🙂

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142332
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @andrew – This is one of the most admirable threads I’ve ever seen on this forum. You have my respect. Yes–I have heard of people in the writing community giving non-fiction a hard time. I am not one of those people.

    Though I’m sure my love of animals doesn’t compare with yours, I also have a high respect for you in that as well.

    As for my love of non-fiction, not only do I enjoy it immensely, I’m basing my writing career off non-fiction as a non-fiction book writer, newsletter writer/blog writer, and probably other kinds of non-fiction that I’m not thinking of.

    Also, the publishing company I’m working with will hopefully be publishing non-fiction in the near future… so, I’m sure I’ll get to come into contact with lots of awesome non-fiction then–and a lot of it that I didn’t write myself.

    SO! What’s the course you’re taking?

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by Buddy J..

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #142334
    Andrew Schmidt
    @andrew

    @r-m-archer

    I have just always been fascinated with animals, ever since I was kid. I’m not sure why, but the fact that I lived in the country probably helped, where I have access to nature 24 hours a day. I currently have two tropical aquariums, one with platies and Corydoras catfish and another with guppies, a golden mystery snail, and a sunset honey gourami, both with live plants and decor. They’re a lot of work, but so far its been more than half a year (for most of the fish) and all are still going strong. I experienced a couple fish deaths, but the majority of them have survived… I mean, thrived. But I had an obsession with goldfish, particularly black moors and red-capped oranda fancy goldfish, but they’re messy fish requiring large aquariums, like in 20 gallons per one fish because of the amount of ammonia produced. I don’t have the room for that, but seeing as I just turned eighteen yesterday, I could be out of the house in the next five years and then maybe I’d give goldfish a shot in my apartment or house… or I’d just turn the hobby into a career path and make a retail store specifically for cold water fish, and a diverse array of goldfish (and possibly koi, but they require a much larger setup) would be presented.

    As far as my passion in birdwatching is concerned, what sparked my interest in them was… well, I set up a birdfeeder. Then after a few weeks in winter, BOOM! I got an amazing diversity of songbirds, from northern cardinals and blue jays and many more. In early spring we had red-winged blackbirds and house finches and more, then in summer we had goldfinches, and then I set up a hummingbird feeder and now ruby-throated hummingbirds have occasionally visited. This is all very enjoyable and has sparked this interest in me. After this, I began purchasing nonfiction books on ornithology and birds and glossing over the beautiful display pictures and reading through the text. So yeah, that’s what got me interested.

    Theology, literature, and worldview seems like a great topic! I’m curious, what kind of literature do you discuss in your writing? Is it literature from the Romantic Age, or a combination of many different kinds from the past?


    @wordsmith

    Hey there, that seems like an awesome career! What kind of nonfiction is your favorite subject to write?

    I am taking a writing coarse for The Writer’s Institute for Children’s Literature. I really like it. It is very flexible and allows for a creative schedule. Also, the instructor, as well as being very encouraging, also gives excellent feedback on my writing.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    #142336
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    That makes sense! It’s cool that your fish are doing so well; keeping things alive isn’t always the easiest task, lol.

    That’s super cool about the birds! I can’t remember the last time I put out a bird feeder, but we have a few varieties of birds around my house. Mourning doves, robins, and starlings are the most common here, I think, but we also get the occasional cardinal or bluejay. I wonder if you might enjoy the book Flights of Fancy by Peter Tate? It’s about the myths and legends associated with various types of birds, so not as factual but certainly interesting (at least imo).

    I haven’t actually read a whole lot about specific eras of literature; I more often read about specific authors (Tolkien and Lewis are particular favorites) or about the influence of worldview on literature in general, throughout the ages. I think the majority of what I’ve read on specific eras of literature has been about literature from the Classical Era (Ancient Greece, particularly) or from the 19th and 20th centuries. I am also curious to learn more about Medieval literature at some point, though.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142337
    calidris
    @calidris

    @andrew I haven’t written any nonfiction, at least not apart from school work.  I did once write an essay on the effects of lead bullets on the environment, which featured the California Condor’s survival story.  I’m quite happy with how it turned out!  I think I like to read nonfiction more than I like to write it.

    That’s so cool that you like bird watching!  I’m a birdwatcher as well, and I don’t often meet other people who share an interest in birds.  Do you have a favorite species or type of bird?

    *laughs as one fey*

    #142342
    Andrew Schmidt
    @andrew

    @r-m-watcher

    I think Flights of Fancy sounds very interesting. I have never heard of a book that discussed such a specific topic, which makes me want to read it. I’ll have to look it up in the next couple days or less.

    Classical Greece sounds very ancient but definitely very cool, and I don’t know much about it. Are there any really cool myths or legends you have stumbled across as you researched this era of literature or no?


    @calidris

    This sounds like a very interesting essay you wrote. California condors are really strange birds, but they’re also really cool.

    If I had to pick a favorite bird of all time, I can’t think of one off the top of my because there are so many. On the other hand, if you are talking about backyard songbirds, then I would definitely say the northern cardinal is my favorite. It is funny though, because it is this particular bird that is more responsible than any other bird for drawing people into the birdwatching hobby. For one of my writing assignments, I wrote an article on the northern cardinal and different color variations, from the rare genetic mutation of the completely yellow cardinal (I’m not making this up) to albino and partial albino cardinals, to northern cardinals (believe me or not) that are literally half red and half brown, or half male and female. This is a case of a bilateral gynandromorph cardinal, but it is an extremely rare genetic mutation. You should google it.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    #142344
    calidris
    @calidris

    @andrew Cardinals are so beautiful!  Unfortunately, they don’t live in my area, so I’ve never seen one in person.  Your article sounds really interesting!  I wasn’t aware that cardinals could be yellow.  I’ve never heard of a bilateral gynandromorph cardinal, but I did read an article about a grosbeak (I believe it was a rose-breasted) with the same mutation.  It was a very beautiful bird, but I felt sorry for it because it could have a difficult time finding a mate.  As for my favorite bird, right now I think it’s the Turkey Vulture.  Vultures are very fascinating to me, and I think it’s sad how stigmatized they are becasue of their association with death and carrion.  It makes me really happy whenever I get to see them in the wild, especially when I see them soaring on the thermals.  Ravens (really just corvids in general) are also very fascinating to me.  We have some where we live, so we sometimes get to see them on our property 🙂

    *laughs as one fey*

    #142348
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @andrew I hope you enjoy it!

    Atlantis is a fascinating one. I’m actually currently reading a couple of Plato’s dialogues to learn more about it and see how it compares with Tyre as described in Ezekiel 26-29. Lining up mythology with its historical inspiration, where such inspiration exists, is something I find really fun, so I’m curious to see if Tyre could have inspired Atlantis. The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is another interesting one. Icarus, King Midas, Theseus and the Minotaur, Hades and Persephone… There’s a list. XD

    For one of my writing assignments, I wrote an article on the northern cardinal and different color variations, from the rare genetic mutation of the completely yellow cardinal (I’m not making this up) to albino and partial albino cardinals, to northern cardinals (believe me or not) that are literally half red and half brown, or half male and female. This is a case of a bilateral gynandromorph cardinal, but it is an extremely rare genetic mutation.

    Woah. That sounds really interesting!

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142362
    Andrew Schmidt
    @andrew

    @calidris

    Thanks. Yes, yellow cardinals are cool, but from research, someone has noted there is “less-than-one-in-a-million chance” of seeing one, but when one is recorded, I hear news goes crazy about them in the birding community.

    Rose-breasted grosbeaks are about just as cool as northern cardinals, but I have only seen one once in my lifetime at the feeder on a crisp new morning. I’ve seen Baltimore orioles too, but they are rare visitors to the birdfeeder that I currently have, as are red-headed woodpeckers and cedar waxwings, but we have a lot of other woodpeckers that visit (or well, have visited. They haven’t visited quite so much this time of year.) Currently, the birds that visit our feeders the most are black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, goldfinches (in their winter morph, which I suspect they molted at the beginning of September), and nuthatches. Cardinals usually visit really early in the morning or late in the evening, but it is gradually getting colder, and therefore we will likely have a lot more birds soon, and therefore more cardinals. The robins and mourning doves are beginning to make more frequent visits, and I heard a blue jay was spotted by one my siblings just the other day.

    We don’t get ravens all that much around here, but occasionally I might see one when I am driving away or to home – or maybe those are just crows. But we do get red-winged blackbirds (early in the season), plus starlings and maybe grackles, but I’m not sure if they’re just another blackbird species. Early in the season and in winter, we also get a lot of house sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, and brown-headed cowbirds (one of the few birds I don’t like, because of their parasitic and ruthless nature; I think they showed up last time in late winter and early spring). Winter around the feeders is a time of great opportunity to observe more kinds of birds than any other time in the year.

    Just a couple days ago I saw vultures soaring around our house and I found myself admiring their grace in the air. We also occasionally have geese flock over our hour, like really early in the morning and honking loudly. I don’t usually see American kestrels that often, but I have and know they are native to where I live. Once when I went camping with my dad and brother, we decided to go kayaking in the lake. Afloat in still water shrouded with lily pads and little fish darting around, swam majestic white swans. We got rather close to them, but not too close… swans can be very dangerous waterfowl if provoked.


    @r-m-archer

    Mythology is really cool to study, but I have not taken a look at it in a while. I hope you have fun writing that book of yours. A couple years ago, I remember reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and loving it. He is absolutely the best at combining mythology, action, character, and theme together to create an enriching and very hilarious story for younger readers. Have you read his books?

    Also, thanks on the complement.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    #142365
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @andrew We’ve had redheaded woodpeckers around here on occasion. One flew into our large dining room window once while I was standing at it, so that was memorable.

    Thanks! Yes, I’ve read the first Percy Jackson series. That’s actually part of what first ignited my interest in mythology. I started the second series a couple of years later but didn’t enjoy it as much and didn’t even finish the first book. His Kane Chronicles trilogy is also good, though! It focuses on Egyptian mythology. His Magnus Chase series focuses on Norse mythology, but I found it rather so-so. He’s also begun collaborating with other authors to publish books about other mythologies—he has a publishing line called “Riordan Presents”—but I haven’t had the opportunity to look into any of those.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142366
    Andrew Schmidt
    @andrew

    @r-m-archer

    Well, that’s cool how much you like mythology. I used to write random stories on a lot of different genres (when I was younger and it appeared as though I had hours to write every day) and I would make up the craziest monsters for a “mythological tale” but the majority of the stories I started but didn’t finish. I was like twelve then, and since my writing has significantly improved. Have you ever created mythological creatures for inspiration?

    Wow, a red-headed woodpecker flew into your dining room window… Just for clarity, was the window open… or did you mean it flew blindly into your window and stunned itself?

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    #142368
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @andrew

    (when I was younger and it appeared as though I had hours to write every day)

    LOL. Understandable.

    Yeah, writing tends to improve a lot after 12-ish. XD Have you finished any of your newer projects?

    I haven’t created a lot of mythological creatures; most of the creatures I create actually exist in their worlds, though a couple of them have been exaggerated into legend in some places. None of them have been mythicized long enough to become official myth in their worlds. But I’ve used creatures from real-world mythology as inspiration for some of the creatures in my worlds. Phoenixes are a particular favorite of mine.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142375
    Andrew Schmidt
    @andrew

    @r-m-archer

    It is doubtless that phoenixes rank as high as dragons on the popularity scale. They are very elegant and majestic, but fierce and aggressive to an extent that I cannot help but admire them… but that’s just me. Other people may have slightly different opinions regarding this mythological creature.

    I have finished some short fiction story projects this year, plus a few nonfiction articles and free verse poetry… but now, I am writing a novella. Because I want to, because it is fun. Like mentioned above, this is a fictional novella, but I am gleaning realistic information from nonfiction books that can be used in the novella. The novella showcases a world of talking birds, but these birds do not behave as humans do.

    However, the villain, a manipulative and cunning leader of a land far away, likes to stay in control and thus she has enforced specific laws that must be followed, what birds in other regions may deem to be civilized and unbirdlike, tame and not wild like nature intended. I have the plot devised, have established the central theme, and now I am currently writing it. It is a little wordy now, because I did not edit it, but I like to write and get the whole story down before executing the polishing and editing of the novella.

    It is like an adventure, a realm where I can slip away from reality and immerse myself in a world of danger and adventure, and where I can exercise my imagination. Despite this, I am very practical and in touch with reality.

    Random Stranger: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
    Me: "Write every inch of your future."

    #142385
    calidris
    @calidris

    @andrew yeah, I don’t care for brown-headed cowbirds either.  I feel conflicted about them, because they do have to survive, but I wish that they could do so without hurting other birds.  I feel similarly about house sparrows – they’re so cute and familiar, but they are an invasive species, and they can be quite vicious towards other more threatened species 🙁

    Swans are cool, but they can definitely be scary.  I don’t blame them!  Geese can be pretty bad as well, but I’ve heard that swans are way worse.  I thankfully haven’t had bad experiences with either type of bird!

    *laughs as one fey*

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