Archive | June 2010

Growing DNA

This is going to sound really futuristic and awesome, but it isn’t. It’s actually being done right now, the idea of growing DNA.

Say, I kidnap someone. And me, being a stupid criminal, sends the family a ransom note and I lick the envelope. They can take that envelope, find just one little cell off of that envelope and use it to find me through the DNA.

Now, in reality, they cannot take that one single cell and analyze the DNA to find me. They need more than one cell, because, really, DNA is small.

So what scientists can do is toss the cell (maybe the DNA. I’m not sure now.) in a test tube, toss in the building blocks of DNA–the sugar and phosphates (backbones of DNA), and the  adenine, cytosine, guanine  and thymine–and toss in a DNA polymase so it can separate the DNA and let it sit for a day or so.

Once all this sits for a bit, we’ll have a lot of DNA that we can then analyze and find the kidnapper.

Now this can technically be used for a lot of other things that requires more than one cell of DNA. I just heard this in class and kept thinking to myself: Now, how can I use this in a story?

AS a note, this is called PCR.

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Editing is Everyone’s Scourge

Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. William Strunk, Jr. Elements of Style


The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
Mark Twain

Places to Plot

I have often lamented the fact that I am having difficulty plotting, and the higher my stress level, the less I can plot.

That isn’t to say that there are some places that I can plot very well in and as such, I will share them with you because maybe you’ll be able to use some of them.

1) My dad’s green chair. My dad has this giant, green chair that is in the TV room of our house, and, especially on lazy days, I can sit in that and daydream easily.

2) My Bed. Weird, I know, but sometimes I get the best plots early in the morning, when I still have a chance to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or while my sister is reading before bed and I can’t fall asleep because the light is on.  This is perhaps the best times for me actually.

3) On walks. Recently, I’ve taken to walking to school, because all I need to bring is my computer and a lab book. And these quite, random walks are sometimes the best to plot on. (I actually figured out to write this blog post on one of those walks.) Walks are sometimes the best, because usually you can talk to yourself  aloud while walking and no one can hear you well enough to think you’re crazy.

4) Staging a conversation: I will start off random conversations in my head, and let them go from there. I got much of my idea for Shad from this and Samuel Brackborn based on a line I kept saying to myself.

5) Any quiet place: I suppose this is a catch all, but it is the truth as well. Many of these places I listed work best when it is quiet. It is also why places like swings, trampolines, around the creek, ect, work out well for me. Sometimes, things like malls might work, but not often.

So,  maybe this’ll help you too if you are struggling for something to write because of your lack of plots.

Plotting Details

This week’s question might be a little harder/longer to answer, since I don’t think there is just once answer, but it might also be very interesting. I see this more as an observation of interesting differences.

How do you get a plot?

Whether it be the whole, book arcing plot or minor details, how do they come to you?

Quick Facts About Abdominal Trauma

Just in case your character is ever in a fight, which mine are always in.

Abdominal trauma is split into two types: blunt and penetrating. Blunt trauma can include, falls, aggravated assaults, contact sports. Penetrating abdominal trauma is caused by gunshot wounds, stabbing or impalement with an object.

The liver is the most commonly inured organ in both types of trauma.

The spleen is the most commonly injured organ in blunt trauma.

Most penetrating injures are caused by gunshot wounds.

assassins and hitmen

So, for my hopefully next novel, I have a character who is an assassin/hitman. Basically, you pay her and she’ll kill someone for you.  Problem is that I’m a white, middle class, average American who has never gotten in trouble, let alone been in jail. (No, never. That’s not a boast. Just–don’t talk to those two cars I’ve annoyed these past two days. I’ve been a bad driver. :) ) So the problem that I”m having is how do I figure out how to get inside the mind of such a person enough to write about them. (She’s the main character; did I say that?)

So, I’ve been trying to do some research and I’ve been getting very little. I have gotten a few things and, because I kinda like when everything is together, I’ll explain what I have.

Supposedly, this book, HIt Man, is “a technical manual” to help with the killing. They have been sued in the past for giving someone the ability to kill  a person and you can read all about it in the book. That book is free and online.

Another two books that are suppose to be good are The Anatomy of a Motive and How to Kill. i don’t think that “How to Kill” will work with what I want since it appears to deal more with case studies of past murders and attempted murders, but I have high hopes for “Anatomy of a Motive” if I can ever get it out of  the library.

Lastly,  I found an interview with a hitman that gave me some ideas about how to look at it. But I forgot what at the moment. :)

Interestingly, my brother, who is rather a gun nerd so I figured he would be a good person to ask, recommended some movies to watch to get the idea. Normally, I’d dismiss fiction, but since, as he explained it, there is so little out there concerning assassins and the like, it might not be a bad way to go.

So anyway, that’s what I learned about assassin and hitmen thus far.

when drawing opens doors

I haven’t had any plots in forever. Nothing good. I blame school, because in  all honest, school sucks my plotting skills dry. So even though I want to write and plot and all, I have nothing and therefore, nothing gets written.

So, slightly off topic, I’ve been thinking about how to make a knitted mermaid today. And because it seemed like fun, I decided to draw a mermaid. Picture came out awesome, except that everyone thinks she is in the net when she is really rescuing the fish from the net.

And for some reason, this is opening up all sorts of plots. She told me so much of her culture.  Things like, the reason why no human has ever seen a mermaid, not really, is because they wipe the memory of anyone who sees them. And they would be mammals, which is kinda a duh, but isn’t. And they have these elite group that frees fish, because obviously they would have domestic fish just like we have domestic animals. Maybe something with them doing genetic splicing to allow people who humans thought drowned to live as merpeople under the water, so they still live, but they’re second-class citizens to the real merpeople. And all sorts of things.

Problem is, this sounds like a really awesome world to play around in, but I don’t want to write a mermaid story. I want to write my assassin story.   I want my assassin to talk to me.

So maybe, like my sister’s been pestering me to do, I should draw her picture. But I don’t have anything to draw for her because I know nothing about her. Absolutely nothing, except that her brother is about nine years older than her, her parents died when she was 10, and she’s lived on a pirate ship ever since. But maybe then, she’ll talk to me.

Hope to the Young Writer

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
William Faulkner

The Benefits of Not Writing Often

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the Benefits of Writing Often. However, there is the flip side to that and that is the benefits of not writing often. So here are a few .

1.) You can better refine your plots. If you’re constantly writing and never thinking, well, things aren’t going to work out as well unless you take breaks to think about where you are going, and if what you are doing actually works.

2.) It gives you perspective. As always, something that seems  brilliant now may not seem so brilliant later. With breaks, you can filter the brilliant versus the dull.

3.) All you’re turning out is trash anyway. Another really good reason to take a break is you don’t have anything good coming out as it is. Sometimes, editing trash is harder than writing from scratch. (And this reason why you are writing trash can be anything from your dog just died to you got five hours of sleep last night.)

Just a few thoughts as a reminder that we don’t always have to write nearly as often as everyone says you should. (Now for me, after not writing for almost a month here, I really do want to write. I just… can’t. *sigh*)

Parents in Your Writing?

This is really a question of the week, but I’m changing things up (again).

Anyway, with it being Father’s Day in America, (A day meant to celebrate fathers, for anyone non-American who didn’t know.) it made sense to ask this question this week.

How Do you Portray Parents in Your Stories and How Does This Compare with  Your LIfe?