Mermaids versus no mermaids.
If you’ve been around here a while, you probably know that I’m working on a novel about mermaids. At least, that was my plan. Just Trust Me is the prelude to this novel and I started writing it this month.
However… I’m running into some problems. Mainly, mermaids are *2!%!%!%^! hard to write about!
This leads me to question if I should write it on mermaids. The reasons are as follows.
Why I want to write Mermaids:
- Mermaids are awesome.
- I’ve discovered a few twists with mermaids that I’d like to play along with.
- One of the main components of my story is the fact that the mermaids are “rescuing” humans, and the humans are living under the sea as mermaids. I can’t figure out a situation that involves that.
- All of my houses and town arrangements involve a 3D layout of the towns. I’m not sure how to change that (besides making them able to fly.)
- I have heard rumors of mermaids possibly being the next thing after vampires.
Why I don’t want to write mermaids:
- One of my components is the fact that mermaids and humans can produce offspring. I can’t figure out how they could do reconstructive surgery and still keep the private areas in tack enough.
- I can’t figure out how or what they can eat or drink. Particularly eat. And while I’m on that, what about smoking?
- Movement is difficult to describe. Sitting, standing, walking, ect.
- I can’t figure out how to do furniture either.
- Sometimes too unique of an environment throws readers. I’m here to tell a good story, not show how good I am at creating an environment.
So, I have three options.
A) Keep it as it is and figure all this out. After all, I’m a writer. I should be able to.
B) Create an air pocket under the sea, so they generally walk around on two legs, like the Irish mermaids can, add extra buoyancy which not only allows them to have a 3D movement but then they can jump up, and, if desired, they can swim through the water well and rescue humans. Then also, they can eat easier.
C) Create a world that involves flying “mermaids,” so I maintain the 3D movement aspect, make it easier for them to eat, keep the legs, so we have no problem with reproducing, and movement is the best. The problem with this is: what are the humans in this scenario?
Things to remember while writing my first draft:
As I work on my first draft of my mermaid story, I’m find myself having to remind myself about how to write. As this is only my second or third novel, I want it to be just like the novel I already finished. So here is a list of things to remind myself as I write.
- This will not be perfect.
- Write first; edit later.
- Your characters talk to you more while you write than when you plan. So write already.
- Facebook and wordpress are only there to distract you.
- As related to number four, facebook and wordpress do not need to be checked every five minutes. They can live without you.
- Mail doesn’t need to be checked either.
- Facts about how much caffeine a dog can intake doesn’t need to be looked at.
- It’s just ones and zeros. Ones and zeros are cheap and easy to change, so keep writing.
- Your perceptions of how good a section is aren’t reliable. Just because you think it’s boring doesn’t mean that it’s boring. Wait a little bit.
- Sometimes character histories have to change.
- Sometimes it’s best to wait until later to look up a small bit of factual information. After all, the internet will then distract you.
- Be open to change.
That’s all I have at the moment. Do you have anything to add?
I have talked some about reactive writing. In short, reactive writing is where you don’t let things wash over a person, but instead have the character react, or something bad happen, at every possible moment. This takes a lot of work and a lot of skill, but it is effective at writing a really good piece eventually.
Yesterday, I watched an episode of Caprica, which you can find here, The best thing about it is that you don’t really need to know what is going on in the story to see what I mean, except that the holobands (the bands they have around their head, brings people into a virtual word. Zoey, the daughter, is really a computer generated representative of their daughter who has a personality of her own.
What you really need to look at, however, is Clarice’s rule in the story, along with the two guys. Here you find a good example of how many things can go wrong.
- They have a plan. Break in, block transmissions out, cut power. No big deal. In and out in no time.
- They break in. Discover a robot servant. They shoot robot servant but robot servant calls 911.
- They head towards where Greystones are, only to have a security door fall in place.
- They try to bypass the security door, but the genius person is having some problems since it isn’t like he’s ever experienced before.
- They open the security door, only to find another door.
- Guy starts to bypass second door, puts in some kind of explosion and gets his hand caught on fire.
- They get the door open, and capture the people. Finally things are looking up. However, the robot comes back to life and takes a swing at the people. The people run. Plan fails.
Now, as I’m writing this I’m realize there isn’t a lot of reaction on the robbers part, but there is still a lot of reaction or things going wrong.
My sister commented on that with one story I wrote called Miles’ Love. No. It’s not here. I haven’t edited it enough yet because I don’t like it. However, in it Miles gets captured and escapes with his girlfriend. However, nothing bad happens once they escape. They walk a lot, yes, but that’s it. No last minute chase. No need for Miles to shoot someone. Nothing. They just escape and live happily ever after.
Hopefully this helps point you in the direction of how to get a clue about writing reactively. I could give you some more examples from my own writing, both how it works well and when it hasn’t worked out well, but a) a lot of them come from my mermaid novel and b) I don’t want to bore you.
What I consider before writing any story.
I’ll be presenting a workshop on creative writing at my school in about two weeks, so I came up with these things that I always look at before I start writing.
What is the goal of the character?
I don’t say plot because that implies that I know the plot. I’m finding that I typically cannot pinpoint a plot until I finish and I can look at the whole picture. But my character needs an initial goal and a plan.
How does goal and plot differ? In Shad, one of my stories, his goal was to win in the intragalatic race. As such, he worked towards that and kept struggling to make it through the race. However, the plot actually turned out to be Shad trying to break away being a sweeper and establish himself in the real world, something I didn’t even realize until I looked at the finish product and saw that, based on where the story ended, that had to be it.
What is the ending?
I will not start writing a story until I know the ending. Period. Because either a) I’ll never learn the ending or b) it’s not a good story. Either way, I need to have a clue on the ending.
Now, sometimes for me that ending is vague. Like, I know they are going to run the aliens off of earth, but I’m not quite sure how. Sometimes it’s quite concrete, like, the story will end with Kayla comes to the new home and Shad meets her.
Character’s Point of View (POV):
That seems strange. Well, of course I’m going to tell it in the character whose story I thought of. However, when I began to systematically think about the POVs, I realized that sometimes the obvious character isn’t the best.
For example, I’m going to post a story this week where a mermaid (Avi) has to convince her sister (Nessa) to join an underground liberation movement. Instead of writing it from Avi’s POV though, so Avi keeps having to tell Nessa everything that Avi already knows, I wrote it from Nessa’s POV, which ended up making a very interesting story.
This time also makes me realize whether I really need to tell it in one or two or five people’s POVs.
This goes slightly into the POV, but something I sometimes decide later and sometimes I don’t even decide until after I pick up the story. In general, I will write in third person. However, some stories call for first.
(Then you have the annoying stories that you write that you intend for it only to be a short story and so you write it in first person only to have the characters tell you its a novel, but you don’t want to write it in first person the whole way, so you need a new way of presenting the information without rewriting the whole short story/prelude.)
I think this aspect is a fundamental part of any story. However, I have discovered through a long and tumutious road that a personality doesn’t just come usually. If it does, it is usually perfect. As such, I automatically want to have a clue about how this character acts, is she/he shy, determined, stubborn, brave? And what is the character’s weakness?
Where is the story best told?
Generally, this is obvious. However, not always. And sometimes the setting doesn’t make a difference. But it is something to think about.
I should probably mention that I don’t look at tense. Typically, I’ll write in past tense. If I happen to start writing in present, it’s by mere accident but usually because I hear the voices so well that I just write as they tell me. (No, I am not schizophrenic.)
Some random possibilities.
I’m just throwing out some random things that you may find useful when writing.
Excessive yawning can be a symptom of a brain tumor.
A side effect of hypothyroidism in babies is they become very small and mentally retarded. (I’m not sure why I thought that to be of note, but I wrote it down when I heard it.)
When a plant exploded, what happened was that the water erupted from wherever it was stored, flash-vaporized into steam, and then reacted with the metal to cause the whole building to come down.
People with Aspergers have problems with overstimulation.
People’s short term memory lasts about thirty seconds. After that, it goes into the long term memory. We don’t always remember it because some memories become little deer trails in words and others become superhighways, based on how often we’ve accessed the information. But, theoretically, if someone could speed up their short term memory, could they then have a better memory?
Cultural crossovers almost always start with food. And therefore, food is the backbone of cultural diversity.
Calcium is the means by which all muscles in the body contract, from the finger muscles for typing to the heart. So if someone removes all calcium from a body, or inhibits all the calcium, that person dies. (I know, morbid. Sorry.)
To want to write.
Well, I did it.
In spite of three nursing classes, a 6:30 AM clinical and two, small jobs, I have officially finished a rough draft of my story. Yes, it’s just a short story. Yes, it is just a rough draft. But it is something that I have finally finished.
I honestly think it’s a pretty awesome story. I had to change a few things from when I first started. Like, I added a section onto the beginning to more set the scene. And as I wrote, the characters talked to me more, so I learned a lot about their government. (That is particularly of excitement, since the characters are so difficult in talking during the school year.) For example, the king’s children are elected to be the heir, so that way even though the main character, Avda, is the youngest, she may very well be the heir.
I also know I need to develop things a lot more, since I really want to build up Avda’s loyalty of government and all, and her desire to rule.
On a side note, I began to watch Firefly. That is such an awesome show, to be quite honest. But, the very interesting thing is that it made me start thinking about my pirate story again.
If you don’t know what Firefly is about, it’s basically about space pirates who are trying to survive in the world. Now does that make sense why I keep thinking about it? Let me give you an example as to why this helps. In the show, the people are very poor because they have a hard time getting a job. In my story, they’re actually rather rich, just because they aren’t picky. So the whole entire concept of my own story is being questioned by this show.
What makes that very strange is I didn’t want to watch Firefly when it first came out, because the conditions on the ship very closely resemble that of Shad. I figured that the ideas of Firefly would merge into Shad and I didn’t want that. Now… I’m not too sure.
I like that, because it makes my life actually easier. I might actually start writing it again soon.
On a more personal note, if you are reading this post, that means that I have broken 3,000 readers!
You guys also broke the record last month (September) for the most amount of visitors per month which is the second month in the row, and based on the current stats, we’re looking really good for this month too. So thanks ya’ll!
(And yes, I like the word ya’ll. It makes a plural second person, which we don’t have in English.)
To be carried along downstream, or to fight against the rocks, branches, and everything else
I’ve been thinking a lot about reactive writing. See, I read that in general, a story can be made up of three basic crises, and each one with the possible exception of the first one caused by the character reacting to the previous crisis, and thus causing the next one.
Initially, I thought that was ridiculous. You don’t need a few good crises tossed in to make a story. You need complications.
But what is complication?
Allow a momentary side note on my part. I quoted someone who said that your life doesn’t make a good life story. This is true, and I’m going to explain the reason why this relates.
In writing, we can’t just let the problems and complications wash over the hero, and the hero does nothing. That’s why writing a story about my time n school doesn’t work. Yes–things happen. But I don’t react strongly enough to how they react. So I don’t have the money for tuition this semester, well, I’ll take out a loan. So now I get a chance at a special scholarship, well, I’ll submit the papers and see what happens. I don’t decide to cheat on the applications in hopes that no one else will notice, or sneak into the office and steal the other applications.
This is also why journeys don’t work well in writing. In general, a journey has things happen, but they don’t have things that the character can react to happening.
So my new name for this is reactive writing. A story can’t just be about how something happy happened. It has to be how something happened in which a character overreacted and caused even more of a problem.
Unfortunately, I’m not doing so well at this in something I’m writing now, but hopefully with much editing it will come out.
So, how reactive is your writing?
bugs for medicine and other old practices
We all know that we didn’t start with all of our medical advances. Fact is that many of them had to be discovered. What we used now, however, might have actually been used hundreds of years ago.
We’ll start with leeches. Leeches are used now to encourage blood flow, most commonly in a reattached finger. The reason why they use leeches is the leech will inject an anticoagulant (something to keep your blood from clotting) into just that area of your finger, so you don’t get something so systematic. If they don’t use leeches, they’ll probably use a drug called heparin.
As a note, most biting bugs (on Earth) inject an anesthetic, so you can’t feel them, and an anticoagulant, so they can suck your blood better better.
Moving on, we’ll look at maggots. I actually heard of this one from House (the TV show) but I think that it is more widespread than they made it seem.
Maggots like to eat dead tissue, so when they are placed on an area of dead skin, they’ll eat the dead skin and usually kept the healthy skin in tack. A negative side of using them is that I’ve heard you have to stay awake during it, in case they touch or eat a nerve. (Then again, it’d be the same as an angiocardiogram, where they inject dye into your heart to observe if your vessels are clogged or blocked and they must keep you awake in case you have a heart attack.)
So, we’ll move away from bugs now and onto dysentery. Basically, dysentery is diarrhea caused by some kinda of infection, be it bacterial, protozoal or even viral. There was a lot of dysentery during the American Civil War. And what would they use to treat it? Morphine actually.
See, morphine has one very common side effect and that is constipation. Since the Civil War was in the early 1860s, they could do a lot of the things we would do today. (Antibiotics or antiprotozoal as indicated, rehydration, ect.) But they gave morphine and supposedly, they had just as many people addicted to morphine because of dysentery as they had because of wounds.
This last one isn’t as interesting as the rest. But, just in case you need an anaerobic chamber, I’ll tell you. What scientists used to do, if they wanted to get a place without any oxygen, was light a candle and put it in an enclosed container. The candle would use up all the oxygen and so long as their specimen was inside the container before they lit the candle, they created a (mostly) anaerobic container. Pretty smart if you ask me.
So, like I always say, don’t know if you can use these or not for a story. Maybe you were trying to figure out how to get someone an anticoagulant after their ship crashed and ruined all of their medical supplies, although, honestly, I was thinking of these for more fantasy themes. Anyway, hope you learned something interesting today.
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.
Question of the Week
So, I’m actually writing a post this Sunday. It’s amazing.
This question is coming from my recent writing challenge involving this topic.
How do you do research for your story? And how much do you think good research enhances a plot?
Is it via web, books, movies, or… something else I don’t know about?