Dear sister, or, Goodbye to a writing friend
I began writing because of you. Did you know that? Sure, I also wrote because of Star Trek, but real computer writing began because of you. It started when I told you stories at night. Do you remember that? We’d stay up and I’d tell you an ongoing story. If we had to go to sleep, I come up with a cliff hanger quickly. However, telling you stories at night took too long, and we couldn’t record them, so I began to write them down for you. In the car on the way to Springfield on February 14th.
Jennifer Bullinger stared at out the scene before her.
However, I didn’t show them to you then. I showed them to our brother. He liked them and became my first helper in writing. But then again, he was eleven and I was fifteen. Neither of us knew much about writing.
I gave you these books to you for your thirteenth birthday. You still have them too, upstairs on your bookshelf. By the time I finished my first official novel, Hope, our brother didn’t want to read it and I wasn’t sure I wanted him to read it. He had become too logical.
However, in between those four years, you had matured. I began sharing with you ideas for my stories. You helped me tighten and improve plots; in many ways, you became a bouncing board for my ideas. Even though you don’t always say much, you sometimes said enough and sometimes you realized that all I needed to do was talk aloud.
From when you were thirteen to sixteen, you helped me. I’d tell you ideas and you would tell me what you thought. Often, you were one of the first people to hear about a story idea. You were the first one to know why Sagi hates the Yoni. You know all about Shad and my mermaids. You heard my mental discussions about whether to give my mermaids legs or fins. You know a lot about my stories. More than any other reader.
And, whenever we get to share a room still, and I ask if you want to know a plot or two, you get all excited. You want to know them. You want to know them all.
Do you even realize how much you know about me and my writing? You are one of the only people who know I submitted work for publication. Only you, in our family, know about my blog. Only you know that I am considering submitted short stories for self publication. You gave me some serious help with my synopsis.
Often you are one of the first people to read what I write and you would get mad when you weren’t. You have no idea how much help you gave me when you would read it so I could ask you questions. Those times after you read a story helped me more than you could imagine.
You told me that you want a book dedicated after you, as payment for all the help I’ve given you. I agreed then. Jokingly I’d tell you that it would be to, “Elianna, because she thinks that she deserves a book for listening to all my brilliant thoughts when in reality she did so little.”
You know, it hasn’t been the same since the summer though. I don’t think it’s me. I want to share. I almost need someone to share all my ideas with. (I go insane sometimes with all my ideas.) However, you aren’t doing what I really need you to do. You aren’t reading anything.
Since September, I’ve written three short stories. All three of them are pretty good. (It’s not like summer of 2010 when I wrote a bunch of bad short stories.) But you not only have not read them, you haven’t even suggested that you want to read them. Counting those, it now places the number at five stories that you have not read of mine. Five. And yes, I’d like to know what you think, but I can’t force you to read them. I can’t demand that you do anything.
But I can’t discuss things with you if you don’t read then. I don’t think I’m asking too much. Maybe you do like hearing the plots; I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. You aren’t helping me anymore. Not only that, but you don’t want to.
It finally hit this weekend. I just suggested that it is hard because I want to write to more sections of story, but I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. Sure, I have a best friend at school, but she isn’t helpful in that area. I just e-mailed you on Thursday suggesting that it’d be helpful if you read it. When I asked if you saw my e-mail, you responded with, “I saw you were complaining.” Not meanly. Just in your normal voice of, “Yeah. I saw it. But I didn’t really think about it.”
Do you know what you told me then? You basically said that you don’t care about what I write. You don’t care about my stories.
I realize that you’ve grown up. You’re almost eighteen now. Maybe you don’t have time for silly little stories your older sister writes. But I’m going to miss you nonetheless. I’m going to miss telling you all the ideas that come into my head. I’m going to miss getting your help with problems. I’m going to miss having characters that only we know about, like secrets sisters share. Or making Shad into a character on the wii.
Because even if you’ve grown up and you’ve moved on, I haven’t. I’m still writing. I’ll always be writing. Even if you aren’t going to read.
So I’m sorry it came to this. I really hope it wasn’t because I am at college now. But either way, I think I understand. Just so you know.
What to test for DNA?
So, I don’t know how accurate this website is, because it is a giant ad for DNA testing materials. However, it’s fun, so I’m posting it anyway.
This is a chart of all the possible ways to get DNA from someone who doesn’t want to cooperate. I’ll give you a hint. Hero walks into the bad guys office and gets a chance to snag cigarette butts or an envelope he just licked, smoking works for the hero’s advantage here. :D
On that same note, the heroine doesn’t need to try to get semen from the bad guy if the bad guy happens to have a cold.
Three stories, five books and not enough time
I realized today that I have actually started three separate books. I’m stunned. And worse, I don’t know what to write.
- Mermaids: This story revolves around a political turmoil in a mermaid world. Nessa is the youngest daughter of the king but wants to be queen. Under their government, she can be elected as queen. However, it is only through the Adamahs, humans who have been changed to mermaids, that she can do this. In this I have the election, and the result afterwards, and it’s really awesome. :)
- Intentional Accidents: This story revolves around two characters, a pirate and an assassin. They’re stories interweaves into smiliar threads and storylines but I only know about the pirate. She is feeling lonely, hurt and wants off the pirate ship but doesn’t see a way to get off. A police man unknowingly gets on the pirate ship and encourages her to find her own way. The assassin is also tired of her life, wants out, but doesn’t know how to leave. I haven’t dealt with the assassin much, focusing on developing the pirate story, then the assassin, then merging them at the end.
- Mindskill: In mindskill, a doctor develops telepathy as an implant. He implanted his daughter without her knowledge, understanding that soon it would be a necessary skill to survive. He dies though before he can tell her, in an “accident” and she must discover the truth for herself, along with a plot to take over the world and a plan to keep those with this skill safe. This was going to be my shot at writing a trilogy (Which is a huge task, let me tell you.)
I’ve written 36 words of Intentional Accidents (9,455 words), 93 pages of mindskill (25,000) and 61 pages (16,000 words) of mermaids.
Here’s the problem: I like them all. I stopped mindskill because I needed to develop it more. I stopped Intentional Accidents because I needed to skim and I didn’t know how to. (I’m playing around writing the ending scene to that.) And I’m currently writing mermaids (which may not end up being mermaids, which makes me sad, but that is fact.)
I have every intention of finishing all of these. All of them are probably good. But how? I’m mean, seriously, I probably have enough to write about for three years (at least), not to mention that I need to write synopses to send these books out, and I want to write Sagi’s tragedy (short story), and I’d really like to write one of the stories my friend and I write out (novel), and I’d like to edit Hope (or at least make a logical decision whether to toss it), and edit Giant’s Wife and–
*stops for breath*
I just have too many ideas I think. How do I choose?
How do you remember your plots? If you write them down, how often do you reference back to what you wrote?
hiding the whole picture
Writers have one of the most challenging jobs. Why? Because we see the whole picture and we have to keep parts of the picture hidden until we want the reader to know.
Case in point: I’m working on my new story today. (To be Held.) In this story, we have four doctors trapped in a bunker while they are being attacked. One of the doctors are unconscious for most of it, which brings it down to three. From that, I need every single one of these people thinking that the other one is to blame for this attack.
This is really easy. I know who is in the wrong, who knew about the attack, and who knows nothing. The problem is that the reader doesn’t know. The reader doesn’t know what has been going on, each of the person’s history, or why each one would distrust the other one.
Which means that I, as the writer, need to demonstrate this distrust in such a believable fashion, all the while setting it up so when the reader discovers the truth, they can look back and say that they should have seen in coming.
So tell me again why I like writing when it is this complicated?
It’s actually because it is this complicated that I like writing. And it’s when I get the breakthroughs, like one of them has a gun in his/her possession, and why one of them might distrust this rather nice doctor, that I write for.
So now, back to building up the suspicion.
more messing with science–sleep!
I know that I said there might not be a blog post until Saturday/Sunday and already it’s Monday and still no blog post. Well, busy-ness stops tomorrow so there will hopefully be a post later tomorrow, and things can start to get a little more consistent again. However, I’ll post some random fun stuff I learned in physiology for your plotting little heads.
Very interestingly, scientists don’t know why we we need sleep. All they know is that we do need it but why exactly, besides the fact that we are tired, who knows? They do think it might have to do with the immune system and they do know that no sleep leads to death.
While in REM sleep (this is the sleep where you remember your dreams. It is very important sleep.) your brain wave activities looks very similar to when you are awake.
Sleep use to be thought to be a passive process but is now considered an active process due to the fact that they can see electrical activity going from the lower brain centers to the higher brain centers while sleeping. Why might that be important? I don’t know. They have also found that if you damage one of the lower functioning parts of the brain, it causes insomnia.
One more thing not related to sleep but in the same category as brain activity. Memories have not been found to be stored in one area of the brain. They basically seem to be stored all over the place. Why do I bring this up? Because Bob can’t be hit in the head, have slight brain damage, and forget everything because of his brain damage.
So, although that is basically my physiology class in a nutshell, I’ve been trying to keep an ear open to possible things that could be referred back to stories, and this all seemed very valuable information. It’s also my first idea for a post in almost a week. (If you care, stress and a lot of school work due causes me not to think of post topics.)
the “secret” to good characters
I recently read a blog post about how the secrets that a characters keep makes the story much better. I began thinking about it because my first reaction was that none of m characters have any good secrets. However, I found myself proven wrong.
I realized this when I began looking at my arranged marriage plot. In the first plot, the guy looked interesting to write for, because he has the secret of his deformity. The maid would be interesting to write for, because she has her secret love and the possibility of of a child from an earlier marriage. (i’ve been toying with that idea too.) But the girl who marries him at first doesn’t have anything fun because she doesn’t have anything she’s keeping from anyone else.
Which brought me to my second plot, which involved the guy keeping the secret from his family and the girl about his disability and the girl keeping it from him about her love of his brother. (I’m trying to work on a big bang ending for that one, by the way. I think it might be interesting.)
But it isn’t just this new story that I discovered the secret thing about. In Hope, I had the whole secret that the reader didn’t know about who Hope was and who Ka’yam was, which ends up being told in due time.
Giant’s Wife had them both keeping the language from each other, and Heddwyn keeping his past from her, more or less.
Dragon Slayers has an interesting one involve Justin which I shall not tell you yet. (I promise I will edit that soon and post it.)
Kontyo had the secret, although unknown to him, that he couldn’t go back home.
In fact, when I look at it, almost all good plots focus around a bunch of very well crafted secrets while having a bunch of very interesting characters.
However, that isn’t the whole entire part of how to do it properly. The secrets can’t be told all at once in the beginning. The secrets want to be stretched across a series of chapters, preferably the whole length of the book. I don’t think the end of Hope would have been as interesting as it was if I didn’t have the reader find out the Ka’yams real background nor do I think it would have worked if the reader didn’t find out about Hope where the reader did.
Part of it does take skill figuring out where to tell the plot and where not to. Part of I think just will flow out when it should. Sometimes, I find, if it is a really big secret, I’ll have it planned out long before I write the scene. It’s exciting, both to me as a writer and hopefully to the reader.
So, when it comes down to it, the secret of having awesome characters that you want to write for is that they have secrets themselves. Sometimes, you’ll find the characters keep the secrets even from you too.
taking science to the next step
This post, by the way, is in honor of it being student nurses week and the fact that today (when you see it, Not when I wrote it.) is my student nurses convention day.
I was learning recently in one of my classes about the nerve sends messages through the body through action potentials. We got to the part where the action potential gets to the synapse (which is like a gap between two axons (nerve parts)). What basically happens there is the action potentials eventually open up these calcium channels that cause these special chemicals (neurotransmitters) to go across the gap. Once there, they attach to the other nerve axon, and start sending a pre-action potential (graded potential) through the nerves.
The problem with this is that if the neurotransmitter isn’t removed, it’ll keep sending the message about the stimuli constantly to the brain as soon as it can. So it needs a way to be removed and there’s a couple. If you care, they either use an enzyme to break it down, another cell picks it up, or it just drifts away after it sends the message.
NOw that you’ve had your pre-science lesson, the real lesson. Nerve gas causes these neurotransmitters to stay on the axon, and constantly send the message. When they are constantly sending the message, the muscles in the whole body contract. (Yes, this is very painful.) It also paralyses the diaphragm, which means that the person can’t breath.
This might be really morbid, but considering that most writers have to be part crazy already, it’s not too surprising. By taking a basic scientific structure, like the neurotransmitters being stuck to the axon continuously instead of leaving, we have a weapon. If we are to taken something else that should be maintained by the body’s general checks and balances, and throw that out of whack too, then what kind of chaos can we cause for our characters? What kind of chaos can we cause as an evil overlord?
So, two more thoughts that I’ve learned from nursing. (Maybe I’ll get more too eventually.)
IF you need to confuse an elderly character for whatever reason, but don’t want it to be too out of character, give them a bladder infection. Sometimes the only sign that an elderly person has a bladder infection is confusion. (You could also make them dehydrated, because that occurs easily in the elderly.)
If you want to have a tough group of characters, like special mercenaries, you can give them a stomach tube. The idea being that a doctor would basically create an artificial hole from the inside to the outside of the stomach wall. Some of the protections they have for this will allow someone to go into water and everything, without making it obvious. Then, say they are doing something that they can’t eat, but they really probably should be eating, they just stop, pull out a syringe filled with nutrients and such, and inject it into the little tube that leads to their stomach. TAda! This could be classified under the same idea as Jack Bauer goes to the bathroom during the commercial breaks.
the unknown problem of writing in college
Basically, the problem with being in college is it takes a lot of time. I’m currently taking 17 hours, but that manages to add up to thirteen hours of sitting in class plus another nine hours of nursing clinical and two hours of lab for a total of twenty four hours of class room time, Then, I work for about an hour each week, but I’m trying for more just because I don’t want to have to survive on 28 dollars a month and I just finished training for my job, which took up another two hours of my day. And… I keep thinking I’m doing something that I’m missing but I don’t remember what, besides eight hours of sleep a night.
What it comes down to is that I am busy. Busybusybusy. Why does this matter with writing? Because when I’m this busy, I think I just can’t find the plots.
Reason why? See, you know about school’s writing contest that I’ve mentioned before. When I first saw it, I thought about what I would write for that whole first semester. Nothing came besides a few silly ideas. School stopped, I’m free and I get the idea to write short stories so I can get everything out. I come up with my Robin Hood rewrite, my when-to-fight story, my Dragon Slayers story, Kontyo and finish with starting mindskill, plus I think a few others. It was awesome after a month of no plots.
i also started a diet at about this time so I thought that it was the diet letting my mind think some more. Now… now I’m not sure. Because I’m two months into the semester and I’m having a hard time plotting. It’s like all my mental energy is focused on school that I can’t come up with anything to write.
This is, obviously, very bad, because I use writing to relax. If I have no plots, how can I relax while doing something productive (not playing stupid facebook games)?
This whole concept that school zaps my plotting skills is foreign to me. Last year, while at another school, I managed to write a whole novel (Shad) in a matter of months. It was a blast. But now… I’m lucky if I can come up with something to even write about.
Last semester at Thanksgiving break, I was sick the whole time, so I’m hoping now that things will clear up mentally for me over spring break so I can restock my plots. I guess it’s just a side effect of going to college that we never think of.
My other thought is that I’d rather write more of a suspense type book, that’s quick and fast. Writing fights are hard to begin with that the last thing someone wants to read about is some kind of fight I would think every single scene (more or less). So I’m thinking that maybe what I should do is read a suspense book to get a better idea about how to do action. I am about to start a chaotic two weeks (from test 2 in nursing until test 3), so I obviously can’t start that until after those two weeks at least. Then we’ll see how much reading we have at that time to determine if I can or not. I also want to read this book I started earlier this semester but never finished over spring break. Oi, looks like I’ll be busy.
(Oh, and on that love story idea, I LOVE that idea the more I think about it. The stupid plot won’t get out of my head. I am so frustrated, but convince now that he divorces the other girl at her request and marries someone else.)
where do plots come from?
I only remember snapshots of those months. That is normal. Most of the time while writing a story, time just passes me by until there’s a click of realization. The clicks I remember clearly, because it’s like I realize two pieces of a puzzle that don’t appear remotely similar can be linked with just one little piece. Those are the moments that make writing exciting. However, the everyday moments of putting words on paper–words that are sometimes cut out completely later on–isn’t usually remembered.–(From Flashes of Imagination)
I commonly see this question answered by authors on their websites. In many ways, it is a very good question. Where do the plots come from?
In some ways, they seem to pop out of thin air. I tell my mom it’s like a bouncy ball is in my head and it is always bouncing around. Sometimes it’s like this ball hits the right spot and–boom!–I have a plot. Or at least, the beginning of a plot.
Because unlike what I would like to happen, a plot isn’t something that just appears out of thin air. It takes time to develop.
Let’s take Shad for example, which I know that no one has read but I know how it developed more. When I first thought about the plot, I had a piece of wood with a string on it that I was playing around with. I twisted the string around the nails and made a ship. Then, I started thinking about this person, who worked on a place like in Titan AE, so it’s like a recycling plant, who wants to be a mail runner and how he becomes it. Since that didn’t really interest me, the concept did more, I wrote it in my notebook and stowed it away.
Fast forward quite some time and I’m sweeping the dining room floor. I start having a conversation between the characters in my head. Out of that conversation comes the concept of Shad thinking himself as the best pilot and also the concept of sweeper ships.
Fast forward again a few more months and I decide it’s time to pull out my notebook and start writing down details of the story. I write down how they get food, how they get supplies. What they wear. How they act. Everything. I create for myself a society. I also get excited and write a few scenes.
However, I didn’t actually write anything for Shad until a year later, Maybe that is why it came out so well. During this time I was editing another story (Hope) which I wanted to finish before I started a new one. Two weeks before I started at a tech school, I told my mom that I really want to write this and I think I should, because otherwise it might just disappear. She said why not? I ended up writing Shad within three months, from August to Thanksgiving.
Now, between that time obviously I had to figure out things like who Shad’s parents were and where he came from and things like that. I don’t remember how I figured out the ending. I don’t remember how I realized the captain’s background (a rather nice little piece.) I don’t even remember why I decided that Shad needed a pet, except that I wanted a way to show that he wasn’t just some random tough guy.
Ironically, I usually can’t tell you want my plot is until I finish a story. For Shad, I thought it was his race. When I finished though I realized what it really was: Shad finding his place in the civilized galaxy.
The bottom line is that plots take time to develop. Plots usually have more than one issue involved in them. It’s almost like an onion, with the many layers that all comes down to it. But where do they come from? Thin air I think. Random ideas and thoughts connected in such a way that most people can’t even see them. They just pop in and then I knew how to exactly write something interesting.
So, does anyone else know?