Math and Science Week! (for my fellow ‘nerds’)
Brain injury can result from various things:
- head trauma from car accidents
- stroke (when an artery in the brain ruptures)
- anoxia (loss of oxygen supply to brain)
- poisoning (binge drinking)
A coma is when a patient cannot be roused. The body continues to exhibit reactions however. For example, in coma patients, reflexes such as gagging and pupil contraction retain present. This means that atleast the unconscious circuitry in the brain is working.
A coma can lead to 4 things
- Fast Recovery: exactly what it sounds like, the patient is conscious once more
- Vegetative State: there is no responsiveness, although the patient can now exhibit complex reflexes such as yawning and eye movements. The patient might even smile, cry or frown with no obvious cause. Neurologists consider this behavior reflexive, as the spinal cord may generate involuntary movements
- Locked In Syndrome: a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes
- Brain death: total absence of brain stem reflexes. There is a flat EEG line and the patient can’t breathe. Neurons start to degenerate quickly and melt away. Currently this step is irreversible. Most countries identify brain death with death.
A vegetative step can lead to two things
- Minimally conscious state: characterized by some evidence of awareness of self and/or the environment. During some periods they can maintain control of their actions. They can respond to a verbal order and follow a mirror with their eye. Their behavior can be variable. Some days they will show signs of being aware and others days not at all.
- Permanent Vegetative State: implies lack of recovery and a prolonged vegetative state. In rare cases there will be conscious but uncommunicating patients. See below.
SOURCE: Consciousness & The Brain by Stanislas Dehaene
- If your characters can say something with a gesture, have them.
- If your characters must say something with words, have them.
- Write dialogue so that who says what is not as important as what is being said. Characters are just vessels and vehicles anyway.
- Interject descriptions of action, reaction, attention, indifference, pause, and encouragement to show the rhythm of the dialogue.
- Have characters interrupt each other.
- Have characters talk over each other.
- Have characters repeat themselves.
- Have characters stammer.
- Have characters lose their trains of thought.
- Have characters repeat themselves.
- Have characters struggle with silence.
- Have characters ask questions that have been answered. Just because readers pay attention does not characters do.
Take away something at the beginning. I saw a comic on Tumblr a long time ago about a woman who discovered she wasn’t real. The comic was short and it was just her inner thoughts. Just a few panels of her inner thoughts were able to make the reader sympathetic because something so integral to her was taken away and now her identity is shattered while everyone around her has something that she doesn’t. Do that to your character. Take something away from them that makes the reader feel bad for them.
It can be difficult to do this with everyday situations unless you show what it was like before that something was taken away. You can show your character in “the everyday world” at the beginning of the story and the inciting incident can happen right away. A common theme that makes readers care for a character is loneliness.
Give them something at the beginning. Or you can do the opposite. Show your character in a situation that makes the reader pity them and then fix it in a way that makes the reader feel happy for them. Again, a common theme for these situations is loneliness. The lonely rejected kid on the playground who is approached by another reject kid is a familiar scene that achieves this.
Introduce an antagonist. If you introduce an antagonist that the reader ends up hating right away, they’ll be more inclined to side with the protagonist.
Make them relatable. It’s quite difficult to make a character that almost anyone can relate to, but you can make a character a good chunk of people relate to from the very beginning. Think about the age of your character and relatable problems that surround that age. For example, identity, individuality, and relationships are important to teenagers. Introducing a character dealing with one of those issues from the very beginning can draw readers within that age group into the story.
Torture your character. Put them in a physically and/or emotionally painful situation at the beginning of the story. The trick is to make the scene honest and genuine enough that the reader wants this character to come out victorious.
All writing advice is subjective, but there are some mistakes in writing that WILL ensure your novel’s failure, not only to your readers but to those who might be your potential agent or publisher. I’ve never really come across these mistakes when I used to review short stories for my literary magazine (I might have, I just don’t remember), but as a self-employed editor, I most certainly have come across them—and have made one or two myself.
- Happy Beginnings. Many first chapters must start out with some sort of tension. In the first two books of The Stars Trilogy, they start out with heavy tension. Amelia from When Stars Die is terrified of the impending trials that will determine her readiness to be professed as a nun, and she is also seeing shadows no one else sees. That is when this book begins. In the sequel, Alice is slated to be executed for being a witch. In the most recent book I’m writing, the chapter starts out with my teen protagonist trying to get drunk: he is a recovering alcoholic, too. These are not happy beginnings. You don’t want your story to start out with your protagonist having a perfect life. Something that essentially upsets your character must occur.
- Fearless Story. Something needs to threaten the character throughout the book, whether this is the threat of death, the threat of psychologically coming undone, the threat of losing things the character love, and so on and so forth. A story without fear is not a story at all. Throughout When Stars Die, Amelia’s primary threat is the threat of death: her death and her younger brother’s death. Think about your favorite books and what threatened the characters in these books the most.
- Loaded Dialogue. In real life dialogue is loaded, but readers want to read a more concise version of that dialogue. I didn’t have too many issues with loaded dialogue in When Stars Die, but I did in its sequel. Let me give you a few examples of loaded dialogue, and then how to fix that dialogue.
“Gene, can’t you stop drinking just for one freaking night?”
“No, Josh. You just don’t understand me. You don’t understand what this does for me.’
“I might not understand, but I do know this isn’t the best way to deal with your problems.”
“Then obviously you’ve never had problems before.”
“Obviously you can’t handle your own problems!”
Here is a more concise version:
Josh glares at the shot glass. “Shit. Just stop already.”
“Give me a reason.”
“Do you really need one?”
I look beyond Josh, swirling the vodka. ”Your life’s perfect.”
Josh digs his nails into the palms of his hands, the knuckles whitening. “Screw you, Gene. Screw you.”
- Predictability. Sometimes there are some very astute readers who can already tell what is going to happen. For example, I am an astute reader. I already knew who the culprit was in Cheryl Rainfield’s Stained, but that didn’t make the book any less enjoyable. I also had one reader who adored When Stars Die, even though some of the twists were not twists for her; however, many other readers of mine did not see the twists coming. These twists keep your book from being predictable. Knowing what’s coming can kill the tension.
If you’re struggling with making something unexpected happen, come up with a list of outcomes that could occur in certain situations. Concentrate on description, dialogue, and action. Write what could occur with your description. With Amelia’s character, she often describes things rather negatively because of her surroundings, so when she comes across something positive, the surprise lies in the negative she is still going to find. You can create a twist using your dialogue to shock the other character. Refer to my dialogue example above. Josh is put off by Gene’s ambivalent attitude about his drinking problem. As for action, there needs to be unexpected outcomes that occur. For example, in When Stars Die, you think Amelia is supposed to kill a certain antagonist, but she’s not the one who does it.
- Ambivalence. You love the book when you draft; however, when you begin to revise it, you hold a certain amount of ambivalence toward it. You already wrote the book, so you lose your excitement because you think nothing new can happen. But a lot of new things can happen. Delve deeper into your characters. Flesh them out. Find better ways to tell your story. Look at all characters, including your antagonists, and see how you can make them better. Look at sub-plots and find ways to make them stronger. Revisions are essentially about cutting the fat, about making the book much better than its draft, about trying to make the second draft different from the first. I love the process of revisions, because I already know what revising a draft means.
Message me with any questions or comments. Next post will be on writing a novel without an outline, which is crazy, because I can’t do this. This post will be for those who absolutely do not want to outline, even if they are stuck on their stories.
Ohh, “Loaded Dialogue” is a thing I’ve had issues with (in my writing & in what I read) for years without having a term for it. Thanks!
- Absent-minded - Preoccupied to the extent of being unaware of one’s immediate surroundings. Abstracted, daydreaming, inattentive, oblivious, forgetful.
- Abusive - Characterized by improper infliction of physical or psychological maltreatment towards another.
- Addict - One who is addicted to a compulsive activity. Examples: gambling, drugs, sex.
- Aimless - Devoid of direction or purpose.
- Alcoholic - A person who drinks alcoholic substances habitually and to excess.
- Anxious - Full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried; solicitous.
- Arrogant - Having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance. Inclined to social exclusiveness and who rebuff the advances of people considered inferior. Snobbish.
- Audacious - Recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; braze, disobedient.
- Bad Habit - A revolting personal habit. Examples: picks nose, spits tobacco, drools, bad body odour.
- Bigmouth - A loud-mouthed or gossipy person.
- Bigot - One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
- Blunt - Characterized by directness in manner or speech; without subtlety or evasion. Frank, callous, insensitive, brusque.
- Bold - In a bad sense, too forward; taking undue liberties; over assuming or confident; lacking proper modesty or restraint; rude; impudent. Abrupt, brazen, cheeky, brassy, audacious.
- Callous - They are hardened to emotions, rarely showing any form of it in expression. Unfeeling. Cold.
- Childish - Marked by or indicating a lack of maturity; puerile.
- Complex - An exaggerated or obsessive concern or fear. (List specific complex.)
- Cruel - Mean to anyone or anything, without care or regard to consequences and feelings.
- Cursed - A person who has befallen a prayer for evil or misfortune, placed under a spell, or borne into an evil circumstance, and suffers for it. Damned.
- Dependent - Unable to exist, sustain oneself, or act appropriately or normally without the assistance or direction of another.
- Deranged - Mentally decayed. Insane. Crazy. Mad. Psychotic.
- Lang-8 (Journal in another language, be corrected by native speakers. Do the same for others by correcting them.)
- Polyglot Link
- FSI Language
- BBC Languages
- I Kinda Like Languages
- GLOSS (Foreign Language Institute)
- My Language Exchange
- So You Want to Learn a Language
- Mango Languages
- Learning with Texts
- South Asian Linguistics
- F*ckyeahsouthasia #Language
- Open Culture: Free Language Lessons (another masterlist)Reddit Threads:
SRS (Spaced Repetition flashcards):
- Memrise (Iphone/pad app available)
- Anki (droid/i-app avail)
- Skritter (Paid: Japanese/Chinese; i-app avail.)
Chinese (Mostly/All Mandarin):
- Chinese Grammar Wiki
- Fluent Flix
- Chinese Hacks
- Social Mandarin
- Hao Hao Report
- Hacking Chinese
- Reddit Resource List
- Why Chinese is so damn hard
- sugoideas, Taiwanese dramas
- Baidu radio, PRC radio stations
- Mac TV, Taiwan TV
- 中文字譜, site for making mnemonics
- Reviewing the Hanzi
- Perapera Chinese Firefox add on
- Better Chinese (Paid)
- China Sprout online retail
- Chinese Grammar (eh, looks dull)
- More Manhua
- Chinese Rage Comics
- English Slang in Chinese
- Sentence Structure / Particles / Modals
- Pleco for iPhone
- Chinese with Serge (he’s pretty clear)
- Review the Hanzi forum thread
- Nciku (search characters by drawing them)
- QQ international version / Weibo (Chinese “twitter”) / renren
- Apps: Mindsnacks Mandarin ($5, personal recommendation), Manhua Reader App, Pleco, Word Tracer Learn Chinese, Chinese with Pengyou Pal
- Books I own: (Far East) Illustrated 300 Chinese Character Dictionary, Reading and Writing Chinese (Tuttle), Chinese Link (favorite textbook so far), Integrated Chinese (Not as good as Chinese Link imho. Less organized/structured in a good format), Basic Spoken Chinese (Tuttle), Schaum’s Chinese GrammarGujarati:Hindi:
Indonesian - Bhasa Indonesian:
- Hangul Type Attack
- Seemile (Also learn Chinese)
- Talk to Me in Korean
- My Korean 1 & 2
- Busy Atom
- Korean Wiki - Hangul
- Grammar Dictionary
- Radio Korea
- Songang Korean Program
- Hulu Kdramas
- Airang “I Love Korean”
- Seoul National University Korean Crash Course
- Apps: Korean Letters Lite App (Free/Paid available), Korean Study Buddy App, Learn Sounds of Korean App (currently free)
- Korean Champ
- Korean Class 101
- Hangukdrama and Korean
- Learn Korean
- Resource List (Also Japanese)
- Books: Integrated Korean (Common textbook, friends used/liked it for class), Learn Korean for Beginner’s (Tuttle), Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook.
- All Japanese All the Time (AJATT method; perhaps worth a read for other languages)
- So You Want to Learn Japanese…
- Perapera Firefox add on
- Reviewing the Kanji
- Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese / The app
- Beginner’s Guide
- Kanji Damage
- Tofugu / Textfugu (Some-Paid)
- Rikaichan FF/Chrome
- Lingualift (Paid)
- I Know! (Paid)
- Nihon Shock ($25)
- Tagorin Dictionary
- Read the Kanji
- Nihongo Dekimasu
- Before Breakfast
- Kotodama Typing Game
- Real Kana
- The Japanese Page
- All Kana Aesop’s Fables (Practice translating)
- Manga RAWs
- Apps: Kana iphone/ipad app (all Japanese game), Ninja worlds (free/paid $3 app), Human Japanese (Free/$10)
- How to Read Manga/Watch anime (and understand) in 2 years
- Pastebin Reddit Resources
- Pera Pera Penguin
- Nihongo e na
- Jbox Study items
- Other Books: Remembering the KanjiMalay:
- Learn Thai
- Learning Thai
- TV Method Thai (Immersion oral learning)
- Learning Thai
- Women Learn Thai
— Check the detailed Resources Page.So You Want to Learn… List:
- Ainu, Arabic, Azerbaijani (Azeri), Balinese, Bengali, Burmese (Myanmar), Cantonese (Yue), Cebuano, Fuzhou (Foochow), Gujarati, Hakka, Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian, Japanese, Javanese (Basa Jawa/Jawi), Kannada, Kashmiri, Kazakh, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Kyrgyz, Lao, Malay (Melayu), Malayalam. Mandarin (Chinese), Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali, Oriya, Pashto, Persian (Farsi, Dari, Tajik/Tajiki), Punjabi (Panjabi), Shanghainese (Wu), Sindhi, Sinhala (Singhalese), Tagalog (Filipino, Pilipino)
Taiwanese (Minnan, Southern Min, Hokkien), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uyghur (Uighur), Uzbek, Vietnamese
- Tumblr tags: #learning _________
- Can I become Fluent in ______ in ______ months/weeks/days?
No. You can’t.
- Can I learn Japanese from just watching Anime/Korean from Kpop/Chinese from Wuxia films?
Not on your life. Do you only speak the english you know from Spongebob? N’SYNC? The 300? Didn’t think so.
- What about Rosetta Stone?
For $180-$399 dollars? Are you insane? The program is built to teach you the Romantic languages. If you buy Rosetta stone for $400, and pass up every free resource on this list, I doubt your desire to actually learn anything. Don’t do it to yourself. That is a lot of money you probably won’t get back.
- But I heard that Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Arabic/etc is really difficult:
Well if over a billion Chinese people can speak Chinese, why can’t you? No really, don’t let something like this bother you. No, this is not the ease of moving from a English to a Romance language or German, but hey, if you wanted to learn German (and all those ridiculous cases) you’d be doing that.
- But what about ______?
I have knowledge on resources mostly limited to JPN/CHI/KOR classes. This is a participatory list, which I am more than grateful to take submissions for.I repost this every two weeks whether I need to or not. It too good not to and the original compiler deserves that much respect.