Focused Character Bio and Rough Outlines...

... are crucial to have before you start, but they're not what you think they are.


Notes from Lisa Cron's Wired for Story: My notes from around page 91

Focused Character Bio's to answer only TWO questions.

Having no character bio to start is just as bad as having one that's too detailed or robust. One gives you no thread to weave into the story, no "why" or "what" to hang on to. The other gives you so many details these are still obscured.

Page 91:
That's why, when writing your protagonists' bio, the goal is to pinpoint two things:
1. the event in his past that knocked his worldview out of alignment, triggering the internal issue that keeps him from achieving his goal;
2. and the inception of his desire for the goal itself. 
So that's an order for

1. One worldview altering event (broken soul, pain point, causing a fear) that keeps him from his inner lifelong goal. This event can happen before the story proper and we may only catch glimpses of it.It may not even be referenced at all, but it will weave through every action's motivation and reaction we see.

2. The inception of the goal itself, prior to the worldview changing event. The goal is deeper than the fear, but the fear has him/her stunted.

Rough Outline of the starting Why's and What's.

Once you have:

He's always wanted:
His internal issue keeps him from attaining what he's always wanted.

You then need a "situation" to put him in that will bring him to a place where what he's always wanted and his internal issue MUST be forced to battle each other within him until he's either defeated or he overcomes.

The story then forces him to reassess his internal worldview and his goal and find they were both off the mark.


Do's and Don'ts


  1. Do keep in mind that the story is about the characters internal change from his old worldview to his new one. 
  2. Don't be uncomfortable digging deep into your characters psyches.
  3. Don't try to write the bio well, you are looking for raw data, not pretty prose.
  4. Do write a SHORT bio for each and every character.


THE BEST pre-outlining work I've ever seen is in this book starting on page 95:

  • The Premise: "What would happen if...." Once you have that, you need to ask OK. HOW would that happen. We do that by...
  • Asking ourselves: "Why?"
    • What does she want, what is she afraid of it?
  • Drill from the general to the specific. If you can't see it, it's not specific enough yet.
    • What's her life like now? What's she really want? Why is she afraid of it?
    • Are there any subplot things happening in her life that could tie into the bigger plot?
    • What clocks can we set on timers about to go off?
  • Figuring out the what.
    • What would happen to put these two in the same place, each for their character's own separate reason, at the same time?

A focused pre-outline


A focused outline doesn't set the entire stage, every plot point, every turn. It simply lays the groundwork for who is doing what, where and why. Maybe a little how, but that comes as you write.

The WHY


It knows the (internal) end goal, the fear preventing that goal, and the question that needs an answer. The answer will be the conclusion, but you need not know the answer up front, just the question you want the answer to.

If the groundwork is properly laid, the answer will be a series of events in which worthy characters are transformed.


WHY does the premise make sense for this character? Why this person, at this time, doing this adventure? What is the internal desire and fear at war within him/her that sets them on this adventure?

Specific WHY, it cannot be general. If it's too general, you can't envision it. Keep drilling down into more and more specific why's until you begin to see a story unfolding before you... THEN you start writing.

Background, background, background, but only around the WHY. Favorite color, parents' names, where he went to high school are ONLY relevant if they answer the WHY behind this story. Focus only on the WHY(s) in the background and drill further and further into it until you get the clear picture.


The WHAT

The WHAT happens must have a story reason. It's very convenient for two people to end up at the same place at the same time. Each person must have their own story reason for being there, not just because the plot needs it to happen.

Use the WHYs to understand their reason for doing the WHATs.


The story is in the specifics


If we can't see it, we can't feel it. We are hard wired to ask "Is it safe, or not?" Therefore, every story is our chance to live a dangerous situation (physically, socially, emotionally dangerous, it comes in all kinds), without the actual consequences.

We want to know what it FEELS like to be a:

  • Spy or Soldier
  • Gangster or Mafia Boss
  • Defuse a bomb
  • Be in love
  • Leave a bad relationship or find a new relationship
  • Travel the world in search of treasure
  • Face the school bully
  • etc.
All of this, we want to feel. We can't feel it if we can't see it. We can't see it unless we are living inside the skin of our protagonist. We want to live vicariously through him/her, without consequences of our own.

Consider the 10,000-foot view vs the up close view.

In October 2006, nearly six thousand people worldwide died in hurricane-induced floods.

Does that make you feel anything? Maybe a little pity or shame (unless you were close to one of those people). 

A mother stands at the shoreline. She sees the wave coming, and there is nothing she can do. They cannot run in time. She holds him close, she says I'll never let you go. The wave collapses upon them, they are ripped from each other's arms. Just before she is taken down again, she sees it in his eyes "You lied, you said you wouldn't let go?!", then the water engulfs her again. She wakes on the shoreline, he is nowhere to be found. She lives with that haunting image, and comes back to this shore every year to mourn, and ask for the waves to take her instead.

Did you feel anything more that time? Probably, because it broughtt it down to the specific, down to a one on one level.

That's what story must do. It's not the struggle of class warfare, it's Kevin's struggle. 



By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite
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Notes from Ted Dekkers talk on storytelling (condensed)


What is story? 



  • Story is a series of events involving worthy characters who change (are transformed) as a result of those events.
  • Take the reader into a Fictive Bubble, and don’t pop it!
  • Ask ONE question you struggle with… and press your character until he is transformed and finds the answer. You should be transformed through the process too (if not, keep digging).


That path must be clear to you, you are your character's muse or guide. He will hit seven way-points.

  1. Back-story. 
    • In the first few pages, introduce your reader to the protagonist and his/her world.
  2. Inciting Event
    • The event that forces the protag into the story, with a clear goal.
    • There may be a clear, specific threat.
  3. Series of Challenges and Solutions.
    • Your protag tries a series of solutions and fails. 
    • Things seem to go well, and all hope is lost.
    • Something BIG has to happen, or all is lost.
    • Subtle changes. Character is wrestling through, lost in the fog.
  4. Dramatic turning point.
    • A major change in your characters perspective.
    • Small changes came before now, but this is a major change for your character. The path is now clear. May come at a cost. This is where his inner goal is realized.
  5. Climax (Goal Reached)
    • Antagonist overcome, goal reached.
    • Using the trans-formative new perspective he gained in step 4, he overcomes the outer goal and his inner struggle at the same time.
  6. Wrap Up
    • Resolve/Restoration
    • One last scene to show how the character's world turned out.
  7. Celebration
    • Celebrating his victory. One scene, or less than a full scene.
    • Hint at the future?


By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite
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Distortion Critiques Combined



So I put out scene one from Distortion for a writer's critique. Here was the result:

It's amazing how awesome this feedback was. You can live with your stuff long enough that you become blind to it. I have a lot of work to do (first novel) but I've studied the craft long enough to understand everything everyone is saying. Besides all the specific points, the two themes I noticed were a lack of emotional/physical reaction (nothing to keep you in Ash's head) and the Great Sin (show don't tell). I also changed tense and didn't notice (no that was not on purpose). There were many other great points, and I have a lot of work to do. Thanks again to http://www.scribophile.com/ for making a community for writers.

Here I'm putting all five reviews together. Taking the things that I liked from each and putting them together. In a few cases I just made the change because I liked it. Mostly I just pasted notes together. A lot of people picked up on the same points, so it's helpful to see it combined. Now I'll go do a re-write.

  • Comments and Suggestions
  • Trouble points
  • repeated or important words to consider re-writing.



Street Noise

(((( Check tense throughout. Check for es, ing, ed))))((Use Italics for thought?))((Avoid Then, was, he thought, he saw, could see…. just describe what happened in order, we’ll get it))(Action/Thought/Emotion/Reaction) (Mix subjects. Is the subject “he” or is it “the rock”, this will change up the text and help with pacing and description. That way you don’t have “he said, he did” all over the place. Too many short paragraphs, add some longer descriptive ones to flesh it out and give the readers eye a break or interest.
There is no physical description of Ash, which makes him difficult to identify with.  He is coming across as a loner, which is fine, but he also feels cold and indifferent.  He hog ties a troubled homeless man without thinking twice.  In his dream, he shoots other human beings as if they were nothing more than Coke cans on a fence.  He wakes from his nightmare and goes back to sleep!  It's hard to engage with a character like that unless you imbue him with a few human characteristics.
The dream sequence starts well - all short sentences and action, but toward the end, it becomes more poetic and descriptive. 
One reader said they took the whole thing as a dream (not my intent) and that Ash felt disconnected. I think both of these result from a lack of Motivation/Reaction Units (MRU’s). (Action/Thought/Emotion/Reaction) The scene is laid out as a frame (basic elements) but it’s missing the stucko, brick, and paint. I’m looking forward to the second draft.

**

From the corner of his eye, through the window of The Grounded Cafe, Ash saw two men dressed in black combat gear duck behind a car.

I like the opening as it immediately places me in Ash's world.  I like the name of the cafĂ© as it quickly becomes apparent that Ash is anything but grounded.  I also like how Ash is an Airman back in civilian life and so is 'grounded.'  A lot of thought went into the name, which I appreciate more on the second reading.  Gives the beginning a surreal edginess.

Coolness rushed down his spine, and his muscles tensed.
I didn't buy this as a description of his response.  'Coolness rushed down his spine' is a bit too prosaic.
Or you could say, 'A chill' or 'ice' or my spine became a stalactite... okay that my be overdoing it, I guess.  But to me coolness is usually a good thing.  Like, people are cool.  Plus coolness is kind of 'tepid'.  It doesn't seem harsh enough.


He reached for his sidearm, shook his head, upon a second thought. When he looked again, the men were gone.

Ash, alone in the corner of his favorite coffee shop, sank back into the leather bound chair.

Always keep your back to the wall, be near the most exits, but never too visible ((((once he seated in a cafe he would be visible. But something like he should glance at people suspiciously or he shouldn't be engaged in anything that would draw people's attention to him))). It was like breathing, it never stopped... even in civilian life. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. That was the diagnosis they’d assigned him.

How did we get from diagnosis to job description?(Jump)

As Dean of Military Science, Ash's job primarily lay in administrative work and policy these days, plus a few sessions counseling the younger cadets and would-be trouble makers. He was quite overqualified for the position, but he ran a tight unit.

He stared at pedestrians who hurried by, buried in their smart phones, oblivious to the world and the little clouds that floated around their shoulders.

(Jump)

Leaves fell, most turning shades of orange and yellow, matching perfectly the Pumpkins that were dotting porches and windows through the city the past few weeks. ((A particular tree, single leaf might draw this closer to the reader. Also, what significance to pumpkins have. The shadows rise more during this time of year?))

A commotion outside broke his train of thought...
What train of thought, you didn't show us one? (Action/Thought/Emotion/Reaction)

Everyone (who, two business men?) was stopping, turning, and staring in the same direction, a few moving toward the distraction. More detail, describe individual actions.

Since from where he is sitting, he can't really see the commotion, you can't say that there was a commotion. These people could only be admiring a couple doing a crazy dance. So you can say that, suddenly every halted and looked in the same direction. The voice of people arguing reached him. (INSERT A THOUGHT HERE) Ash stepped outside to see what was happening.

Ash stepped outside to see what was happening, turned a corner, and nearly ran into a bystander (in yellow polo), “Excuse me”. A brisk evening breeze broke past his collar. Why is this relevant?
Internal thought and emotional reacting to the cold. Then what did he do, tighten his jacket? I like this description.  Nice alliteration, but it seems to come from nowhere.  Ash doesn't even respond to it.

A man in a tattered and dirty suit with a graying beard was standing on top of a pickup truck screaming at nobody in particular. (draw this out, what’s the crowd doing, what’s he doing, paint that picture)
I dded appeared here because at first Ash seems to think the man is having a one-sided conversation.  But if he w=saw these creatures right away, then he'd never had reacted as if he thought the man was having a one-sides convo.  The issue here is, you seem to have described the way everyone else is seeing the situation but you've done it from Ash's perspective.  So either he needs to see the creatures right away or they need to gradually - or suddenly appear.
I feel there should be a more extreme reaction here from Ash.  he's seeing this wholly unbelievable thing right now and he's not freakling out at all. At least, you aren't showing us he's freaking out.  This would be a good place for some inner monologue, or maybe some swearing under his breath or something.  I wat to know how he's feeling right now.


"You always did love Mother best-- I know-- That's why-- You couldn't keep your mouth shut--" On he went, incoherently.

Just as Ash took a step closer, the man (to who?) turned to stare him directly in the eye.
why did he take a step closer?  does he know the guy?  does he just enjoy watching a freakshow?  You need to be clearer in showing the character's motivations

In a deeper, gravelly voice: "You... What do you want with us?"

Ash took a step back. (Action/Thought/Emotion/Reaction)

Then the man turned back to his one-sided conversation.

Behind the man was a large, black figure with the head of a bull and the lower part only a mist. White streaks ran across its torso, and its eyes were red like a hot iron.

Ash could see a large creature behind the man. The bottom half was more mist than form, as though it were made of smoke. The top half was like a man, with the head of a bull. It was charcoal with streaks of white painted across the chest.
he's either mist or smoke.

Ash could feel his palms turn cold, and he felt as though he couldn't move his legs.
Ash
's
so, here were delete thiscould feel his
because it's a filter wordpalms turn
ed cold, and
he felt as though
filter wordshe couldn't move his legs.
You simply say, Ash halted, his palms turning cold.
I don't think palms ever turn cold. 

A smaller creature was on the homeless man's shoulders, screaming into his ears.
Wouldn't this be the first thing Ash would notice when he arrived at the scene?
He couldn't hear the conversation, but Ash could tell that the homeless man was responding and that he had only been hearing one-half of the conversation. Ash looked around and nobody else seemed too surprised, as usual.It'd be better to show what they were doing instead. I love this bit.  It illustrates madness beautifully.  It makes me sad for the homeless man while wondering why Ash sees it and no-one else does.

The large creature stared directly at Ash, cocked his head to one side and disappeared why/where? along with the smaller one. The homeless man was by himself again, then his eyes narrowed. He leapt off the truck and ran at Ash.
I don't know why the homeless man suddenly decides to charge Ash, especially as the creatures tormenting him have disappeared.  Could they talk to the man one last time before disappearing?  Seemingly urging him to attack Ash?

It took all his training to keep from being pinned down. The old man was wiry but stronger than he looked. Okay, did he run for his life? Or he stood there, waiting for the man to pounce on him? There is no actual description of the fight, or sequence. Paint this picture. Show the fight.

Ash let out a cry, "Jesus!"
Jesus!" he exclaimed as he pushed his attacker away, gagging on the scent of unwashed skin and rotten teeth.

The wiry man jerked and looked around, confused.

That was all Ash needed. In 30/thirty seconds he hog-tied the man with his own belt.

The police were just arriving. Let's hear the siren."Charlie's at it again... Let's take him in." Does this need a dialog tag? Show us the car arrive like-- A police car pulled up with sirens blaring. the crowd began to disperse. A few of the spectators held cellphones p, filming the encounter. the officer said as he exited from the passenger side. I like how he is known to the police.  it adds character to the homeless man


Three big men in uniform put cuffs and a muzzle on the old man and threw him harshly into the back of the squad car.

Ash heard someone behind him, "Those were some moves, Marine."
avoid filtering wherever you can. instead describe WHAT he heard. like rapid footsteps approached.
You should describe this man as soon as the conversation begins.  It feels like Ash has began a conversation without looking at him.  I get that Ash is distracted by his lost cup of coffee, but the exchange feels unnatural without immediate eye contact

"Airman. Uh... Thanks. No harm done." Ash noticed Filter word. his cup crushed beneath him, the ice, coffee, and cream covered the sidewalk, and his jeans. "Well... Almost no harm anyway." ((Did he carry the cup of coffee with him from the cafe? Did he drop it during the fight, expound)) ha ha.  I dunno. I'd be pretty grumpy to lose my coffee like that.


"Why don't you let me get you another… on me." Tag? Ash looked up to see (filtering) a balding man in blue slacks, yellow polo, and a pile of papers in his arms. A logo with two E’s overlapping bore prominently on his chest.
a balding man said. He shifted the pile of paper in his arms to offer his hand, covering the logo with two E’s overlapping on his yellow polo.

"The least I could do for a man who'd be willing to step into a situation like that, protect all these people. What's your name son?" Tag? He didn’t step in, he was attacked. 

"Ash. I need to get some new clothes. I don't think I need any more caffeine right now. But thanks for the offer." With a wave, he set off toward home.
It feels like you have written off this encounter as nothing important when it clearly is.  Perhaps you could add something like 'Ash noticed the stranger watching him as he walked away and it made him uncomfortable'.  Just something to show the bald man has an interest in him, even though Ash has none in him.

Ash headed down the sidewalk, past the shops and restaurants. There is a girl crying, typing away on the phone. A little red frog on her shoulder was yelling into her ear. Ash could only imagine what it must be saying.
csratch and instead say where she is
I like how these creatures don't have to be humanoid.  they could be anything.  I don't think you need the next sentence.  I would think Ash wasn't trying to imagine the other side of the conversation at all

A little old lady is sitting inside a window at the nursing home. She is knitting something, probably a blanket. A large man in all white, stands behind her, smiling. He looks up at Ash, his smile fades slightly, and then returns. He looks down to her again.

Let's see the distance between the phone booth (bench, but I didn't describe it) and the nursing home.

Ash could not see the figure accompanying each person, only certain ones, here and there. Most were just clouds or mist.
the figures accompanying each person remained mostly indistinct with only a few recognizable as animals
Don't need this explanation here.  I am getting the gist of what is going on.  I don't need to have it spelled out and ruin the tension
how did he know figures accompanied everyone.  maybe they didn't.



.when did this happen? Now? or is this flashback? add the sentences to calrify it, "

"Don't worry so much." His doctor told him, "Hallucinations may be after effects of the war. We’re just beginning to understand PTSD. The mind is a marvelous adapter to stress. As long as these phantoms don’t interrupt your daily work, or cause you to want to harm yourself or others, you should be fine. Consider yourself lucky. Just think of them as a construct of your active imagination, an amusing distraction from the mundane realities of life."

ah, so this isn't a new thing.  This has been going on a long time.  Cool.  No wonder he wasn't freaking out and shocked.  You might need to get a line or two in early on, saying something like, 'Ash had learned long ago to stifle his reactions of such creatures'... or something much more tactfully worded than my iffy skills allow.
Here, add what Ash thinks about the Doctor's statement.
(Action/Thought/Emotion/Reaction)

He turned off the street into an alley between two old buildings, and up a well-worn path into the woods, his refuge from the masses. How tall are these buildings?
If he has walked from a town into the woods, you need more description of his surroundings to help convey the passage of time it took to make his journey

Ash opened the door of his cabin.
cabin in the woods.  Oh this won't end badly at all.  Ha ha

It wasn't a mansion by any means, but it was more than sufficient for him. 900 sq. ft., one large open room, a loft, and a balcony. 
Describe it: This is telling. Instead, have him enter and describe how the space between the television and the bed is so small that, he can control the buttons on the TV with his toes without having to get up.

Yes sir, he owned one fine cabin in the woods. Is this his thought, or narrator to reader? It’s also in here twice. (Action/Thought/Emotion/Reaction)All to himself. How he'd managed to live here eight years and still not have a single friend invited over was a mystery, even to himself. Then again, you'd have to have a friend to invite one.

He liked things just so. He liked the solitude.

At least that's what he told himself.

Ash took a seat on his balcony, overlooking the hills and lake. He stared at the expansive forests, lost in time. The clock read: 6:00pm, he laid down in his hammock, bundled in the overpriced winter resistant sleeping bag, and watched the stars from the balcony until he drifted off.

As sleep overtook him, he thought to himself "Yes sir, this is one fine cabin."

***

An explosion knocks him against a wall. He barely sees, through the smoke, troops running about, hauling rubble off of bodies, checking pulses. Some are screaming in pain. Others shouting to one another. Half the mess hall is completely gone, all that is left is fire and rubble.
Smoke clouds his vision of
I think if this is a stream of consciousness type dream, the punctuation should either all be commas or all full stops.  Mixing the two confuses things

Ash can feel the beat of his heart in his neck, his forehead rushed with sweat. He sees them all running around, but all he hears is intense ringing.
do foreheads get rushed with sweat?

As the numbness subsides from his brain, shock waves hit his chest as more buildings are getting hit nearby.
judging by the writing, I'm surprised Ash feels numb. My heart is racing!

Ash uses the wall to steady himself and works to stand on his feet.
show instead

Others will tend to the wounded. This band of Jihadist miscreants found upgraded weapons; Russian no doubt.
this is just a personal thing, but I've never thought of Jihadists as miscreants?  I would use that word to describe teenage tearaways not extremists.
hmm.  i liked it better when the enemy was unnamed.  I strongly feel that unless you are writing a piece about a particular war, leave naming the enemy out of it.  I feel this is unnecessary and encourages hate and spreads fear. As far as I can see, this story is about the effects of war.  Not the actual war.  If that's the case, is it necessary to name the enemy?


consider changing as i think you mean run but you might mean shoot
Ash shoots out the building, down the road to the artillery unit. He grabs his rifle and heads for the highest structure, a radio tower toward the side of the camp.
“He” you have too many sentences starting the same and too many with the same subject. reword for reader intrest so it doesnt feel like a list of actions. see how every sentence here starts with a pronoun? that's an indication that this section lacks show. change some of these up to add the show. pronouns by there nature are all tell. you are telling us what happens not showing us. this is show--two men clutch missles launchers agianst their chests as they scan the camp. a jeep and crumbled mountainside hide the rest of the attackers. bullets rip through the air. gunsmoke hands thick, clouding his vision and burning his throat.


He can see the launch area where the rockets are being fired from. He takes a few quick breaths, hyperventilating floods the lungs with oxygen, one last deep breath in and hold, steadies his body.
this sentence doesn't make sense to me

Through the scope, he can see about 10 of them. (Is it ten or not?) are there ten or about ten?  It only matters because you are so detailed when it comes to counting them down each time Ash kills one of them.

They only have two missile launchers. They have very little cover, firing from open desert, mostly hiding behind their Jeep and a few large outcroppings of fallen mountainside.

He fires two rounds back to back, taking out both missile launchers, one exploding in the handlers face.
DESCRIBE how that looks and feels to him
Ash then begins firing one round after another as the attackers fall like Coke cans on a fence post. The rounds hit their targets with extreme prejudice.

Three armed men/ assailiants remain, cowering behind the Jeep. Jeeps are great vehicles for driving through tough terrain quickly, but they are built light, not armored. He sees one peek through the glass, gone.

The other two attempt to climb in the vehicle keeping their heads down and drive away. The problem with that is that both seats are occupied. He doesn't need to see them. Two. One.
I get he shoots him but SHOW us
I also get what you meant know about the seats being occupied so he knows where to aim but it was really obscure as worded consder a small rewrite therer for clarity

The Jeep speeds up as it drives erratically, then crashes into a mound of rocks.



Ash woke up... another nightmare, if you can call a memory a nightmare.

He rubbed his eyes and glanced at his wrist, 3:00 am.

He rolled over and went back to sleep.

((Why am I turning the page))
The one thing I can't understand is the end of your chapter and how it works so well.  Basically, he goes to sleep.  Everything I know about writing tells me there should be a hook or a tease to make the reader want to turn the page.  You've somehow done that without using that tired tradition.  I genuinely do not know how you did it, but the ending to Chapter 1 makes me want to read Chapter 2!
This is a great start.  From here it could go anywhere.  Will he lose the plot completely and start believing in his monsters?  Or will the monsters turn out to be real? Or maybe I'm on the complete wrong track and it will be a great surprise.  
 
 
 



By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite
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Research: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Symptoms and Gun rules


Here is some background information I found on PTSD, it may help me flesh out Ash's character more.

University of Maryland Medical Center has a great article breaking down PTSD and treatment.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is brought on by memories of an extremely stressful event or series of events that cause intense fear, particularly if feelings of helplessness accompanied the fear.

Symptoms of PTSD usually develop within the first 3 months after the event, but they may not surface until months or even years after the original traumatic event. Symptoms may include:

  • Intrusive thoughts recalling the traumatic event
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Efforts to avoid feelings and thoughts that either remind you of the traumatic event or that trigger similar feelings
  • Feeling detached or unable to connect with loved ones
  • Depression, hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt (from the false belief that you were responsible for the traumatic incident)
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Hypervigilance (being overly aware of possible danger)
  • Hypersensitivity, including at least two of the following reactions: trouble sleeping, being angry, having difficulty concentrating, startling easily, having a physical reaction (rapid heart rate or breathing, increase in blood pressure)
  • Headache
  • Disrupted sleep, insomnia

Experts are not entirely sure what causes some people to develop PTSD, but many think it happens when you are confronted with a traumatic event, and your mind is not able to process all the thoughts and feelings as it usually does. Scientists studying the brain think there may be some differences in the brain structure or chemistry of those with PTSD. For example, certain areas of the brain involved with feeling fear may be hyperactive in people with PTSD. Other researchers have focused on the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and for how we deal with stress, and are investigating whether changes in that area also appear in people with PTSD.


Treatment Plan

The treatments for PTSD include:

  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). With the help of a psychotherapist, you learn techniques to manage your thoughts and feelings when you are in situations that remind you of the traumatic event. You may gradually expose yourself to situations and thoughts that cause anxiety, as you build up a tolerance for them and your fear is lessened. Ultimately, the goal of cognitive therapy is to allow you to control your fear and anxiety.
  • Stress management therapy. A therapist teaches you relaxation techniques to help you overcome fear and anxiety, and to break the cycle of negative thoughts.
  • Medication for depression or anxiety.
  • Drug Therapies


  • Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), or paroxetine (Paxil).
  • Benzodiazepines, a group of medications sometimes used for anxiety, including lorazepam (Ativan) and alprazolam (Xanax). These drugs have sedating properties and may cause drowsiness, constipation, or nausea. DO NOT take them if you have narrow angle glaucoma, a psychosis, or are pregnant. They also interact with other drugs, including some antidepressants (such as Luvox).
  • Dopamine-blocking agents, such as neuroleptics. There is some evidence of increased dopamine presence in children and adults with PTSD.


  • Biofeedback involves using a machine, at first, to see bodily functions that are normally unconscious and occur involuntarily (for example, heart rate and temperature). As you see how your body reacts to stress, you learn to control the reactions, and eventually you can perform the techniques to control the reactions without using a machine. Some studies suggest that biofeedback, among other forms of relaxation training, may be an effective treatment for some people with PTSD.
  • Hypnosis has long been used to treat war-related post-traumatic conditions. 
  • Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Green tea (Camellia sinensis) standardized extract, 250 to 500 mg daily, for antioxidant and immune effects. Use caffeine-free products. You may also prepare teas from the leaf of this herb.


Prognosis/Possible Complications

If PTSD symptoms continue for longer than 3 months, the condition is considered to be chronic (ongoing). Chronic PTSD may become less severe even if it is not treated, or it may become severely disabling, interfering with many areas of life and causing physical complaints. Some research suggests that PTSD may be related to physical disorders, such as arthritis, but few studies have examined the relationship between PTSD and physical health.


**Can you have PTSD and own guns? 

The Veterans' Voice offers the following: 

Most of the restrictive laws are actually at your local level. The feds only do a criminal background check to ensure you're not a felon. That's the NICS check and it is done in a matter of minutes most days. If you aren't in the federal database, they will tell the licensed dealer that he can sell you a weapon. 
To get a carry permit then is governed by your state law. Some states are wide open and others don't issue carry permits at all. From there it usually goes to your county.
Personally, I am concerned about any citizen who takes psychotropic medicines for a mental health condition carrying a concealed weapon. I'm a gun owner and I've carried a sidearm most of my life. On the other hand, if a man is admittedly unstable and has recurrent problems with PTSD and is on powerful medications, I'm not sure I want him in the same room with me when he's packing a 357. 
Let's be realistic here...guns are dangerous. I don't drink alcohol and shoot. I don't think a guy on a sedative medication should shoot...or be armed. 
I don't know your situation, of course. I can tell you only of my many friends who I've known over the years who have PTSD. One buddy is close to me today. He has a 10% rating for PTSD and he has a carry permit. I've had to intervene and take his guns from him when he's had anger problems in his marriage. I know another guy and he's 100% for PTSD and an avid hunter. He has no problems to speak of.

By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite
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Distortion Critique 5



So I put out scene one from Distortion for a writer's critique. Here was the result:

It's amazing how awesome this feedback was. You can live with your stuff long enough that you become blind to it. I have a lot of work to do (first novel) but I've studied the craft long enough to understand everything everyone is saying. Besides all the specific points, the two themes I noticed were a lack of emotional/physical reaction (nothing to keep you in Ash's head) and the Great Sin (show don't tell). I also changed tense and didn't notice (no that was not on purpose). There were many other great points, and I have a lot of work to do. Thanks again to http://www.scribophile.com/ for making a community for writers.



Inline Critique

Out of
Fromthe corner of his eye, through the window of The Grounded Cafe, Ash saw two men dressed in black combat gear duck behind a car.

scrib is doing weird things with your spacing . I'm seeing big gaps between text.
Coolness rushed down his spine, and his muscles tensed.

He reached for his sidearm
.,

He shook his head, and looked again, they were gone.

Ash relaxed and sank back into the leather bound chair; alone, in the corner of his favorite coffee shop.
try as show like Relieved, he stretched and settled back in his seat, alone in the corner booth of his favorite coffee shop.

Always keep your back to the wall, be near the most exits, but never too visible. It was like breathing, it never stopped... even in civilian life.
italic thoughPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. That was the diagnosis they’d
clarify this theyassigned him.
(If you are diagnosed with PTSD you're license to carry a fire arm is revoked)

your thoughts are jumping around here. can you add a segue sentence to get from PTSD to a job description?
As Dean of Military Science, Ash's job primarily lay in administrative work and policy these days, plus a few sessions counseling the younger cadets, and would-be trouble makers. He was quite overqualified for the position, but he ran a tight unit.

He stared at the faces of the pedestrians as they passed by the window. Hurried. Busy. Buried in their smartphones. So oblivious to the world around them, or the little clouds that float around their shoulders.

again big jump. if you make the observation personal it will 'flow' better. you need to connect the seprete thoughts a hair. he ran a tight unit --what the connecting thought to the faces and then leaves? maybe the leaves remind him of happier times or the faces remind him how he used to be oblivious too. but add the connecting thoughts
The leaves began to fall
this is a hair too much as it seeems like they literally fell from the trees right then maybe try dreid leaves swirled past the window or something which implies a few not all, most turning shades of orange and yellow, matching perfectly the Pumpkins that
were dottingdotted porches and windows through the city the past few weeks.

Some
Acommotion outside broke his train of thought... Everyone
to vague say who like the couple passing stooped or Two businessmen or whoever they are
was stoppingstopped, turn
eding, and star
eding in the same direction, a few moving toward the distraction.
too many vague words. take your time and describe the scene so we can see it.like An older man motioned motioned the gray haired woman who accompanied to stand back and forward following the two suited men.

Ash stepped outside to see what was happening, turned a corner, and nearly ran into a bystander. A brisk evening breeze broke past his collar
and...finish the thought caused him to shiver/made him tighten his jacket/woke him up/ etc.

A man in a tattered
,
and dirty suit with a graying beard
was standing
stood (use tense words where applicable)on top of a pickup truck screaming
maybe add what he screamed insults or gosspelat nobody in particular.

"You always did love Mother best... I know...
elipses are trailing off I think you want the mdash here for short pausesThat's why... You couldn't keep your mouth shut..." On he went, incoherently.

Just as Ash took a step closer
to the bystander or screamer, the man
I assume you mean the screamer but clarify turned to stare him directly in the eye.

In a deeper, gravelly voice: "You... What do you want with us?"

Ash took a step back.
cool but better if you tell the reader how it freak it him out.like-- A shiver of unease replaced the cold chill.

Then the
try to avoid using THEN and instead describe what he did as he did it.man turned back to his one-sided conversation.

Ash could see (scratched for filtering)a large creature
stood/crouched/hulked/lurked behind the man. The bottom half
of the creaturewas more mist than form, as though it were made of smoke. The top half was like a man, with the head of a bull. It was charcoal, and streaks of white painted across the chest.
<--try these as ACTIVE sentences. (without the lazy was were) like --Formed of mist, the top half of the creature resembled a man with the head of a bull. A smokey charcoal color, streaks of white lined its chest.

Ash
's
could feel his palms turn
ed cold, and
he felt as though he couldn't movehis legs
froze.

A smaller creature
was
sat/crouched/lurkedon the homeless man's shoulders, screaming into his ears. He couldn't
hear understand(changed to match screaming. if the little creature is making no noise change screaming)the
conversationwords, but
Ash could tell that the homeless man
was respondingnodded in response
and that he had only been hearing one-half of the conversation. Ash looked around and nobody else seemed too surprised
off word freaked out/to notice/,
mdash for a bigger more dramatic pauseas usual.

The large creature stared directly at Ash, cocked his head to one side and disappeared along with the smaller one.
did it take the smaller with it? take your time and really describe this. The homeless man
was
stoodby himself again
., then his eyes narrowed
and. He leapt off the truck and ran at Ash.
add a hair more description. show us the mans body language and face. is face contorted with hate is he snarling? what are the bystanders doing through all this?

It took all his training to keep from being pinned down.
show the fight first, you need to blend the scene. and build it The old man was wiry but stronger than he looked.

like--Claw like hands gripped his shoulders. Foul breath panted in his face as the man grunted,trying to force him to the ground. Ash twisted his body in a move learned in basic and forced the grasping hands from his shoulders. (feel frree to keep/discard any of this. I dont mean to change your voice. I use it as example of what I mean.)
Ash let out a cry, "Jesus!"
Jesus!" he exclaimed as he pushed his attacker away, gagging on the scent of unwashed skin and rotten teeth.

The wiry man stepped back
., his eyes darted around, as though
he lookedconfused.

That was all Ash needed. In 30
thirty(always spell numbers)seconds he hog-tied the man with his own belt.

The police were just arriving.
<---too fast. your rushing again. Show us the car arrive like-- A police car pulled up with sirens blaring. the crowd began to disperse. A few of the spectators held cellphones p, filming the encounter. new para "Charlie's at it again... Let's take him in
,."
the officer said as he exited from the passenger side.

Three big men in uniform put cuffs and a muzzle
? never saw or heard of this. maybe describe so we can 'see' it on the old man, and threw him, rather harshly, into the back of the squad car.

Ash heard someone behind him
avoid filtering wherever you can. instead describe WHAT he heard. like rapid footsteps approached., "Those were some moves, Marine."

"Airman. Uh... Thanks. No harm done."
Ash noticed
filtering-his
cup crushed beneath him, the ice, coffee, and cream covered the sidewalk, and his jeans. "Well... Almost no harm anyway."

"Why don't you let me get you another… on me."
a balding man said. He shifted the pile of paper in his arms to offer his hand, covering the logo with two E’s overlapping on his yellow polo.

Ash looked up to see 
Filtering --if this the speaker attach the tag to the dialougea balding man in blue slacks, yellow polo, and a pile of papers in his arms. A logo with two E’s overlapping bore prominently on his chest.

"The least I could do for a man who'd be willing to step into a situation like that,protect all these people.
a tad off. he didnt step in he was attacked. maybe handlea situation before it got out of hand What's your name
, son?"

"Ash. I need to
get some new change myclothes. I don't think I need any more caffeine right now. But thanks for the offer." With a wave, he set off toward home
.

Ash headed down the sidewalk, past the shops and restaurants. There is
csratch and instead say where she isa girl crying, typing away on the phone. A little red frog on her shoulder
was yelling
yelledinto her ear. Ash could only imagine what it must be saying.

A little old lady
is
wrong tense you were in past perfect now your in present so change all the is to was
sitting sat behindinside a window at the nursing home
. She is knitting something, probably a blanket. A large man
, wearing
in all white, stands behind her, smiling. He looks up at Ash, his smile fades slightly, and then returns. He looks
is a perfectly good word but generic there are many more descriptive words that can be used in its place.  use them when appropriate. like /peered/gazed/ stared/etcdown to her again.

Ash could not see the figure
s accompanying each person
remained mostly indistinct with only a few recognizable as animals, only certain ones, here and there. Most were just clouds or mist.

"Don't worry so much
,." His doctor told him
.when did this happen? Now? or is this flashback? add the sentences to calrify it, "
TheseHallucinations may be after effects of the war. We’re just beginning to understand PTSD. The mind is a marvelous adapter to stress. As long as these phantoms
do not
don'tinterrupt your daily work, or cause you to want to harm yourself or others, you should be fine. Consider yourself lucky. Just think of them as a construct of your active imagination, an amusing distraction from the mundane realities of life."

add his feeling to that. did he think it utter bullshit or did he grasp the idea hopefully?
He turned off the street into an alley between two old buildings, and up a well-worn path into the woods, his refuge from the masses.

Ash opened the door of his cabin.

It you need to describe it. Like Nestled between a tall stand of pines his nine hundred square foot log cabin sat alone on a forested hillside. A small pine island seperated the gally kitchen from the rest of the living space. ... you get the idea. take a few sentences and show his home include the ambiaence-how he feels about it- and use at least one other sense what it smells like or sounds etcwasn't a mansion by any means, but it was more than sufficient for him. 900 sq. ft., one large open room, a loft, and a balcony.

Yes sir, he owned one fine cabin in the woods.
this is a hair odd. direct narator to reader aside. make ith thought for it to blend. italic it and add he thought somewhereAll to himself. How he'd managed to live here eight years and still not have a single friend invited over was a mystery, even to himself. Then again, you'd have to have a friend to invite one.

He liked things just so
. He liked andthe solitude.

At least that's what he told himself.

Ash took a seat on his balcony
back when your describing his house tell us if the balcony is off the back or front. and make sure it is a balcony not a porch-balcony is second floor, overlooking the hills and lake. He stared at the expansive forests, lost in time. The clock read:
6:00Sixpm, he laid down in his hammock, bundled in the overpriced winter resistant sleeping bag, and watched the stars from the balcony until he drifted off.

As sleep overtook him, he thought to himself "Yes sir, this is one fine cabin."
already stated. say something new never repeat. you could add an emotion to it to make it new but don't restate for no new info

***

An explosion knocks him against a wall. He barely sees, through the smoke,
wordy try--Smoke clouds his vision of troops running about, hauling rubble off of bodies, checking pulses. Some
Vague be specific, some what? are screaming in pain. Others
are shouting
what? insults directions curses? to one another. Half the mess hall is completely gone, all that is left is fire and rubble.

Ash can feel the beat of his heart in his neck,
His pulse thuds in his neck. his forehead rushed with sweat. He sees them all 
be specific--trust me it ill add depth to thisrunning around, but all he hears is intense ringing.

As the numbness subsides from his brain, shock waves hit his chest as more buildings are getting hit nearby.
explode nearby/ or as missiles impact the nearby buildings

Ash uses the wall to steady himself and works to stand on his feet.
show instead

Others will tend to the wounded. This band of Jihadist miscreants found upgraded weapons; Russian no doubt.

Ash shoots
consider changing as i think you mean run but you might mean shootout the building, down the road to the artillery unit. He grabs his rifle and heads for the highest structure, a radio tower toward the side of the camp.

He can see the launch area where the rockets are being fired from. He
you have too many sentences starting the same and too many with the same subject. reword for reader intrest so it doesnt feel like a list of actionstakes a few quick breaths, hyperventilating
, flood
ings the lungs with oxygen, one last deep breath in and hold, steadies his body.

Through the scope, he can see
about 10
tenof them
clarify.

They only have two missile launchers. They have very little cover, firing from open desert, mostly hiding behind their Jeep and a few large outcroppings of fallen mountainside.
see how every sentence here starts with a pronoun? that's an indication that this section lacks show. change some of these up to add the show. pronouns by there nature are all tell. you are telling us what happens not showing us. this is show--two men clutch missles launchers agianst their chests as they scan the camp. a jeep and crumbled mountainside hide the rest of the attackers. bullets rip through the air. gunsmoke hands thick, clouding his vision and burning his throat.

He fires two rounds back to back, taking out both missile launchers, one
exploding
launcher explodesin the handlers face.
DESCRIBE how that looks and feels to him Ash
then begins firing one round after another as the attackers fall like
Cokesoad cans on a fence post. The rounds hit their targets with extreme prejudice.

Three
armed men/ assailiants remain, cowering behind the Jeep. Jeeps are great vehicles for driving through tough terrain quickly, but they
're
are built light, not armored.
He sees one peek
s through the glass, gone.
I get he shoots him but SHOW us

The other two
attempt to climb in the vehicle
, keeping their heads down
 and drive awayscratched for POV error. The problem with that is that both seats are occupied
by?. He doesn't need to see them. Two. One.

okay making a few changes to match the next sentnace. they dont attempt to they do so scratch that. I also get what you meant know about the seats being occupied so he knows where to aim but it was really obscure as worded consder a small rewrite therer for clarity
The Jeep speeds up as it drives erratically
, then crashesbefore crashing into a mound of rocks.

***

Ash woke up... another nightmare, if you can call a memory a nightmare.

He rubbed his eyes and glanced at his wrist.

Red numbers flooded his vision,
3:00
threeam.

He rolled over and went back to sleep.

Closing Comments

Scrib academy has a great article on filtering-what it is, why you don't want it, and how to fix it.
you want to make sure you don't have to many sentence starts in a row identical. more then two and the reader will be bored.
Try to describe whats happening not tell it. He slammed the door angrily!--The door rebounded off the wall with a thud. See, we know he did it angrily, but it's more interesting. It also helps fix the, he did this, he did that, he did this other thing, that makes a story boring.
the above site can explain better than I why you don't want all those pronoun starts and how to fix them, basically you change the subject of the sentence.
To correct the pronoun starts put the noun first. example--He got in a car.--fixed--The car he got in was red.---fixed better -- The red car he rode in smelled of cigarettes. In the last example the sentence went from passive to active with the removal of was got in was tightened to rode and interesting sensory detail was added with a smell.
go through the entire thing and replace all the was, were. could, would, and put in the correct tenses. by that I mean was and were should denote tense not be used because you cant think of a correct verb. but that being said sometimes word have a tense like--could hear=heard was wearing=wore were going=gone was running=ran etc lots of words have tenses so use then when applicable. I make a list of my common mistakes and when I think I'm done with a piece I run a scan for them.
replacing generic words for more descriptive ones will add depth. common generic words are--Look, watch, came, went, took, walk, basically action words. instead of having the charter walk have them stride pace amble march slink limp etc picture in your head HOW they do the action and use that word.
replacing the vague words will add clarity and flow. common vague words are --Area people everyone them it they stuff someone something everything things all some
it isn't unusual to have to do major rewrites, sometimes even more than once so don't let this discourage you. this is a solid first draft that just requires fleshing out and tightening.
Don't rush through the scenes, take your time and write them so we can see them.
Sorry if I offended, it wasn't my intent. Writing is so personal that any criticism can feel like an attack. all these things I mention are minor tweaks easily done. you've already done the hard part--the good idea. now polish till it shines.
If you aren't sure if you have to many pronoun starts try a software editor.  prowriting aid has a paid addin for Microsoft Word and google docs but they have a free version too. autocrit is good but costs alot more money. I highly recommend you try the free version of prowriting aid
S.


By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite
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About Me

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Hi! My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I am a wealth of random information and I make complicated things simple at DarrellWolfe.com.

I have a knack for absorbing information, breaking it down to its root elements, and teaching it to others.

Most importantly, I help purpose-driven people to understand their place in His-Story and provide them the tools they need to fulfill their unique position of opportunity and influence in this world (their Topos).

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