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Sunday Newspaper

Click to read10-26-2014 front page0001

Dispute Between House Cats & Humans Turns Legal part 3

catlaw4_1

Courtesy of Melissa Snark.

catlaw4_2

Courtesy of Melissa Snark

These letters were previously posted on June 6, 2013 and June 12, 2013 on Author Melissa Snark’s Blog. For more information about Melissa Snark, please visit her website. Thank you Melissa for your fabulous contributions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo is 9 Days Away!!!

If this is you, you’d better get cracking!

national-novel-writing-month-is-coming-and-i-still-dont-have-a-clue-what-my-storys-about-3d85d

Write What You Know: The Character’s Biography

[avatar user=”LeeAnn” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]

Just a reminder, most of the physical description and biography and back story, etc. will never make it into your novel. Nor should it. The last thing that should happen is to have paragraphs of description for each character cluttering up the story. Yet you, the writer, must know the characters as well as you know your siblings, children, and best friends. When you know your characters, you may be surprised by what you find out about them. In the novel I’m rewriting the character who came to me and started telling me her story was not my main character. The character I thought was just a vessel turned out to be the main character (thus the rewriting) and not just the main character of this story, but he has at least three stories waiting to be told. So, take the time to get to know your characters thoroughly. When you know the character, the reader will know the character.

My character Molly, because she is a person, has a biography. She has parents, perhaps siblings, went to school, had friends and boyfriends, had jobs. Will any of this information show up in the story? Maybe, maybe not. Doesn’t matter. The history of a person helps build their nature, their demeanor, their personality and that’s why it’s important.

Molly’s parents were married until she was in high school at which time they divorced. Molly remained living with her mother. Her parents’ names and reason for their divorce, in this case doesn’t matter, and Molly remained on good terms with her father. You may have a character who is the product of divorced parents whose divorce was contentious or perhaps one of the parents was abused or abusive. What does matter is even though there was nothing “special” about the divorce, the dividing of homes left Molly having to go to two separate places for guidance instead of the solidity of a united parental unit at a time in her life when she needed adult guidance.

Molly has a younger sister, Janet. Janet is Molly’s junior by two years but they weren’t very close because they are so different.

Molly and her family didn’t move during her childhood so she went to elementary school, middle school and high school in the same town. Mrs. Chapman was her third grade teacher and her favorite teacher in elementary school. Her favorite middle school teacher was Mr. Kinsella, he taught social studies which was her favorite subject. In high school her favorite teacher was Mr. Nicoletti who taught English. She did go to college, venturing away from home and working her way through. She majored in Marketing.

Ronnie Frasier was her nemesis in elementary school and throughout the rest of her school years. He pushed her off the jungle gym at recess and she broke her nose giving her the bump on the bridge of her nose she carries now as an adult. In high school she didn’t have many boyfriends but in her senior year she dated Chris. In college she dated Matthew and eventually married him.

Molly and Matthew moved away from Molly’s home where they got jobs and eventually Lily was born. Mathew and Molly divorced after Lily died. Molly moved away to start a new life and eventually finds herself as a character in the story.

This is a brief biography and what fills in the holes will be the emotional reactions and lasting scars or fond memories of the situations in her past. It is the emotions and reactions that define her frame of mind, idiosyncrasies, and her personality.

How is your character shaping up? Let me know.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

 

Forensics & Fiction: Death Scene Documentation

Camera

Photo by nixxphotography. Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s topic may not seem exciting but it will definitely provide details needed to make your scene descriptions and action more authentic. Today’s focus is on scene documentation; specifically photography.

Here what you need to know!

Forensic Photography

  • There’s no such thing as too many photos (especially when the camera is digital)
  • Always check to make sure the battery is fully charged (or have a spare in your scene kit)
  • Always check to make sure there is room on the memory card (or have a spare in your scene kit)
  • Make sure the batteries are good for the external flash (if you’re issued one)

Taking Pictures

Generally pictures taken should include overall (wide angle), medium closeup, and closeup. Remember, these photos are for (a) documenting the scene and (b) to give the pathologist a complete picture. The pathologist needs to see what you saw at the scene and how you saw it. Different investigators have their own methods of taking pictures and as long as they are thorough (outside of the scene and inside of the scene), there is no right or wrong way. Here is how I took my photos.

General Tips

  • Make sure all police, family members and other personnel along with equipment is removed from the area before taking photos.
    • The only time equipment is left in the scene for photos is if it is a medical device attached to the decedent for resuscitation purposes.
  • Keep a photo log of all the pictures you are taking at the scene. This log will be part of the case file later.
  • Photos must be taken with an actual camera. NOT A CELL PHONE. All photos are evidence and all evidence must be kept secure. Photos on a cell phone are NEVER secure. Just ask any celebrity if you don’t believe me.

Exterior

Even if the scene was inside the residence, I always began taking photos from the outside of the residence. The wide angle photos included a house number (either on the curb or mail box). I continued taking photos as I approached the entrance.  Closeup photos are generally not necessary but it depends on what you see when you get there. For example, if this was a shooting and there are casings outside, those would be photographed using overall, medium closeup and closeup photos.

Interior

Once inside the residence, I photographed my path all the way to the body. For example, in my house you walk through the front door into the living room. The stairs are adjacent to the living room. In this case, I would photograph the living room standing in all four corners to show the stairway. Next, I’ll snap a few photos as I go up the stairs and through the hallway until I get to the room where the deceased is.

  • If the lighting is poor, ask for help from the police officers and have them shine their flashlights to improve the lighting conditions.
  • Generally overall (wide angle) photos are enough for these initial pictures however if drugs or drug paraphernalia is found in the downstairs area medium closeup and closeup photos will be necessary.

The same rules apply for taking pictures of the room the deceased is in, however, whereas medium closeup and closeup photos are conditional for the downstairs area, they are mandatory for the pictures in this room.

  • Take an overall photograph from the doorway and each corner of the room.
  • Make sure there is one object overlapping in each picture so the doctor can see the room in context.

Photographing the Body

Closeups will include

  • Head
  • Eyes (if they are closed, take a picture, then open them and take another picture of each. Make sure to include a section of the nose in each picture so the pathologist knows which eye she is looking at.)
  • Neck
  • Chest
    • one picture with the shirt
    • one picture with the shirt lifted up
  • Abdomen
    • one picture with the shirt
    • one picture with the shirt lifted up
  • Arms
  • Hands (make sure to photograph both sides)
  • Legs (if they are undressed)
  • Back of the head
  • Back of the neck
  • The back side
    • one picture with the shirt
    • one picture with the shirt lifted up

Use an L-Shaped ruler if:

  • Injuries are present (such as a puncture wound, bullet defect, etc.)
  • To document scars, marks and tattoos
  • To photograph bullets or shell casings.
  • For anything or everything (when in doubt – use the ruler.)

Also photograph:

  • Medications
  • Illegal drugs
  • Syringes
  • Straws (used for drugs such as cocaine)
  • Ligatures
  • Large sums of cash (typically collected by the police if family isn’t present)
  • All jewelry present on the body – that is visible.  Piercings found in “private” locations, covered by clothing will be noted back at the office.
  • Suicide notes
  • Anything and everything.  When in doubt – photograph it.

The Body Bag

After the body is placed in the body bag, a red plastic lock with a serial number will be tied through the zippers to prevent the body bag from being opened during transport.

  • Photograph the plastic lock to document
    • that you locked the body bag
    • to document the serial number

This concludes photographing the scene. Scene sketches are another form of documenting the scene but neither office I worked at required the investigators to sketch the scene. One office I worked at preferred scene sketches be handled by the crime scene investigators.

Have a question? Leave a comment.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

 

 

Write What You Know: Physical Attributes of Characters

[avatar user=”LeeAnn” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]

As writers we’ve all experienced the incessant noise our characters make – talking to us when we’re doing dishes, changing diapers, taking a shower, or trying to sleep. Always tell us their stories when our hands are occupied doing something else and when there’s not a paper or pen within arm’s reach. They are sassy that way. What they don’t usually tell us is what they look like. And their physical appearance is just as important as their personality. So, since in real life when we meet someone the first thing we notice is what they look like, then that is what we’ll talk about first.

Molly is my character. So the first thing I will tell you about Molly, which I’m sure you deduced from the name, Molly is female. The first thing you will have to decide is if your character is a boy or a girl. No disrespect to anyone of the LGBQT community, but everyone has a gender referring to genitalia with which they were born. Gender is not the same as gender identity and if you write in that genre, that will be something to explore within the storyline.

Physical aspects aside from gender are hair, eyes, height, weight, physique, poise, disabilities, teeth, nose, hands, feet, posture, age, and distinctive markings. These are basic, but these are the things that we instantly assess when we meet someone new or even just observe them from across the room.

So, Molly is female. How old is she? I’m going to say she is in her early thirties, 33. She has medium-brown hair and brown eyes. She is average height – 5 feet 5 inches – and average weight – 140 pounds. Molly isn’t fit but she isn’t fat either; she is soft with a bust that is slightly larger than average. She is somewhat self-conscious and not truly confident. Molly is fortunate and doesn’t have any physical or mental disabilities. However, since no one is perfect, I’m going to give Molly a knee that aches when it rains or if she climbs too many stairs. She has straight teeth, but they aren’t bright white. Her nose is too small for her face, a little turned up at the end but with a small bump on the bridge. Molly has big hands with long fingers and her nails are cut short. Her feet are big too – long but not wide. She stands up straight but she has rounded shoulders so it gives the impression that she slouches. As far as distinguishing marks, she has pierced ears, a Texas-shaped birthmark on her left shoulder, and a tattoo of a wilting lily on her ankle.

This is Molly. Basic. What we need are more details. She has medium-brown hair that is shoulder length, naturally thick and wavy that she wears parted down the middle and pulled back at the sides with bobby pins. She dyes it to a darker brown. Her eyes are dark brown and she has long eyelashes. She isn’t fit nor fat but she is 140 pounds and has a penchant for potato chips. Her knee gets sore because as a young woman she damaged the cartilage while learning to ski. Her teeth are straight from the braces she had as a child and they are not bright white because she drinks too much coffee and too much red wine. Her nose is one of the reason for her self-consciousness, she inherited it from her grandmother on her mother’s side of the family but the bump on the bridge is from a break she sustained when she was pushed off the jungle gym by Ronnie Frasier when they were nine. Her big hands and long fingers and short nails allow her to play the piano. Her shoulders are rounded due to her larger busts which adds to her self-consciousness. The tattoo of the lily on her ankle is in memoriam of her daughter Lily who died at the age of two.

By adding details we’ve opened up backstory which will build Molly’s history, her biography. And from that will spring her personality and essence. Try it with your character and let me know about him or her.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

 

Sunday Paper

Click to read.Pilcrow & Dagger 10-19-2014 front page0001

Dispute Between House Cats & Humans Turns Legal part 2

catlaw3_1

Photo courtesy of Melissa Snark

catlaw3_2

Photo courtesy of Melissa Snark

These letters were previously posted on May 12, 2013 on Author Melissa Snark’s Blog.  For more information about Author Melissa Snark, please visit her website. Thank you Melissa for your fabulous contributions!

10 Tips for NaNoWriMo Success

This week’s video is courtesy of Lostbetweenthepages. I don’t know her real name but she’s hilarious. Tip #9 is my favorite. 

 

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

Write What You Know: Building Characters

[avatar user=”LeeAnn” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]

Characters are people. Okay, not real people but they are real people writers create. And as writers we have to show our characters in their true light or our story won’t ring true. But how do we do that?

First, we have to recognize that our characters have lives, a history. They have hopes and dreams, past relationships (different perhaps from the ones that will develop in the story), a future they can’t foresee, hobbies, favorite foods, hated foods, vices and virtues, beliefs, childhoods, parents, favorite books and TV shows. Everything we have in our lives they have in theirs. Including the obvious starting point – physical attributes.

Novice writers may make the mistake of spending countless paragraphs trying to explain where or what a character was doing five years prior to the coming scene in the story. They do this to provide the reader with the character’s frame of mind or past history with the character he’ll be interacting with, etc. The reality is that this type of writing is both necessary and unnecessary. It is unnecessary in the story, most of the time, but really quite necessary as part of the preparation to write.

We have to build our characters. This series is to help writers do that. Some things you may know to do already. Others may be new to you. All of these things are not, to my knowledge, in a textbook but merely ways that I use to build my characters. And yes, character building is part of the research we do.

So, if I’m writing about vampires, yes, I’m going to research all about vampire lore and history of the legend and the biography of Vlad Dracula. I may even research the local terrain and food and customs of the time just to get into my vampire’s essence. But my vampire is unique. And we need to be introduced to each other so he can talk to me and I can tell his story – his real story.

On Monday, I’ll start with physical descriptions of characters. As a fun follow-along exercise, try writing a character along with me. I shallll name my character Molly.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

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