Start Your Book With the Main Character

My simple definition of what a story or book is; A story is about an interesting character, doing interesting things, for a reason.

But to be an interesting story you need to start with a hook. Starting a story by showing the surroundings is not interesting. Even if it shows the background of your protagonist or the character of your protagonist.

Show the protagonist interacting with the surroundings or even the weather. Don’t say it was raining.

The water lapped at her waist. She glanced around. The high ground she had just left was so close behind her. The kid screaming from the second story window was so far in front. Why’s the water was so muddy. Where’d the mud come from. The lawns around here are always so green and well kept.

Her foot slipped. She fought to regain here footing. The kid in the window screamed louder. She threw her weight forward against the current of the flood waters. The street sloped down from here if she slipped again they may never find her body.

How could the child scream so loud? She looked up the rushing water to where the child was pointing. A large leaf covered branch was floating straight at her. The branch turned like a giant ocean liner. It was an up rooted tree. A big tree.

She struggled against the water. If the tree caught her it would pull her into deeper water. It was so close.

Don’t say there was a flood. Show your protagonist fighting the flood for something she values, a child’s life. Show your protagonist doing something in her character, acting like she would act under stress.

It’s your character’s book. Introduce the character early (its their book, don’t bury the lead). Show them acting like they act. Reader todays don’t have the patience to read about the normal life of a character. Get to the action, in the first line if you can. And you can. It’s work, but it’s work that will make the reader enjoy your book.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

How I plan to save the world

I’m out to save the world and everyone is against me. I must be right.

Many scientist proclaim that there is global warming. They may be right.

Like a character out of a steam punk novel I’m out to stop it or it’s effects. Effects, I am told, will lead to the deaths of many humans in a couple of decades if we don’t do something now.

How I can help? Well Solar cells are a start. The more solar cells we have the less energy we have to generate with fossil fuels. Plus something no one talks about, when you convert the energy of a photon to electricity the photon can not strike the ground or a molecule in the atmosphere and generate heat. Sound good, but don’t fool yourself. If it doesn’t get politicians votes they will not support it (why should they?). If it impacts the world in any way the environmentalists will be against it. That’s two powerful groups against solar cells. What can I do about that? By putting in solar cells for my house. And by writing by elected officials to extend the tax breaks for solar cell installations, both commercial and residential. They are not in favor of that. They need every tax dollar they can get. There are too many things to spend that money on now and the temperature will not raise enough to start killing everyone for another couple of decades at least. Then we’ll do something about it.
There are plenty of open spaces in the United States to put large solar cell farms. There are large deserts where these farms could be built. If you propose to build one the environmentalist will first research every plant and animals that inhabit the area. They will find something that is impacted by the farm and they will go to the lawyers to stop the building of a solar farms. They will fight tooth and nail to save the desert belly flower, even if it means they and their children will die in a couple of decades.

There are other things that could be done, but I’m just one person. Solar cells could be developed that absorb the rays given off by carbon dioxide and cause globe warming. A quick physic lesson. A ray of sunshine (a photon) enters the earth’s atmosphere. It strikes a molecule of carbon dioxide. If the ray of sunshine has enough energy it makes an electrons of the carbon dioxide molecule gain energy. That’s quantum mechanics at work. The molecule is in an unstable condition ( the molecule was happy in the state it was in and wants to go back to that state). The electron gets rid of the energy by emitting a ray of light (a photon), but because of quantum mechanics it can only emit the beam at a certain energy. That beam of light can not get out of the atmosphere. It will bounce off the ground and a layer in the atmosphere until it is absorbed by the ground or the atmosphere. The atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen .93 percent argon and about .04 percent carbon dioxide, so there are other things, including dust, in the atmosphere to absorbs the beam of light or photon.
We can make solar cells that absorbs the frequency of light that a carbon dioxide molecule gives off. That is not as good as not burning carbon based fuels in the first place, but it is doable. Every photon of carbon dioxide that we absorb is one less photon to heat the earth.
I am just one person. I don’t have the billions of dollars to design and make the solar cells that would absorb the photons from carbon dioxide molecules.

Scientists say we have to do something now, not in one or two decades. People living and working in Washington D. C. should be worried. The place was built in a swamp that is barely above sea level, and the sea level is raising.

Politicians remember the end to the old joke, and ‘God said to Noah; How long can you tread water?’

Stay strong, write on.
Professor Hyram Voltage.

After You Survive the End Of The World, Several Times

I’m talking about the writer not a character. From the 1930s through the 1970s there was serious concern that over population would destroy the world as we know it it a very few years.

In 1966 Harry Harrison published a book Make Room Make Room about the over crowded world of 1999. He was extrapolating trends with no change. Why didn’t the world end? Better technology. Improved crop breeding allowed the same amount of land to feed more people. Improved disease control. The establishment of world health organization, vaccinations, the establishment of the Center for Disease Control.

Weather you like it or not genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will allow the population to grow even more. Even DNA testing will allow better control of the spread of disease. Still the recent outbreaks of measles shows us how susceptible we are to the wild fire like spread of a known disease. The threat of the spread of a disease from some secluded part of the world or a mutation of an existing disease could bring back the oldest form of population control, plague.

We have survived a biological attack in Japan by a religion sect. But, that was mostly luck.

In the 1950s there was concern that the world would end in nuclear war.

When I was very young, in the 1950s, I saw a family living in a bomb shelter sat up as a demostration at the county fair in Yuma Arizona. I think they cheated, they had a black and white TV in the shelter. In a real attack, all; TV stations, radio stations, cell phone transmissions would be stopped. The vehicles delivering the nuclear weapons would home in on transmitters, because that’s where the people are. Don’t get cocky and think that the internet will survive a nuclear weapon attack. Data centers, and web infrastructures are very pronounced in satellite pictures. Could you stand to live in a sunless room for months or years with only books to read and no one on the cell phone to talk to?

What happened. Technology. We built radar sites for early warning. Then we built more and better sites. We built satellites to detect rocket launches. We built better and better airplanes, rockets and missiles. We built better and better submarines. We built a better economy. And the attack never came.

Can we say the same about the future. No. Idealist now have the bomb. They don’t care that they could be bombed. Their ideals or religions are more important.

We survived the great oil depletion. Shortly after the oil began to be pumped out of the ground expert have been yelling that there is only so much oil in the ground and we will run out. Often they predicted that we would run out in ten or twenty years.

What happened? Technology. We learned to drill deeper with things like the Hughes oil well drilling bit. We learned to find oil better. We learned to drill for oil in deep sea water.

NPR had an interview with the guy that developed fracking. He was a wild cat driller. He was not a big corporation or government sponsored. He did it on his dime, and it took him years. He tried a lot of things and was about to give up when someone suggested he try something that sounded silly. It worked and we now have more oil than ever.

Oil will run out. But in WWII Germany made oil out of plant matter. We can do that in the future. We will not need as much oil in the future with electric cars, but we will have to develop better batteries and other sources of energy. We can do it.

I look at the young and old so stressed out about the coming end of the world and shake my head. Been there, and seen it pass. If they would study history they would find that experts have been predicting the end of the world since 3000 BC. They are victims of the media and politicians. Some of these media types and politicians are out to enrich themselves. Other of these scare types just don’t know better.

There are big serious problems out there. We can solve them, but these are world problems and one country can’t solve them by itself.

Stay strong, write on, and work and write to make the world a better place.

Professor Hyram Voltage

On Being A Writer and Selfish

Sorry for the last two Mondays. I missed posting and feel bad about that. I had family business to settle and a friends affairs to take care of.

I needed time to morn. Time to bring closure to a family member and a friend.

In the last two weeks I have driven 2500 miles in four days. Moved tons of books and personal belonging. Dealt with hard emotions.

Part of that driving was in a Texas thunder storm with driving rain. The roads in Texas, I was on, do not have the plastic reflector to mark the lanes. With a half inch or more of water on the road it’s hard to see the faded white paint marks between lanes. Combine this with pulling a trailer with a small pickup makes for a lot of stress. Do this at 11:00 PM and I should have my head examined.

When you tell a child “You’ll always be there” or a friend “I have your back” is the greatest thing you can say. But you can’t do it. You are a living being. You have needs and wants. As a writer you need time to write. It is not bad to take time to write or to live your life. You can’t be a slave.

I try to balance the selfishness of my time with making the most of any time I have. Don’t just go hang out with friends. Make the most of your time with friends. You don’t know how long your friends will be around. Suddenly they can be gone, even if they are younger than you are.

It is not wrong, evil, or even bad to take time for yourself. It is wrong to take all your time for yourself, but that is a different blog.

Use your time well, morn those who have passed, Carpe Deim (seize the day, but plan for the future. Planning is the best way to make the most of your time, squeeze every second, get the most out of your life).

Stay strong, write on, and Carpe Diem.

Professor Hyram Voltage