Absolutely Vital Information

1/3 of a cup of water

+

1 packet of jello

+

15 grams of unflavored gelatin

+

1/3 of a cup rum

+

Novelty ice trays

=

Alcoholic gummy candies

 

Use this information wisely.

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Medications in Stories

Alright, I know we should all suspend our disbelief and all that, but uh…

If you are going to go out of your way to actually name the drug being used, please do a little research and make sure the drug in question actually does what you claim.    Cocaine?  Not a sedative.  Yes, it was used historically for pain killing and soothing tonics.  It is still not a sedative.

Chloroform?  Very dangerous and doesn’t work at all like it’s advertised on TV.  For starters, the average person can hold their breath for at least thirty seconds, so a chemical that has to be breathed in is not your best choice for knocking someone out fast.  I hate to break this to you, but there is no wonder drug that will knock people out fast that doesn’t have to be very carefully calibrated to an individual.  That’s why anesthesiologists get paid large amounts of money.

Some artistic license can be forgiven.  I’ve done the bash over the head with no long term consequences thing a few times in my stories.  In real life, the amount of force needed to knock somebody out and the amount needed to kill them overlap considerably, to the point its almost random chance that decides which one is going to occur.

Chemical restraints to exist (we’ve all heard of roofies) but they aren’t instant things and they can and will make a person very ill.  They can also kill, particularly if a person is already on medication.  At best, they still take about three minutes to work and can take much longer.  You will also occasionally find people upon whom they don’t work at all or they have a counter effect.   Benadryl is commonly given as a mild sedative, yet on some people it actually works as a stimulant.  That could even make for a good story twist for you – your professional kidnapper/assassin doses someone, only to end up with a hyperactive squirrel rather than a compliant sloth.

On Dialogue Tags

“Be wary of dialogue tags,” she warned.

“Ha,” he laughed.  “I’ll tag my dialogue as I please!,” he exclaimed.

“Peace,” she groaned.  “Have mercy,” she begged.

“I enjoy your pain,” he gloated.  “Let all tremble before my might,” he boasted…

 

Okay.  Yeah, I can’t do this anymore.  I’m annoying myself.  See the above?  Yeah.  Don’t do that.  If you must use dialogue tags at all, try to stick with ‘said’ and ‘asked’.  Let your characters words and actions show what they are doing and feeling rather than stick in a dialogue tag to tell them.

Other dialogue tags should be used very sparingly, if they are used at all.  If you are using other tags more than once in conversation, you are probably using them too often.  Dialogue tags should be nearly invisible to the reader, so when they aren’t, it needs to be important.  Emphasis.  Ye old out of character alert that something a bit out of the ordinary is going on here.  Used too often, they lose their impact and just become annoying.

Also, you can’t actually laugh a line of dialogue.  You can, however, say something while laughing or trying not to laugh.

And yes, I know, you’ll find English teachers, particularly at the Jr. High level, who tell you to use other words for dialogue tags.   I also know that while it is difficult, you must refrain from smacking them upside the head with the thesaurus.

On Respect

I remember seeing this tumblr post.  And I remember thinking, yeah, that’s it exactly.  That sums it up.

When I was six years old, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that being me is against the law.  I was thirteen when the state I was living in at the time passed a law saying otherwise.  I was twenty three when the supreme court reversed their decision, and decided being someone like me is in fact legal in every state in the US.

I was twenty four years old when a cop started hitting me with a nightstick for ‘resisting arrest’ because I dared to cite that Supreme Court  cause when he was writing me a citation for being who I am.  I questioned his ‘authority’.  I didn’t ‘comply’.  I didn’t treat him with ‘respect’.  So I was beaten, thrown into the back of a squad car, and got to spend two days in jail before getting medical attention.  Other things happened in those two days.  Some at the hands of cops.  Some simply due to the actions of those cops.  I was told I was lucky.  That I could have been killed.

And the people who told me that are right.  I was lucky.  I could have been killed.  And the cops would not have suffered any consequences for either killing me or letting me die in their custody.  Because I questioned their authority.  Because I ‘resisted’ being arrested for something that was no longer a crime.

I was left with medical expenses and court fines, plus I lost my job due to not being able to show up for work or call in those two days.  The cops suffered no consequences for those events.  I was told I would suffer consequences if I tried to file a complaint.  I had learned my lesson the first time.  I shut up.  I complied, so I wouldn’t die.

I’ve gone to many protests in my life.  I’ve seen cops seize any perceived disrespect as an excuse to engage in violence.  And when no such opportunity was afforded them, I’ve seen cops arrange the opportunity by pushing and shoving and threatening until finally someone snapped.  And when even that failed to happen, I’ve seen cops call in plain clothes to start the altercations so they had the excuse to swarm in.  Then it’s the same story on the news.  We deserved what happened to us, and we were lucky because it would have been okay to kill us.  We weren’t ‘complying’.  So we deserved to die and we should just be grateful.

I’d like to say there are good cops.  I wish I could say there are good cops.  But as Lieutenant General David Morrison stated: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.

Deescalation and Violence

There is a lot of violence in my stories.  This has led some people to think that I myself am okay with violence.  I would like to point out there are also a lot of werewolves in my stories.  I assure you, I very rarely howl at the moon.

I am not a pacifist.  From time to time, violence is necessary.  However, you will find I have absolutely nothing but contempt for those who utilize it as a first resort.  I don’t ‘respect the blue line’ or have unquestioning reverence for our military.  There are cops and soldiers I respect, and I respect those who joined to put their lives on the line to defend others.

But I’ll be blunt here.  I think way too many folks in uniform have a fetish for violence.  And thus, yeah, you’ll find me saying a lot of disrespectful things about police officers these days.

Why?

Look, if I can take a knife away from a mentally impaired individual off medication while they are in the middle of a full meltdown and do so without either myself or that person getting hurt….

Please explain to me exactly why I should have any sort of fucking respect for a group of people that can’t handle a ten year old kid without body-slamming or shooting them?

I see more action in a given week than most cops do in their entire careers, and it is extremely rare for me to actually have to resort to actual violence.  I don’t ever have to put anyone in a choke hold.  I’ve been attacked over a hundred times already this year and on only one of those occasions did I have to take someone to the ground.

Why?

Because deescalation tactics actually work.  I know.  I use them every single time I go to work.  Nine times out of ten, I can keep the situation from getting physical at all, and the rest of the time I can stop things with little more than holding onto someone’s arm.

And I work with people who are already off the streets because they are a danger to themselves and others.

So the real ‘why’ question here is why, exactly, do we expect so little from these people we are apparently supposed to ‘respect’?

Mental Illness in Stories

Look, I know it’s apparently ‘trendy’ or something right now to have your angsty character have a mental illness of some kind.  But please, please, please, if for no reason other than so you don’t look stupid, if your character is going to have a mental illness make sure you actually learn what the hell it is first.

Your character with Tourette Syndrome?  Yeah, there is a lot more to that than random cussing.  In order to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, you have to also have at least two motor tics.  In fact, Coprolalia?  The cussing thing?  Yeah, only about 10% of the people with Tourette Syndrome have that.  It’s not limited to Tourette Syndrome.  Also, it’s Tourette Syndrome, not tourettes.  And if you, anywhere in your writing, call it turrets syndrome, your readers get one free punch at your face.  Each.

If your character has epilepsy?  Then they probably do not drive, especially when they are in any part of the world with actual driving regulations.  Why?  Because it’s a goddamn seizure disorder, that’s why.  They are not legally allowed to drive unless they’ve been seizure free for a variable number of years.  Not months.  Years.

Also, if your character has a severe neurological disorder for which they are on medication (such as schizophrenia) and they go off their meds for any reason?  Yeah, it’s not going to be just a bit of a hangover.  It’s going to be ‘let’s take a trip to our good friend Mr. Emergency Room’.  It could KILL them.

It would also help if you learned the difference between ‘feeling depressed’ and ‘having clinical depression’.  Hint – Only one of those can be helped by going for a walk in the park or ‘just trying to cheer up and put a brave face on it’, and it’s NOT the latter.

If you are in the US, your character cannot be involuntarily medicated without a court order, and getting such a court order is NOT an easy thing.  If someone gives medication without the consent of the patient or their legal guardian, they can go to jail.  A doctor is not going to walk up and sedate someone in the ER for shouting.  They are going to call security and security is going to walk up and taze them in the ER for shouting.

And if you are in the US, a psychologist, a therapist, a counselor, and a psychiatrist are NOT the same thing.  Learn the difference.  Only one of those is also a medical doctor able to legally prescribe you medication.