Creating Living Worlds

One of the most important, and sometimes most difficult, things when writing a world is making it feel alive. We want to feel that the world around our characters is progressing, that it isn’t a stagnant box we created, a world crafted in stone. We want to know that it is realistic. After all, things in our own world are always changing whether we are involved or not. Why shouldn’t your fictional world?

But how do we actually accomplish this gargantuan feat? How do we make our fictional worlds feel active and alive?

Change.

1. Understand that things will still change while your characters are awayAnd show this to your readers.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a fantasy and your heroes leave on a quest to a cave in the woods. The village or town from which they left may have been calm and serene, but perhaps they return to the middle of an event. A town isn’t a dead thing; events cycle in and out, patterns of life ebb and flow, streets become busier or sparser depending on what’s happening or the time of day.

Keep your locations alive by making sure to follow a natural rhythm of life. Don’t keep everything always the same.

Besides normal flows of life, realize that major changes can occur while your characters are away, also… or even while they’re right there. Just keep in mind that some of these major events are best left as major plot points. If there are large-scale changes happening, they should have a specific intent, such as a huge natural disaster caused by something related to the heroes’ quest or the deposition of a king leading to unrest the characters will have to address. You need the changes to be relevant to the story and, more specifically, your characters.

My advice, as always: be intentional.

2. Remember that people change, even when they’re not the focus. Your minor characters still have lives, even though we’re not seeing them through the story. Things are going to affect them. Don’t treat them like cutouts. Make sure that they are also progressing and changing as the story goes. They should be impacted by the same changes the characters see or induce, and they are going to respond in a way that matches their own personalities. Use that to your advantage.

3. And finally, just like in our world, civilization advances. What do I mean? Well, the technology, religion, culture, and ideas present in your society should be moldable and dynamic. They should advance and change and contort. Sometimes these changes are small and barely noticeable, like the development of a new generic drug, but sometimes there are major shifts in paradigms or laws. Incorporating changes or advances in technology, ideas, and political climate can add credibility and life to your worldbuilding.

Remember: building a world is just the foundation. Worlds change. Your world should not be static. Let the ideas shift and morph as you write. Write the changes to your world that feel natural to the story. Write a dynamic, living environment for your characters.

(This post also appears at papercraneswriting.tumblr.com)

New Draft Complete!

Exciting news: I finished a new draft!

A brand new story, so shiny and sparkly, is finally drafted after an agonizing year of trying to get through it. I never fell out of love with the idea, but slugging through the middle was really hard this time around. I knew where I had started and where I was going, but I spent a long time figuring out how to get my characters there. There were definitely some surprises and twists along the way, and I fell in love with relationships I hadn’t originally planned. Actually, two of my characters were supposed to hate each other… and they ended up in love! I gave myself warm fuzzies, and I can’t wait to give them to you, too!

Then I hit the last third of the book. Once I knew what was going to happen again, the words flowed like I had turned on a faucet. And last night I hit that last key. Finally. This feeling. Ugh, amazing. If you’ve ever completed a large project or a passion project, you know this feeling.

What’s next? Well, letting this one air dry for a bit (about a month, just long enough to work on a new story for NaNoWriMo!) so that I can come back to it with new eyes. As I was writing, a lot of different things changed, like the age of my main protagonist and her feelings about another character, so I know there is going to be a lot of rewriting and cleanup. After the sitting-period, I will print off the draft, read through it for overall notes, and then open up a brand new file to redraft… something I’m actually really looking forward to. I can’t wait to shine up this story, to tie up the loose ends and plot holes, to implement the new ideas that I had mid-drafting.

What’s this new story about? Without creating an actual summary, here’s the idea:

Ember is a half-human, half-Nis (fox spirit) hybrid who never quite felt like she fit in. Then, she finds herself forced to graduate (or, you know, expelled) from Nis school and moves in with her brother. However, she is left with this warning: she must learn how to be a real Nis, or she will be rejected from their society altogether.

Then she meets Sora, a Swan-shifter. Sora is part of a discreet organization known as the Knights Errant, an organization claiming they want equality and justice for all types of supernaturals, not just the Nis. This quest for equality strikes a chord in Ember’s bruised heart, and she begins spending more time with Sora. However, not long after this, her pearl, the seed and anchor of her magic and the most important part of Nis life, is stolen. If she can’t recover it, she may just be banished from Nis society permanently and without the chance to make amends.

In an effort to recover her pearl, she begins going to Knights Errant meetings with Sora. Before she realizes what has happened, she’s in over her head and forced to resolve a centuries-old cover-up by the Nis Elders… one that could ultimately destroy the world. With the help of her brother and her new friends, she joins the fight to stop an ancient evil and find her place as a true Nis.

So there you have it! I’m so excited about this story, and I can’t wait to polish it up and get it out into the world.

In the meantime, anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year? I’m going to try to complete it with a new high fantasy based on a D&D campaign I wrote a couple months ago.

Tell me your stories and plans in the comments!

Juggling Multiple Projects

Growing up, I was the kind of girl who was obsessive about stories. I devoured them like they were the juiciest cheeseburgers, and I always craved more. Naturally, that evolved into writing my own stories. But that’s a post for another day!

Instead, today I want to talk about something that has plagued me since my early writing days, all the way back in elementary and middle school. That’s right, I’ve been writing since elementary school.

As a kid, I was filled with ideas. They were in my dreams, they were in the television programs I watched, they were in the other books I read, they were in my life experiences. They collected like raindrops in my brain. They brewed and stewed and percolated.

However, the abundance of ideas that I almost always tended to have at once proved difficult at times. I would start writing something, then get distracted by one of these new shinies. Instead of focusing my mental energy on planning and plotting the work in progress, it shifted to thinking about this new idea. And you know what happened? The work in progress died. I turned all my attention and writing time to the new idea. Oh sure, occasionally I would halfway finish a story. But I never returned to it, never polished or relished or cherished it. I was too focused on the next big idea.

But things changed a few years ago, once I was in the thick of grad school. I started writing fast and finishing things (yes, in grad school. Writing became my escape from the stress and from difficult situations I couldn’t otherwise escape.). I made a decision, either consciously or unconsciously (I really couldn’t tell you if you asked now) to be serious about my writing. To finish ideas. To make them sparkle. And I wrote and completed three manuscript drafts in a year. Yeah, they may never go anywhere. I may be done with them now. Or for now. But I finished things.

However, I still had that same problem of how to juggle multiple ideas at once. I would still get new, captivating concepts while I was drafting. In fact, it’s happening to me right now. But I think I finally figured out a solution. Once again, it comes down to dedication and discipline.

So here’s my new way to juggle projects (and it’s working for me): I am not allowed to touch the new idea until I have added at least 1000 words to the old one. And in setting that one, unbreakable rule for myself, the days that I get to write and really focus on writing, I end up with over 2000 words in a sitting, half of the old manuscript and half of the new manuscript.

So what about you? Do you have this same problem? How do you manage multiple ideas and projects at once? Comment below with your stories and advice!

Night Tales

I recently went on my annual family vacation, and this time things were a little different.

First, my boyfriend came with us. I’ve never had someone to bring along before, and he’s never been to the Outer Banks, NC. My family has been going there for at least a decade, nearly every summer. So for us, there really wasn’t anything new. But for him? It was all new.

And this time there was something new for me, too.

Boyfriend wasn’t really interested in most of the usual tourist-y things: climbing lighthouses, visiting the Wright Memorial (he would have wanted to go, but the museum is under construction until fall 2018, so we decided to postpone that one), going to the Roanoke Island Festival Park, etc. Instead, the one thing he wanted to do is something none of us had ever done before. He wanted to go kayaking at night.

Now, we had done some kayaking tours in past years, mostly around the Alligator River (I’ve never seen any alligators, but some of my family has). Those tours were pretty awesome, but we always went early in the day to avoid the summer heat. But to go at night… that was something all of us were afraid to do. So afraid, in fact, that only I would go with boyfriend this time around.

So we signed up for the Maritime Forest Bioluminescence Tour. I dreaded the coming of the night, afraid to be lost in the dark, by myself, in a salt marsh. Who knew what lurked just beyond my sight? How much would I really be able to see? How would I find my way back?

Turned out that a huge storm system rolled in and we were forced to reschedule right as I was starting to get excited about the tour.

So we went the next night to the Bodie Island Bioluminescence Tour. The night was warm and clear, the moon was nowhere to be seen, and even if it was, there wouldn’t be much light as it was in the waning phases. We also found out this was the better of the two tours being offered. It was a perfect night for such a tour.

All we really expected to see were fireflies, but it was so much better than that.

We left the shore into the super calm waters across from the Bodie Island Lighthouse. It was so quiet, and it got even more quiet (and dark) the further we got from the highway. We saw the International Space Station fly by overhead. The stars became clearer and more abundant. We could even see the cloudy light of the Milky Way overhead.

And then something happened that I had never expected to see in my life: bioluminescent plankton began to glow and sparkle with every stroke of the paddles. Every drop to fall from the paddle, every stroke, every hand drawn through the warm water stirred up these plankton.

It was magical.

The guides instructed us to put our hands six inches down and snap our fingers if we couldn’t quite tell, if they just looked like bubbles, but it just became more and more apparent the farther we paddled from shore (and the light pollution). I put my hand in the water, which terrified and exhilarated me at the same time. Around my hand, the plankton were almost a white cloud of light, and the bright blue of their glow grew brighter as they drifted away from me. It truly did look like magic.

All around, fish began jumping in the water. You see, small fish are attracted to the bioluminescence of the plankton, and they pursue it for their dinner. The glow then also attracts larger fish, the ones who were jumping, to go after these small predator fish. So the glow attracts the predators of the plankton’s predators, thereby protecting them. Weird, right? But so cool (I know, I know. But hey, I’m a biologist!). Other than the fact that one of these larger fish jumped out of the water and right into my shoulder! I smelled like fish the rest of the night, and it scared me more than anything else. And now I have a funny story to share!

But, besides sharing this magical experience with you, there is a point to my story.

If we never do something because we are afraid, we miss out on something that could be truly magical. Perhaps this applies to your creative processes, such as writing or drawing. Perhaps it is in sharing what you create. Perhaps it applies to an activity that scares you, like this nighttime excursion scared me.

Sometimes we need to do things that scare us, because those can end up being some of our best experiences. And if we can’t do them alone, we find those people who push us and encourage us.

So this is my learned lesson shared with you: do the things that scare you. And if you are having trouble on your own, find those people to push you past your comfort zone. Let the magic happen.

As for me, I’ll be forever grateful to boyfriend for making me go on this tour. I have beautiful memories with him and of the experience, I have a painting to make of the experience, I have material for my writing, and I have pride in knowing I did something no one else in my family would do.

It was a good night, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Yes, You’re Still a Writer.

Writers write. Right? That’s what it means to be a writer. But what about those times that you need to take a break?

This is life. We encounter problems like lack of time (even if we try to make the time, sometimes we can’t), health problems (physical or mental), and unexpected obligations or tasks that require our time and energy (in work, our personal life, or both). Sometimes we are so drained or unable to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) that we just can’t write. So we don’t.

You’ll probably see a lot of advice out there telling you that in order to call yourself a writer, you must write every day. I have said before that in order to be a writer you must write. But I know it isn’t reasonable and shouldn’t be expected that a writer writes every single day.

Instead, I think it’s more realistic to say that a writer writes when he or she can, regardless of inspiration. It’s about dedication. Practice writing is important to making your writing better. But sometimes writers can’t write, and that’s when they often sit and think about writing. Or the fact that they’re not writing. It’s a guilty cycle. When you write, you don’t feel like a real writer. When you don’t write, you feel like a bad writer.

My advice is usually to try to make yourself write something every day. Even if that something is a sentence. But if you can’t, it’s really okay. I promise. You don’t stop being a writer. It’s okay to take a break when you need to. It’s okay to skip days. I’ve skipped days, I’ve taken long breaks for months. I’ve had years where I barely wrote a word. I’ve felt the guilt and the itch of not being able to write for one reason or another. But I’ve learned that it’s okay.

Think about the stars. Do they go away when the sun comes out? No! The sunlight just keeps us from being able to see them for a while. But as soon as the sun goes down, the stars come back as bright as ever.

It’s the same thing with writing. If you’re taking a break from writing, think of yourself as a star during the day. You’re still a writer, you just aren’t showing your writer side for the time being. It will come back, if that’s what you want.

So don’t stress yourself out so much. Write when you can, when you have the time and energy and health to put into it. If you can’t, don’t count yourself out. Come back to it when you are able, and focus your energy on where it needs to be in the moment.

Don’t let anyone tell you that means you’re not a writer. You are still a writer.

How to Write a Fairy Tale Retelling

Fairy tales have become very popular lately, particularly unique retellings of fairy tales such as The Lunar Chronicles series, Ella Enchanted, Hunted, the ACOTAR series, and many, many others. In fact, the small publisher Rooglewood Press has been hosting a fairy tale retelling contest for a few years now, and they just recently announced this year’s (sadly the last): Snow White. If you’re interested in that, I’ll include a link to the contest page and previous winners below.

If you find you’re one of those people (like me) who is just a sucker for fairy tale retellings and want to try your hand at writing one, how do you going about doing that? Well, there are a few simple steps to make it the best it can be.

  1. Pick something new. Personally, I am tired of the “classic” fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Everyone and their mother retells those. What about other classics, like Donkeyskin and the Little Match Girl? I love the story Donkeyskin, but very few authors choose to retell it. Just by picking something lesser known or with fewer popular versions, you will immediately create something that stands apart from the crowd of retellings. In a world saturated with fairy tale stories, that’s a good thing.
  2. Start with the source. Go back to the source material, those first recorded instances of the story. Read the base story before you dive into creating your own version. How can you make a retelling if you don’t know the original? And no, Disney absolutely does not count!
  3. Expand to variations of the source. Look at different variants of the same story. Did you know that many fairy tales have versions in a number of different cultures? A couple years ago, Sleeping Beauty was the theme of the Rooglewood contest, and I hated how passive the heroine was. Turns out, all I needed to do was find a different version, and there she was! My active participant from a Middle Eastern version of the story. Dig around, and it will almost definitely give you ideas and inspiration.
  4. Look at other retellings. Find other, more recent versions of the story you want to tell. Look at how other authors approached the story, what they changed and kept, how it influenced the themes and plot. But don’t stop there! Look at reviews from bloggers and readers of the story. See how the audience reacted to the retelling, the elements they liked and didn’t like. Use this knowledge to your advantage!
  5. Make it recognizable. One of the most important parts of writing a retelling is making sure enough elements are present that the reader knows what story you are retelling. Otherwise, it’s just another story, not a retelling at all. Recognition is key.
  6. Make it new. We are all familiar with classic versions of stories. What readers want is a new take. Maybe there’s something different about the hero and the villain. Maybe the setting is in outer space instead of a woodland. Give your plot twists that may not have been present in the original. Maybe even mix several fairy tales together, like in the Lunar Chronicles. Whatever you decide to do, make it your retelling, not just a copy. Your readers will find it far more interesting that way.

For more reading on fairy tale retellings, you can check out this post from Ink and Quills and this post from Lianne Taimenlore. And if you have any suggestions for writing these kinds of stories, be sure to comment! I’d love to hear your input!

Rooglewood Press 2017 Contest: Five Poisoned Apples
2015 Contest: Five Magic Spindles
2014 Contest: Five Enchanted Roses
2013 Contest: Five Glass Slippers

Reading Like a Writer

Time to read Stephen King.pngWriters are quite often first and foremost avid readers. Many of us grew up carrying a book (and a spare or two) everywhere we went, regardless of whether we would actually have to time to read it. This immersion in the fictional worlds we craved perhaps led us to create our own fictional worlds, to fill voids that no book in existence could fill. And so we became writers to create those books.

But even as writers, we are still readers. And we should be. How can we possibly write well if we do not continue to immerse ourselves in the worlds of books? But while our love for reading has not changed, perhaps our style should. Now the question becomes how to read as a writer.

In general, reading like a writer means examining other authors’ writing so that you can apply their knowledge of the craft to your own writing, thereby improving it. The focus isn’t on the story itself or the content or message. It is on the actual construction of the story from a wide (story structure) to a narrow (sentence structure and word choice) level. You read to learn how to write. How do we actually go about doing this? Here are five simple ways to read like a writer.

  1. Read outside your genre. Writers often start by mimicking the styles, settings, and characters of our favorite authors. But the true key to becoming a writer is to grow past this stage, to find our own characters, our own voice. One of the best ways to do this is to keep on reading everything. And I mean everything. Don’t just stick with stories within your preferred genre of writing. For example, I write mainly fantasy, and while I read an obscene amount of fantasy, I also read nonfiction, historical fiction, science fiction, contemporary, children’s books, and anything else that can hold my interest. I learn so many new things and glean so many ideas from these books that I never would have encountered had I not read outside my genre.
  2. Read inside your genre. It is important to also keep up to date on the new releases in your preferred genre. Even if you don’t read all of the new books that are released, have some idea of what is out there, what publishers are buying, and what readers are consuming. This will help you to compare your book to similar books when it’s time to query (many agents prefer that you use comparison titles released within the last couple of years) and understand how your book might fit into the current market. How do you keep up to date on this? Follow people. Follow everyone. But on social media… don’t actually stalk people. Look for publishers, agents, authors, and book reviewers on any social media outlet, including (but not limited to) Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Instagram, and Facebook. Make yourself an attractive author when it’s time to market your story by knowing as much as you can about industry trends.
  3. Re-read. The idea behind this is to choose a story that you want to use as a model for your own work, to re-read it and actively observe the pattern of the plot and development of the story. Since you’ve read the story before, you know ultimately where it is going and can sit back and pay attention to the details in between. Another personal example is when I was preparing to begin my current WIP, Foxfire. I wanted to write urban fantasy, but I wasn’t sure how to structure it. I re-read some of my favorite stories within the genre, writers who are well-known and well-received (Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop), and worked from there.
  4. Take notes. Now, I don’t care if this is directly in your book or on a notepad you keep with you while reading. But the point is to specifically notate the story with your own questions, comments, and observations as you read. This makes you an active reader (like active listening). Even if you don’t write it down, pay attention to your own thoughts and experiences as you read.
  5. Take it all in. Examine the details of what you’re reading, how each scene was composed and how it fits into the overall story. Notice the development of the characters and how the story changes them. Follow the plot arc and how each important point is achieved. Map it out, if that helps.

Now, there are plenty more resources out there for learning how to read like a writer. Writer’s Digest offers a variety of resources on writing and publishing, including on this topic. However, the biggest piece of work I would recommend today is Mike Bunn’s “How to Read Like a Writer.” He gives some interesting background and explanation in more detail than the tips I share above.

Now go forth and read books!

Scientific Misconceptions and Misrepresentations in Writing

Hey there! Sorry it’s been so long, but life has been crazy! Let’s dive right into a topic near and dear to me: science, scientists, and common scientific misrepresentations in fiction.

Many writers want to include an element of science, either by writing a scientist character, focusing on science fiction, or creating a system of rules for how magic in a fantasy story may work (hey, logic! I use science in my fantasy writing all the time!). For ease, I’ll break this into two pieces: myths surrounding the people involved in science and myths around the science itself. For many of these, I will also give you a way to approach these myths to improve your writing.

Myths of the Scientist

Myth #1: All scientists work in labs at universities. This is just plain untrue. While some scientists remain in academic environments, the funding and lack of tenure-track faculty positions, not to mention the simple fact that not everyone wants to stay in academia, means that a large number of scientists go elsewhere. In fact, most scientists are not tenure-track faculty. They may be found in government work, private companies (scientific or otherwise, believe it or not… people like people who proved they can think), scientific writing and publishing, ethics, consulting, or a large number of other positions. WE’RE EVERYWHERE.

Another reason this is untrue is that it focuses on biomedical-type science. Remember there are ecologists, psychologists, sociologists, geologists, archaeologists, etc. Every field in science is different, and many of them include field work. Take some time and talk to one of them, even if it’s by email. HINT: Scientists love talking about what they do.

Myth #2: Scientists are all stuffy old men in lab coats. Also false. While it is true that this is still a largely male-dominated field, and largely dominated by white men at that, there are tons of women, young scientists, non-white individuals, and jobs without lab coats. Would a consultant wear a lab coat? Maybe, but not always. When writing scientists, keep these things in mind. Make them a diverse bunch. And yeah, scientists can be quirky and awkward and arrogant. But remember that a stereotype is nothing but a perceived image and isn’t always true. Choose your representation of these folks carefully and deliberately. They are not cardboard cutouts, so don’t treat them that way. They still have their own personalities and lives and hobbies outside of their profession. But chances are good that if they are in science, it’s because they love it.

Myth #3: I don’t know enough science to worry about good science in my story. This may be true for you, but don’t let it stop you. Consult. Talk to people who know what you don’t. Writing isn’t solitary. You can ask to visit and shadow, ask them to look over your logic or give you the right knowledge. Even a student can give you basic information. If you don’t ask, the answer is no, but you may be surprised. And if you get a no, don’t let it discourage you. If one person doesn’t answer or is too busy, try someone else. Look on university and college websites for email addresses, and give it a polite, enthusiastic try. Even something as simple as “Hi, I’m a writer and I wanted to talk to you about your research” can open so many doors. Believe me, the readers (and scientists) will thank you for taking the time and effort to do your own research.

Myth #4: Scientists are not religious people. Again, take a step back. Scientists are first and foremost people. Within science, you will encounter both religious and non-religious individuals, just like in the general population. For example, I have been studying and working in science (biology, no less) for over 8 years and am a steadfast Christian. There are also a number of scientists with beliefs in any other religion (or non-religious viewpoint) found anywhere in the world. In fact, a 2005 survey observed 48% of scientists had religious affiliations and 75% believed that religion is important for conveying certain truths or ideas (see this page for more questions and answers). Don’t be afraid to make your scientist a person of faith (whatever faith that may be). Be true to the character, not the stereotype.

Myth #5: Scientists are not superstitious. While once again this depends on the person, I can say from personal experience and interactions that many scientists are very superstitious people. But not like you’d expect. What I mean is that because some experiments can be so tricky or finicky, if it works one time a scientist may choose to keep everything the same so it works again. Not just the procedure. Simple, unscientific things like not putting away a solution until a certain point in the procedure or doing a dance while an instrument is collecting readings (I knew someone who did this). And yes, we know it doesn’t make sense and isn’t logical. Yet…

For further reading on the public’s idea of the scientist, check out this page from the National Science Foundation (NSF). And remember, this is how they are perceived, not how they are. To read more about scientist portrayals in Hollywood, read this post from Euroscientist.

Myths of the Science

Myth #1: Humans use only 10% of their brain. False. False false false! I can’t tell you how often I see this in books and movies and it ticks me off every time. We use all of our brain. Maybe not all at the same time. But there’s nothing there we don’t use. End of story. So no excuses just so that you can write a character with special superhuman abilities. Find another way that doesn’t perpetuate a myth.

Myth #2: Antibiotics are good for getting rid of any infection. Nope. Antibiotics will only be good against bacterial infections… for viruses, you need an antiviral, and for parasites or fungi you need antiparasitic or antifungal agents. BUT also remember that use of antibiotics can lead to superbugs… those organisms that are not killed by a certain antibiotic, or are resistant. In fact, prescribing antibiotics for viral infections could also be contributing to antibiotic resistance of bacteria. If you’re interested in the major implications of antibiotic overuse, I recommend looking up information about antibiotic overuse and the post-antibiotic era. Scary stuff.

Myth #3: Hair and fingernails keep growing after death. They don’t. The body dries out after death, causing the skin to pull away from hair and nails so that it merely appears they have grown. They haven’t.

Myth #4: There is a dark side of the moon. Not really. This myth may come from the fact that on Earth we can only ever see one side of the moon. This is because the Earth and moon are what is called “tidally locked”, a case in which the rotation of the moon around its own axis is the same as its orbit around Earth, causing only one side of the moon to ever been seen by Earth. However, there is no dark side of the moon, as the sun hits every part of the moon at one point or another.

Myth #5: Brain cells (neurons) can’t regenerate in an adult. This is a myth that even scientists believed up until the late 1990s. It was thought that a person was born with as many neurons as they would get in their adult life, but in fact there are new neurons born all the time in a process called neurogenesis. There are particular regions of the brain where this process occurs regularly, such as the hippocampus (the region of memory).

Myth #6: People are left-brained or right-brained. This one isn’t true either. Whether an activity is creative or logical, both sides of the brain show activity. There is no such thing as a left-brained or a right-brained person.

I hope this gives you a place to start for your own writing. But I warn you, this barely scratches the surface. I encourage you to look at some other resources, including those listed above as well as other lists of scientific myth and fact such as on Alternet, Dan Koboldt (who discusses genetics myths in fiction), Listverse, IFLScience, and again this page from Berkeley. However, I encourage you to research any scientific idea you want to use in your writing. Doing the extra work now adds to your credibility and the enjoyment of your story by your readers!

My credentials to prove I know what I’m saying: BA in biology, MS in neuroscience, working in science industry since 2015.

This post first appeared on Paper Cranes Writing.