Showing posts from November, 2014

Developing Your Addicted Character ~ The Gambler

Characters in fiction with a gambling addiction offer the writer the opportunity to explore the many foibles and flaws of the human animal ~ provided the author or screenwriter does their homework to develop their character in a believable way.

A gambling addiction, like many issues, is complex, with the addict prone to so many underlying issues and personality disorders.  A writer just can't say, this is a gambling addict.  This is a sex addict.  This is a video game addict.  This is a cell phone addict.

In every case, the addiction is the character's problem everyone sees.  Like an iceberg, the addiction is what shows above the surface.  What isn't so obvious are the underlying personality problems.  Yet these problems drive the addictive behavior, drive your character and drive your story.  Beyond gambling, how does the character behave?  What is their self image?  How do they treat others?  There is no one correct answer.

People who cannot keep their gambling habits in…

E-book, Tablet PC or Printed Page: Which do Readers Really Prefer?

The debate between authors and publishers continues.  Do their readers prefer and have a better reading experience from a book or a screen, and which of these offers more reading comfort?

Many authors express concern that while younger readers have grown up reading from screens, by publishing an E-book, they may be missing a major section of their market - older readers who prefer and process information from the print page.

According to research conducted at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU, and published in 2011, there are no disadvantages to reading from electronic reading devices such as an E-book compared with reading printed texts.  This result holds true for both younger and older readers.

Whether printed or digital, reading itself remains the important cultural technology
The objective of the study was to investigate whether there are reasons for this skepticism [about the ease of reading from a screen]," says the initiator of the study, Professor Dr. Stephan F├╝sse…

Parallel Universes Exist. . . and Interact

Sorry, authors and screenwriters, researchers are taking interacting parallel worlds and universes out of the realm of science fiction and into that of hard science.   Very hard science.

Griffith University academics, Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr Michael Hall from Griffith's Centre for Quantum Dynamics, and Dr Dirk-Andre Deckert from the University of California, are challenging the foundations of quantum science with a radical new theory based on the existence of, and interactions between, parallel universes.

The team proposes that parallel universes exist and interact. That is, rather than evolving independently, nearby worlds influence one another by a subtle force of repulsion. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about quantum mechanics.

Also released in the past few days is an announcement from Texas Tech University that a chemical physicist, Bill Poirer, that restates his 2010 publication of a new theory of quantum mechanics that pr…

Action Adventure or Movies That Make You Think. Which Sells? Which Creates Longer Memories?

Action  adventure films sell more tickets, but are less likely to earn critical acclaim. Movies that are more emotional and contain darker portrayals earn praise from critics and favorable ratings from viewers. This, in a nutshell is the challenge of making serious movies in the U.S.  According to recently published research, action and adventure movies sell more tickets and make more money in release. But after release, does anyone remember them even a week later?

Let's face it, action movies drive box office revenues. But dramas and deeper, more serious movies earn audience acclaim and appreciation, according to a team of researchers.

If you're trying to sell a script to a producer or studio, are your odds better with an action adventure movie, or with a serious examination of an issue or the people involved?

"Most people think that entertainment is just a silly diversion, but our research shows that entertainment is profoundly meaningful and moving for many people,&quo…

Could Depression be Infectious? One Researcher Says Yes.

Fifteen to 20 percent of us will suffer a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in our lifetime.  And some of us suffer some degree of depression throughout our lives.  Researcher Turhan Canli, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Radiology at Stony Brook University (left), proposes that we build a new concept of depression: that depression may result from an infection by a parasite, bacteria or virus.

According to Dr. Canli, and as anyone who has suffered depression knows, recurrence is common, and pharmacological treatments have not changed. He feels this is because the our understanding of what causes depression is not clearly defined. Is depression caused by loss?  Poor diet? Genetic make-up? Prolonged stress?  All have been identified as a factor in causing depression, but have researchers have delved as deeply as is needed to identify depressions' true causes? Dr. Canli argues not. And if we don't understand what causes depression, how can we effectively treat its sympto…

Developing the Socially Anxious Character

It's common in fiction for an author or screenwriter to develop a character that finds making friends difficult, whether it’s a protagonist or part of a supporting cast.

Developing a character suffering social anxiety, the most common type of anxiety, is your opportunity to create a story that most readers and audiences connect to readily: showing someone growing and changing through the events and interactions in your story.  At the same time, you're creating a character any skilled actor would love to play.
Case in point: Adrian as played by Talia Shire in the Rocky movies.  When she first meets Rocky, Adrian is painfully shy and withdrawn.  If any character in fiction has a social anxiety disorder, Adrian does.  Her character is wonderfully drawn by screenwriter Sylvester Stallone, and masterfully played by Shire.  Adrian’s growth as a person through the series is one of the more enjoyable human story arcs in any movie.
As researchers at Washington University in St. Louis poin…

Scientist Develops Method to Read Minds


DNA Research Shows a Mystery Population Invented Agriculture

Recently, researchers from Cambridge University announced the recovery of ancient DNA from a 36,000 year old skeleton, the second oldest from which genetic material has been successfully extracted.  This DNA shows three things:
Our earliest European genomes or DNA profiles, weathered the Ice Age.  The date when our ancestors interbred with Neandertals. That a mystery population that disappeared for around 30,000 years are the people who gave us agriculture about 8,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens, us, originated several hundred thousand years ago deep in Africa, perhaps as far south as a river delta in South Africa, before expanding and moving north toward the Middle East where so many remains of our earliest ancestors are found, along with the remains of our earliest culture before we expanded world-wide starting around 30,000 years ago at the onset of the last Ice Age.
"That there is continuity from the earliest Upper Palaeolithic (Late Stone Age) to the Mesolithic,  (a cultural per…

You Can Name a Newly Discovered Planet ~ Here's How

I remember the process of negotiating with my wife over the naming of my sons.  What this led to wasn't quite an argument, but was certainly more than a disagreement.  Every married man knows the look, and I got the look when I insisted naming our oldest after my father, with a middle name, Lincoln, from a friend.

When the second was born, I stayed mostly quiet and let his mother name him.  Tyler Wallace.  A popular first name of the time combined with the name of his maternal grandfather.

Neither son has forgiven me.

Now comes your opportunity to get the look from most of the women on our good planet.  Or if you're a woman, you can enjoy the male half standing quietly aside as if to avoid a bloody battle they have slim odds of winning.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) are asking our help in naming the 20 to 30 exoplanets discovered since 2008.  The IAU is organizing a contest to be judged by the faculty of the University of Leicester Astronomy Department and publi…