It’s Raining, It’s Pouring: Weather in Writing

800px-Base_of_Gorman_Fall_like_RainingWeather – it’s something that generally just happens. We don’t really think about it much unless it affects our plans. But whether or not the weather is explained in a story is actually very important. Here’s some reasons why.

It tells the time of year.
Sometimes, the time of year is important in a story. This is true if the story is centered around a seasonal place like school or a sport that can only be done with certain weather conditions. If your story is about a swim team, it’s not going to take place in the middle of winter unless it’s an indoor pool. Even then, they have to be inside while snow falls outside. If the story talks about an outdoor camping trip, I would hope it doesn’t take place in a snow bank and rather a tent on some summery grass.

It enhances the action.
Just like in the movies, weather can really enhance a scene. Have you ever noticed that in movies it always rains during a funeral? Or when trouble is brewing, a thunderstorm rolls in. It’s all the set the mood for the scene, and writers can do this as well. If a character is urgently racing somewhere, a sudden downpour can enhance the urgency. If a character is planning on a fun day out, a soft breeze and a sunny day can make it all the better. Not to mention using scenery to express an emotion as well: dead plants can signify a void of life or something strange going on, a mountain with snow can signify hardship or beauty; it all depends on what the scene is that needs enhancing.

It can create an opening.
Sometimes when something needs to happen, but I’m unsure about how to get it started, I will send a weather event to a character and cause them to have to do something else. For example, if a character needs to find a cat in an old abandoned barn, perhaps a storm brews up and they need to take cover. If the storm didn’t come, he or she would have never found the cat. The same can work if you want your character to take a rest and set up camp (or similar). It’s a good way to change the scenery, and often it can allow for some backstory or character development in a rest scene.

It can reveal a character’s inner thoughts.
Whether a character is afraid of storms or worried about having a picnic the next day, them seeing the weather can bring many thoughts to their head. If the situation turns into an emergency, like a flood or the like, it can be used to reveal the true nature of a character. For example, if a character is usually very rude and uncaring, they may turn into a different person with a weather condition, saving kittens from overflowing rivers or rescuing old ladies from falling debris. This happens in real life as well, so it can be used all the same in a story.

All in all, though it’s not often thought of, weather is a very important part of a writer’s inventory. Readers will agree that weather can convey much more than expected, enhancing action and moving the story along. Even if a character may stay inside the whole time, they still may hear the weather outside and it can affect them, too. Weather is a very important element in stories, whether you read them or watch them in the theater.

Picture citation:
Base of Gorman Falls like Raining” by Wing-Chi Poon is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Anime Review: “Natsume Yuujinchou”

Natsume-Yuujinchou-Wallpaper-HD-_-Also called “Natsume’s Book of Friends,” this anime is a bit different from the ones I’m normally used to seeing. The story follows a teenager named Takashi Natsume who has the rare ability to see youkai, or spirits and demons, that roam the world. He meets some friends, and some of them can even see youkai like him, so it turns out he’s not so alone after all.

The story begins with Takashi having just moved to his new home. Both of his parents had passed away when he was young, so since then, he’s been passed around the relatives. Most of them felt he was a burden since he was always acting strange and running from youkai that no one else could see. He was bullied in school and called a liar by his peers, and when that became too much trouble for the family, he was passed to another home.

Because of his situation, he never made friends. And this is clear when two of his classmates begin to invite him to activities with them. At first he avoids the answer, then gradually begins to feel that they really want to be his friend. Along with his final home with his new family, everything seems to be settling in. These “parents” actually ask him what he wants instead of ignoring him for their own children. Gradually, Takashi begins to open up to them and share his life with them.

However, when he arrives at his new home, he sorts through a box they had found of his grandmothers things. He comes across a strange book with names written on each page. On the cover it says “book of friends,” but he is confused, so he puts in back. But soon words gets out, and he is chased around by local youkai that want to obtain the book. But one powerful youkai that calls himself “sensei” makes a deal with him and acts as his bodyguard against those that would take it.

As it turns out, the book is actually a series of contracts that Takashi’s grandmother made with spirits. She would battle one, and when she won, make them write their name on a sheet of paper. This meant that she could call the name whenever she wanted and the youkai would have to do what she said. But Takashi wishes to free those youkai instead, and he sets out to return all of the names, one by one.

This, of course, leads to the various adventures in the series, the first of which is very episodic. There really is no overall plot except for Takashi meeting new friends and learning more about youkai and himself. However, the second series known as “Natsume Yuujinchou Shi” is a bit more plot-driven and more interesting. There are two- and three-part sets of episodes that really keep things interesting, from saving a mountain disguised as a youkai to sneaking into a party to save a friend. The whole series is very cute, but the second series is much better than the first. I give this anime a 7 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Ether Saga: The Five Elements

Screenshot_16Within the world of Ether Saga, there are five elements that each have strengths and weaknesses. Each class has its own element, and some have two elements to work with. It is important to know which element or elements your class uses to be able to do the most damage.

The first is called Unda, or if you are still playing official – Aquan, and represents water. This element is used by Rangers, Mystics, and Conjurers. Rangers and Mystics depend on this element more than the latter as it powers their AOE and stronger damaging skills. This element is weak against Erda.

The second element is known as Widu, or Flora. This represents nature and plants, being a curse-driven element. All of Rangers’ curses are Widu-based, and the class that uses this element the most, Shaman, depend on it for both damage and curses. This element is weak against Oora.

The third element is Pyra, or Pyros, representing fire. The highest damaging element in the game, it is used solely by Conjurer subclass Pyromancer. It is pure damage, with a few stuns available for the class it belongs to. But mostly, it is a damage element, and the higher it is, the better your attacks. If you are a Conjurer, don’t forget this element is your most important. This element is weak against Unda.

Erda, or Terra, is the fourth of the elements. This element represents earth and rock, being the most sturdy of the five. It is used by Dragoons, who are known as the tankers of the game. All of their damage and aggro-grabbing skills belong to the element and is very important for the class. This element is weak against Widu.

Finally, Oora, or Sylvan, belong to Rogues and represents piercing metal. This is a bit in between, able to cause stuns and mana drains as well as high damage if the character is built right. Depending on who you are facing, this element is capable of keeping an opponent from moving and doing high damage to them at the same time. This element is weak against Pyra.

In addition to these elements, additional stats known as attributes can be added to as well. The basic chosen one of nearly every class is Defense and Power. These give defense, resil, and critical additions, which is useful for any class. Taken when compared to the others, they are the highest stat gains of all four choices.

It is also important to note that Dragoons, Rogues, Mytics, and Shamans only require one of these elements. This means that they are more flexible in their builds. Their second element can be any of the others available. I usually recommend Erda to defend against the Unda classes in PVP, or Pyra for later level dungeons. But the choice is yours. Make a build you can be proud of.

Creature Feature: Roc

447px-Edward_Julius_Detmold49Among the birds of the world, the largest and rarest is known as the giant Roc. Making its home in the savannas of Africa, its main source of prey is the elephant, and occasionally, a rhinoceros or giraffe, much like its local neighbor, the wyvern. Though the legendary creature is hard to find, seeing one is considered a bringer of good fortune.

Stories have been told of shipwrecked settlers losing their whole flocks of livestock to the birds. But this has come to an advantage: one such story explains that a group of stranded explorers wrapping themselves in cattle hides to fool a group of rocs to carry them to the mainland. Thus the tradition of good fortune began with this group and still continues today.

However, it is important to note that a roc is not the same as a griffin. Though griffins are very large birds as well, they are not nearly the size of a roc, and their hind legs are that of a lion. Griffins are known as benevolent creatures, assisting those in need. Rocs, however, are pure wild creatures and act thus, avoiding humans when possible. Like their smaller relatives, they have evolved to fear humans, though that hardly seems necessary considering their size.

It is possible that rocs are related to the phoenix, the famous bird that burns at death to be reborn again from the flames. However, if this is true, the relationship lies only in the fact they are both birds. A phoenix is a creature of fortune and benevolence, as well as of magic. The roc is none of these things. Rocs are born just as any other bird is born, and they die just as any other bird may die.

It is said the call of a roc can be heard for miles. If you happen to hear it, the best thing to do is try to get inside or find a protective shelter. Though the roc avoids humans, there have still been reports of them carrying off people occasionally. If you do happen to be traveling in their domain and want to be prepared, a silver bullet dipped in a strong gin is said to cause weakness in these creatures. Alternatively, a tranquilizer dart filled with the same thing works even better. Locals will sometimes even use silver-tipped arrows and wine to do the same thing. And in a pinch, a silver knife can be just as effective without the additional alcohol.

However, it is best to remember these creatures are extremely rare, and it is best to try to avoid combat with them. Some consider them protectors of their lands, and hurting one is a grave crime. We must preserve these beasts, and remember that they, too, are part of the ecosystems of the world.

Roc” by Charles Maurice Detmold is a pubic domain work.

Skip Beat! Character Profile: Kyoko Mogami

Mogami.Kyoko.600.130754Kyoko is a strange one, but also a determined one. She enters the acting business with hopes of getting revenge on her former friend Sho Fuwa. But, it’s not as easy as she initially thought. While her first audition was quite different that what the recruiters first thought she might show, she ends up landing a spot in the agency she hoped she could get into.

But, the agency has taken a liking to her, and puts her in a new special section called the “Love Me” section. Not only is it embarrassing to wear their bright pink jumpsuits, but she is asked to carry out various tasks such as errand running and carrying luggage. At first she is very upset about it, but she realizes that this is her chance, and she grabs the opportunity by the horns and puts her all into her tasks.

She soon gains some fame by taking a few jobs in commercials, but she really proves herself when she takes over the role of a quiet woman performing a tea ceremony. Having fractured her leg helping that very woman make it to the shoot, she goes through with the role, not making a single complaint the entire time. The director and her costars are stunned, and soon she gains more jobs.

However, an old enemy has joined the “Love Me” section. When the woman, Kanae, and Kyoko first meat, the former is very rude and says she will never make it. But now that they are both in the same section, they are forced to work together. I liked the development of friendship between them despite their differences. They even team up to make a commercial together and really knock it away.

Kyoko is not only determined, but passionate about everything. When revenge fueled her, she would get visibly angry when Sho was mentioned. But as she moved away from him, her anger softened, and she became passionate about the roles she played. In the end, she really shows how much she’s grown as an actress and how much talent she has.

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Seeking Inspiration

bulbFor the last month or so, I just havn’t had any new ideas. I’m stuck on two stories, and another is just a struggle. I need something to spur my writing, and poems or blog posts just aren’t doing it.

Part of it was because of the death of my pet bird Charlie. It seems that’s when I really just broke all my habits of writing. Not that I didn’t need a break. I was a mess when he died for almost a month. But I need something to get going again, and I’m at a loss to find what that is.

It’s almost like my mind is a blob of goo instead of a clean and creative storage space. Like everything that goes in gets stuck in the goo and doesn’t move anywhere. I have tried to follow my own rules for writing block cures, but nothing seems to get me unstuck. I’m pessimistic about nearly everything going on right now, and part of that is that I’m not writing.

I need something to start up my engine again. Why did I start writing in the first place? I write to live in a world which is better than the one I live in now – a world of adventure and excitement. I write to create new things: species, people, places, situations…

So why can’t I visit them anymore? Where have they all gone?
Inspiration and motivation is what I lack. I need a new engine to get my thought train rolling.

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3D-printed casts can make healing a broken bone easier.

tumblr_n4u13tCIsS1qlqqhoo1_500I have heard nothing but negative things about technology lately. “People aren’t talking to each other anymore,” or “You can’t get an app for everything,” are just a few of the words I’ve heard from those that supposedly disagree with our fast advancing technology. But today, let me show you one of the good, or rather, great things that technology can help us do – repair broken bones.

With the new development of 3D printers comes even more useful products that can improve our daily lives. In New Zealand, doctors can take a scan of a person’s hand and arm to make a perfect cast for them.

Not only that, but they can make it breathable, waterproof, and still be able to do check-ups on it without taking off the cast. It also allows for a procedure called Low Intensity Pulse Ultrasound, which has been proven to help the bone repair process. Don’t forget, you can also chose your own color and maybe even a design that allows for your friends to still sign it in hopes it will heal soon.

The webbed design allows for better stability in the wrist area, and with the use of the 3D printer, the measurements can be exactly customized to the patience’s arm size and length. No more sitting there for hours while the doctor or nurse papier mache’s your arm until you can’t move it. These casts can be made in a matter of minutes and slipped right on and off.

It would be nice to see more things like this shown in the world instead of all the negative talk about new tech. And that us what I plan to show you once a week – all the good things that come from technological advances. There are many medical procedures and tools that have become easier and better because of our advancements, as well as home use items or traveling items as well.

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