Culling Character Is Easier Than You Think

cullingcieCharacters should be established first and drive a story, not used to fill a need in a predetermined plot. The characters’ needs, desires and abilities provide motivation for the story. Techniques for developing characters and letting a story evolve are described.
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I’ve got this idea for a story,” he says, his eyes trying to read my reaction. The pencil in his right hand moves in small arcs, a baton leading an orchestra of fleas. I nod. “Yeah, tell me about it.” I’m looking directly at him (at least he’s going to think I am), arms folded across my chest, left leg crossed over right. My wagons are circled, I’ve been here before, time …

Fight Night: Can You Write It?

fltnightSex and violence.

Got your attention, didn’t I? It seems that everyone, from the presidential candidates to my grandmother, has an opinion on these two burgeoning aspects of modern storytelling. Not the same opinion, of course. One subset of critics maintains that sex and violence shouldn’t even be in the same debate. Sex and violence, goes this reasoning are entirely different things, and one of them (take your pick) isn’t even a problem at all.

There are ways, however, in which sex and violence definitely do belong in the same discussion. Both are difficult to write in ways that don’t mar you story, and both are overused in stories in which they don’t belong. For …

Causes of a Clicking Hard Drive

cchdA clicking hard drive is a hard drive that is on the verge of shuffling off this mortal coil. There’s a reason people refer to it as the “click of death.” Generally, once your hard drive starts making a constant clicking noise, there’s not much you can do but try to backup all your data off of it before it dies completely. Because hard drive failure can come when you least expect it, you should always have some kind of backup available, whether on an external hard drive or a cloud-based recovery site like Crashplan or iDrive.

That being said, it is possible to repair a clicking hard drive, or at least keep it functional long enough to backup everything you need. But in order to repair your clicking hard drive, you will first need to understand the specific issue or issues that are causing the problem. Here are the most common causes of hard drive clicking:

  • The hard drive heads hitting the internal head stop: This is typically what causes the “click of death.” When the hard drive heads cannot tell where the tracks are on the platters, the heads will keep spinning until the actuator arm physically hits the head stop, which is there to stop the reader heads from leaving the platter. This issue is often caused by a fault on the hard drive circuit board, in which case you may have some success with replacing the circuit board or moving the hard drive platters from the defective drive onto an identical, working drive. However, swapping platters without a professional clean room is extremely risky, as you run the chance of exposing the highly sensitive platters to dust and other airborne particulates
  • Loose connection, faulty cable, or faulty power adaptor: These issues apply to clicking external hard drives. You can diagnose this by unplugging all of the cables and visually inspecting the connections. If you find a loose connection, you can use a small screwdriver to correct the shape or position of the male or female connectors. Also check the cables for damage caused by wrapping the cable around the adaptor during storage. Do the same inspection with the power adaptor. If the cables are adaptor are faulty, then you can simply replace them.
  • Graphics card drivers: While not a common cause, there have been documented instances of some graphics card drivers causing hard drive clicking noises. In this case, the solution is as simple as updating or changing your graphics card drivers.
  • Hard Drive on a Non-Level Surface: Especially with older hard drives, if your drive or the computer it’s housed within are on an uneven surface, hard drive clicking can occur. In this case, you just need to check the positioning of the hard drive and make sure that it is level. You can use a level tool to ensure that your hard drive is in a perfectly flat position.
  • Faulty Power Supply: A malfunctioning power supply or a power supply that is overloaded can cause hard drive clicking. If this is the case, addressing the problem will be much more involved. First, you will have to remove your hard drive and connect it to another power supply to see if the clicking still occurs. If it doesn’t, then you know that the power supply is the likely issue. You will need to reconnect your hard drive to the original power supply while disconnecting other devices like the CD drive, USB devices, modem, etc. If the clicking goes away when other devices are disconnected, then it means that your power supply is overloaded and you will need a larger power supply unit.

No matter what the cause of your hard drive clicking is, you are better off consulting a professional computer hardware technician before attempting to make any repairs yourself. For RAID recovery tips, click here. If you don’t know what you are doing, Continue reading

Benefits of Pressure Cooker

bfopcrThere are several ways to get your cooking done. You can decide to go for the conventional stove or get things done via gas cooker. There is also the choice of the electric cooker to consider. Have you ever tried using the pressure cooker for your cooking before? If you have not, you can give it a try today and you will never regret it. This method of cooking has been around for quite a while now and it is gaining popularity as the days roll by. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get your cooking done. There are loads of benefits attached to cooking with this method. Some of the benefits …

Writing My First Novel – A Guide

myfwnlI squeezed four years of high school into five.

My mother died less than a month after I entered ninth grade. Soon after, my father and I moved, and I began attending a new high school–but only occasionally.

To say I had trouble focusing on school would be like saying the Cyclops had trouble crossing his eye. I began to skip so frequently that my freshman biology teacher branded me with the nickname AWOL. Mr. Phillips would call my name in class and, when I didn’t answer, he’d say, “AWOL again.”

In my first two-and-a-half years of high school, I flunked all but one class (English Literature, interestingly). I refined truancy to an art form. …

The Hard Drive Has A Clicking Sound: What Next?

hdcThere is what many call a “normal hard drive clicking noise” but sometimes if it sounds serious, most people just get confused about what to do next. The first thing you have to do is make sure that the noise is actually coming from the hard drive. Sometimes people can panic when it is not even the hard drive that is clicking.

You can open up the computer and tighten a few things inside. After that, power on your PC and listen for any clicking noise. In most cases, it will be gone after tightening a few loose screws. However, if it is actually your drive clicking then it is time to move on to …

Practice, And You Will Excel!

paywexcelI like to think, even though I turned 40 this year, that my best writing years are still ahead of me.

But I have to admit that, so far, my very best writing years were–gulp!–more than a decade ago, when I was a roving columnist for the newspaper in Dubuque, Iowa.

Sometimes you flip through your old clips and wince, thinking, “How could I ever have written so awkwardly?” or “Why didn’t the editor save me from myself?” But when I nostalgically leaf through the yellowing clippings of the stories I wrote during those three years in Dubuque, I smile. Okay, it s a wistful smile (the clippings are yellowing and I am 40, …

Mental Illness: Describing It Can Be Difficult

mentalinessIn the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not at first sight tell; it groveled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal; but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and facet

In 1847, Jane Eyre’s description of the madwoman in Rochester’s attic was consistent with the popular conception of mental illness. Since then, the treatment and perceptions of mental illness have changed dramatically, posing challenges to writers of both nonfiction and fiction.

Language. One out of every …