Showing posts with label body. Show all posts
Showing posts with label body. Show all posts

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Relationship Deal Breakers: Things to Keep In Mind When Constructing Characters

Author: Bagande
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relationship deal breakers: traits that ruin the chances right out of the gate

This article is based on the study conducted by:
1. Peter K. Jonason1
2. Justin R. Garcia2
3. Gregory D. Webster3
4. Norman P. Li4
5. Helen E. Fisher5
1. 1Western Sydney University, Australia
2. 2Indiana University Bloomington, USA
3. 3University of Florida, Gainesville, USA
4. 4Singapore Management University, Singapore
5. 5Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Awesome! Your hero has met the one. It was a magical heartwarming encounter. He turned and bumped into her, and she spilled scalding hot coffee down both of their fronts. It was a shared moment of excruciating pain and quick undressing. But she took his number! Sure, it was with the understanding that he'd need to pay her dry cleaning  and medical bills. But it was a foot in the door!

What characteristics could you give your would-be love interest that would assure the reader that the hook up will never happen?

Well, it turns out that the NUMBER ONE - "no thank you" quality is...

 A MESSY unkept appearance - Described as a "disheveled or unclean appearance," according to 71% of women/63% of men. Clean them up before you send them out on the street. If you think that your heroine's showing up all grimey from digging in the garden with that cute little  smudge of dirt on her upturned nose is going to catch the studmuffin you've conjured up, deep down your readers (for the most part) aren't buying it. 

LAZY -Seventy-two percent of women/60 percent of men

That damsel in distress isn't pulling out the knight in shining armor qualities of your hero. 57% of men would take a pass. Women? Yeah, they need a man who can take care of his own issues. 69% are heading out the door.

Poor Sense of HUMOR - It's a major mrph for relationships. 58% of women/50% percent of men say no to humorless partners. So make them funny, even if they met clinging to the side of a cliff, desperately kicking their feet trying to save themselves.

LONG DISTANCE Relationships.
Now this is relative. Living ten miles away in a city like Boston or LA can mean an hour commute to get there for dinner. In Texas, ten miles means they live in your backyard. 47% of women/51% of men won't get into a relationship where their love interest lives too far away.

Here's an interesting one. Only 44% of men thought bad sex should end the relationship. 50% of women would call it quits. I'm going to leave that one there - but this kind of turns things on its head for me. I would have thought that number would be MUCH higher and possibly reversed. But it looks like women aren't willing to put up with men who are bad in the sack.

47% of women/33% percent of men would let this relationship go by the wayside. Insecurity in most relationships is draining as the other needs constant petting and reassurance.

Another interesting one. What a gender difference. 41% women would call it quits. 25% of men. Look how low that number is for guys - Take the inverse that means 75% of men are A-OK with your character binge watching Netflix all day.

27% women/39% men would break up if their partner had a low sex drive. So if you put this with the category for bad in bed, you could see how someone with a low sex drive, but who did well when things heated up, might still have a shot at this relationship.

34% of women/32% of men 

20% of women/26% of men find being chatty worse than TOO QUIET  where only 17% of women/11% of men would find this a deal breaker.

No thank you says 17% of women/11% of men.

The "I don't want kids" phrase will shut the door on a relationship for 15% of women/13% of men.

12% of women/14% of men prefer their partner not have children already.

Yeah, there is such a thing. And it's a problem for 10% of women and 7% of men. Conversely, "NOT ATHLETIC" is an issue for only 6% of women - but still 7% of men. So build your characters somewhere on the interior of that spectrum.

Here's to your characters finding their heart's desires and living happily ever after!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Yup, I'd Say He's Dead All Right: Algor, Livor, and Rigor for Writers


Grave (Photo credit: howzey)
WARNING - this article contains photos of bodies that might be considered graphic or disturbing. Please be aware of your comfort level before reading his post.

Excerpt - CHAIN LYNX

     "Wilson wanted to make sure that he was long gone, and the body was in bad shape when it was found?”
     Deep snorted. “Bad shape, that’s an understatement.”
     “How so?” I asked.
     “It didn’t take the week to find the corpse. The heat in his motel room was on full blast, and they smelled the body from the lobby.”
     “Oh, Gross!”
     Deep waggled his brow. “I’m glad it wasn’t my job to pour him into a bag."

Here's a Video Quick Study (6:11) which humorously goes through the normal steps of what happens from death to interment.

Death is not a pretty sight. It doesn't resemble the Hollywood and television deaths or the deaths often portrayed in literature. There is a series of events that take place. Before we take a quick look at three aspect of decomposition -- algor, livor, and rigor -- let me just address three little sniggly bits. 

1. Urine and Feces - Urine and feces will only leave the body if the bladder or bowl was full.

    The sphincter muscles containing the waste matter relaxes, as do all of the muscles, no longer holding the
     contents inside. If the person has been in the process of dying over many days then they probably have
     not eaten or been hydrated and there is nothing to evacuate. If it is a sudden death, but the person has
     just relieved themselves, they will not eliminate at death.

   "The woman’s lifeless body collapsed like a heap of dirty laundry in front of the door. Urine pooled out from under her." ~ Missing Lynx

Eye death
Eye death (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
2. They close their eyes -Closing one's eyes, as well as
     holding the mouth/jaw shut requires engaged  muscles. At
     death the eyelids will be half open and the jaw will be open
     and off-side. According to my daughter who is a telemetry
     nurse, the mouth slacks and drifts to the side.  
3. Frequently as death approaches the individual will go into a 

    coma or a coma-like state or they become agitated and 
    delusional. From speaking with nurses and hospice workers,
    there is no last second confessional. They go into a state of
    flux, and they expire.

Death is the cessation of all metabolic activity and functions.

1. Legal death can be reversed.
2. Biological death cannot be reversed.

WHAT DOES OCCUR POST MORTEM? How long has this person been dead?

* Breakdown happens because of the lack of body function and an increase in bacteria

   (and other organisms such as bugs).
*  How quickly the body breaks down is largely a function of temperature. 
*  The colder the temperature the slower the chemical changes that breakdown organic matter.
    The cold temperatures also retard organisms such as bacteria and bugs

Video Quick Study (1:08) 5,000 yr old man found frozen in a glacier. The body is amazingly intact.

These changes overlap in time:

Algor Mortis - 

English: Al Gore's Hearing on Global Warming
Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NO! That's Al Gore. We're talking about ALGOR mortis when the dead body cools. 
   * The body loses 2 degrees C. in the first 2 hours and approximately
      1 degree per hour after that. How cool the body gets depends on the ambient temperature.
   * Glaister Equation.Link to formula This is most accurate in a temperature controlled environment.
   * The fatter you are the more you store heat (faster decomposition)
   * Temperature of the body at death also increases decomostion. Did they have a fever? Had they just run
       a marathon?
   * Clothing - More clothes trap more heat.
   * Ambient temperature
      Video Quick Study (5:09)

2. Rigor Mortis - 

   * Rigor mortis first appears approximately 1-2 hours after death. 
   * Progressive stiffening occurs for approximately 12 hours,
      persists for approximately 12 hours, then
      diminishes over the next 12 hours as tissues break down as a
      result of autolysis and putrefaction.LINK
   * Because rigor mortis is a chemical reaction to ATP and has to
      do with shortening the muscle, it is
       interesting to note that in someone who has been physically
       active - fighting or running over a period of
       time - the rigor mortis will set in more quickly.

Video Quick Study (0:48) the difference between cold stiffening and rigor mortis
Video Quick Study (3:10) talking about Michael Jackson and rigor mortis

Livor mortis Deutsch: Totenflecke
Livor mortis Deutsch: Totenflecke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Livor Mortis - 
   * There is no longer a functioning circulatory system so
      the blood settles where gravity takes it and is seen
      as purplish on the surface of the skin.
   * If an object is laying below the body, such as a
      weapon, it could show up as a lighter spot on the
   * Darker skin makes this harder to see.
   * This takes place for about 8 hours. After 8 hours the
       blood no longer moves even if the body is turned
   * Skin color might provide information about the cause
      of death. For example cherry red is associated with
      carbon monoxyde poisoning and pink is an indicator
      for cyanide.
   *  Marbling may develop with the delineation of the
       vasculature as a result of the reaction of hydrogen
       sulfide produced by bacteria with hemoglobin from the
       lysis of erythrocytes, as shown belowLINK

Marbling outlines the vasculature in this decedentMarbling outlines the vasculature in this decedent as the postmortem interval lengthens.
 4. As the body continues to decompose
    * bacteria increases and produces a gas. 
    * The body might bloat from the gases esp. in the abdomen. It 
       can bloat to the point of bursting. This
       bloating brings bodies to the surface of the water if the person
       drowned or a body was dumped. According to Cookie, a 
       recovery diver who spoke to us at the WPA, the body will float
       around the seventh day and will descend again once the fish,
       birds, etc. who are eating the body poke a hole in the
       tissue allowing the gases to escape. 

See how this article influenced my plot lines in my novella MINE and my novel CHAOS IS COME AGAIN.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Death Investigator - A New Character Arrives On the Scene: Information for Writers


Manuel looked at the dark holes in the men’s foreheads. Felt the silence. Dead. Yes, must be dead. They were dead. Manuel’s mind tried to grasp this simple fact. 
 ~  Missing Lynx

 So you're writing right along, thrilled that your fingers are tripping over the keys when shock of all shockers your heroine stumbles on a body. She toes it, hoping maybe it's just a drunk, but the smell tells her she's not so lucky. Shoot! Not only did you give your heroine a very bad day and the seeds of her future nightmares, but now your romance has turned into something else. Who should she call?

Well, 911 to begin with. But they will send out a group of people who are not all playing on the same team. One of the players MUST be the coroner (if it's a small town or rural area) or the coroner's investigator/death investigator.

Well who is that? They've never shown up in any of the books you've read.

Death Investigators or Coroner's Investigators - 

* are specialists who become involved in all deaths that
   were not expected. 
* They help determine if the death should 
    be further considered for criminal review or if the cause was
   natural or accidental in nature. 
* These are the people who show up to represent the coroner and communicate with the coroners office. 
* If necessary they take photos and start to gather information for a forensic death investigation.
* Focuses on the pathology. They assume foul play until it is proven otherwise.
* Develop cases for criminal acts of murder or manslaughter
* Develop cases for civil suits such as product safety failures
* Coroner's Investigators are called to testify in court.
    Video Quick Study (4:53) Testifying as to her job
    Video Quick Study (1:38) death investigator talks about how many deaths he handles and talking with

PLOT TWIST POTENTIAL - the death investigator tries to document EVERYTHING because a body can change in transit. For example, the hearse could be in an accident when the murderer pursues them and forces the car off a cliff! The body could be jetted out the back. Now the body looks very different and perhaps the tell tale markings were abraded away...  

There are no federal laws that govern death investigation. The Model Postmortem Examination Act 1954 LINK to Act gives states guidelines for their laws. So you'll need to figure out the laws for the state your body is found.

Deaths must always be reported (though not necessarily investigated) when there is a:
* homicide (or possible homicide)
* sudden or unexpected death
* suicide
* in any institution other than the hospital
* work related
* public

1. Once a death investigator arrives they start documenting the basic questions:
* Who found the body BUT NOT who killed the person
* What was the condition of the body (clothing etc.) this includes stains, tears, and markings
* Where was it found - this includes the temperature and humidity levels as well as objects in the vicinity.
* How was it placed

Notice that there is no WHY? the "why" belongs to someone else. Though they might gather information that would help with an autopsy such as evidence that the person was depressed/suicidal.

2. They will then make decisions about preserving and transporting the body
3. Try to identify time of death
4. Up close and personal - a death investigator will
* Interview family and friends for clues into the death.
* Search the dead person's home to include reading materials, computers, read their journals etc. trying to get
   an understanding of what might have happened. They might, for example, collect the medical bottles to see
   if there was an interaction that killed the person. Or there was a possible overdose.
   LINK to blog article on Forensic Toxicology

Need a plot twist???

What is a coroner? Video Quick Study (1:49)
Coroners are sometimes elected and may have no idea what they are doing.
In many places, the person tasked with making the official ruling on how people die isn’t a doctor at all. In nearly 1,600 counties across the country, elected or appointed coroners who may have no qualifications beyond a high-school degree have the final say on whether fatalities are homicides, suicides, accidents or the result of natural or undetermined causes.LINK  
Video Quick Study (3:49) Untrained coroner and Michael Jordan's father's murder case.
Video Quick Study (3:24) Recommended standards that would make the death investigation accredited and peopled by doctors run by medical examiner not a coroner.
This is long but very interesting and informative. Video LONG study (1:09:37)

See how this article influenced my plot lines in my novella MINE and my novel CHAOS IS COME AGAIN.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.