Side Project: IQ and the Human Population

http://projects.lincolnfoxandthebaddog.com/iq/iq.html

I work on side projects in addition to, you know, work-work and writing. This is one of them. It’s a single-page website that shows some fun stats about IQ as it relates to the overall human population. The fact that there are 7.5ish billion people in the world right now has some unexpected implications. For example, “superior intelligence” is rated as something like and IQ of 110-119. Want to know how many people in the world have an IQ of 115 or above (i.e. termed “superior” or higher)? Over a billion.

Yes. More than a billion people.

Pretty cool.

The site also shows the uniform odds that any given person would have someone at a certain IQ level or higher within their social circles: family, close friends, colleagues acquaintances, etc.

If you’re into personality testing and/or IQ stuff, give it a look!

http://projects.lincolnfoxandthebaddog.com/iq/iq.html

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Who is writing this thing anyway?

For several days, I’ve been stuck on a section of the book. I found myself mentally whining “But it’s just exposition and everyone is going to think it’s boring…” and thus avoiding writing it.

Which… that’s just stupid. Who is writing this book anyway? I am.

So last night, I was like “Then don’t make it boring. Make it interesting and intersperse it with relevant physical action.” Done. Back on track.

Yeah. Not sure why my brain gets stuck like that from time to time, but it does.

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The annoyingness of verisimilitude

In the face of fantastic elements, it’s crucial that your narrative remains consistent both from a physical and a character standpoint. While working on TPOAP* yesterday afternoon, I ran into a perfect example of both. These are the kinds of things that if you just let them slide as a writer, maybe your reader won’t notice on a conscious level, but in the part of their brain that re-assembles what they read into memories, the little cognitive bits will notice that things don’t quite add up. The story won’t stick with the reader, because it breaks the subtle rules that their brain has come to expect from reality.

Here’s what happened.

There is a fight (shocker), and at one point, Lincoln’s gun (Fox) ends up on the ground several yards away from him. Action proceeds in such a way that there is no chance for him to pick it up. Several pages later, he has to run away, carrying a rather precious piece of cargo. This is how the physical reality kicks in. This could just be hand waved. I’ve seen books where this sort of thing is just ignored, and in the next chapter, Lincoln simply has his gun again. Most readers won’t consciously notice that.

However.

This doesn’t build a world in their heads. Too many of these kinds of little misses, and their brain no longer respects your Universe.

You have to address it. Not only does it fix the problem of “but wait, his gun was on the ground,” it’s another opportunity to develop your characters. Life is full of little annoyances like this, and how we deal with them says things about us. Does the character get the gun before taking car of the important matter at hand? Do they try to do both at once? Do they ask someone else to grab it for them? It’s a great chance to let your reader learn about how your character handles life.

You have to do the same thing on the character side too. If you’ve read my series on “How to write a novel,” you’ll know that you’re going into each chapter with a fairly detailed synopsis of what’s going to happen there. When you go to actually write the words though, sometimes it exposes glitches in your synopsis. The key to maintaining a real sense of character is in being able to recognize when that happens and to adapt accordingly, instead of blindly sticking to the synopsis.

Take a look at this sentence:

Shar calls for cleanup and orders Lincoln to take the body back to the safe house.

Once you’re writing, you can maybe get a page or two out of that one beat. There are two problems with it though. We’ve already indicated that Shar’s character really has little interest in anything to deal with the aftermath of one of her missions. Zilch. The point of structuring the plot as above was to generate some conflict between her and Lincoln because he needed to do something else. But the character as constructed would not actually care enough to order Lincoln to help with cleanup and transportation. Once I realized this, I also realized that I didn’t the additional mini-conflict it would generate.

It was out of character for her, but at the synopsis level I couldn’t feel that. Once the words started coming, I understood that it was as mistake.

Maintaining consistently, both from a physical and character standpoint, is crucial for getting your reader to believe in the world you’re creating, and ultimately to enjoying and retaining your story. It’s tough to watch out for, and sometimes requires extra willpower to fix, but it will be worth it!

* Transformative Paraphysics and Other Alchemical Phenomena

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Dog pic: Australian Cattle Dog

Look at this magnificent thing. It’s an Australian cattle dog. They’re super smart, and the cool thing about them is that while they are descended from English herders, but the couldn’t take the Australian climate. So they bred them with dingoes. That’s right. When you see an Australian cattle dog, you’re seeing part dingo.

Image result for australian cattle dog

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Weapon Pic: Taurus DT .357 Magnum Revolver

Taurus DT .357 Magnum Revolver

 

Taurus makes some good handguns. This one at first appears to be kind of an amalgam — what is it? Four different finishes (matte, blued steel, rubber, brass). But somehow, it all holds together for me. It’s like “Here is a thing that’s meant to do a job, and we’ve been a little crazy with it, but after all of that, don’t you just LIKE it?”

I do, Taurus. I do.

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TPOAP Chapter 1 is in the can

“In the can” sounds kind of gross, now that we don’t generally put things on film and then into film cans now. So, sorry?

It was kind of a rocky start, but I’ve written the first chapter of Transformative Paraphysics, the next installment in the series. It feels like it’s on the right track. I think some of the stuff is funny. It’s also actiony.

Picking this up for a second book was a little strange and intimidating. I was really happy with the outcome of LFBD, and there was a certain amount of pressure to start this one correctly.

In addition to just making things interesting and compelling from the get-go (moreso than LFBD), you have to make sure that you really establish everything that’s going to be thematic with the entire book in the details you lay down. How do the characters act? What do they say? How does that lay the groundwork for everything that’s going to happen later? It all has to be just right.

Some people do that “just write whatever and edit later” thing. I know that’s the standard advice. But it’s not for me. Even when I try to do that, I’m not really doing that. I edit on the fly, and that’s me, and it works, so I’ll keep doing it.

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Pittsburgh Pic: PNC Park and why baseball suits the digital lifestyle

I know I’ve posted about it before, but PNC Park is arguably the best baseball park in the United States, and probably the world. This is shot from across the Allegheny River. There are no bad seats. It’s affordable. Parking across the river and walking the Roberto Clemente Bridge past all of the street vendors and the dude who knows four licks on the saxophone on your way to the game — it’s awesome. The Pirates aren’t great this year, but that’s okay.

I think that the resurgence of baseball has less to do with the rule changes and getting out of the PED and strike funk of the 90s, and more to do with the fact that it fits the way that people want to experience an event now. The pace of baseball is slow, and the times you have to really pay attention become very clear by the surrounding circumstances. It means that you can go to a game and for the most part pay partial attention to what’s going on while you send Snaps to your friends and goof around. If things get serious, you can focus for a few minutes, then it’s back to Twitter. Attending a major league baseball game fully supports the digital lifestyle.

By Justin417Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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Pittsburgh Pic: Gateway Fountain

This is a summer view of Gateway Fountain — a space between the various Gateway Center buildings in downtown Pittsburgh. When I worked near the triangle, as opposed to East Liberty where I am now, I’d sometimes grab a coffee from one of the nearby places and hang here if the weather was nice. It’s an interesting and not too well-known space.

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Dog pic: French Bulldog

I was at Lowe’s today getting a bunch of stuff, which is what you do on a Sunday in the suburbs. You’re allowed to take your dog into the store there, as long as it’s well behaved, so Piper is obviously excluded. However, there were tons of dogs. It was dog-mania. One was a French bulldog. They’re great animals, and from the look of this Frenchie pup, you can tell he’s not buying whatever you’re selling.

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Weapon pic: Randall Arkansas Toothpick

I saw this type of weapon for sale for a lot less, did some research and it turned out it was sourced from inferior steel and from a location that doesn’t have the greatest reputation. The pic of it is beautiful, but I’m not even going to link it here because it would just be a bad deal and I don’t want to tempt anyone.

Here’s the real deal. It’s way out of the price range I’d be comfortable with, but if you’re really into knives, Randall is the way to go.

The blade is 13″ and it weighs at least a pound. They were used by frontiersmen and also by Confederate soldiers. Randall’s quality is unparalleled. If you have $665.00 to spend…

Okay, okay, here’s the original pic of the lesser quality one (a mere $199). I mean, it’s beautiful, but if I want to drop a couple hundred dollars on beautiful, I’ll go commission a painting from a starving artist.

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