At the start of the month, I mentioned that I was going to get into professional writing and blogging. This month, I’ve taken my first steps towards that goal. I’ve gotten myself a new blog, where I talk about writing. I also have taken the plunge, written a short story and entered it to a short story competition. All in all, it’s been a busy month, but not as busy as I was hoping I would have made myself. Still, a start is better than no start, right? Read on to see what I’ve been up to.
Have you ever wanted to write for a living? I think many of us have, even if it’s only a passing interest. I’m one of the many people who have wanted to do this, so, I guess this is my way of saying that I’m now a Blogger For Hire. But what does that mean, why did I get to this point and what sort of services can I offer? More importantly, if you were interested in doing something similar, what do you need to know?
A couple of days ago, I was challenged by Matthew from Normal Happenings to a Writing Prompt. Considering how much I write on a day to day basis, I’ve started to call myself a conversational writer. As such, to be challenged to write something completely out of my comfort zone sounded like fun. I thought I’d give this a try, so this article is dedicated to the challenge that was set to me – To write about Backtracking. To write about going back to something after a sustained period of absense. With that in mind, let’s give this a go.
The diseased, the sick, they’ve come back to show off how these deadly cells have mutated. Viral infections are no joke, neither are deadly diseases, so in this week’s Top 10 list, we’re paying homage to all of the deadliest, most mutating diseases and viruses – And a brief discussion about what they do. Well then, be prepared to put on your mask!
10) Technocyte virus – Warframe
Better known as the Infested, the Technocyte virus affects a whole group of people, made up of the Corpus and the Grineer. This virus is a parasitic organism, which corrupts and changes its host. Those who have hosted the virus for a long time are known as Infested Ancients, who are practically unrecognisable from their original form. A painful, horrible virus which changes the behaviours of its hosts.
The habits an Infested exhibit vary from different specimens, but one constant remains: They all become exceptionally aggressive. They also exhibit a form of hive mind mentality, with the larger specimen referring to themselves as “we”. Nevertheless, we couldn’t mark the Infested much higher, mostly due to how they fear the player as much as they loathe them. They’re mutated, they’ve got a new mind, but they still feel like you’re one of them – However that’s a story for another day.
9) Krippin Virus – I Am Legend
Well, they’re not zombies, nor are they vampires. They’re vulnerable to ultraviolet light, which burns their skin, they’re possessed of incredible speed, agility and strength, and they’re capable of elaborate plans and traps, but they also attack in droves while howling unintelligibly, and they are highly infectious, a disease that spreads through the air. They do stand in crowds in dark rooms while swaying, so that’s nice and creepy.
The Krippin Virus is a pretty aggressive form of measles designed to combat cancer. The infected, Darkseekers, now form the majority of the living “human” populous, only a few million people have proven immune, and not even dogs, or rats have been resistant to the monster of our own creation. We end the world with a cure, and only Will Smith stands a chance at creating a cure to that cure.
8) The Phage – Star Trek Voyager
Among the many diseases sent to challenge the various medical teams of the Star Trek franchise, one that has always stuck in my mind was the Phage, an affliction that dogged the Vidiians for millenia. It began with extreme joint pain, before slowly devouring the victim, causing the flesh to slough from their bones while still living. Attempts to cure the disease failed, as it proved stubbornly resistant to every new cure, adapting and changing.
The Vidiians resorted to terrible practices, like kidnapping members of other races for the purposes of genetic research, or the far darker methods of organ piracy, using transporter technology to abduct organs from living people for use in other bodies. The EMH is eventually able to help manage the disease better, learning skills that will help him save his creator in the not-too-distant future.
7) Simian Flu – Planet of the Apes
A disease that spelt our end, and marked their rise, and it was all of our creation. The virus was modified to help cure Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative mental illnesses, first the ALZ-112 which propelled Caesar to new heights of reason and deduction, then the ALZ-113, which created Koba, the ruthless and cunning ape who would eventually lead the aggression towards humanity.
While 112 proved effective in temporarily treating Alzheimer’s, 113 proved to be our end, an epidemic that brought us to the edge of extinction. Cities emptied, and we were reduced to nomads and clusters of survivors, while ape society flourished, and the disease we made spread and mutated with them, becoming less lethal, but instead robbing us of our reason, our language, our minds, leaving us the feral slaves of a new world, a planet… of apes…
Oh I just got that!
6) The Red Death – Edgar Allan Poe
This may be the simplest entry on the list, but considering the literary works of Edgar Allan Poe, it’s unsurprising that this one had to make the list. He had a penchant for the macabre, with a writing style celebrating the gruesome and grotesque. This was spurred on by a lifetime of sadness, confusion and likely frustration. The Red Death then was inspired by a very real disease of the time, which they used to call ‘Consumption’.
The Red Death in Masque of the Red Death, is a deadly disease which is inspired by Tuberculosis, the modern name for the previously mentioned Consumption. Once a victim has The Red Death, they will begin to bleed through their pores, before succumbing to a nasty demise. This was clearly exacerbated by the fact his wife had Tuberculosis, which made the story all the more personal.
5) Pokérus – Pokémon
Depending how you look at the other entries on the list, Pokerus is the only really beneficial virus on the list. In fact, this might be the only bug that people want to spread to their teams, as Pokerus is hugely beneficial. In fact, once your Pokemon has the virus, Nurse Joy in any Pokemon Centre will comment on the fact your Pokemon has contracted it, which is said to help stimulate their growth.
In terms of the competitive aspect of why you’d want Pokerus; it doubles EV’s, Effort Values. Whenever a Pokemon defeats another, it gets a secret value, depending on the Pokemon yours defeated. For instance, a Pikachu might beat a Rattata and it’ll get 1 EV for Speed. Some Pokemon offer higher EV values, so it’s up to you to find the best Pokemon to train yours, but it’ll be much faster if you have the Pokerus.
Gotta spread it to ‘em all!
4) Rage – 28 Days Later
What happens when a virus gives you pure, unbridled anger? You’ve contracted Rage from the 28 Days/Weeks Later franchise. The aptly named virus targets specific neurosystems, triggering uncontrollable levels of anger, to the point where you have to just act out your violent, angry frustration. It’s no surprise that people compare the infected of 28 Days Later to Zombies, however the two are quite different.
A zombie typically has absolutely no real control over their actions; an undead cadaver seeking out their next meal. Meanwhile, those infected with Rage, albeit may be zombie-like, are actually still human – It’s just their minds are completely clouded by nothing but rage. Oh and there’s blood. Lots of blood. So much blood it makes The Red Death look like less blood. Just don’t cross these angry folk!
3) Shame – Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
We didn’t think this one would rank so highly on this list, but when we realised just how absurd this entry was. The absurdity of it alone meant that we marked it a lot higher, but the popularity of all mediums of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy meant we had to include it. It’s actually quite an obscure entry on this list, all things considered – But again, we had a good laugh at the idea behind this one.
Shame is, in some places in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s universe, a terminal condition. Yes, people have and do die of shame. The most notable example is Ford Prefect’s father, but there’s one piece that puzzled us the most. This entry is only really included in a footnote, to which they state that it is “still a terminal disease in some parts of the universe”. Please, if you know the cure to shame, share it with us in the comments below.
We debated this one a little. Often described as a curse rather than a disease, and with highly and unapologetically magical symptoms; physical transformation and a moonlight trigger, but lycanthropy shares many things in common with an illness.
It’s transmitted via exposure via open wounds, so if you can survive an onslaught by an infected party then you’ll likely find yourself a victim to their symptoms instead. Did you know that silver has strong antibacterial property, and transmission via saliva strongly suggest that lycanthropy is a bacterial infection. Like many old “curses”, is it possible we have a case of advanced use of bacteria as a witch’s curse, like in the old haitian zombie?
I sincerely doubt it, but that’d be pretty cool. Werewolves and their ilk make the number 2 slot.
1) Virus Strains – Resident Evil
We had a tough choice with this one, too – Do we include zombies? To which our main answer was “no” as zombies are another list all together…
… So why did we include one of the most zombie filled games as one of our examples and indeed, our top example? In Resident Evil, the initial virus was known as the Progenitor Virus. This was effectively the basis for all other viruses in the franchise, which was a virus spread by flora. This virus was mostly unexplained, but it led to the research and development of the t-Virus and the g-Virus.
The t- and g-Viruses are notable for being some of the main focal points of the franchise. If we stick with the t-Virus for now, the logic also applies to the g-Virus. Effectively, the t-Virus was made to better the human race, but an altered strain meant that there was instead a zombie outbreak. Without giving you a whole load of information about why the games even happen, the various viruses in Resident Evil often start with good intention, before becoming mutated to make their victims more aggressive and even cannibalistic.
Plus, Resident Evil is a franchise all about viruses… We’d be mad to not include it.
Not all diseases affect people the same way, so we couldn’t help but come up with some more examples. There were a lot more deadly infections and viruses out there, but these we had to give an extra little nod to – Just because we wouldn’t want these conditions ourselves!
Flayer Virus – Warhammer 40K
What disease could possibly infect a race of metal bodies with immortal, undead souls programmed into their aeons old circuitry? Only the kind of madness that could make such future-zombies miss having skin enough to try and get some more. Such is the infectious virus that spreads among the flayers, a parting gift from a C’Tan destroyed by the Necrons, something to forever thank them for their treachery.
It’s a god-given curse turned computer virus with the infectious properties of a real virus, and it’s the only kind of illness that could make the machine-dead more terrifying. The foot and a half long blades that tip their limbs don’t quite have the same potency of a skeletal robot coated in freshly harvested flesh.
The Spon Plague – The Goon Show
I talked about the Goons recently, and if you’ve looked into them since then, or before, or during, then you’re already familiar with the terrible disease that swept through the cast at roughly knee height, an infection known only as the Spon! Why, you may have it, even now! Quickly roll up your trousers to examine your knees. Are they bare, all exposed to the elements and whatnot? Then hie thee hence to a medical practitioner at once, you’ve contracted the dreaded Spon!
Not to worry there, young Seagoon, you may indeed have the cure right at your kneetips, for a particular manner of berk is completely immune to the disease, namely that what weareth long underpants! Yes folks, say no to the wonderpill for the Spon Plague, and don longer undergarments. Save your money for that new wonderpill to protect you from the Quodge, a new epidemic whose symptoms include bare knees covered by long underpants.
Bloaty Head – Theme Hospital
When we first discussed this list, somehow this painful sounding condition completely slipped our minds. Bloaty Head is a disease where your head, unsurprisingly, bloats. It gets larger, more rotund and is all in all very balloon like. Sadly, it doesn’t mean the head is any lighter for the infected patient. Theme Hospital had a wonderful solution to dealing with the painful disease, which caused immense discomfort.
A pin would be used to pop the head of the patient, before being inflated back to a much more reasonable size. Certainly a painful method, but hey, it’s effective. With the release of Two Point Hospital, which we’ll have a review of next week, we legitimately couldn’t forget to include Bloaty Head; an iconic staple of Bullfrog’s title. They might not have bloaty heads, but get ready for Lightheadedness!
It’s safe to take your masks off now, folks; the sick and dying have now left the building. Some of the diseases and viruses we’ve seen today are enough to make you question: Where did nature go so wrong? Why did we make such sick, disgusting things to do to people? Where can I find the highest EV Sp. Att Pokemon to train my Machamp? All these questions and more will not be answered when you vote for next week’s list below.
Now that all of these deadly diseases and viral viruses are outta here, we’d best make sure to sterilise everything thoroughly! Whilst we prepare the site for next week’s list, why don’t you share your thoughts about the above? What did you think of our picks? Did we forget any diseases or viruses that you think should have made the list? Should we have included the “Virus type” Digimon for instance? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
So you’ve made a fantasy city for your characters to live in, to work in or to otherwise mess around in. It’s your story, so your characters can get around a city however they like, right? Well, actually, a city really isn’t a city until we have the actual lives of people, typically simple people, who make the city great. They’re not heroes, but they’re local heroes – They’re your tavern keeps, your shop assistants, your doctors and nurses. They’re… Incidental people – And they leave a massive mark on your story.
In Storytelling, one of the most important aspects to draw attention to is the landscape of the world you’re transporting your readers too. Often, a new writer will start by writing about lush landscapes and gorgeous meadows. This is all well and dandy, so long as there’s a reason why everything is so perfect. However, today we won’t be looking at meadows; instead, we’re going to pump the city smog into your writing.
Grief, anger, denial, frustration – There are many emotions that go into a character who has fallen from grace. These are the men and women who have done something bad, when they’re not supposed to be bad. These can also be the people who have lost their way, forgetting their purpose. These are the sad, heart-wrenching characters who help you invest in a story. We’re all human, we all occasionally forget what we’re fighting for – And this is how I’d portray them in writing.
As an avid reader, some of my favourite stories involve underdogs; someone we want to root for, because we feel for their plight. We don’t necessarily want them to become a hero, but if they do then we want them to be the best hero they can be. We don’t want them to immediately win – And no hero, no matter how great, should immediately win unless it’s a parody. Following on from Creating The Monster from a few weeks back, this is how you can have the Hero Fight The Monster.
Monster is a word that is often left for the goliaths and the behemoths; a word that can incite fear in even the bravest of soul. But, whether or not you believe in monsters, in storytelling, a monster can be more than just a beast. It can be something very human indeed – and in fact, in this article, I’m going to look at a fantastic story being told in the realm of professional wrestling right now: Braun Strowman. Yes, there will be talk of wrestling, but we’ll focus this article on the storytelling aspect behind it. Trust me – There’s a lot we can learn here.
My friend Nathan has been turning his hand to writing of late, because he has an idea and he’s damn well going to run with it. Now, he’s the first person to tell you that he’s not a great writer, and very sensibly and admirably turned to myself and Kim from Later Levels for advice on writing form, but after years of gaming with Nathan I can say that he has an excellent grasp of character and motivation, the impact of a character on narrative, the impact of a character’s history on their decisions, and he also has a perverse sense of humour.
Enter the character of Tom Permahorn, typically “Nathan” in that the character has an odd brutish nobility, a family tie to a clan of orcs (he really likes his orcs) and a uniqueness that sets him apart from your typical sword-and-sorcery brute. Despite the wall of text unfettered with paragraphs, the faltering pace, and some difficulty surpassing the grammar and choice of words, it took very little effort for me to see the bones of something of great quality. Nathan sent me the first few thousand words of The Misadventures of Thomas Permahorn, a fantasy farce with the eponymous Permahorn as the questionable protagonist.
The piece began in medias res, the barbarian undertaking his first ambitious quest, to topple a far larger opponent with reckless abandon because the payout at the end would be incredibly high, and would help build a reputation for him as a mighty warrior. Here I have grabbed a snippet that I loved for what it could be: (more…)