1. Mysticwriter612
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    Mysticwriter612 New Member

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    I can't seem to find some information I need

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Mysticwriter612, Dec 12, 2013.

    I don't know if I am just bad at searching or if the information isn't out there...but this is what I got going on.

    I am working on a novel with my main character being a serial killer. I have an extensive background story and I really love this story idea I have. But my problem is I wish to make it realistic. I always write fantasy and science fiction so this is a jump for me, a challenge I am excited for. Even so, there are two bits of information I can't seem to get to the bottom of that make or break my story.

    1) My main character is supposed to be a plastic surgeon. This occupation is important and I REALLY REALLY hope my guess is accurate. Are plastic surgeons the type of doctor who work with burn and skin cancer patients? Really anything major dealing with skin. I need my main character to have the ability to work with skin and he needs to be able to have enough patients to support his private practice. This is very important to my grand master scheme. This leads us to my other issue...however less important, sort of.

    2) The setting, assuming a plastic surgeon is the occupation that fits what I explained above, is also pretty important. I need a US city that isn't super cliché (such as Miami Florida) and has a high rate of skin related issues. Some of the major examples are burn and skin cancer victims. I need to make sure he is located somewhere that will give him a lot of business.

    Any help or advice is great!

    Summary: I need to know what city has a high rate of skin related illnesses/burns, and I need to know what type of doctor is commonly doing the skin graphs. SKIN GRAPHS is the huge important aspect of my grand scheme. Thanks to all!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There are plastic surgeons in every major city in the US. You don't need a city with a particularly high rate of 'need'. Here are melanoma skin cancer rates by state. Maybe that will be useful to you. People might be surprised to see it doesn't exactly correlate to Sun exposure.
     
  3. Mysticwriter612
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    Mysticwriter612 New Member

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    GingerCoffe: My apologies for I was too vague for you to understand what I meant. You kind of mixed the two separate things I was asking about in your reply haha. I'm not asking about a location with plastic surgeons, but a location with a ton of work for them to do that IS NOT COSMETIC! So Hollywood isn't the best quick answer.

    1) For the idea I have for this story, I DO need the main character's location to provide him enough work to keep busy at his private practice. I want this novel to be the opposite of my others and actually be realistic. For example, I called my local hospital (and oddly enough it was a challenge finding the RIGHT number to call for this...) and they have only had 2 burn patients over the past three months, and 1 skin cancer patient. I am basically trying to find out which city and/or state would have...let's say...close to double digits monthly. Or at least a location where that would be somewhat plausible. I need him to have enough work for some pretty nice twists and turns throughout the novel. It's hard for me to explain why without pasting my 5 page start but it has to do with his "hobby" of killing people, his method of display of said people, and several other components of my novel.

    2) I was making sure a plastic surgeon is the main career that would be working on said patients. If it would be some other type of doctor I need to know so I can adjust my main character's career and also many hours a research I have ahead of me. In my novel my serial killer main character has this thing about skin...the novel is called Layers and well...I'll post the first little tiny section to give you all a taste of why this skin stuff matters. This section is just before the story actually starts. It's to show the reader the mindset of the main character. And I just really freaking liked it xD Bare in mind this would be narrated with a raspy, slightly evil voice. It's fully unedited so bare that in mind as well haha.

    The thoughts of Dr. Vincent Ryland:


    I have a mask. With this mask on I become someone else. Or, perhaps, that is who I truly am. Either way, with this mask I can see into the depths of skin. I can see how the first layer consists of vanity. The facades people put out about themselves so others see them as they want, know them as they intend. Then I see the second layer. Here is where our mildest evils are found. Our white lies and guilty pleasures. But the last layer? That is where you see who people really are. That is where the truth emerges. That is where the bone, meat, and blood pour out to broadcast the true definitions of our individual souls. I can see all of this with my mask. Through my mask. Through each layer of my twelve victims; their pain and agony as their blood flowed to reveal them for what they really are. A raw form of horror. My horror. My mask.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My answer is not any different, @Mysticwriter612. I wasn't talking about purely elective cosmetic work, I was talking about surgeons who repair and restore all manner of deformities and injuries having plenty of work in any major city in the US. Have you tried the yellow pages to see what physician specialties can be found in any large city?
     
  5. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Plastic surgeons may work with the things you have said, but more precisely a dermatologist is a skin doctor.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ginger is right -- any major US city will have enough patients who need work due to burns or to melanomas. Obviously, you're right in that there will be higher rates in more southern cities, but even in a city like Chicago, the city is so large that for individual surgeons in your MC's field, there would be more than sufficient demand, particularly if the MC is very highly regarded.

    I don't see why Miami would be any more cliche than any other city. (Although I suppose it would invite comparisons to Dexter.) If it's important to your story that you have a place with warm weather most of the year and a lot of sun (for reasons other than sufficient demand, which, as I said isn't going to be a big problem), then you're somewhat limited if you're dealing with the real world and want to set it in the U.S. -- the obvious choices are Miami, L.A., San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, maybe New Orleans. You should pick the city that you know best. If that's Miami, there's nothing wrong with it.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like you already have some knowledge of what your MC will be doing. My advice would be to enhance your technical knowledge so that you can be more accurate in your portrayal, even though most of that knowledge will never make it into your writing. In such matters, I tend to work backwards from the final point that will be included in the story. You may want to see what you can learn about skin GRAFTS (not GRAPHS), when they work and when they don't, and what kinds of cases give rise to them. Then look at the kinds of accidents that tend to produce such cases. Then look at how those kinds of accidents occur.

    I would advise you to be patient and not rush your research in your eagerness to get into the story. Also, once you are writing the story, don't hesitate to check back on your research to make sure your facts are correct.

    Good luck.
     
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  8. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    I agree with EdFromNY. What I would add that might seem contradictory to that consensus is do get to writing the book, i.e. the action. For what it's worth (FWIW), consider that skin cancer is highest in those with the least melanin. Irish, with their red hair and fair complexions, are known to be the most susceptible group. If you found an Irish community in Southern California, where the hole in the ozone layer shows up so profoundly, such would be a good setting. San Jose, Point Arguello, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, Pasadena, for example, would all be candidates.
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    First of all, you need to be sure of your terminology. What you are talking about is a skin graft, not a graph. A graph is a chart of a sort by which one can determine comparisons or the progress or lack thereof of something. A GRAFT, however, is a patch used to repair a damaged part of something - be it a tire, a bicycle tire inner tube, or human tissue. If you don't know your terminology your project would be laughed out of any agent's office and they'll be using you as an example of what not to do.

    Now, as to your questions, there is no set standard by which you can determine what cities are going to have "...all manner of deformities and injuries..." based on the size of the city. So a plastic surgeon is going to be more likely found in a city where they can subsidize those repair jobs with other types of 'repair' work like face lifts, mole removals, nose jobs, and other such vanity procedures.

    And GingerCoffee is absolutely correct. Not all cosmetic surgery is vanity surgery. It is not at all uncommon for a person with skin cancer or other flesh eating disease to require cosmetic surgery to correct the appearance. An auto accident or sports injury can cause facial disfigurement as well that might be corrected by a plastic surgeon. And many birth defects require the skills of a plastic surgeon to correct deformities that might otherwise be considered vanity surgeries - nose jobs, eyelid modifications, mouth/cheek enhancements. Also, since skin cancer and disfiguring burns are a purely random conditional set of circumstances, there is no way to quantify which city or locale is likely to have more patients of this nature.

    That being said, you are most likely to find your plastic surgeon in a moderately large population area. Look for a metropolitan location with a population upwards of the million mark - the more so the more likely you are to find an adequate population of plastic surgeons - and with a median income hovering around the six figure mark or better. You can get that information from census reports, which are available online.

    Also, since plastic surgeons, as with surgeons in general as well as attorneys and other high-skill practitioners, are required to pursue annual Continuing Education Learning credits and stay abreast of advances in their field in order to maintain certification and licensing. That means that they will likely want to be close to an area that has a medical center or university with a medical school that offers CELs. (Though nowadays, even that is not so much a given as much of this can be obtained through online courses.) Also, most hospitals of any substantial size are likely to have at least one plastic surgeon on staff. And even most medium population centers have at least one hospital with a plastic surgeon on-call.

    On another topic, is English your first language? If not, then your grammar/spelling errors are understandable. If it is, however, then you need to be more conscientious about your spelling and grammar. Not only the difference between Graph and Graft but there were several other missteps you might want to acknowledge.


    …this is what I have going on. *As a colloquialism, you can also use, have got.


    …a challenge I am excited about. (The distinction here being that, 'being excited for' essentially suggests you are happy for the good fortune which has befallen the challenge. 'being excited about' more accurately suggests you are excited to have this challenge for yourself.

    …many hours of research"

    Bear in mind
    "Bare" means to expose -- "Bear", in this usage, does not mean an ursine beast of the woodlands or mountains. It means to carry the weight of something, though, at times, the weight may well seem fairly grisly and beastly.

    Yes, a dermatologist is a skin doctor however the dermatologist does not regularly involve him/herself with invasive surgeries such as you would see with a plastic surgeon. They are generally more concerned with the surface of the skin and the causes for problems of the skin.


    Wow! Sorry to run so long.
     
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  10. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    *** throws mouse at monitor*** *** cat takes off after mouse, ripping it to shreds *** *** now the mouse needs a skin graft so the Internet can properly have a skin graph including the adventures of the mouse***
     
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  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A dermatologist typically is limited to topical or local treatments. What the OP is looking for is a surgeon.
     
  12. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    We live in an age of rampant specialization where the disciplines are removed from one another. The OP is right to want the surgeon, still technical accuracy would involve a variety of medical specialists and a GP. Skin cancer involves genetics, environment and diet. If the story is about the specialist and his practice, it would likely involve several GP's and other specialists.
    Melanomas are usually aggressive. The list of specialists will grow exponentially with the diagnoses of the patients. If the specialist as the MC is isolated to his/her practice, over a 6 month period this could involve hundreds of patients. The question is how ambitious is the writing?
     
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  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That would depend on how detailed the OP wants to get about the practice, which may be significant or not depending on the needs of the story. Allan Drury wrote Advise and Consent really as a study of the US Senate, and so numerous senators were developed as characters, as well as a president, vice president, Supreme Court justice, members of the cabinet and several diplomats. OTOH, James Michener's novel, Space, dealt with one character who was a US senator and few other government types at all. Different stories, different needs.
     
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  14. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    Hi Ed,

    We often post complimentary... stuff.

    I was building off this as well as the OP's desire for realism.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Good point.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mysticwriter...
    as to location, if the plastic surgeon is at the top of his profession, he'll be well-known to the medical community and have patients referred to him from all over the country [and even the world], so being in an area where a lot of patients need that kind of surgery is not at all necessary and really makes no sense... what is of vital importance is placing him in a city where there is a hospital that is renowned for its burn and major skin injury unit, since that is what the doctor needs, in order to treat those patients successfully...

    so you are on the wrong track in re skin injury/cancer incidence statistics and need to get on the path that makes sense... here's where you need to look:
    https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&tab=Tw#hl=en&q=best+burn+unit+in+usa&undefined=undefined
     
  17. Mysticwriter612
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    Mysticwriter612 New Member

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    For starters I would like to thank everyone for their information and efforts to help. Many posts here I found extremely useful.

    @DrWhozit- one moment your post was a valued resource but then you quickly went to insulting. I'm only 25, no college under my belt, and I take care of my sick mother with just my income and a low wage job. Yes, my English could use some refining but to make the comment about it not being my first language? That was down right rude. I don't sit here and edit online posts to perfection, sorry. While I do appreciate the effort to point out every flaw of an online forum post you don't need to be rude about it. I know where my flaws are in my writing which is why I intend on paying for editorial fees if ever I took my own writing seriously. Which I don't because I already know I have my writing flaws and need to write for many more years before I wouldn't get laughed off the face of writing.

    I am a new writer who so far has only done writing as a hobby. I have a few people who I sit with when I have a finished project and we go over and fix the type of stuff you have pointed out. Then, if I was confident enough I would pay for editing before even bothering.

    I do appreciate that you took the time to find the flaws and explain them, I really do. That is the type of editing I love most as it helps me learn and retrain the information. I am mad I made those mistakes because normally yes, I am better than that. But again this is a forum post and I didn't think I needed to sit here and edit it. I have horrible grammar and spelling on the fly, but when I comb over my work I see and fix many things like you pointed out. And I am sure you are going to rip this post apart too. But the comment about English being my first language was rude and discouraging. I battle with my confidence as a writer enough as it is. I came to this site for help, not to be ridiculed about my forum post grammar. I am conflicted because on one hand you were rude but on the other you did help and I know that was your intention. Also, when I post these it's in the rush before I have to go into work. Not like I have much time to care about those types of things.

    On a side note there are many published authors with worse grammar and spelling than myself. I am not trying to say that those people are bad or don't deserve it at all. I mean, much like I am already well aware, editing is an essential step to moving forward.

    But again I know I am years away from this. I am not a scientist who had college to show him a lot of these things nor am I 60 with many years of knowledge and experience behind me. I am starting out and need constructive criticism not rude comments.

    Quite honestly I would have loved your post if not for the rude undertone. Hence my conflict in this reply.

    But I do thank you for the time you took and the information you provided. Please don't let my attitude of the rude comments made have my appreciation overlooked. You provided valued information and the things you pointed out will help.
     
  18. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    Uhmmm... I think you misinterpreted that the insult was at you.

    THIS is what drew the remark, albeit it was to throw some silly cynicism at what I felt was unnecessary nit-picking. If somewhere in here I pointed out about your English needing some work because it isn't your native language (I really don't remember where...), then, similar to above, I was likely pointing it out to someone who was nit-picking in your defense.

    Incidentally, wordsmith is likely wrong about you being laughed out of an agents office, whatever that is nowadays. Most books about writing for publication do assume there will be editors and other middlemen, but they also mention that the editors are there to catch typos and spelling errors. Had Woody Guthrie not had an editor correct his writing, "Bound for Glory" would have been a much less enjoyable read.

    I rarely, if ever draw first blood where rudeness is concerned. As you may have noticed in that "Faster Than Light" thread, for instance, if I see the discussion is running in circles (especially laden with ignorance and, worse yet, mainstream dogma in my own field) I'll say something to that effect and stop posting to it.

    Personally, I think you're doing fine.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @Mysticwriter612 - I believe it was @thewordsmith who raised the question of English as a second language, and it was probably because we do get a lot of writers on this forum for whom English is not their first language. When someone presents himself as wanting to be a writer but has obvious deficiencies in grammar and usage, it is a natural enough conclusion. Now, if I may offer some advice...

    Never think less of yourself because someone has pointed out a flaw in your writing (or anything else). That is how we all learn. Take the information and use it. More to the point, though, you will be far better served learning proper grammar and usage. It isn't difficult, and you can do it at your own pace. Moreover, I would recommend that you also widen your base of reading. The more you read, the more you will learn about vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and writing in general. Don't think of such reading as delaying your writing - it is part of the process of learning how to write.

    BTW, I would advise against relying on editing services in lieu of learning good grammar yourself. For one thing, you should always be fully responsible for your own work. For another, such services are very costly and there is no guarantee of their thoroughness.

    Best of luck.
     
  20. Mysticwriter612
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    Mysticwriter612 New Member

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    @DrWhozit- I am so sorry! I was in a rush before work and totally directed that at the wrong person. I feel horrible! Thank you for not being mad at me and the things you said made me feel much better.

    @EdFromNY Thank you for all your advice and everything else you said. It put a smile on my face =) I have been told almost all of your advice before. I am not neglecting it as I do agree with it, however, I can't not write. I come up with constant ideas and stories so I am usually multitasking reading a variety of books and writing a couple of things.

    Right now I am trying to learn how to properly do the research I need to for this new novel idea I have. My previous genre of writing has allowed me to avoid this step for most occasions as I could mold the world to whatever I wanted. But for my new idea to work it has to be realistic, therefor I have hours of research ahead of me and no means to do so.

    I am dealing with some things in real life that make things pretty stressful and writing is my escape. Writing is more than that to me but that is the aspect that matters to this. I had found out some rotten news prior to reading that so when I read "is English even your first language?" I took it, possibly, the wrong way and extremely personal. I still feel that the writer of the post was rude about it, even in re-reading it after work. I know I am probably wrong and just got overly fired up but idk. It came off way wrong and still does so whatever. I just can't get over how he took my POST apart. Like really? That wasn't what I was asking for at all.

    But again thank you to the others who commented and again sorry to DrWho for the misdirected blame.

    So now I feel required to ask...

    How bad is my grammar? I knew it wasn't great but now I feel like I need to redo highschool? The weird part is I always had great grades in English and I even took two college level electives. So for someone to insist I am that horrible...it took me down.

    I think it has to do with my writing on the fly though. When I write something at first I type insanely fast and leave behind a mess. I self edit my works AT LEAST 5 times before I feel content enough with ANY eyes being on the complete project. This step is huge and I catch a ridiculous amount of errors that, in finding them, make me feel dumb for making. I feel this is what happens in online posts because I do not take even a moment to edit a thing as it is not a serious piece of work I am working on.

    Oh, one other thing to ED: I am only 25 and I know how inexperienced I am. I am well aware of what type and how much work is ahead of me before I attempt finding a proper editor and seek publication. I have looked into Lulu.com as perhaps a starter phase BEFORE I try to do anything serious. What are YOUR views (no offense to anyone else, but I liked how Ed worded things lol) of those types of websites? My English teacher who vested A LOT of extra time in me started out on a site similar to lulu, he can be found at JeffSchober.com, and he recommended it to me about a year ago. I don't feel I am quite ready for even that, but I am curious what you think of this idea. Oh, and he is the one who gave me every bit of advice you did. He was the reason I even got into writing. He pointed out how I have a nack for imagery.
     
  21. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm just going to jump in here with a couple quick comments. First, if you're planning on going the trade publishing route, you don't hire an editor first - you learn to edit yourself, or get betas perhaps to help. A hired editor is not going to know how a particular publisher would handle your book anyway. But you shouldn't rely on anyone else. Even if you go the self-publishing route, getting an editor that's worth anything is going to cost, especially if your ms needs a lot of work. Even a proofreader is going to cost money if you don't give it your very best shot first.

    Second - and this is a personal pet peeve of mine - posting on forums is another way of practicing your writing skills, particularly communication of ideas. Spelling and grammar should be (or become) second nature to writers.

    And last, one of the things every writer must develop is a thick skin. Unless someone says "You're an idiot!", assume comments are directed at helping you get better in your writing and not at attacking you as a person.
     
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  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not a mess. I see a lack of precision and care, rather than a fundamental lack of knowledge. You might say, "Precision and care? This is a forum post!" Which leads me to:

    I recommend changing this policy. You want to eventually reach the point where your writing is essentially always correct, without that correctness costing you any conscious effort. Analogy: You don't say, "Well, sure, I drove in the wrong lane, but this isn't a serious piece of driving I'm doing." You have the skills for driving correctly, and you always use those skills, whenever you drive.

    Getting to the point of automatically writing without errors will take a lot of writing. And every single thing that you write is an opportunity to improve your writing, an opportunity that, IMO, you shouldn't skip. And that means that every single thing that you write is worth an editing pass or three. Maybe not five, maybe not a lot of nervous rechecks, but at least one or two passes. I never, ever, ever release anything, even a forum post, even a Tweet, even a text, without an editing pass. Yes, I *do* correct spelling and punctuation errors on texts.

    Related to this: You don't want to need to hire an editor--a good editor will likely cost more than you'll make a from a book. You'll need to be able to do that job yourself.
     
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  23. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

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    What are doctors for anyway? ;)

    I agree with this, Mysticwriter. I don't agree with nit-picking, but we should strive to show people on writing forums our very best usage. This is an English forum. The posts have that little "edit" button at the bottom of the post. When I post, I do review it, then edit as often as it takes. Even at that, I'm not perfect, but I usually get my point across... unless I'm attempting humor (Arr! Arr!)
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  24. Mckk
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    I also re-read all my posts and I always use that edit button to correct any errors I make - on here and on FB. It's good practice. As a writer, grammar should be so ingrained in you that you pretty much don't have to think about it at all. It should come naturally. You have enough to worry about without having to look at grammar too, unless you have good reason to struggle, for example, if English isn't your first language, or if you're dyslexic. If I've genuinely forgotten how to spell something, I look it up in the dictionary before I post.

    It's not because I *have* to be this way - it's more a sort of writer's... "integrity"? I don't know what else to call it. It bugs me to think my writing, even something as trivial as a post, could be riddled with mistakes. It's embarrassing for me to think someone out there's reading it and I've made a stupid mistake I should never have made. I don't *want* there to be a mistake, so if I can help it, there won't be.

    OP, you keep saying you're "only 25" as if that explains why your grammar is particularly weak. I'm 26. Like I said, there's always that edit button. Use it.

    Anyway, back to the topic - I love your title "Layers" :) I think you've got a pretty creepy serial killer there and it certainly sounds very interesting! If life is stressful right now, then I would encourage you to simply write and have fun with it. If writing is an outlet, enjoy it as such. Indulge it as such, and don't worry about its quality, because this is your space to be free. Just yours. Have fun with it.
     
  25. DrWhozit
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    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
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    ... without a doubt.

    Song lyrics area is a good workshop. It might fit your project for one of the characters to be co-author of a website like "Brain Surgery for Dummies," or something popular but lurking.
     

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