Thursday, November 08, 2018

SMUCKS talk about human biology

Writing stories and brainstorming can overlap. With the SMUCKS approach, I write a discussion on a subject that takes place between the members of the Star Trek crew. The acronym SMUCKS represents the six main Star Trek characters:

1. Spock.
2. McCoy.
3. Uhura.
4. Chekov.
5. Kirk.
6. Scotty.

The discussion between the SMUCKS can lead to just about anywhere, but I like to pick out:

New ideas.
Areas for investigation and exploration.
Fresh tangents.
Gaps in my own knowledge becoming apparent.
Story ideas.


I can use any of the methods that featured in the Methods to generate speech post. For this example I'll use the sound of the writing of two randomly-chosen numbers to inspire ideas for speech.

The subject I'm choosing is human biology because I didn't study it at school and I know very little about it.

I use a dice to choose which of the SMUCKS characters speaks.

So, to start off:

The dice rolls a 6. That means Scotty speaks.
Then the two dice roll a 3 and a 6. I write those numbers and listen to the sound the writing makes.To me - with the subject of human biology in mind -  that sounds like "I could drop dead tonight".

So that gives:

Scotty: I could drop dead tonight.

The conversation continues:

The dice rolls 5 = Kirk speaks.
The two dice roll a 5 and 2. To me that sounds like, "It it was happening, would you know it?"


Kirk: If it was happening, would you know it?

And then I continue the process to develop the conversation:

McCoy. It depends if the brain can still function.
McCoy: It might go on functioning
Chekov: Wait! How could it function?

Kirk: Is it because the brain itself wouldn't be damaged?
Uhura: What if a device could sustain it?
Spock: You'd have to act fast.
Uhura: Or the brain would be deprived of oxygen.
Scotty: What if that was a desirable state?

Chekov: Like you stay at a stage of death?
McCoy: Could you measure the stage?
Spock: Or be at that stage without dying?
Spock: I could see this leading to a discussion on ethics!
Kirk: Or the potential of the human brain.

Spock: Our priority should be to cure mental illness.
Chekov: I wish I could've helped my mother.
McCoy: Did she suffer from mental illness?
Scotty: It's hard to watch a loved one suffer.
McCoy: Which is why this should be a priority.

You can see that the conversation develops and in some ways develops a life of its own. The conversation moved into the subjects of psychology and ethics. On the subject of human biology I became aware of gaps in my knowledge and asked questions such as:
What does the brain need to function?
How damaged could a brain be and still manage to function/produce consciousness?
Could an artificial environment support a brain?
How much oxygen does the brain need?
What does the brain do with oxygen?

I also thought of a good idea for a sci-fi story: A scientist discovers a way to make parts of a brain switch off. At a certain stage a person fills euphoria, but at a later stage they experience an increase in artistic creativity, but that comes with mental illness. Does the scientists turn bad and exploit the artistic creativity of the subjects whilst they suffer?

See also

The SMUCKS talk internet

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

A to Z of useful words.

I've been collecting useful words for many years. That is, words that appear to be key when thinking about a subject, and thus lead to the listing of the most useful information. I've (just about) managed to squeeze them into an alphabet where every letter of the alphabet represents one of the useful words. Here they are:

A: Action.
B: Belief.
C: Cause. (As in something that causes an event. Or a trigger.)
D: Duration. (Any period of time or one specific time.)
E: Event.
F. Feeling. (Or emotion.)
G. Goal. (Or purpose, objective, etc.)
H. Helpful thought. (and positive thoughts. And pros, if listing pros and cons.)
I. Idea.
J. Juncture. (A specific moment in time.)
K. Key-fact.
L. Liver. (Bit of a squeeze; anything that's alive, but usually a person.)
M. Milieu. (Another squeeze. Basically a situation or a scenario.)
N. Negative, unhelpful thought. (Or con, if listing pros and cons.)
O. Object. (As in a tangible object.)
P. Problem.
Q. Question or quibble. (The questions are any question that may arise about a subject. The quibbles are attacks, challenges etc.)
R. Result. (Or consequence.)
S. Solution. (As in the solution to a problem.)
T. The Big Picture. (Or The Whole Affair. Or The Story So Far.)
U. Utterance.
V. A Place. (Another squeeze. I think of the V as representing an arrow that points to a place.)
W. Words. (Or body of words. Ranging from single words up to books etc.)
X. Mistake. (The X represents the crossing out of a mistake.)
Y. Decision. (The stem of the Y representing a direction of thought and the "V" part representing options available, thus a decision.)
Z. Zoom to the future. (Expectations.)

Using the words.

Say the subject is London.

I'll use the format: Name London X

and select a random letter for the X. So Q for quibble would give:

Name a London quibble.

Possibilities: Too much rubbish. Too much pollution. Travel is expensive. Etc.

Another example:

Name a London milieu (situation, scenario):

Possibilities: The New Years Eve celebrations. Crowding on the tube. The Queen's birthday celebrations. Terror attacks. Etc.


I like to use two of the words in combination.


Name a London KZ =  Name a London key-fact expectation.

Possibility: If I research London I'll find lots of interesting facts I didn't know.

Example 2:

Name a London ER = event result.

Possibilities: Winner of the FA Cup. Spectators' ratings of the 2012 Olympics. The role of the London Marathon in motivating people to keep fit. Etc.

The Pangram

I pick the random letters from the following pangram:

The five boxing wizards jump quickly.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Methods to generate speech

These methods help to generate dialogue or ideas for:

A: Stories.
B: Brainstorms.

When writing a story it's really hard to write dialogue out of thin air. Similarly with brainstorming it's hard to pluck ideas out of nothing. These methods make generating speech and ideas easier by creating speech from existing sounds: You listen to either the sound that a dice makes when rolled in a container, or  the sound a pen makes when you write. Then, in your head, you generate words that are kind of "suggested" by the sound.

The Methods

NB: With these methods the chosen topic is London.

Method 1 . Using the sound of writing.

With method 1 I roll two dice and then write the two numbers from the dice onto paper. I listen closely to the sound the pen makes on the paper when I write, and generate speech that is suggested by that sound.

The numbers 3 and 1 are written on paper thus:

The sound, converted into speech, gave:

What did we lose in the Blitz?

Here's a few more numbers the dice rolled, and the London-related speech that was generated from the sound of the writing:

65: Where did all the monarchs live?
11: When will you go?
36: You get the Chelsea pensioners.

Method 2

With method 2 I roll one dice and listen to the sound the dice makes - the rattling - in its container and generate speech based on that sound.

With the London topic in mind, I rolled and generated the following lines:

Has it always been the capital?
What's the crime rate?
I like the Christmas lights.

Other methods

Only one dice and a single number

This is obviously a variation on Method 1.

The dice is rolled:

and then the number on the dice is written:

and then the sound is interpreted. In this case I interpreted the pen sound as:

Could it flood again?

Coin sphere

With this method I use the noise generated by a coin rattled in a spherical container.

Using letters

With this method I pick a couple of letters from a sentence I've already written on paper and write them out and use that sound to generate the speech.

I pick the letters "lo".

and write them out:

The sound of the writing of "lo" when applied to the topic of London's Blitz led to:

Where did my own family go?