It's a Writer Thing

Whether or not you write well, write bravely.

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On writing divorce

Anonymous by request:

To the anon asking about childhood divorce and how that affects teenagers: I have some information for you that you might find useful.

My parents divorced when I was nine (I’m seventeen now) and my brother and I ended up transferring between houses every two weeks. My mother and father both remarried and we gained a step family at both places, thus putting us in the “separate families” category.

For me this meant:

Constantly picking up your life and moving it elsewhere

Questioning what “home” means and if I actually had one

Questioning if I had any “real” family at all.

A general sense of confusion and lack of control over my life, and some estrangement from my parents.

But also,

A strong sense of independence

The development of a larger inner world and appreciation for the little things in life

The mental reliance on things that were consistent,
(i.e.: school, friends, siblings, hobbies) which helped strengthen skills and relationships.

The eventual realization that relationships with people have nothing to do with how I came to know them, only what I put into it.

So, for example:

Your character may have become a fantastic dancer over the years because it was something that kept them stable through the moving back and forth, but can also be anal and unpleasant about little details like appointments and dates because of a need to exert control over the things they can. So on and so forth.

Theses were just my personal experiences, but I figure that it happens to a lot of kids in my boat and the perspective could help you flesh out your character if you happen to put them in a similar situation.

Good luck writing! :)

Filed under Divorce anon character development

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Anonymous asked: As a person whos parents separated when I was 8, I did not feel responsible. Maybe for 5 minutes until I realized that was stupid. I didn't really blame anyone it was a long time in coming, with them arguing all the time.

Thanks for your input. Every bit of perspective is valuable!

Filed under Anon divorce ask

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Writing Research - The Roaring Twenties


The Roaring Twenties is a term sometimes used to refer to the 1920s in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, characterizing the decade’s distinctive cultural edge in New York City, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, London, Los Angeles and many other major cities during a period of sustained economic prosperity. French speakers called it the “années folles" ("Crazy Years"), emphasizing the era’s social, artistic, and cultural dynamism.

Normalcy returned to politics in the wake of hyper-emotional patriotism after World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, and Art Deco peaked. Economically, the era saw the large-scale diffusion and use of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, and electricity, unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture. The media focused on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars, as cities rooted for their home team and filled the new palatial cinemas and gigantic stadiums. In most major countries women won the right to vote for the first time. Finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 ended the era, as the Great Depression set in, bringing years of worldwide gloom and hardship.

The social and cultural features known as the Roaring Twenties began in leading metropolitan centers, especially Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Paris and London, then spread widely in the aftermath of World War I. The United States gained dominance in world finance. Thus when Germany could no longer afford war reparations to Britain, France and other Allies, the Americans came up with the Dawes Plan and Wall Street invested heavily in Germany, which repaid its reparations to nations that in turn used the dollars to pay off their war debts to Washington. By the middle of the decade, prosperity was widespread, with the second half of the decade later becoming known as the “Golden Twenties”.

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity and a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated “modernity” to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality in both daily life and architecture. At the same time, jazz and dancing rose in popularity, in opposition to the mood of the specter of World War I. As such, the period is also often referred to as the Jazz Age. [1] [2]


Society & Life



Entertainment & Food


Health, Hygiene & Medicine

Law Enforcement & Crime


(via clevergirlhelps)

Filed under Twenties 20s 1920s Writer Resources

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Anonymous asked: what's some advice you have for writing a flirty character? i don't want them to come off as too much


This depends on a lot: age, culture, gender, etc. That being said, I do have some generic advice to give.


Eye Contact. Eye contact is a really major part of flirting. First, it establishes that you see and acknowledge the person. Beyond that, if they maintain eye contact, it can indicate mutual interest. It is also a general part of open body language, which is really important (and my next point).

Open body language. Shoulders open, chest forward, arms not crossed, back straight. Someone who is slouching or has their arms crossed often looks closed up, and while in some cases that may come across as cool, it doesn’t come across as approachable, which is essentially the point of flirting.

Smiling. Again, your character wants to look approachable. Smiling is a really easy way to do that. It is also a good way to show that the attention is positive, as opposed to staring at someone because they have food in their teeth, are doing something that they should stop doing, etc.

Physical contact. If your character is close to someone that they’re flirting with, they should touch them. It doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be aggressive grabbing or patting, but instead touching a shoulder, arm, hand, or knee. They should also position themselves close to someone that they’re flirting with even when they’re not touching.

Teasing. This is a really common verbal way of flirting, though one needs to be done carefully to make sure it’s not mean, because it can cross that line. If the character does cross that line accidentally, or hits a nerve that they don’t know about, have them cover it up with some more flirting, something that would keep the person’s attention and make them not be angry anymore.

Funny stories. Telling a funny story is another good way of flirting, because laughter can get people to open up. The conversation would probably need to be more than just funny stories, but it can be a good way for your character to get someone to open up.

Be suggestive. Again, something that a character would need to be careful of (and fairly confident to do). This can also be done over text, messaging, etc. so it can be a long-term way of flirting.

Awareness of others. A flirty character should be aware of the people that they’re flirting with. That isn’t just knowing that they exist or physically where they are, but what their responses and body language are. Unless you want them to be a mean or harassing flirt, they should be aware of when the person is sending the sign that they want them to continue and when the person is trying to get them to leave them alone. If it’s the latter, they should probably leave them alone, because otherwise they just come across as being obnoxious and/or a bad person.

For females:

Accentuate their chest and/or butt. For the chest especially, a small chest can be disguised depending on the clothing, and so a flirty girl with a small chest would probably wear clothing that disguised it, while a flirty girl with a larger chest would probably wear clothing that showed more of it off. Necklaces are also useful, because playing with them can draw the eye to the chest.

For males:

Make sure the character doesn’t come across as creepy/too aggressive. I have read more stories than I’d like where a guy’s “flirting” comes across as creepily sexually aggressive, especially when he doesn’t know the girl. This tends to happen significantly less with girls flirting, but when men are written as being suggestive, it tends to be essentially “here are all of the ways I am planning to have sex with you” instead of “oh, I’m not dressed because I just got out of the shower ;)”. The latter can be flirty-suggestive. The former usually reads as stalker-rapist-creepy.

Think about why the character is flirting. For some people, it is because they just like to flirt. For some, it might be because they’re looking for sex. For some, it might be because they’re looking for a relationship. For some, it might be because they like the power it gives them. The way they flirt should depend on their reason for doing so.

Filed under Flirting flirty character romance attraction body language writer reference

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Anonymous asked: Can you please help me? I'm trying to write a character that is secretly a drug addict who is trying to over come his addiction and I need help for when he starts to crave the drugs.

Filed under Drugs withdrawl addiction Writer Resources

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Anonymous asked: Any information about writing kids, I am writing a story and don't really know anything about expressing a toddlers opinion, someone that can barely talk and cries all the time is a bit complicated...


This gets long so I’ve just bolded the important stuff, then whoever braves reading this can hopefully skim to the part they need. Followers/Admins, feel free to add your own thoughts…!

The most complicated thing about a toddler is knowing how to deal with them. Toddlers are impulsive and demanding - they don’t understand the world around them or other people enough to weigh in things like 1) the situation, 2) everyone else’s moods and 3) how reasonable their request is when they start throwing a fit. Basically, they’re unable to empathise in the same way an adult can.

So here is a sort of cheat-sheet to help you work out what a toddler is capable of doing and saying. Please note that all children differ.


By two, babies have enough of a vocabulary to actually communicate with the adults around them. They’re capable of phrases rather than sentences. Things like:

'Juice?' - ‘I’m thirsty’, ‘Where is my juice cup?’ or ‘I want my juice cup’. (Replace with pretty much any physical object/person the child has learnt to address, ie ‘Sweeties?’, ‘Toys?’, ‘Daddy?’)

'Bye bye!' - ‘Goodbye’, ‘I understand that this television programme/song/game is finished now’ or ‘I’m done with your shit and I’m not going to obey your orders. Chase me.’

Shortened words. Banana becomes ‘nah-nah’ and most foods/other objects are shortened/poorly replicated versions of the actual word.

Very simple sentences to convey a meaning, such as, ‘It hurts!’, ‘That was mammy (I heard from across the room/on the phone/I saw pass by the window)’. Usually just something they’ve learnt to repeat from those around them, so they don’t always use it in context.

'Yack!'/'Yuck!' - ‘My nappy is dirty’, ‘I don’t like the taste of that food you’ve just forced into my mouth’ or ‘My hands are covered in sticky things and it’s your job to clean them’.

'No.' - ‘I’m not going to eat that’, ‘I’m not going to play that game’, ‘I’m not going to watch this television programme’, ‘I want to see daddy, yes, but I’m going to say ‘no’ anyway because I like that word better’ or ‘I don’t want to do what you’re asking of me’.

'Bababuhbbuhagfugjjhug'. Random gibberish that toddler says in between coherent words/phrases. In my opinion, they’re trying to simulate a conversation but know they can get away with putting in the absolute bare minimum of effort.

Repetition. All children at this age try to repeat the things you say and do. Most of the time they achieve gibberish, but if you repeat a word often enough, they’ll memorise it.

Generally speaking, toddlers have very mundane conversations where they repeat just about everything in their limited vocabulary to get the whole range of rehearsed reactions you have available.


Basic facts:

  • Toddlers cry a lot because they lack any ability to express the range of emotions they’re experiencing.
  • They thrive under routine, as it makes them feel safe and secure. Disruptions to the routine means a cranky, unsettled and irritable two year old.
  • Toddlers have limitless amounts of energy. They don’t stop throwing themselves around, even if they haven’t slept for twelve hours. It’s up to you to enforce bedtime, otherwise your toddler will stay awake until his body goes into automatic shut down.
  • They’re rough-handed and have to be taught to be gentle. This is why pets scatter when they see a toddler crashing into the room. They know it’s tail-pulling and back-slapping time.

That said, toddlers do have their own personalities and quirks which is why this guide really can’t beat actually being around a toddler or two. Here’s a brief summary of the differences I’ve observed between my two oldest nephews (I’ll call ‘em A and B) to give you a little reference sheet of how to develop these individual differences:

Playtime: A is very quiet. Used to playing on his own, so you have to really dedicate yourself to getting him up on his feet or engaged in a game (but once you do, he doesn’t sit back down again or accept that the game has an end). On the other hand, B never sits down ever, not even during his allotted television time. Pretty sure he’d stand up in his high chair if able. Always in the mood for games and says/does funny things to make everyone laugh.

Discipline: B is strong-willed and doesn’t understand the concept of, ‘Don’t touch that’ or ‘Don’t do that’. If you shout at him, he puts his head down, looks very sad and then cries into his hands until you distract him with a new game or tickles. A is similar, but goes in a huff for a very long time and possibly won’t speak to/look at you for the rest of the day. Will continually retry his evil plan and scream/cry louder every time he’s thwarted.

Outside: Neither A nor B like holding hands with designated adult whilst outside. Also set on ‘auto-run’ for the entire time with no way of turning it off. Both incapable of sitting still for car rides and like to test the child lock feature at frequent intervals throughout the journey.

Potty training: Both A and B reluctant to use potties. Need encouragement, so praised extensively after any achievement. B a lot lazier than A when it comes to flagging up a warning. A sometimes so determined not to use potty, that he says nothing at all until you notice his pants are soaked through.

Conversation: A’s favourite words: ‘Car’, ‘Bick’ (bike), ‘Noisy bick’, ‘No’, ‘Grandad’. B’s favourite words: ‘Spidey’, ‘An Man’ (Iron Man), ‘Uck’ (Hulk), ‘Mammy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Imims’ (Minions). Both ask for ‘Mammy’ when crying.

Mealtime: B eats anything and everything. Appears to have no workable taste buds as even enjoys the fizziest sweets out of the offered selection. A is fussy with food, prefers chips, sweets, chips and chips. Dislikes anything gooey or odd in texture. Expects reward after attempting the main meal.

Bath time: A hates the water, hates it on his head especially. Attempting to wash hair leads to many tears. Prefers to play quietly with toys in tub with occasional splashing. Do not get in the bath with A, as he cries. It’s HIS bath time, damn it! B on the other hand is like a mermaid baby and frequently dumps his face into the water and rears his head laughing like an adorable kraken. Lots of splashing. Enjoys baths with others.

Bedtime: A believes sleep is for the weak and will do everything in his power to stay awake. Cries when you give up on story time after he flips the page back to the beginning for the umpteenth time. B accepts bedtime with no fuss, but will crawl (and not walk) to the bed to buy time. Gets in bed without problem, and listens to bedtime story whilst gazing into the distance. Forces sleep upon himself to end the banality. Both A and B wake up obscenely early, no matter how late they went to sleep.


It’s basically all the same but they have a larger vocabulary and a weaker tolerance for your bullshit. Three-four-year-old kids are more open to challenging you, especially on the things you thought you knew. This is where they surprise you with almost intelligent observations and suggestions. For example, A was four when we had this exchange:

Me: Look, A, that new school they’re building is so huge…!
A: It’s got lots of windows!
Grandma: Yes, it does! And lots of doors and - I don’t know what those are.
Me: They look like big vents.
A: I think they’re for the kitchens when they’re cooking food and it gets too hot.
Me & Grandma: Ohhh…!

However, they’re not so great at thinking outside of the box. It’s usually by the age of five that children start adding, ‘Well, maybe it’s because…’ onto the end of any statement you make, and the suggestion is usually something innocent/imaginative like:

Me: I’m so annoyed! Somebody hasn’t put these books back.
A: Maybe they just forgot.
Me: No, I think they were just too lazy.
A: Yeah! Or maybe they had something else to do and went to do that instead. Or what if they heard something outside and went to see? Wouldn’t that be funny? What do you think they heard?

Children don’t lose their hyperactivity either, or their silliness. They’re easily amused and entertained. Their speech is also imperfect. Well, everybody’s is, but they have less of an understanding of grammar and sentence order, so you get funny things like:

A: (when being read to) Don’t forget to read the blob on the back!
A: Have you seen all those mices on the TV? There’s loads! (laughs for about ten minutes)
A: Well, I runned the other way so my friend didn’t see me.
A: (when singing along to Zedd, ‘Clarity’) If uhh roooohhh’s inananiny weh yoo MY CLARITY.
A: If the picture’s taked and I shut my eyes can I do it again? Because that time I think I shut my eyes.

And that’s about all I can think of adding at the moment. I hope this is somewhat helpful…!


- enlee

Filed under Language speech dialogue Children kids writer reference

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Writing Advice Master Post



Hi!  I am Courtney Summers.  I write YA novels.  Since a lot of the questions I get asked on my Tumblr are about writing, I decided to make a master list of the advice posts I’ve made for convenience.  Yay, convenience!  I will update it for as long as I continue to get these types of questions.

Note:  the writing process is such a personal thing.  What works for one writer might not work for another, what works for one writer for one book might not work for them for the next… all of my writing advice is of the ‘your mileage may vary’ variety.  If what I am saying sounds impossible to you, that’s okay!  Listen to your gut!   You will figure out what you need to do. 

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reach out.  I hope I’ve offered something that’s helped you.

Make Words (Writing Tips)
On Writing for Girls
Doors Won’t Always Open for You
Thoughts on Reader Response to Character Trauma
Thoughts on Reviews
Characters Don’t Have to Be Likable

Don’t know where to begin
Lots of ideas, where to start?
Pinning down your first chapter
Unable to pick and stay on one idea

Worried your idea isn’t original or belongs to someone else
Outlining advice

You know your characters but don’t know what to do with them
Tips on making cardboard characters come to life
Writing unlikable female characters
Tips on writing unlikable characters
How much is too much with unlikable characters
On happy endings
Is it okay to have an unhappy ending?

Writing about things you haven’t experienced
When you start strong and the writing just dies
Staying focused
Dealing with writer’s block
Writing too much of one thing
Getting too attached to your characters, to the detriment of your work
How much action is too much action? (Balancing scenes.)

What font do you use when writing?
How I format my novels
How grammatically correct do novels have to be?
Punctuating Dialogue

How to get as excited about revision as you are about drafting
Can’t stop editing/unable to tell if your novel is ready
Revising an old story
Revision tips
Falling out of love with your work before you’re done
Brief strategy suggestions for major revisions
Should you share your work on Wattpad (or similar sites)?
Can’t stop making big, unexpected changes close to deadline

When you don’t enjoy writing anymore
Everyone says you’re not good enough
Suffering from self doubt/finding self belief

Having and coping with envy
Reading good books makes you feel inadequate as a writer
You’re close to done and convinced you suck

Worried about the people you love reading your work
Tips on managing insecurity
How to deal with negative reviews
Struggling to find inspiration after finishing a project
Just started, already overwhelmed
Dealing with a crippling fear of missing deadlines
When you love the story, but you’re bored of writing it
When you take a break before revising, return and dislike the work
Do you have to suffer emotionally to be an artist?
Can you be too young to take writing seriously?
"Good enough"

Should aspiring writers be nervous if they write in multiple genres
Exploring the next steps
Do you find an editor or an agent first?
Do you submit your first draft to agents? 
Tips on narrowing down your agent search
Tips on querying + deconstructing my query for CRACKED UP TO BE
Advice on querying and what age does/doesn’t have to do with it
More advice on querying and getting published
How to deal with rejections that feel personal
How much do authors make per book?
Choosing a pseudonym
Can you be an author if you have trouble meeting deadlines?
When querying, does it matter if you have won writing contests?
Does age matter?

Tips on writing short stories

Updated August 7th, 2014.

Thank you to readers/writers who have helped me with build this resource with their great questions and everyone who has shared it. I hope it continues to be helpful to writers at all stages of their journeys.

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Writing advice

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Anonymous asked: I'm trying to include a recurring nightmare in my main characters story but I'm not sure if nightmares are a bit cliche in themselves or if there are any specific nightmares that are cliche that I should stray away from. Do you know of any dreams that are overly done or any advice to execute nightmares correctly? Thank you.


I know we have a nightmares tag, but there’s not much in it yet.

Dreams in fiction tend to be cut unless they have something to do with the plot. Hence, nightmare sequences that are left in the story frequently serve some sort of purpose. Nightmares themselves are not inherently cliched, but what can make them cliched is how they are used. Because stories more often than not gloss over unimportant dreams, the ones that are left can start to look familiar. Readers can usually tell that if a dream sequence of any kind is included, it’s bound to be important somehow. Dreams cannot be faked (in most universes, anyway), so dreams and nightmares are an easy way to show development, trauma, or humanity in characters.

Here are some dream and nightmare cliches and tropes:

  • Talking or even shouting in one’s sleep. This is usually used to clue other characters in to the fact that this character isn’t sleeping well or is hiding some kind of trauma or emotional turbulence. Other times, the sleeping character gives away information this way—to friends or foes.
  • Waking up by catapulting into a sitting position with eyes wide open while sweating and/or panting. More a visual cliche than a written one, but a very common visual shorthand way to say “this character just had a bad dream.” Of all the things on this list, this may be the only one to outright avoid: I am fairly confident that no one has ever woken up from a nightmare like this, and this cliche is getting pretty tired.
  • The flashback nightmare. Dreaming of the past is an easy way to sneak in exposition without having to figure out how to fit it into the story. It might be the character remembering a dark and troubled past, or a way of showing that they are still obsessing over a past failure.
  • The flashforward nightmare. Dreaming of things that have not happened yet, but that can or will. Sometimes, these dreams are subverted in that we expect them to come true, but turn out only to be an anxiety dream. Other times, characters have prophetic visions of the future that they proceed to either ignore as “just a dream,” or forget as soon as they wake up.
  • Dream spying. Dreaming about something that is happening now. This is more common in less realistic settings (magical/supernatural/scifi/etc.), especially if the character can recognize the dream as a current event. Sometimes, this kind of dream is a two-way street that is caused or shared by another party.
  • The anxiety nightmare. Perhaps most recognizable as the “forgot to wear clothes for my oral report” nightmare. This is a dream about something the character is afraid of, usually about a fear coming true/to life/finally happening and the character having to face it. These dreams/nightmares are usually fixed or stopped by the character facing their fears or dealing with the problem.
  • The recurring dream. A dream or nightmare that just keeps popping up. Maybe it means something: a lot of recurring dreams utilize symbolism to relate to the current events of the story, show the character’s state of mind, or reveal bits about the character’s past/personality/thoughts/etc.
  • The epiphany dream. A dream or nightmare that somehow helps the character come to a conclusion or solve a problem. These come in a lot of shapes and flavors, but the outcome is usually the same: the character wakes up with some sort of “Eureka!” exclamation and gathers the rest of the team to share what they have figured out.

There may not be a clear-cut way to do dreams and nightmares correctly, because dreams are such an impossibly nebulous concept to the extent that entire stories are written solely about dreams and the many worlds they open up to us. There are, however, plenty of ways to do them well.

My general advice for all dreams and nightmares is that if you are going to include them, make them count and make them pull their weight in the story. As before, unimportant dreams tend to end up on the cutting room floor, so any that you include ought to have something important to say. Use the “dreamspace” to say things you cannot say another way: dreams break the laws of reality by being a sort of un-reality. Take advantage of this! Whether this means symbolism, exposition, some sort of mind-linking, or something else entirely, make your story’s dreams do things that your story cannot do any other way.


Filed under Cliche trope nightmare dream flashback writer reference

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Writing Process: Planning/Beginning a Story


Filed under Getting started Writer Resources Planning plotting beginning

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For Characters Who are FRIENDS and EXPLICITLY NOT Love Interests


I have these friends and they’re really close but they aren’t in love. How do I make sure the audience doesn’t think they’re a couple?

Your close friends are going to do the following:

  • Feel: differently based on what their friend is feeling, jealous if someone else is with their friend, extreme sympathy/empathy for whatever their friend is feeling, anxious when they are parted from their friend, that their friend is attractive (if they are)
  • Know: what the other is feeling, what the other means when they say a certain thing, each others’ body language, almost everything about them
  • Touch: hug, snuggle, hold hands, sit on each others’ laps, maybe even kiss
  • Speak: talk about their relationship (where it’s been, where it’s heading, where it is), announce their love for each other, tease/flirt with each other, tell each other they want to spend 5ever together, comfort each other in times of distress
  • Trust: tell each other secrets, let them manage each others’ affairs
  • Want: their friend’s attention, to be in their life, to be the best companion they possibly can be, their friend to socialize with their children (if any) like another parent


Not quite. Your close friends are not going to do the following:

  • Find their friend’s appearance sexually appealing
  • Want to have sex with their friend
  • Want to date/marry their friend
  • Want to take the place of their friend’s romantic/sexual partner (if any)/feel jealous of that partner because they are romantically/sexually involved with the friend
  • Want to touch their friend in a romantic/sexual way

That’s it.

People (inside and outside the book) are always going to think your friends are romantically involved, and there’s not much you can do about it. As long as you know they’re friends and you’ve tried the best you can to indicate that, you’ve done your job.

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under BROTP friendship couples pairing romance brotp to otp writer reference

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Anonymous asked: Do you have any references on radiation sickness, nuclear weapons, nuclear winter, the long term effects of radiation, or anything else that would be helpful for a post-apocalyptic story?


Radiation Sickness (2)

How nuclear bombs work

Effects of nuclear explosions

Consequence and health risk of nuclear bombs

Nuclear winter

The nuclear winter

These last two links you could use as a case study for your story:

Chernobyl disaster

Hiroshima and Nagasaki 

Hope these links point you in the right direction!


Filed under Nuclear winter nuclear war post apocalyptic Radiation history ww2 Writer Resources