Writing Glitch #270

Today’s glitch:


The way the first sentence is written, it isn’t saying this happened when you were a child, although that is what the writer meant. (Bet you didn’t know that mindreading is a necessary skill for editors, did you?) Since this didn’t happen when your parents were a child (two parents were one child? WTF?), that opening needs to be rewritten.

Also note that doctor’s has an apostrophe in the second sentence.

When you were a child, your parents kept you from seeing a doctor, even when you were sick. As an adult, you decide to go to your first doctor’s appointment. As the doctor draws your blood, he is horrified to discover that it is green.

This would not happen. Part of the reason humans look pinkish/ruddy (even humans with dark skin) is that we have red blood. Green blood would cause the character to have a greenish cast (if not outright green color, if there’s not enough melanin to mask it) to their skin. The fine blood vessels in his eyes would show green. The inside of his mouth would be greenish, as would all other parts of his body that lacked or had little other pigment. There is no way he could reach adulthood without such a difference being apparent even without a blood test.

Did this character never skin his knee as a child? Never get a nosebleed? Never lose a tooth?

Also, it’s likely that the dietary requirements of a mammal with green (copper-based, most likely) blood would be quite different from those of mammals with red (iron-based) blood. At the least, he’d need to take supplements as well as eat a lot of legumes and tree nuts to avoid a serious deficiency.

(If I can see so many holes in the concept without even trying, chances are that someone else would notice, too.)

As a variation on the ‘you find out your parents were keeping the secret that you’re an alien’ trope goes, this one shows a serious lack of thinking through the basic science.





About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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4 Responses to Writing Glitch #270

  1. I’m always worried about my stories failing in all these many ways.


    • That’s what alpha readers and other support personnel are for, right? They help the author find potential problems — and ideally also help come up with viable solutions to those problems that don’t disrupt the original concepts too much — before the story is finalized.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I suppose the pinkish skin and such could be a form of mimicry. Good catch on the skinned knee thing, though.

    I guess some really advanced mimicry could have the blood turn red when exposed to air, but staying green when drawn into a vial. I’m really stretching there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Occam’s Razor, commander… 🙂 The example didn’t even hint at possible ways this secret could have been kept, so it’s likely the writer didn’t think of them. The point of talking about the scientific plausibility issues was to make writers think about what they’d need to address (as you have addressed these issues) when writing a story about a character in this situation.


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