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Interesting things about pee…and non-fiction writing

Atlin Merrick Non-Fiction Writing Urine facts

...well, the subject line either caught your eye or brought up your bile. So either you're welcome or I'm sorry.

However there's a point and that's this…

Urine, Fiction & Non-Fiction Writing

As writers we sometimes think we know stuff.

Like we all "know" urine is sterile (nope, it's not), and maybe we've had our sea captain hollering "I'll stop the pain o' the fierce Lion's Mane jelly, me laddy," as she pees on the laddy, but no no nope, urine very much won't.

The point is that reality's ever so much more interesting than these things we think we know, so before we go ahead and write a dubious fact into our fiction, before we pepper our non-fiction with erroneous fact, let's have a look.

Pee a Rainbow: Scientist Snaps Shot of Colorful Urine — LiveScienceI learned, for example, that urine comes in pretty much every colour of the rainbow and if that image to the right is not a dozen times more squeamishly cool than having a character whizz on another character for the purposes of pain relief I just absolutely don't know what is (more below).

When we're getting down to the nitty gritty, when we're starting to write and we wonder where to start, true crime writer Vikki Petraitis suggests "a good tip for non-fiction writers is to start at the end. What do you want your readers to walk away knowing about your subject?

"To borrow from Antoni Jach, the wonderful teacher of creative writing and Masterclass expert, he asks his students two questions: What’s the story about? What’s the story really about?"

So what's your story about and how can you make it crystal clear—or all the colours of the rainbow, if it comes to that?

No Pee, Just a State of the Union from Improbable Press

Two quick things:

1) comments are always moderated lest the spam bots take over

2) the giant subheads and titles help Google-type web crawlers index the website. I promise I'm not formatting things so URINE punches you in the eye. That would be rude.

Okay, what weird stuff do you know about…weird stuff? Tell please!

More like this…
* Books adored—including The Rainbow Colors of Pee
* On Book Research and the Importance Asking Russian Monarchs for Their ID
(Image: © Heather West from
"Pee a Rainbow" Live Science 2013)


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  • Karin Woywod on

    Well, back in 1985, when I learned my profession, Pharmaceutical (Technical) Assistant, part of my professional education was doing urine analysis in our laboratory (back when pharmacies still were supposed to do urine tests for their customers themselves, as there were no ready-made test sticks to do a urine test at home on the market, though when I actually completed my professional education and actually worked in pharmacies from 1987 on, back then, the only urine analysis’ actually performed in local pharmacies were urine pregnancy tests). Anyway, for the urine analysis that we learned in our education, we were provided with artificial urine mixed for us by the laboratory assistants of the professional school.

    However, we also learned first to smell the urine sample, and when the sample smelled like apple juice, it was a sure sign that there were ketones in the urine sample (which we subsequently identified using chemical methods), which is either the sign that the person ( from whom the urine sample supposedly was from ) was suffering from diabetes or that they were undergoing a very low-carb diet.

    So, interesting fact about real urine from real people : If it smells sweet like apple juice, chances are, that the person has either diabetes (or is eating a very low carb diet).

  • Janet on

    Now you see I’m a wee bit squeamish (see what I did there…) and will run screaming from anything that threatens to expose my delicate peepers to unsavoury images or content, but even I found myself drawn to your pee headline. I do remember reading about an actress who drinks her own wee (Sarah Mills?) and just thinking “Mate. If the acting isn’t paying you enough to drink from a tap, then maybe you could consider trying something else?”
    Turns out she thinks it has health giving benefits, yeah, whatev’s.
    I guess my point is, as creatives, we have intrinsically enquiring minds, it hardly matters what we turn our minds towards, the various colours of pee, or the most bee stings survived by a human being – 2,443 by Johannes Relleke at the Kamativi tin mine, Gwaii River, Wankie District, Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) on 28 January 1962. Okay, hands up if you sniggered at “Wankie”! Bring on the pub quiz, I might not know who manages Man United, but ask me one about stupid bee facts and I’ll give you a run for your money.


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