Archive for March, 2007

Writing Tips

(thanks to Clicked)

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight rules for writing fiction:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

— Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999), 9-10.

George Orwell’s Five Rules for Effective Writing:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

— Orwell, George. ‘Politics and the English Language’ First published: Horizon. — GB, London. — April 1946.

March 26, 2007 at 9:44 am 1 comment

Slipping into a Comma…

A rudimentary internet search reveals that the average cost for a copyeditor (someone who reads over your papers, manuscripts, etc. for errors) is $25 an hour, with the assumption that you can cover 2-3 pages in one hour. If you are a college student, a hoping-to-be-published writer, etc., would you pay someone like me $25 an hour to copyedit your paper? If not, what would you pay?

March 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

Neutiquam erro

Yesterday morning I got ready for work and, at the appropriate time, stepped out of my house. It had rained in the night, and a few light raindrops tapped my shoulders as I walked to my car. Another rainy morning. That morning’s rain was different, though. It had a different smell, a different color to it. After months of gray rains, this rain smelled green.

It was the dawn of the new moon.

Looking at what I blogged about that day, you can tell I was in a spritely mood, but you can’t tell that I felt as though I’d been shifted a tiny bit. If my soul had been in Spot X for the past few months, it was now listing two degrees to the left. A tiny seismic – psysmic? – shift.

The word of the day on Tuesday was “empyrean,” the highest heaven, paradise, a realm of pure fire or light.

All day long, I felt as though I were humming – not in terms of song, but like a tuning fork, long moments after you strike it, at that point when it seems silent to humans but still sends dogs scurrying for cover.

I am reading the most extraordinary book, and I’m going to tell you all all about it, but not just yet. I promised myself I’d get past the halfway mark before evangelizing. And that’s remarkable, don’t you think? I’ve been reading this book for over a month now, and I’m not even halfway through it. It isn’t a long book, but it’s deep – so deep I can’t see the surface any longer, but that’s okay, because the surface is really the bottom and I’m swimming down, down, down for air.

It wasn’t until late on Tuesday that I realized that it was the vernal equinox. Ad vitam paramus.

March 21, 2007 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Maybe with Red Bull Mixed In?

Could someone please bring me a creative-juice smoothie?

I have to email a prospectus, so to speak, of my two main bookwork projects to my professor – today, hypothetically. I’m ready to present on my final project plans, but in the meantime we have another book due in April. Basically he handed us a CD full of photographs taken by an itinerant photographer around the turn of the century in northern Idaho, gave us a rough bio of the fellow, and told us to create a book inspired by these items. We can use them, we can depend on them, we can twist them, we can ignore them – as long as we can honestly say “yes, I was inspired by these things, and here is why.” Closer uses of the materials are probably at least somewhat preferred (less explanation). Any ideas?

I thought I had an idea. Then I decided I didn’t like it. Now I wonder. Maybe I should just go with it?


Today is not a good day for me to need to spend lots of mental energy planning a bookwork…

To be honest, I also have some qualms about my final project. I’m definitely making the book, but is it going to fly with Tom – particularly considering I have less subject matter than I’d planned? Can I make a final-project length book with five subjects? (Answer: of course. But it’s 7:29 AM, which gives me license to dramatize and fret.) I have a backup final project that I can do if he frowns on my OAL idea, but that will increase my number of publications to three in two months – rough.

There’s probably not a lot anyone can do or say in response to this post, so let’s just leave it at “good morning” and move on…

UPDATE –> I opened my email this morning and had my horoscope waiting for me:

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Flora, a Komodo dragon in a British zoo, recently became pregnant and hatched five babies without ever having had contact with a male. This is the first recorded virgin birth among her species. She’s your power animal for the coming weeks, Sagittarius. Whether you’re female or male, you too now have the power to spawn a beautiful brainchild without being intellectually or emotionally fertilized by anyone. That of course doesn’t mean you should avoid the kind of intimate interactions that would fructify you. On the contrary, I urge you to seek those out in abundance. But my point is that you don’t need them in order to be a fount of creativity.

March 21, 2007 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

Drooling, Swooning, Etc.

Okay, let’s just take a moment to talk about the BEST WEBSITE EVER.

I may have mentioned this website before, but I don’t think I could have possibly raved about it enough. There just aren’t words to adequately glorify this website.

It’s called LibraryThing, and it’s the neatest thing since sliced bread. I mean it. Basically, here’s the deal. You get a membership on this website, and you can catalog your books online. Title, author, ISBN, cover art – tags, reviews, comments, ratings. Largely customizable, and getting better all the time. Lots of people on there, too. You can see how many other people on LT own your books, and you can even talk to them about them. Have little nerdy book discussions. It’s great.

Plus, you can access the site remotely – even from a cell phone – so you know whether or not to buy that used copy of The Juror. And you can put little widgets on your blog so that your buddies can browse your catalog or see what books you’ve added recently.

If you own fewer than 200 books you can LT to your heart’s content for free. People like me with upwards of a thousand books have to shell out $10 a year (or $25 for a lifetime, but maybe next year) for an unlimited membership.

SO in love with this website. You should definitely get a membership… and tell me your username… so we can compare notes. I’m CapnK8 on there.

March 19, 2007 at 4:47 pm 1 comment

I’ve Been Called Out!

March 8, 2007 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

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March 2007