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Musings on writing
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September 16, 2021 at 5:44pm
September 16, 2021 at 5:44pm
I read Artemis by Andy Weir for a relaxing, escapist adventure. Life in Moon colony, the domes, economy, and cultural attitudes successfully accomplished that.

In the latter half of the book, I took to skimming. Jazz, the lead and point of view character, was not bound by laws or regulations, but the caper details were too intricate. More attention was paid to its details than to characters. A hallmark of non-literary sci fi.

Andy Weir is a male writer of Jazz, a female lead. That was not successful from my perspective. It does bring up the interesting question: what makes a woman character seem like a woman? And a man a man? Unfortunately, all I have is the question, not the answer. Difficult enough without even considering the full gamut of LGBT and ‘others’.

Two important considerations are the reader’s arriving attitude and the author’s backstory to support the character's motivations and actions.

This question came up in two writer classes I was in, both taught by women. One insisted that any character can be any gender. The other insisted that social conventions mold genders are that cannot be ignored. Those two positions are not absolutely contradictory, but they do indicate the writer must take additional care when their lead character is not their own sex.

Why do you think?

Ari Lox
August 29, 2021 at 5:43pm
August 29, 2021 at 5:43pm

Not everyone has the time, interest, or skill necessary to give a detailed, writerly review.

A reader's review gives useful feedback on a story, by indicating specific areas that are successful as well as unsuccessful. Changes or fixes are typically not suggested.

Indicating three or four particular sections are sufficient to communicate the reader's reaction to the writer.

Another name for the Reader's Review could be the ABC plus D Review.

A - Top Grade. This sentence or paragraph is clearly communicated and interests the reader.

B - Belief is difficult. The reader disbelieves this part of the story.

C - Confused. The reader doesn't understand this sentence or paragraph.

D - Don't care. This section does not interest the reader.

August 3, 2021 at 10:11pm
August 3, 2021 at 10:11pm

My daughter stopped over and returned two books she had borrowed several years ago. I was surprised and glad to see them again.

A Gentleman in Moscow is wonderfully told by Amor Towles. The period after the Russian Revolution was brought alive, revealing a reality I had not understood.

Here by Richard McQuire is a graphic novel that shows the happenings in the area now occupied by the living room of house over many time periods. With few words and many pictures a literary style is developed.

July 27, 2021 at 9:41pm
July 27, 2021 at 9:41pm
Science is not a search for truth. It is a pragmatic effort to explain the world in terms that we can manipulate.
         1 String theory is not science, but philosophy … until it can measure something
         2 Quantum theory is not truth but useful to manipulating nature.

Facts sometimes may not be accepted by logical demonstration, because resistance is based on maintaining one’s position in the dispute, not the truth or falsity of the facts.
         3 Spouse: I’m not listening to you. You are always trying to prove me wrong and undermine my ideas. Go away with your highfalutin arguments.
         4 Surely, some aspect of this must be part of the dynamics in political disputes.

Governmental budgets can be in deficit as long as the fraction is less than GDP or asset growth.
         5 Yearly government deficits have not brought economic collapse.
         6 Huge deficits since 2007, for one emergency after another, have not led to ruin.
         7 Gov’t infusions of cash have led to financial asset inflation, not to CPI inflation.

Ari Lox
July 24, 2021 at 11:23pm
July 24, 2021 at 11:23pm
It's time to take measure.
D.L. Hughes' advice: stick to one story world with 10-15 short stories each of about the same length. Use same main character, have some continuing characters.

I picked an opening story of Tales of a Programmer’s Cubicle. I have a handful of stories in that world, although with differing background characters and widely varying lengths.

I gave it a month. I applied myself to the story as my primary effort. After 2 drafts (each 9,000 words) and 2 revisions, I was unhappy with the result. The story was weak and forced. The writing was slack, unfocused and too centered on that the lead character thought.

Of the other hand, I was encouraged by the exercise of writing 1,000 words each day. Also, I see how to strengthen the next revision which follows the current story structure, by cutting much POV commentary, strengthening a supporting character, and adding a deadline to tighten the action and clarify that the story has a firmer ending.

In the revision, I will keep the scene beats at hand to cut me on focus.

For the investment of a month, I’ve learned it’ll take me 6 to 8 wks to complete a longish short story (~6000-7000 words). To do 10-15 such stories will take more than a year and a half.

I am returning my focus to Mental Construction ebook. It’s written and is ready for revision. I can pick up on the programmer tales when I am not swamped with other writing activities.

A worthwhile endeavor which will continue to pay dividends. I wish I had enough energy and time to take on every task that occurs to me.

Ari Lox
July 5, 2021 at 9:37pm
July 5, 2021 at 9:37pm
I first heard of Partially Baked Ideas (PBIs) in columns written by I.J. Good   in the Mensa Bulletin. PBIs are ideas that are based on analogies and similarities, not logical deductions. You see a few relationships between things and generalize. If the result is interesting, it could be a PBI.

If the PBI's very interesting, you might actually research further or conduct some experiments to see if the idea still holds water. I think of Mendeleev in that regard. He came up with the idea of chemical properties varying with atomic weights. Mendeleev took his PBI   and subjected it to further investigations, tests, and deductions based on his PBI.

A PBI, like the periodic table, needed changes as additional information came in. For instance, the change from atomic weights to atomic numbers.

My blog will contain some PBIs—things I want to consider, but not devote a full essay, yet.

Ari Lox
July 3, 2021 at 11:01pm
July 3, 2021 at 11:01pm
I've enjoyed Monet's "Impression Sunrise" since seeing a reproduction in my college days. In those days, I also noticed:

1 Galileo died, the same year Newton was born (1642)
2 Benjamin Franklin died in the same year as Adam Smith was born (1790)
3 Jefferson Davis died in the year when Adolf Hitler was born. (1889)

An Impression History. Certain eras burn particularly starkly.
What if that wasn't a coincidence? What if there was a controlling spirit that carried the spark from one to the next:

4 Galileo's science to England's Newton
5 Franklin's wisdom to the Scottish Enlightenment's Smith
6 Davis's intransigence to Adolf Hitler ?

Was the occurrence by a god's action, an alien's interference, or nature's structure that these linkages occur?

Perhaps worthy of a story, if it's bound and scoped properly.

Ari Lox
July 2, 2021 at 3:32pm
July 2, 2021 at 3:32pm
After a week writing the first draft of "First Assignment", I wanted to advance, but I was worn out and my eyes were bleary.

Voila! MS Word ReadAloud option.

I listened to the eight thousand word manuscript in 50 minutes. Just hearing the flow, feeling the effect, and noting errors, mealy-mouthed phrases, omissions, and logic gaps for revision one.

So much easier than reading it myself, since I had overdosed on the written word.

Ari Lox
June 28, 2021 at 10:57pm
June 28, 2021 at 10:57pm
A follow-up. The woodpeckers appear to have liked to fly in our attic. No nest. No chicks. No fuss. Only had to pay bucks to get the holes in cedar plugged, a few spot insecticide applications for carpenter bees, and some flashing to ward off future attacks.

One of my favorite paths has a new painted rock. Thank god, the pandemic didn't kill creativity.

When I stopped at the newly reopened library, a winged beast worthy of Tolkien, was frozen by a magic spell.

But it was not all art and fantasy for me. I'm adhering to the template for my next story. I'm writing the epiphany tomorrow for "Prime Assignment."

The template follows is adapted from Robert McKee's book Story. His audience is mainly screenwriters, but these ideas translate easily.

Act 1
         1 Hook. X exciting plot event (inciting incident) in which protagonist's action hints at his flaw or weakness
         2 Backstory. X can be several incidents, to show why protagonist is way that he is, esp. his flaw
         3 Trigger. X. intense event that protagonist must respond to (to achieve his goal and where he fails because of his flaw)
Act 2
         4 Crisis (Sequel). X emotional, trigger's effect on flaw
         5 Struggle. X ever increasing obstacles
         6 Epiphany. X realizes flaw and overcomes or accepts. Tragedy, never realizes his flaw; no epiphany
Act 3
         7 Plan. X using insight of epiphany
         8 Climax. X confronts antagonist, who is defeated by own flaw
         9 Ending. X conflicts resolve with release of emotional tension

I am happy to note this is my 10th entry in this bloggy June month—satisfying the charge of "The Bard's Hall Contest

Ari Lox
June 26, 2021 at 10:50pm
June 26, 2021 at 10:50pm
Did you know that Amazon is starting a program to support serialized works? They call it 'Vella' which is under Kindle Direct Publishing. You can put stories out before the entire work is completed.

With D.L. Hughes at Velocity Writing suggesting I write a collection of stories, Tales from the Programmer's Cube, I intend to see if Vella might be a viable outlet for them.

Also about Amazon. There's a very good, free introductory AMS course   about promoting your book. This is accomplished by getting Amazon readers searching for books to see your book. It's not an Amazon course, but by an independent vendor (from whom I purchased "Publisher Rocket").

I'm learning about types of ads offered, how to develop the best keywords, and targeting the audience in ad copy.

Not that I'm quite ready to devote any money to an ad campaign at this time.

Ari Lox

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