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Why Do You Read Books?

I had a conversation recently with a colleague about technical writing. One of my chemistry professors had told me that I should pursue technical writing, rather than chemistry as a career. My colleague, who was manager in all but name of a chemistry laboratory for the last year, pointed out that it’s a good thing I didn’t take that advice. The best technical writers, he said (and I agreed) have some experience in what they are writing about. It’s not that you can’t be a technical writer and not have done the tests, or run the instruments. It’s that if you have no hands-on in the field, you are only going to be able to have a shallow understanding of what you’re writing about. Read more

Fear and Loathing: Geeks and Social Justice Warriors by Jacob Lloyd

(This is the first part of a two-part series by guest blogger Jacob Lloyd — ASG)

“Give them an inch and before you know it they’ve got a foot; much more than that and you don’t have a leg to stand on.”
-General Melchett, Blackadder Goes Forth

I am a geek. My time at school wasn’t happy, so – like so many others – I took refuge in science-fiction and fantasy. For this I was mocked dreadfully. Having nowhere else to go, I persisted. It was a wonderful thing to discover that there was a place for people like me, that there were conventions and suchlike where I could meet people who shared my interests. I am a geek and proud of it. Read more

Writing: an intellectual diversion, or a vocation?

I’ve been trying to understand the very negative attitudes towards self-publishing and self-starting a writing career among many so-called “professionals” in the field.  (Sarah commented on the views of one such individual earlier this week.)  I note, too, that very few of those “professionals” appear to have enjoyed any meaningful success, if one defines “success” as actually making a living out of their writing (as opposed to talking about writing).  They may be highly acclaimed in academic circles, or even lauded for preserving the “purity” of their “literary talent”, but they’re sure as hell not earning enough from it to call themselves successful writers. Read more

Is this Trip Necessary?

I’ve seen a lot of advice for pantsers here on Mad Genius Club, but not so much for plotters. I’d like to discuss something that I suspect is more of a hazard for plotters than for pantsers: the unnecessary scene.

I consider myself a semi-plotter. A book usually starts as a prose summary of about 5000 words with notes for specific scenes and snippets of dialogue I want to use. (I am told that normal writers write much shorter synopses. Piffle. There’s no such thing as a normal writer, and this length is what works for me.) Read more

Return to the Extreme Pantser’s Guide: the Afterglow

Those of you who expressed sympathy over the Roomba poopocalyspe will no doubt be pleased to know that it has not been repeated. Unfortunately, this is because the thing is now scheduled to run in the evening, and we’re making sure to check and remove feline indiscretions prior to the scheduled runs. I fear there will be a litterbox in the living room if this continues. We really want to keep the kitty potty downstairs, but when one of the little darlings insists that his potty is upstairs dammit, it’s kind of difficult to argue. Especially when he does it while we’re at work.
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The Weather Abides

I was working on my next Kin Wars Saga novel and got to thinking: we use the weather to set the mood, sure, but why? Everybody knows that if you have a funeral it’s supposed to rain, and a happy ending is a bright sunny day. Depressive days are flat, dull, grey and cold, while snowy days are typically for celebrating holidays.

Is this a learned writing technique or do we instinctively do it?

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We Don’t Need No Education We Don’t Need No Thought Control!

Years ago, in a country far far away, when the writer was a wee sprout, and her manuscripts no more than a vague glint in her mind’s eye, she had a Portuguese teacher.  Yes, they were almost all Portuguese.  But this was a teacher of what is now called Language arts, and in the US used to be called High School English, or in Portugal, Portuguese.  One of those attempts to teach uncouth youths to use their mother tongue with a modicum of grace and charm.

Anyway said teacher was a Communist Party Member, though otherwise a decent human being (No, really, it’s possible.  She didn’t even ding me despite my rather vocal rebellion.)  In any case, she’d gotten a little heavy handed on message.  So, that morning we greeted her with a full choir rendition of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

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