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visits member for 3 years, 5 months
seen Sep 6 '11 at 15:42

Working on several writing projects and desperately battling scope creep on each.


Jul
22
comment How to deal with self-criticism?
If you use research as an excuse to avoid writing, stop doing that. If you think research is easier than writing, you're probably not doing very thorough research. The adage, "write what you know" works just well flipped, "know what you write."
Jul
18
comment Does it look unprofessional to have my name and all the titles of my website in lower-case?
This is on-topic. He's not asking about design (placement, position, color, font, white space, etc...); he's asking about capitalization and as Smithers pointed out, the "hi, there" is bad writing because it makes the content seem like a header. Decisions about how to distinguish headers or chapter markers in a written work should be welcome here. The fact that it's a webpage doesn't make it any less a writing question.
Jul
10
comment Why does using this “-ing” verb construction make my writing weaker?
I find "in order to" kind of clumsy. When I read "in order to" I expect the subect to be the deadweight "one." One writes like this in order to sound authoritative. Yech.
Jul
10
comment Why does using this “-ing” verb construction make my writing weaker?
I think the past action the friend was referring to was "I read." I think the friend suggested changing the sentence to remove the passive voice. Although "in order to" still doesn't quite do the job.
Jun
13
comment What's the modern way to handle gender in tech writing?
All of these suggestions (use specific names, pluralize, use the passive or imperative voice, etc...) demand that you change the meaning of your sentence. The hallmark of good writing is clarity. Any "rule" that requires you to obfuscate is a bad rule. Traditionally, the English third-person singular indeterminate gender pronoun has shared the same form as the third-person masculine pronoun: he.
Jun
7
comment Conlang question
Great points, Craig! I think I'm struggling with finding the right balance of spare usage. For example, when I think of foreign languages used in writing, I think of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum and Shakespeare's Henry V. Eco uses a number of languages that he doesn't expect the reader to understand, but he does it to great effect. Only a handful of spectators would have understood the French at the end of Henry V, but the scene is still intelligible. And better off for the French. Much to think on.... Thanks!
Jun
7
comment Should I avoid modern words/phrases in fantasy writing?
These are valid points. The writing should be clear. But what if you have a character grab tamale for a snack? Or eat some sashimi? Now we've got three particular modern cultures that the character ahs no access to. To me, "tamale" and "sashimi" rip me out of the world in a way that "barbarian" or "assassin" do not. (Both words with very specific cultural etymologies.) I don't know where to draw the line.
Jun
6
comment What's the modern way to handle gender in tech writing?
They is plural. "They were at fault" means something entirely different than "He was at fault." ("They was at fault," is idiomatic and bad grammar, but still plural.)
Jun
1
comment World Building critique: Building an SF society off a tangent of “Adaptation”
Take 1984. It's a tragedy because Winston betrays Julia. It wouldn't be a tragedy if he didn't. Winston doesn't need to overthrow Oceania or even live, he would just need not to betray his love. That's the crucible, the single moment that captures all of the books themes at once. Is Salim's decision about his job that moment? Or is it something else?
Jun
1
comment World Building critique: Building an SF society off a tangent of “Adaptation”
It looks to me like you're doing a lot of world-building for a short story. Which is fine, but be wary of letting it eat into your deadline. You don't need to address every aspect of society in your story, just a few. Or one. The decision about the job looks like it's important. One other thing: you want to write the story as a tragedy, (Which is fine!) but it's not clear to me ~why~ Salim's fate is sealed. What would have to be different for the story to end happily? You don't need to write that story, but I think you need to know the answer.
Jun
1
comment Can a book be written without an antagonist?
There might also be a useful distinction to be made between terms. (A distinction I failed to notice in my initial response). Whether human or not, an antagonist has to be characterized (otherwise the concept is indistinct from "obstacle"). Conflict may or may not be "antagonistic". The tidal wave is only antagonistic if it is characterized that way. An obstacle is "antagonistic" if it opposes the protagonist with intention. "The man dodged the rock." Is a story without an antagonist. "The man dodged the thrown rock." Is a story with an antagonist. Both have obstacles, but one has intent.
Jun
1
comment Can a book be written without an antagonist?
In literary terms, whatever is stopping the protagonist from achieving his goal is an obstacle. An antagonist creates obstacles. The term "anti-hero" is used to describe a protagonist who is not classically heroic. In Catch 22, Yossarian is the protagonist and an anti-hero. He struggles against obstacles and antagonists, but the primary conflict is his struggle to keep his humanity intact. In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is another anti-hero, but Loman has no antagonist. His conflict is his struggle to maintain a sense of identity in the face of collapsing dreams.
May
27
comment Do books have to be written in sequence?
The first few sentences are not sequential. They need to be edited. The last is the important bit, the part that was written first. The rest needs to be edited to be intelligible. That's the danger of writing out of sequence, it involves a lot of editing and rewriting. But sometimes, you need to get the last line down first because it's important.