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bio website johansens.us
location Michigan
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visits member for 1 year, 7 months
seen Jul 14 at 15:46

Jul
14
comment Managing genre and rating for a story
If users can add their own tags, I don't see how the problem can be solved without some major advance in computer technology. It requires the computer to understand the meaning in context of ANY possible word a user might type in. On top of that, there are endless value judgments. Like in your example, you say that "Children" and "Horror" can't go together. But what about the "Are you afraid of the dark?" series? And there's plenty of erotica targeted to teens. Maybe you don't approve of it and don't want it on your site, but it's certainly not inconceivable. Etc.
Jul
14
comment How do I distinguish what makes a masterpiece?
If the point of your question is, "How can I tell whether a book is boring or interesting?", why do you care about others' opinions? If you like the book, great; if not, too bad. If your question is, "How can I win a Nobel literature prize?", the only answer is, "write something that the Noble prize committee likes". If there was a formula, everybody would be doing it.
Jul
14
comment How do I distinguish what makes a masterpiece?
There are lots of books that all the teachers and English professors declare are great literature and that I find boring. I read once -- wish I could give the writer credit -- "The funny thing about Shakespeare is that all the professors and literary critics are always saying how great his writing is, but when you actually read it, it really is great."
Jul
14
comment Rules Of Fantasy Story?
In fairness, I'm not sure if he meant "all fantasy stories must follow this template" or "this is A template for a fantasy story that I think is a pretty good one". In any case, though, stories written from a template tend to sound like they are stories written from a template.
Jun
25
comment Where and how to publish new work
There are other on-demand publishers besides CreateSpace, so they're not your only option in that direction. I have one (paper) book published with Lulu and another with CreateSpace. Both of these are also available as ebooks. There are a bunch of POD publishers out there. If you want or are willing to do pretty much all the work yourself, I think CreateSpace and Lulu are the clear choices. If you want to just write the text and let someone else handle the technical parts, there are a number of other publishers, but they are, of course, going to charge for their services.
Jun
23
comment Is Jaime Lannister a “telling not showing” example?
Few rules for anything should be followed blindly and unwaveringly. Any instruction on how to do something will include all sorts of general rules and guidelines. If you're a beginning student, you should follow them until you understand them. Once you understand why the rules were made, you will know when it is better to break them. Some of the worst disasters come from people who don't understand the rules thinking they can just ignore them. But some of the greatest triumphs come from people who are creative enough to know when to break the rules.
Jun
18
comment Referring to sign language in conversations
... a minute, how did Bob understand what Francois said to Margueritte? We were just told a few pages earlier that Bob doesn't know French."
Jun
18
comment Referring to sign language in conversations
If the story continually switches back and forth between English and sign language, and if this matters to the story -- like it matters that Sally doesn't know what Bob is saying to Mary because they're using sign language and Sally doesn't understand it -- then you need to do something to make it clear or the story can get confusing. You also better be clear in you own mind: I've occasionally read stories where characters are supposed to be speaking in foreign languages just conveniently translated into English for the reader, but the author slips up and I find myself saying, "Hey, wait ...
Jun
18
comment Referring to sign language in conversations
I've read a number of articles by people who communicate in sign language in which they emphasize that American Sign Language is not a set of signs to represent English words, but an entirely separate language. Some are rather adamant about this. I rather get the impression that they think it is almost an insult to suppose that ASL is "English but with your hands". I've never known a deaf person personally to ask about it.
Jun
18
comment Alien checking, by making questions
I would think you would almost surely have to explain why he can't just show his spaceship or why nobody sees it. There could be any number of explanations -- from celtschk's "it sank in the ocean when he landed" to "I don't have a spaceship, we use teleportation" to many others. But I think it's almost always better to give an explanation, even if it's glib, then to ignore the question and make the reader think, "But what about this obvious solution?!"
Jun
18
comment Alien checking, by making questions
Is he trying to prove that he's an alien, or convince people that he's not? If he's trying to convince people that he's not, they could ask him questions about Earth that someone who's lived here all his life would know, and see if they can trip him up.
Jun
18
comment How can we have foreshadowing in a story that takes place in a universe where the future can't be known beforehand?
@what But by that reasoning, in a tragedy we know it will end badly by the nature of the genre, and so that can't be foreshadowing either. It is true that a story in which we are given to understand that a character is doomed by fate to do X would be an example of foreshadowing, but I think it is simply not the commonly-used definition of the word to say that that is the ONLY kind of foreshadowing.
Jun
18
comment How can we have foreshadowing in a story that takes place in a universe where the future can't be known beforehand?
@PaulA.Clayton Yeah, I tried to put enough qualifiers in there to make the point that this is revelation coming out of the blue. But yes, one could write a story where the character is never seen until the last page, but where the existence of such a character is adequately foreshadowed.
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
@PaulAClayton Or how it is that space travel shows can't do simple math. Like they tell us that the starship travels 100 times the speed of light, and then they travel between star systems in a few hours. Umm, if stars in this part of the galaxy are typically about 5 or 10 light-years apart, then even at 100 times the speed of light, wouldn't travel to another star take at least a couple of weeks?
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
@PaulAClayton RE movie/TV computers: Yeah, I'm a software geek by profession, and I regularly get a laugh out of the absurd things computers do on TV. Starting with: Take a grainy image from a store security camera, zoom in on the license plate of a car in the parking lot across the street, somebody says, "clarify that", and they can read the license number. Or the serial number in 5 point type on the expiration sticker on the license. Even though in the original picture the whole license plate is probably half a pixel.
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
@PaulAClayton I'm not a physicist either, but I was thinking that given that astronomers were able to deduce the size and orbit of Neptune based on the gravitational effects it had on Uranus, I'd think a body of a size comparable to the Moon in Earth orbit would be readily detectable. Could there be circumstances -- Lagrange points or whatever -- where it would not be? Okay, I'll admit I don't know enough physics to say for sure. But I'm quite sure you cannot have a body orbiting the Earth, farther away than the Moon, but with exactly the same period as the Moon.
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
... it's gravity would affect the Earth and the Moon and it would be detectable that way. The whole story just didn't work.
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
... implications of an alien language that has no adverbs. Note that the more important a role the science plays in your story, the more you have to know about science. Like just the other day I read an SF story about a new planet discovered behind the moon, never visible to Earth because the moon always blocks it from view. Umm, no. There is only one possible speed for an object in any given orbit to travel and remain in orbit. A satellite further away than the moon would HAVE to travel at a different orbital velocity, it could not always remain hidden by the moon. Not to mention that ...
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
Your answer brings up another point: The writer must consider just how alien he wants the world to be, and how much you want to get into it. If you're trying to write an escapist adventure story, you may describe the aliens as having four arms or pointed ears or whatever, but otherwise they basically act like humans. You probably don't want to dwell on how the body chemistry of the aliens differs from humans. If you want to write more speculative SF, perhaps you want to explore just how creatures who have copper instead of iron in their hemoglobin would function, or discuss the ...
Jun
16
comment How to deal with common Earth references in a non-Earth setting?
Also aliens must have the same Platonic solids that we do. They do not have dice of regular polyhedral shapes that we have never thought of. Etc etc. Of course I'm assuming that the laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe, which is a philosophical assumption and not something easy to prove scientifically.