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bio website johansens.us
location Michigan
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visits member for 1 year, 8 months
seen Aug 7 at 20:10

Aug
6
comment How could a criminal forget a crime?
I recall Watson warning Holmes about the dangers of drug abuse, but I forget the details. Been a while since I've read those stories.
Aug
5
comment How could a criminal forget a crime?
(Shrug) Not a question that will lead me to challenge you to a duel to the death. It seems to me that a brilliant detective would value his mind highly, and would want to keep it clear and functioning at peak efficiency. Hallucinogenic drugs would seem like the sort of thing a brilliant detective would have no desire to use. I suppose you could make a case that "a mind forever wandering" would try such drugs out of curiosity, but that's not how I recall it presented in the stories. Of course one must also consider that cocaine and heroin use were viewed differently back then. Whatever.
Aug
5
comment How could a criminal forget a crime?
Sure. And I thought it seemed out of character. Of course Holmes was supposed to be .. quirky.
Aug
5
comment How could a criminal forget a crime?
Whether anyone really has committed a murder while sleep-walking, the idea doesn't seem obviously, blatantly impossible. By definition, fiction is not limited to things that you can prove really happened -- that's called "non-fiction". I'm pretty sure that no one has ever actually travelled to the planet Vulcan or survived a total nuclear war, but that doesn't mean you can't include such things in a fiction story.
Aug
4
comment How should changing the point of view be handled?
Don't rely on subtle clues, like, "Oh, the reader should realize that we're now talking from Sally's point of view because I'm talking about colors and Sally always pays attention to color." Make it 100% clear: Use the character's name or some other blatant identifier.
Aug
4
comment How should changing the point of view be handled?
I agree. Just be sure that the change in POV is clear. I think that in general the first sentence of each chapter should establish whose eyes we're seeing through. I've read stories where I was three pages in to a chapter before I finally realized, "Oh, this chapter is back in London, now I get it", or "Oh, this is a flashback", etc.
Jul
25
comment Is writing even profitable
... for the past 30 years put together.
Jul
25
comment Is writing even profitable
I've published a handful of magazine articles and two books. My income from this has been small, but expenses are small too, so sure, I've made a profit. But if my goal was just to make money, I can confidently say that the opportunity cost was huge. I could have done much better by getting a part-time job at McDonalds and earning minimum wage for those hours. Never mind that I have on occasion done computer consulting work, which pays WAY better than writing. I'd have to add up the numbers, but I probably made more with one day of computer consulting than with all the writing I've done ...
Jul
24
comment How far does libel extend in writing?
... lawyers would still jump on you, but much less likely, and hard to see how they'd win. Making statements about a real person that don't involve illegal or scandalous behavior would make you a much smaller target. But anything you say COULD make someone mad enough to sue. Like I don't know, without researching the life of Mr Tebow, maybe he's a vegetarian and would object to being described as eating chicken. Or maybe he once publicly said that he hates chicken and would perceive your statement as saying he's a liar. Who knows?
Jul
24
comment How far does libel extend in writing?
IANAL, but as I understand libel law, if you say that a person did something illegal, that is "libel per se", automatically libelous if not true. If you say other things about a person, then they have to demonstrate harm. So if you said, "Tom Tebow was shooting up heroin in the bathroom", that's a crime, and so he'd have grounds for libel. But if you said, "Tom Tebow ate a chicken sandwich", that's not a crime. It's hard to see how the idea that he might eat chicken sandwiches could hurt Mr Tebow's reputation or cost him money. He wouldn't have much grounds for a suit. It's possible his ...
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?!"