23 May

Mathematical Proof that You’ve Got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to WriteThere is one in every gathering. The friend-of-a-friend who says “Oh, I’m going to write a novel, too, when I’ve got the time.”

Sometimes they use variations “I’m going to write when I retire.” “When the kids are older.” “When this project at work is finished.” If only they’d have the time.

Well, friend-of-a-friend, since I don’t have the courage to take you by the ear and shake you, I’ll do the second best thing. I’m going to lampoon you on the Interwebz. I’m going to prove to you that you’ve got the time to write, using cold, hard math. Read More

16 May

Why Do you Do what you Do Do?

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you do what you do?Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to do or die1.

What a load of bullshit.

The ability to reason why is central to human experience. It is what drives us to purposeful action and what separates us from the animals – experiments have shown animals to be able to reason (horses, for example, can do arithmetic on the level of a 4-year-old), be optimistic or pessimistic (shown in both birds and mammals using colored coded learning/unlearning models), and learn to read and write (dolphins can learn a symbolic language and use it to communicate with humans, as do chimps). However, no experiment has managed to show that animals have the ability to self-analysis.

Humans do. And it’s one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to productivity. Read More

09 May

You Have to Begin

You have to begin

You have to beginYou have to begin.

You have to begin, over, and over, and over again. A new story, a new chapter, a new sentence.

You have to begin. That’s all there is to it.

For me, beginning is always hard. I know of people who look at the page and don’t know what to write. I don’t. If I look at the page, I start to write. It’s the moment before, right as I start the computer, think about what I need to do, that’s the hardest.

I know I should begin. I know that as soon as I begin I’ll be able to write, I’ll be getting somewhere, anywhere. But the moment before I start, that’s pure fear.

I’ve been writing professionally for over fifteen years now, and I still have trouble beginning. I still feel the fear. Read More

02 May

Copyright, Plagiarism, and Writing – Explained

Copyright explained

Copyright explainedSo you’ve got this great idea: world championship weightlifter Barry Hotter is approached by an enchanted dumbbell and invited to the magical Mugwart’s Academy for Jocks. There he learns ancient Tibetan psi-powers that help him lift weights with his mind, finds true love, and defends the world of non-weightlifters from the evil Lord Lift-a-Mort.

Question: should you expect a call from J.K. Rowling’s lawyers1?

That’s where copyright and intellectual property law comes into play.
Read More

25 Apr

Writing 100 Novels Without an Outline – Interview with Dean Wesley Smith

Writing 100 Novels Without an Outline

Writing 100 Novels Without an OutlineLooking at Dean Wesley Smith’s resume, you can’t help but go “wow”. Dean’s written far in excess of 100 original novels (Amazon lists 211), a couple dozen Star Trek novels, the only two Men In Black novels ever published, and scores of novels for licensed properties such as Smallville, the X-Men, Aliens, Roswell and Quantum Leap.

In addition to this Dean Wesley Smith has published several hundred short stories. Since October 2013 he’s been publishing his writing in an original magazine, “Smith’s Monthly”, containing one new, original novel and several short stories in each issue.

Calling Dean prolific is a bit like saying that the Niagara River is a large stream – it just doesn’t capture his output. He does it in a way that a lot of writing teachers say you shouldn’t: edits as he writes, writes one draft and sends it out, and doesn’t use an outline. Dean’s an unapologetic one-draft discovery writer. Read More

18 Apr

How I Beat the 1000 Word Writer’s Block

1000 Word Block

1000 Word BlockI can’t write past 1000 words.

Up until that point I spin, I flow, I tap the words out like a prima ballerina flying across the keyboard. But once I start to approach the dreaded limit I slow down, meander, erase and finally stop.

For years I thought that this was some sort of magic limit, a curse that would strike me the moment the count reached 999. It didn’t matter how great the idea was, how motivated I was, how rested, how revved. Come word 1000 and everything fell apart. I resigned myself to writing short pieces.

But about six months ago I sat down to write up an idea which had been bouncing about my head for a while: an introduction to Intellectual Property law aimed at game designers. Read More

11 Apr

What Type of Writer are You? – Stages of a Fiction Writer review

Stages of a Fiction Writer

Stages of a Fiction WriterSo I’m a stage 2 writer. Or maybe early stage 3. I don’t know. And until I read Dean Wesley Smith’s “Stages of a Fiction Writer”, I had no idea what any of that meant.

Stages of a Fiction Writer is a short book. Very short. It doesn’t have very much concrete content. And yet it’s eminently readable. I should know, I’ve read it twice now. Read More

04 Apr

A Simple Guide to Writing Games

Writing Games

Writing GamesI’m a writer. I’m also a game designer, game player and game lover. And, folks, I hate what writers do to games – most writers simply don’t know how to write games.

Let’s take a prime example: Harry Potter’s Quiddich. Harry’s the Seeker of his team, meaning that if he catches the Golden (or Silver, if you’re a fan of the books) Snitch ball his team gains 150 points and instantly wins1.

So what would this do to the game, if it was real? Since catching the Snitch is worth 150 times as much as scoring a goal, why is there only one guy (Harry) chasing it? Well, those are the rules. I buy that. There are plenty of dumber sports2. But why should the players at Hogwarts be written as dumb? Read More