Watch this smart analysis of designing story dialogue

Rooney Mara, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network."

Writing good dialogue is a craft few can master. Lewis Criswell draws from a nice survey of recent and classic examples, both good and bad, to explain the craft of designing dialogue. Read the rest

Writing the Other: intensely practical advice for representing other cultures in fiction

Shadowshaper1
For more than a decade, science fiction and fantasy writers have handed around Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward's Writing the Other, an intensely practical and thoughtful guide to inclusive, representative writing that includes people of genders, ethnicities, races, and orientations other than the writer's.

Frankenstein turns 200 this year: write a short story, win cool prizes

animation

Arizona State University, Nanowrimo, and the Chabot Science Center are commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with a series of events, including a short-story contest judged by Elizabeth Bear. Read the rest

Class action: publishers paid writers "sale" royalties on ebooks whose fine-print says they're "licensed"

366631413_17d1caf776_o

When you sign a publishing deal, the contract spells out different royalty rates for different kinds of commercial activity; you get so much every time a copy is sold, and significantly more from every licensing deal for the book. Read the rest

The best thing you will read about the revelation that Captain America was a Nazi spy

background

This week, Marvel Comics published the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers in which it's revealed that since his earliest days, Captain America has been a double agent for Hydra, the thinly veiled allegory for the Nazis; in an epic Twitter rant, Livejournal alumnus and Dreamwidth cofounder Denise Paolucci explains the way that perpetual copyright and business concentration has neutralized the ancient custom of collective storytelling of epic narratives, magnifying the harm from bad corporate decisions. Read the rest

Famous writers with their first word processors

king-1024x576

U Maryland English professor Matthew G. Kirschenbaum has a new book called Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing that tells the story of word processing from writers' perspectives; an accompanying gallery collects photos of famous authors with their first word processors (mine was an Apple //e). Pictured above: Stephen King with his Wang System 5 Model 3 word processor in 1982. Read the rest

Comics and Science: An Explosive Combination

FCBD2016_FirstSecondBooks_volcanos1

In honor of Free Comic Book Day, we present this essay by Jon Chad, author of Science Comics: Volcanoes: Fire and Life, and the co-author, with Maris Wicks, of "Science Comics," a free comic available in comics stores all over the world today. Read the rest

Free Comic Book Day: Why write science comics?

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1047
In honor of Free Comic Book Day, we present this essay by Maris Wicks, author of Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, and the co-author, with Jon Chad, of "Science Comics," a free comic available in comics stores all over the world today. See the bottom of the post for an exclusive preview of Science Comics!

Baby names generated by a neural network

2000px-Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svg.png

In 2015, Stanford computer science PhD candidate Andrej Karpathy decided to test out some neural network tools he'd been experimenting with, and set them to generating plausible baby names. Read the rest

Writer's block supercut

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.07.39 AM

Writer's Block - A Supercut from Ben Watts on Vimeo.

Ben Watts and Ivan Kander edited a supercut of scenes depicting writer's block from 53 movies. You can see the list of movies here. Read the rest

Classic paper on economic models is secretly a masterclass in thinking, talking, writing and convincing

James_Meade_Nobel

Hal Varian, now Google's chief economist, wrote "How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time," a classic paper, in 1994 while teaching at UC Berkeley (he's still an emeritus there). Read the rest

Lovely quad ruled paper in a notebook

61wsNBcub5L._SL1001_

If you like to write with fountain pens, sketch with colored pencils or otherwise enjoy the physical art of writing, Maruman's Mnemosyne is my notebook favorite paper to write on. Quad ruling on paper just makes me feel good, a throw back to college I guess. This fantastic, top-bound and slightly smaller than B5 size notebook has both!

Fountain pen inks dry fast, don't bleed through, and all of my pens glide over this paper. The slightly warm, off-white of this paper is also super pleasing to the eye, and is wonderful to work on.

Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration 5 mm Grid 6.3 x 8.3" via Amazon Read the rest

Poet/bureaucrat's moving report of the 1921 demise of America's most notorious wolf

Dixon_Lanier_Merritt01

In 1921, the Custer Wolf -- a predator so prolific and terrifying that it rated its own documentary and biography -- was finally killed. Read the rest

The Third Electronic Literature Anthology: Unity, Javascript & Twitterbots

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x982

Mark Marino writes, "Kick your Norton Anthology to the curb, and check out the latest collection of digitally born literature. Published by the Electronic Literature Organization, the collection contains 114 works from 26 countries in 12 languages. The Electronic Literature Collection, vol. 3 offers a glimpse at just how wide the world of digital literature has become, including a diverse array of works, from Twitter bots to poem generators to Twine tales to poetic apps. Read the rest

Proselint is a "style checker" for your writing

mondegreen

Proselint isn't a grammar checker. It's a "style" checker, warning writers when their work is hackneyed, inconsistent or very obviously not great.

proselint places the world’s greatest writers and editors by your side, where they whisper suggestions on how to improve your prose. You’ll be guided by advice inspired by Bryan Garner, David Foster Wallace, Chuck Palahniuk, Steve Pinker, Mary Norris, Mark Twain, Elmore Leonard, George Orwell, Matthew Butterick, William Strunk, E.B. White, Philip Corbett, Ernest Gowers, and the editorial staff of the world’s finest literary magazines and newspapers, among others. Our goal is to aggregate knowledge about best practices in writing and to make that knowledge immediately accessible to all authors in the form of a linter for prose.

It's in rudimentary form at the moment, but expect it to turn up in web-based form fields and popular apps soon. See also Hemingway App, which does a similar thing but with an eye toward concision and brevity rather than general style. Read the rest

Campbell Award anthology: a million words of free fiction from tomorrow's SFF superstars

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x984

The Campbell Award for best new writer is voted on and presented with the Hugo Awards -- to be eligible, you must have made your first professional sale in the previous two years. Read the rest

Extensive list of space opera cliches

10815943416_3a9f1bf5e8_b

Charlie Stross is on a tear: he's catalogued 22 screens' worth of space opera cliches, grouped by themes: Planetary civilizations, space and cosmology, biology, economics, politics, culture, technology - space travel, technology - pew! pew! pew!, aliens... His readers have added 300 comments' worth of omissions. Read the rest

More posts