Baby names generated by a neural network

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

The Freewrite, a beautiful, rugged machine for writing -- and nothing else

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The Freewrite started life as a successful Kickstarter campaign and now it's an object of commerce: a $500 keyboard with a sharp frontlit e-ink screen that gets more than a month's use from a full battery. Read the rest

bell hooks and Emma Watson in conversation

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Paper Magazine's "Girl Crush" series pairs notable women for fascinating conversations, which they transcribe and publish. The series is spectacular, and this interview, between author/feminist/activist bell hooks and actor/feminist/activist Emma Watson, is the best yet. Read the rest

Donate: scholarship fund for the Alpha teen sf/f writing workshop

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Lara writes, "The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop For Young Writers is running a scholarship drive February 16-23. Make a tax-deductible donation to change a teen writer's life!" Read the rest

It Isn't Even Past: location scouting the secret history of Rudy Valentino with Tim Powers

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In Medusa's Web, fantasy grandmaster Tim Powers presents us with another of his amazing secret histories, this one of Rudolph Valentino. In this guest editorial, Powers -- author of many of Boing Boing's favorite novels, including the World Fantasy Award winning Last Call, Hide Me Among the Graves, and Dinner at Deviant's Palace -- explains the genesis of his latest book, and takes us with him for his field-research.

Award-winning magazine articles tend to have these qualities

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Burt Helm and Max Chafkin studied award-winning articles and found that the following qualities prevail among them:

1. Write no less than 6500 words. 2. Ditch the present tense. It is finally, mercifully, out of fashion. 3. In general, avoid anecdotal ledes, nut grafs, kicker quotes and foul language.

It may also be heartening to know that the word “cocksucker” has never appeared in any story that has either won or been nominated for a feature writing prize.

Ah, almost forgot.

4. Be male. Read the rest

The story of magic: how narrative destroys conjurers' effects, or elevates them to transcendence

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The Jerx is an anonymous, iconoclastic blog written by a heterodox magician who holds his fellow magicians in disdain for their terrible storytelling skills. Read the rest

Rhianna Pratchett remembers her father, Terry

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The long-dreaded death of Terry Pratchett finally arrived in 2015, years after his inital prognosis predicted it would come. Pratchett spent his last years on Earth working his guts out, leaving behind a literary legacy of enormous breadth and depth. Read the rest

Howto: sustain long-haul creativity

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With New Year's Resolution season on the doorstep, it's time for end-of-year articles about self-improvement, and despite the cliche and improbability of that species of endeavor, I'm recommending that everyone read "Secrets to Long Haul Creativity." Read the rest

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