Aliquam venenatis enim in mi iaculis in tempor lectus tempor et convallis erat pellentesque
Those lucky folks in Edinburgh, Scotland were treated to another set of sculptures from the Mystery Book Sculptor last week. The pieces were again left surreptitiously in literary landmarks around the city.
I posted about the mystery book sculptor last year when she first struck. Not surprised to hear that they have discovered the sneaky artist to be a she, such delicate work combined with such whimsy. Men who do tiny work like this tend toward the geometric and engineering marvel type display. (I’m sure someone can prove that statement wrong.)
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert A. Heinlein
Absolutely. I’m working on invasion planning as we speak.
No matter what the topic, if you’re paying attention, there’s usually something of use in almost any article, story, movie or blog post. Just plucked the Heinlein quote above out of a piece by Adam Singer about what happens when disparate subjects intersect. Found by way of another multi-faceted resource, Think Traffic.Read More
As long as you don’t get carried away and read all day instead of writing. Which is insanely easy to do.
This morning one of the bloggers I subscribe to because of the clear, helpful information she shares, linked to another blog I’d never seen before and that blog contained a tool for generating writing ideas.
Ideas flow out of me until I’m tired just thinking about all the writing I could do. My problem is always how to select between them and get on with the writing. But in the description that went with the link, Brancika used bold text, all caps and an exclamation point. She’s not usually so effusive, so I clicked. (Lesson there for all writers and bloggers – if you’re sparing with attention getting devices, when you use them they’re more likely to get attention!!)
For once I’m very glad I let myself be influenced by those tricks. Not only did the page she led me to contain a blogging tip that I’d never seen before – a rarity in the over-saturated and repetitive field of blogging and writing advice – but it immediately helped me rethink what I’m doing as a writer.
1. Go to Amazon.com
2. Search for books in the topic you want to write about
3. Select one of the books, it doesn’t matter which one
4. Click on Reviews
5. Read the first sentence of the first review.
6. Think about what questions that sentence raises
7. Jot down ways to approach that question in a blog post
8. Repeat with subsequent sentences
At my topical blog Tidal Life, I write about living on the waterfront and caring for the marine environment. So I searched for “marine environment.” The first few books were textbooks and had no user reviews. (Can’t imagine why not …)
Then I came to Basking with Humpbacks: Tracking Threatened Marine Wildlife in New England Waters by Todd McLeish. Just like that I have a post to write. (As well as a new list of books to read.)
This is a book I could review on Tidal Life. In fact, I just did a profile of a local woman who volunteered on a scientific expedition much like the ones described. But that’s a bonus, we haven’t even got down to using the tool yet.
At first glance it seemed entirely unhelpful. I was expecting to be able to respond to some critique of the author’s take on what’s going on in the marine environment. But this wasn’t really a review of the book at all, it was a list of the reviewer’s habits and prejudices. Second sentence same thing and the question I was left with was “Who is this person who would never describe him-or-her self as an environmentalist and takes the biggest creatures on the earth for granted?”
This is precisely what I’ve spent the last three years doing on Tidal Life and in my newspaper column – trying to point out the thinking impairment that makes people ignore the marine environment, treat it as a dumping ground and wantonly kill the creatures that live there while simultaneously jacking up prices on waterfront properties and glorifying seafood as the gastronomic be all and end all?
“I would never describe myself as an environmentalist …”
1. What does a person who says I would never describe myself as an environmentalist really mean?
2. What is it about being an environmentalist that scares so many people so badly?
3. Labels: environmentalist, liberal, socialist, conservative, hawk, capitalist. How do simple descriptive terms become derogatory and what can we do about it?
“… but nonetheless, I thought this was a good read.”
4. Is it true that no one but an environmentalist thinks books about the environment are worth reading?
5. Fluff fiction is turning us soft: Now when we read about important issues we’re only after entertainment.
6. Is it true that only environmentalists enjoy hearing about a scientist’s work with whales? If so science has a serious problem.
“The various chapters explored animals that I normally take for granted.”
7. The largest creature on earth leaves some people unmoved.
8. Why do so many people take the natural world for granted?
I can see this working well for anyone writing a non-fiction book. It would be a great tool for refining your subject. It could help fiction writers too – create the character who wrote those things and then toss her into a situation where she finally has to care.
And check out Brancika’s Blog Like A Star, this slew of ideas came from just one of the links she shared in one Must Read List. I shudder to think how much more I’ll have to write if I go and click on the other ten links she shared.
If you try this idea generation technique, please comment and let me know how it worked for you.Read More
In his new book Do The Work Steven Pressfield says:
“Sometimes on Wednesday I’ll read something that I wrote on Tuesday and I’ll think, “this is crap. I hate it. I hate myself.” Then I’ll re-read the identical passage on Thursday. To my astonishment, it has become brilliant overnight.
Ignore false negatives. Ignore false positives. Both are Resistance.
This is endlessly uplifting to anyone who has ever written, planned an event, created art, or designed anything. To hear this from a best selling author of many novels and screenplays, including The Legend of Bagger Vance, takes away the new novelists fear of writing something stupid, of being too out there, of not having every line perfect before going on to the next … at least for a moment.
The next few lines of advice from Pressfield are equally valuable:
Did I forget to say?
Dan Brown has long been the author whose books I most love to fling across the room. I always read them, but I always hate every other minute of it. The scene where the helicopter explodes in Angels & Demons made my head explode. (Clearly the makers of the film version hated it too as they changed it significantly.) Therefore, I loved this piece by Michael Deacon in the Telegraph.
” … Inferno, the latest in his celebrated series about fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, was inspired by top Italian poet Dante. It wouldn’t be the last in the lucrative sequence, either. He had all the sequels mapped out. The Mozart Acrostic. The Michelangelo Wordsearch. The Newton Sudoku.”
Brilliant send up, renowned journalist Deacon. Via The Browser (I hope someday to write something they think worthy.)
Note to self: Be sure so read Inferno in print rather than on the Kindle.
Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/45785908@N02/5074602986/”>blah.adam</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a>
The antagonist of my work in progress turned out to be a good guy. Now I’m seeking a new villain.
Use your charm to keep two women interested in you while you use them mercilessly
Alternatively, stay hidden while following them in a way that creates angst
Arrange to get them into multiple heart palpitating, yet funny situations
Must be willing to travel extensively in Europe
Must have suitable motivation for pursuit so that your being there is constantly logical
Must be willing to die or go to prison after 3 weeks, and be funny in the process
Compensation based on ability to keep audience engaged
Gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation and political affiliation are not factors in hiring decision, but an unusual combination of the above may be beneficial
Equal Opportunity EmployerRead More
“This is not a how-to-do-it handbook. It is impossible to explain how a successful – that is, readable – book is written. But this is what makes writing a lively and exciting profession, the ever-present possibility of failure.”
Boston, April 17, 65 degrees
Dried banana chips in the sun
Already getting a tan
Made improvements to the boat
Practiced yoga on the bow
Rowed across the river and back
Wrote 1000 words of my humorous travel novel, Iris Incensed
Helped another writer with her marketing
Cockpit, evening sun
I am the cat who swallowed the canary.Read More
With so much of our written language and communication now online, and with the difficulty most of us have making a point in writing without confusing the reader and possibly causing a flame war, we really, really need these new punctuation marks.
As an essayist, I know I could use the Superellipsis in almost every piece I write. And because my grammar memory is slippery, I’d sure like to have the Hemi-Demi-Semi Colon. That would be really handy – at least for first drafts.
Clever little brats at College Humor. Including the punctuation designer Mike Trapp.Read More
While doing research for a Tidal Life post about a winter getaway in Provincetown, Massachusetts, I ran across a book I must read, Montacute House, by Lucy Jago. The connection between trendy Ptown and a stately home in southern England exists in my mind alone. To read more about how I brought the two together you’ll have to visit Tidal Life.
Anyway, as soon as I watched Lucy’s video about the book I knew I had to read it and immediately began my search for a copy. Unfortunately it’s not available in my libraries, not on Audible and not on Amazon.com. So far it’s only available in the UK. I guess I’ll be ordering it for my Kindle.
My attraction to this book is two-fold. First, I’m currently writing a story about a girl of the same age as the heroine – I think it may be a young adult novel, though can’t be sure quite yet. Consequently, I’m reading books in that category. Second, I visited the town of Montacute, Saint Michael’s Hill and Montacute House one year ago.
The area has lived in my imagination ever since. I’m not at all surprised to find that another writer has built a story around it.
Montacute House from atop Saint Michael’s Hill. I hiked up the hill during my early morning run. I’ve got pictures of it somewhere … Watching Lucy climb it was like being there again.
The town of Montacute and surrounding plains from the tower atop Saint Michael’s Hill, site of Montacute Castle. I’m told you can see Glastonbury Tor from here on a clearer day.
A view up the side of the tower. The tower, and legendary underground passages to it, figure in the novel. When I was there I hadn’t heard about the legends, but couldn’t help seeing hiding places and secret passages in the stones.
If you’re driving across southern England, I heartily recommend a stop in Montacute. In addition to Montacute House, the splendid hill and tower, there’s also a beautiful church, with intriguing church yard and an assortment of charming stone cottages.
Stay at The King’s Arms. They serve wonderful food. Be sure to bring a book steeped in atmosphere, maybe Montacute House.Read More