Monday, January 31, 2011
Add Worldbuilding Details: New scenes can give you the opportunity to take the story to different settings or expand on what you've already shown.
Show Character: One of the reasons I wanted to add a scene to my old story was to show more of the relationship between my heroine and her mother. Before, my heroine contacted her sick mother over e-mail, but given some of the feedback I received on another story, I thought readers might think that wouldn't be enough. So I had my heroine visit her mother before going off on her quest. This contrasts with how she interacts with her father, since their relationship isn't as good at the start of the story. I think it will be interesting to see how my heroine's feelings towards her parents change over the course of the story.
Take the Plot in a New Direction: This is something I'm still thinking about for this particular scene. It does add some conflict between my main character and her mother (I also added more conflict to the following scene). I think it will add some emotional resonance to the end of the story if I revisit this setting.
So, what have you done with your unexpected scenes?
Friday, January 28, 2011
A universal intelligence test
Harvesting sunlight with gold and citric acid
Next-generation odor fighters
Operation makes dementia patients faster and smarter
I hope you find something useful or interesting in the links!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
In a recent study, psychologists studied couples on speed dates. Specifically, they looked at their language styles to see how well they matched. The couples whose styles matched most closely were more likely to want additional contact with each other. A second study showed that couples whose writing style matched in online chats were more likely to be together three months later. From the article on ScienceBlog, it appears that as two people who are attracted to each other talk, they unconsciously synchronize their language, just as people may establish bonds with others by mirroring their body language.
As a writer, I immediately thought of ways to apply this to writing. If you want to indicate attraction between two characters, you could come up with ways to make their speech patterns similar, at least when they're talking to each other. However, it might be tricky to do this without making it too obvious. This could also be used within a love triangle to offer a subtle clue as to who winds up with whom.
Finally, if you have copies of e-mails or IM transcripts between you and your sweetie (or between your two characters), you can try matching language styles here.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
The first three books I borrowed were the ones in the Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.) I read them all in less than a week. Talk about intense! Here are some of my thoughts about the series:
1. As I was reading the first book, I kept thinking of myself as a parent in this society. I'll probably feel like Katniss; who'd want to raise children only to face the possibility of having them reaped? But if you did go ahead and have children, how would you prepare them for the Hunger Games? Would you raise them like a Career? Would you even have the resources and energy to give a child special training while trying to scrape out a subsistence living in this society?
2. I was Team Peeta from the start. I thought he was perhaps the most three-dimensional character in the series. Gale seemed flat in comparison to me. Perhaps some of this is due to seeing more of Peeta than Gale and seeing Peeta twice in the arena. I wonder how Gale and Katniss would have done if they'd been paired together in the Games. However, I honestly can't see him devoting himself to protecting Katniss the way Peeta did; Gale and Katniss would be allies for a while, but ultimately I think Gale would be willing to turn on her in the end.
3. Sometimes winning can still be losing.
4. The final book was the toughest read. I understand what Collins was doing in making it an anti-war novel, but after a while, all the deaths and suffering just numbed me. I think it was especially hard having read the other two book so soon before starting this one. I did think it was realistic showing Katniss spending much of her time recovering from her physical and psychic wounds. It's too bad there wasn't another narrator who could take over while she recuperated. One Hunger Games can be traumatizing enough, let alone having to endure two in a year. But it was disappointing that District 13 wasn't much better than the rest of Panem. I don't necessarily agree with everything that happened in the end, but I think the ending did what it needed to do.
5. I was annoyed that Katniss explained "The Hanging Tree" song; it seemed clear enough to me.
6. I wonder what role, if any, religion plays in a dystopia like this. Would it make life more bearable? What if tributes were assumed to go to Heaven automatically?
7. Present tense worked well for this story and helped keep the tension high.
8. It was a good, well-written story, and I'm glad I read it. However, I definitely needed a light, fun read afterward.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Single photon source for quantum computers
Insect eyes inspire improved solar cells
Computer games that help people make better decisions
How to store CO2 in the sea
Converting 2D photos into 3D face
(note: this reminds me of the acting holoprojectors Paul uses in my story Across Two Universes)
"Killer paper" keeps food safe from bacteria
Scientists bring cancer cells back under control
Converting heat waste into electricity
Have a good weekend, everyone!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
What is the main character of you current WiP MOST afraid of, and why? Don't use a previously finished work. This is all about discovering the inner motivations of your current characters - the ones you don't know that well yet.
I'm not sure what approach to take with this question, as I'm currently revising two finished stories and researching another idea that's so new I only have a couple ideas of what the MC will be like. At this point, all I know is that my heroine's name will probably be Lillian, she's an artist living in a small Midwestern town at the turn of the century, and she fears losing her freedom in marriage. All of the preceding is subject to change without notice. Perhaps it would be best to return to my NaNoWriMo project, even though that's a sequel to a finished story and uses the same MC at a different point in his life. In Catalyst in the Crucible, Paul is most afraid of losing the ones he loves. He lost his mother in Across Two Universes and still occasionally blames himself for her death. Now, some of his actions in Across Two Universes have triggered events that threaten everyone. I don't think I can say much more without going into spoilers.
Check out what Kat said before me and what Kate has to add!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Yesterday I read this article in the NY Times saying that despite efforts from scientists to obtain funding, the Tevatron will be shut down permanently this September. (Fermilab will remain open and run other projects.) This isn't a surprise, as the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is much larger and more powerful, and efforts to build another particle accelerator in Texas came to nothing. What is disappointing is that our country is canceling some of the big science projects while Europe and Asia are catching up to us in science. What does it mean for our country in the long run if we don't run large-scale experiments like the Tevatron? Will that affect our ability to perform basic research and train new scientists? Will the general public lose interest in science and science fiction?
If you were going to propose one big research project for our country, what would it be? Would you suggest something that had many real-world applications, or would you try to find something that was also inspirational?
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Drug may be useful in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
New form of "frozen smoke" made (a strong aerogel with a huge surface area)
Some thunderstorms produce anti-matter
A new glass as tough as steel
A blood-testing lab on a chip
Climate change expected to continue at least until 3000 A.D.
Redesigning streets to avoid left turns makes them safer and faster
Possible drug target for prion (mad cow) disease
Have a good weekend!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
2. Lately, I'm having a hard time deciding what book to read next on my Kindle. I'll start a sample, lose interest, then try another one. I wonder if having so many choices (I'm now up to 82 books in my "To Read" collection) is making me pickier than usual.
3. I could choose one of my paper books to read, only I already have two non-fiction books I'm working on. If I add a novel to that, i know I'll choose the fun read over the research ones.
Anyone else have some random thoughts to add?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Since I knew the songs, I was listening hard to see what they did with the song, "As Some Day If Should Happen..." This is the song in which Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, talks about the "little list" he keeps "of society offenders who might well be underground" in case he actually needs to execute someone. One of the people on this list is a lady novelist. Sometimes the lyrics of this song are changed to reflect more contemporary types of society offenders. I wanted to see if this particular line was changed or not. This production stuck to the original lyrics and kept the line. I shook my finger at the stage in mock protest.
The reason Gilbert and Sullivan included this line (besides the rhyme it provided) was to mock women authors who wrote light-hearted romances. In fact, George Eliot used a male pseudonym to escape this stereotype. Obviously, women write in many genres these days. Do you feel there are still stereotypes about women writers these days? If so, what are they?
Friday, January 07, 2011
Helping electric wheelchairs cross rough terrain
Using DNA to obtain an unknown criminal's hair color
Extracting mitochondria from cells
Synthetic, life-sustaining proteins
A dog's vocabulary (over 1,000 words)
A cloak to hide underwater objects from sonar
Solar-powered hornets may be new source of renewable energy
An anti-cocaine vaccine
Have a good weekend, everyone!
Thursday, January 06, 2011
There are still pictures in the digital version; if you read on your computer, the pictures are in color. There are also ads, though some of them are small and hard to read on the Kindle. The pictures do make for some odd page breaks, and sometimes there's just one line of text beneath the ad or picture. It looks like there are hyperlinks in the table of contents and in other parts of the magazine as well. I'm about 60% of the way through. I think it'll be a couple more months until I'm ready to decide if the digital version is better than the paper version. Still, it's better than not reading Locus at all.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
First, Tessa, Marieke, and Rachael are teaming up to give away a trilogy of fantastic prizes, such as books, critiques, and gift cards. You have to follow all three ladies, and if you follow their blogs before January 11, you get extra entries. Check out any of their blogs for more details.
Second, Derico Photography is giving away a custom book cover design. If you're thinking of self-publishing your book or just want an image to make a proof copy, this is a great opportunity. You can see examples of their work on Michelle Davidson Argyle's blog. To enter, become a fan of Derico Photography on Facebook and leave a comment on the discussion or events page. You can find more details here.
Good luck to all who enter!
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Monday, January 03, 2011
What do you think your strengths and weaknesses as a writer are? Did you have to develop your strengths, or did they come naturally to you? How are you trying to overcome your weaknesses?
Yes, everyone, after a festive holiday season, we have to look at the man or woman in the mirror:
Here are what I think are some of my writing strengths:
Good command of grammar--I was such a bookworm I read English textbooks as a kid, but I took a grammar class for my Master's degree. I also copy-edited for a newspaper briefly and still read grammar books on my own.
Good understanding of basic science (for writing SF)--I've studied science in school and on my own.
Can come up with interesting worldbuilding details--I get a lot of ideas from reading science and news articles.
Can create cliffhanger chapter endings--I developed this through reading novels and books on writing.
I should point out that even though I feel I do have some genetic talent for writing (I got it from my biological mother), all the things I count as strengths are ones I developed through study and practice.
And here are some of the things I feel I still need to work on:
Adding more sensory details to scenes--I admit I'm timid about adding details for fear of getting them wrong. I also tend to focus more on plot and dialogue in first drafts, so description is something I have to add to the story instead of including it from the start. I've tried some writing exercises to help me focus on description, and during NaNoWriMo, I deliberately made myself include some description. Description is much better for word count than unnecessary adverbs!
Making main characters more likable at the start of the story--To show how my characters grow over the course of the story, I sometimes make too much of their faults in the beginning. My reviewers let me know when this is a problem. I've tried to address this by showing more of my characters' emotions and motivations.
Making teenage characters sound their age, not younger--To address this, I should study more teenagers in their natural habitat, no matter how scary that is. ;)
I'm sure there are more things I need to work on, but those are the most important ones, or at least the ones that come to mind right away.
Kate will share her strengths and weaknesses with us next. What do you feel are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Last month, Elana Solodow set up a blogfest challenging people to write 100-word sentences for a cash prize. I figured an epic sentence of that length required an epic topic. Fortunately, I had some inspiration from an epic reading project. Here's my sentence about reading all of Shakespeare's poems and plays; it comes in at exactly 100 words.
I have spent about six weeks reading the complete works of William Shakespeare on my Kindle, and while I haven’t understood every archaic term, I’ve reminisced about performances I’ve watched, revisited old friends, discovered new villains, seen Greco-Roman and English history come to life, shared favorite passages and sonnets on Facebook, traveled to a fantastic island and the moors of Scotland, learned about human nature, marveled at Shakespeare’s command of blank verse and figurative language, and wondered what the total death count is; although I’ve read several books since finishing my project, even the best ones can’t match the Bard.
The contest runs through the end of this month, so there's plenty of time to write your own 100-word sentence and post it on your blog, Facebook profile, or Twitter account. Remember, the more people who enter, the higher the prize will be!