Archive for May, 2009

Courage Wolf is my favourite Meme

I know I mostly keep personal stuff off this site, but I did make a personal category for a reason, and that reason is so I can do stuff like this.

I love courage wolf! It has to be my favorite Meme. There’s just something  about a snarling wolf delivering self help advice that really appeals to me; I feel pumped up and ready to face the day just from reading them.

Prototype

While we’re on the subject, I also really like the “Fail” Meme. It’s not so much that I like the ideas behind it but I really can’t stop giggling while reading them.

fail-camerabird-cat-cagelegendfail

*Giggle*

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My writing technique

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m on an ongoing quest to improve my writing speed; to that end I have created a new system for writing articles, and I’d like to share it with you.

My system works in three very simple steps.

Step one is content creation. The important thing in this step is to just keep writing; it’s quantity over quality at this point. Don’t worry about spelling and don’t worry about pronunciation; you can come back and correct anything you like later.

Step two is where you refine your writing a little bit; all you have to do is go back and correct any spelling mistakes you might’ve made while typing in step one. At this point you don’t have to worry about the clarity of your writing; it doesn’t matter if the article is nonsense, as long as it’s nonsense made out of real words.

Finally we come step three; the final polishing step. You just need to go back and get rid of any superfluous writing you put it while you were working on step one. If you stumbled a few times and went off at random tangents; then this is where you fix them.

And that’s really all there is to it. I know the system isn’t perfect; in particular I have a lot of trouble just writing without slowing down and correcting things; my internal editor just keeps getting in the way, but I have high hopes for the system and I hope to use it a lot in the future.

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble.

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Demonic Symphony – Post Mortem

Demonic Symphony

Demonic Symphony

Well I promised you a post mortem of Demonic Symphony, and now that I have a few spare hours it seems like as good a time as any to write it up.

In terms of overall quality I don’t know what to think about it; I don’t think it’s a bad book but when you compare it to all the love my other book gets it doesn’t really stack up. I think the problem is that I tried to go a bit darker than I usually go and the style didn’t really suit me. In the end if you liked my book then great, and if you didn’t like it then I think you can chalk it up to second album syndrome.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the postmortem; what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I’ve learnt for next time.

I like to start things positively so let’s start with what I liked about this book. If there is one thing that really stands out for me in terms of liking this book, it’s that I finally managed to sort of characterization for my main characters.

As I will get into later I think that shallow characterization weakened the book overall but for my main characters I think I did a much better job than I’ve managed before; Laurie and Derek have very different mindsets and tackle problems in at least slightly different ways; for comparison check out my first book where my main characters turn into clones of each other about three chapters in.

The way I managed the characterization in Demonic Symphony was by applying generalizations to the characters’ mindsets; in this case Laurie always sees the best in every situation while Derek always sees the worst. Now while I think this is the right direction to go in, and it is the technique I intend to use from now on, I think that simply saying positive or negative is too limiting and not what I need to be doing for my writing. What I’m interested in right now is the id, ego, superego trichotomy; so if all goes to plan then in my next book you can expect to see a character that always puts his emotion’s first, another that always obeys his code of honor, and a third that always attempts to mediate between the two.

That is enough of what I liked about the book, let’s move on to the things I’ve going to have to avoid in the next one.

Here’s a fun game; count how many characters I have in this book. Don’t want to? Neither do I. I wrote far too many characters into this book and even if I am getting better at handling characterization the simple fact is that there wasn’t enough time to spread enough characterization around, and the book as a whole comes off weak as a result.

Here’s a simple example. Do you know where Lenard was during the climax of the book? Me neither; it’s like he just dropped off the face of the earth in-between scenes; understandable given that I was juggling something like eight characters during that scene, but still a major oversight and a clear sign that I should have started pruning back characters a long time ago; by force if needs be.

I think for all my books in the future I’m going to have to put some strict limits on the number of characters active at any given time. I’m not sure what that limit is going to be but I think that if a fan couldn’t rattle off the names of all the characters to their friends then I have too many.

There is one more thing that bothers me about this book and that is that the whole plot line of the Retained Demon basically disappears really quickly. Part of this was down to time constraints; I didn’t leave myself enough time to really explain what the Retained Demon was or what it could do, but because it disappeared it just didn’t have a lot of impact on the plot. I’m not sure how I can fix this; since I find it very hard to stick to outlines, but I think for the next book I will attempt to plot out my book a little bit in advance using the first part of the snowflake method.

So to summarize, from this book I’ve learnt to keep strong characterization by generalizing a character’s world view, build up strong characterization by limiting the number of characters, and keep an easy to follow plot by summarizing the entire book in one sentence.

Thank you for reading.

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Idea – Typing 300wpm

I have these good/bad/crazy ideas sometimes, most of the time they’re not related to writing in any way, but this one is.

I am on a long term quest to improve my writing speed. So far this quest means that I can touch type on a Dvorak keyboard and dictate an entire book using Dragon naturally speaking. I’m a lot faster now than when I started out hunting and pecking, but I’m still far too slow for my liking.

Then I stumbled upon this.

For those of you who don’t want to follow that link let me summarise it for you. There is a machine, called a Stenotype, and it lets it’s users type at 300 WPM!

I would love to be that fast. Even if I couldn’t form coherent thoughts at that speed, I would still be thrilled to type a nonsense book if I could do it at 300 WPM.

Let me explain why this is so exciting to me. Let’s assume I had a Stenotype modified for Novel writing and I could type on it at 300 WPM. Let’s also assume that a Novel is 100,000 words long and that for the sake of easy maths I can work for 20 minutes before needing a 10 minute break.

For every half hour period I can write 6000 words (20 x 300)

For every hour I can write 12000 words (6000 x 2)

Which means that I can write my 100000 words in 8.3 hours (100000/12000)

To put that another way it means that I could write a novel every single working day!

Brrrrr, I just got chills at the thought of all that productivity. Now there are some obvious weaknesses with this idea, ranging from the question of whether a stenotype could even be modified as I have laid out, to the question of whether I could think straight while typing faster than I can talk, but I think the potential if everything goes right is enormous.

I can’t possibly be the first person to think of this. I’ld  like it if you could tune in and tell me your thoughts.

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Special offer discount

I just got an email from Lulu and that means that for the first time in my life I can do this.

Special offer discount

That’s right; thanks to Lulu for a limited time I can offer you a discount on any book of mine you buy. All you have to do is follow this elegent finely crafted link.

This offer is only valid till the 10th of May so if you don’t want to wait to see how the books end then make sure you pick up your copy’s now.

I hope to see you again.

Matthew

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