I’ve been reading Richard’s blog for some time now and following the progress of his writing. Very happy for him.
I once read somewhere Mark Twain kept a running word count in the margins of his manuscripts. Word counts are probably a weird obsession held largely by writers. We survive by them. Sometimes we’re paid by the number of words we write. Sometimes we use the count to measure a good day’s work, whether those words add up to a few sentences or several pages.
Word counts also tell us—somewhat arbitrarily—what sort of work we have written. Is it a Tweet (which actually is even more micro, down to the character)? Is it an essay? A short story? A novella? A novel?
A few months ago, a writer friend of mine Gerald Warfield and I shoptalked about just such things. We couldn’t come up with a solid answer. But a blog post from Writer’s Digest gives some novel advice at least, breaking down some average word counts for novels of different lengths.
The link is here. Of course, it’s not the end-all declaration of authority, but it must count for something.
Welcome to One Word Writing Prompts, Episode 2. Basically, your instructions, dear Reader, should you wish to participate, are to simply use the word below as a prompt to write something from it. And, if you would like, please feel free to post your creative output in the comments, and with your permission, I might share them in a later post. Have fun. Be creative.
After reading and a few cups of coffee in the morning, I like to start my morning off with this radio show out of Austin, Texas. Its host, Dale Dudley, fairly frequently gets fed up with commenters on FaceBook, Twitter and text messages, and just as frequently bans, blocks and busts the balls of the trolls who go off the rails in the comments.
One of my recent morning ritual additions is reading writer John Scalzi’s blog Whatever, who just happened today to have linked to a Scientific American post about commenting on social media. Which, besides making think about my favorite morning radio show, also made me think about just how skewed and rambunctious commenting and commenters can be. I thought this bit about a study to reveal attitudes about commenting was quite revealing:
A couple of weeks ago, an article was published in Science about online science communication (nothing new there, really, that we have not known for a decade, but academia is slow to catch up). But what was interesting in it, and what everyone elsejumped on, was a brief mention of a conference presentation that will be published soon in a journal. It is about the effect of the tone of comments on the response of other readers to the article on which the comments appear.
I have contacted the authors and have received and read a draft of that paper. Since it is not published yet, I will not break all sorts of embargoes by going into details, but can re-state what is already out there. An article about nanotechnology, a topic most people know very little about and usually have no a priori biases for or against, was presented to the test subjects. Half the people saw the article with (invented) polite, civil and constructive comments. The other half was given the same article but with uncivil comments – essentially a flame-war in the fake commenting thread. The result is that readers of the second version quickly developed affinity for one side of the argument and strongly took that side, which affected the way they understood and trusted the original article (text of which was unaltered). The nasty comment thread polarized the opinion of readers, leading them to misunderstand the original article.
The assumption is that on hot topics, like climate change, readers already come to the article with pre-concieved notions, and thus the civility of the comments would have no effect on them – they are already polarized. Chosing nanotechnology as a topic was a way to see how comments affect “virgin minds”, i.e., how the tone of comments starts the process of polarization in new readers.
They specifically chose a topic about which most people know very little and do not already have any opinion. Neither the article nor the comments contain sufficient information to turn the readers into experts on the subject. So they have to use mental heuristics – shortcuts – to decide what to think about this new subject. Uncivil, aggressive comments resulted in quick polarization. Readers, although still not well informed about the topic, quickly adopted strong opinions about it.
Sometimes it’s a street fight out there and all you want to is scream . . .
Dear Blog and Blog Reader:
Sorry for the neglect over the past few weeks. There are times I’ve meant to write interesting posts like the one I had in mind of defending genre fiction, science fiction in particular. I’ll put a link here to China Mieville doing a good job of that, or parts of this piece in The Guardian do so.
I really have intended to write more here. But things were happening that weren’t so great. Or maybe they were. I ran away; I came home; I moved to a new place; I don’t know what to make of all that, except to say my Memorial Day weekend was interesting and maybe one day I can write about it.
Speaking of writing, Blog, one chief reason I’ve been neglectful is because I’ve been writing, almost daily, with a few interruptions (see above). When I get on writing jags, I tend to neglect you.
I’ll try to be more attentive, Blog. But I won’t make any promises.
I took part in a blogging round table discussion of favorite movie tie-ins/novelizations at SF Signal. My favorite was Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the original Star Wars film. That novel is as responsible for introducting me to the SF genre as any book or film and certainly was an early influence on me as a writer. As you’ll see from the other guest posters, Foster is a master of the novelization. Anyhow, go read the post.
I’m probably late to send writers to this blog by writer Mur Lafferty:
Her podcasts on writing are informative. I’m listening to one as I’m writing this post and she’s talking about blogging and about what to write on blogs.
That’s been something I’ve wondered about for this blog. Should it be personal? Should it be much more objective, focusing on careers or advice?
Go check it out.
This is part five of Big Bad Book Blog‘s series on blogging and publicity. I’m like the Double Rainbow guy when it comes to reading stats. I love looking at my stats, and seeing that at the very least I’m attracting spam, but the stats . . . What do they meaaaaaaan?!
Of course, WordPress doesn’t allow Google Analytics. And I don’t know of any WordPress source for analyzing stats.
Do you read your stats? What do they mean to you?
This is a link to a series from Big Bad Book Blog on blogging, and why a writer or publisher — or anyone, for that matter — should blog. Just a quick caveat: The loose definition of “news” in the second video is a little frightening . . . but this may be because A) I’m still supportive of professional news sources, and worry about their demise; and B) I’m reading 1984, and control of information is essential to Big Brother’s rule, and reading 1984 always gets me a little paranoid.
By an overwhelming majority 2-1 vote, loyal readers have elected that I keep up with my writing workshop blog.
Because the people have spoken, I will try to keep that blog running.
As an experiment I have posted two stories of my own — one fiction, one nonfiction — for my loyal readers. Please feel free to drop by the workshop, have a look at the stories and critique them if you’d like (at this point critiques will have to be done through comments, until I can further experiment with the site).
Also, feel free to give me comments about how you might improve the site. I need all the suggestions I can get.