blogging, inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

Above, Roger W. Sperry, 1913-1994

In his blog “How to Discover Your Writer’s Muse” Harvey points out that creativity springs from the right side of our brain while your knowledge of writing resides in the left side.
“Your writing muse lives in the right side of your brain – the side where all the creative work takes place. The critic lives in the logical left side. The muse has access to your unconscious mind – the place where you dream and imagine and store your hidden memories. The critic has no time for such nonsense. You use your creative side (or your writer’s muse) to supply you with great raw material. Then you use your logical side (or your inner-critic) to make sense of it all and knock it into shape.”

Harvey is suggesting that the more we know about muses, the more we can trust our own. Another way of putting it is, teach the left brain about muses and the right brain can form a useful muse. For those interested, his piece is at:
https://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-muse.html

And, for those who wonder how much truth there can be in this approach, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1981 was awarded to Dr. Roger W. Sperry, “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.”
https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1981/

Warning, though. Anyone reading Sperry’s experiments may forever think differently of themselves.
https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/roger-sperrys-split-brain-experiments-1959-1968

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About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Research, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Steep and Roll

songwriting 2This is a concept that I am gradually beginning to understand how to use. A friend once critiqued my first novel with:

“There’s so much great stuff in there it needs to slow its roll and steep a little, meaning take longer to explain things and have a nice build up.”
– Chris Gabriel, song writer

Chris explained it as a technique that professional song writers use. It made me wonder how many other song writing techniques could apply to story writing. So, I researched song writing advice and found dozens of tips. Here’s the top 6.

1. Practice. Like any other creative process such as playing guitar or programming synth sounds, lyric-writing is a skill that can be learnt and improved upon.

2. Don’t be disheartened if your lyrics aren’t perfect on the first draft. Many professional writers will rewrite a song’s lyrics dozens of times before they make it onto record.

3. Persevere. More often than not, songs aren’t born, they’re created and sculpted. Don’t expect a song to arrive fully formed; they sometimes take time and you’ll need to work at it.

4. If you can’t quite figure out how to say what you want within a particular line, jot down the gist of it and move on to another part of the song – you can come back to it later. That way, you won’t spend hours wrestling with one small line that might turn out to be insignificant in the wider context of the song.

5. Try to have a clear idea of what the song is about. You should be able to sum up the essence of the song in one sentence.

6. Analyze other songs. Try to pick out the differences in lyrics between your favorite songs and your own and apply any lyrical techniques you learn to your own work.

I think we story writers can learn a lot from song writers. Oh and, if anyone has insight into “Steep and Roll,” please post it in the comments?

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blogging, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Ask me your questions, Bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), the Bridgekeeper prevented any knight unable to answers his questions from crossing the bridge. Wrong answers got the knight tossed into the gully below. Think of the Bridgekeeper as your readers – who will toss your book aside if it is not answering their questions.

I write hard sci-fi and I have a WiP with a deadline that hinges on my understanding of something many sci-fi fans know more about than I do: Is quantum superposition universal? Getting this wrong in a hard sci-fi story has the same effect as say, firing seven shots from a six-shooter in an old west tale, or getting the royal succession wrong in a historical novel, or misusing DNA to identify the killer in a detective story. The knowledgeable reader dismisses the story as beneath his reading level.

Asking a science fiction group on facebook, “Is quantum superposition universal?” got me 35 knowledgeable answers. Now, I don’t know more about quantum mechanics than I did, but, I do know what most readers in my genre will accept.

I also learned that readers are not afraid to tell you what they expect from a good story.

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About Writers, book reviews, Research, Uncategorized, world-building, Writers Co-op

A Question For Mimi

Mimi Speake is an historian of sixteenth century Europe & therabouts. She delves into the private lives of such as Bernard Délicieux, the Friar of Carcassonne and Henry of Navarre. Nothing seems to delight Mimi more than to accurately include in her stories obscure details about the financial information of a walled town from that period, or a seminal work on algebra, or even lore about La Fée Verte, the green fairy.
And uh, Mimi is the only historian I know. So, I have a question for her.

Is Google messing with history? Not on purpose. But is that repository of human knowledge fatally flawed because of what it does not include?

I ask because I recently searched for early reviews of Arthur C. Clarke’s first book, Against the Fall of Night, published by Startling Stories magazine in 1948. Despite the story itself being vintage Clarke, the novella was initially panned for its word dumps of the author’s social theories. They added nothing to the story. I know this because I read it as a kid and I still remember my eyes glassing over the pages of preaching.
A few years ago, I re-read it. The book that I re-read said it had been published only because fans had expressed interest in reading Clarke’s first novel. It’s forward discussed Against the Fall of Night’s initial reception (dismal) and included some of those early reviews (bad.)

But Google has unwittingly rewritten history. I cannot find any of those original reviews. The Fall of Night is today presented as if it hadn’t bombed; as if it is just another good book by Clarke, even though he had to rewrite it in 1956 as The City and the Stars.

I know. I know. Google is not a complete history of anything. It is only a collection of whatever bits people put on the ‘Net. (But I wonder how many people think about things that are not on the Internet.)

So, Mimi, if I may follow-up, how do you find information that is not on Google?

And for everyone, a broader question:
To what extent are search engine results and social media the background against which we frame our questions? Do they guide the answers that we accept?
In short, does the Internet shape our collective consciousness?

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About Writers, blogging, publishing, reading, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Online Montmartre

Imagine if you will, a gathering of writers, illustrators, publishers, editors, publicists, personal assistants & purveyors of writing paraphernalia sharing expertise and enjoying one another’s company. No matter what your writer’s question, probably someone here will happily reply based on their own experience.

Writers Groups exist online for you to join and interact with according to your own schedule. I belong to the SciFi Roundtable on Facebook, a group of writers serious about their work but with a hearty sense of humor and tolerance for the writing life. Different opinions are respected, even encouraged. (Avoid opinionated and competitive groups; they are vexatious to the spirit.)

While you can make connections and build rewarding friendships in writers groups, the real value of finding your own online Montmartre is the synergy of creative, hard-working minds similar to your own. The right group will teach, entertain and inspire you. You know it’s the right group when people take pride in helping others become successful.
Oh, and just sayin’, you’ll probably also want to join a readers group in your genre. 🙂

But, enough work. Go eat:

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND TO YOURS
From All Of Us Here At The Writers Co-op!!

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About Writers, blogging, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Hurricane Irma, Muse of the Moment

Well, my lady and I survived the pre-hurricane madness, long gas lines, depleted grocery stores, near-apoplectic news readers 🙂
Now, we’re hunkering down in Naples, Florida amidst enough supplies to restart civilization, got good books for when the power goes out & we have friendly, helpful neighbors. We may be better off now than before Irma appeared.

We’ll huddle in a candle-lit interior room away from windows with the cat & inevitable litter box while Irma blows past Sunday. Later, there’ll be no power. (Been here, done it) That’s when the neighbors will come out because without A/C, why not? People sharing a disaster are not shy. We all know exactly what’s on the other’s mind. “Good to see you. Are you OK? Need anything? Wow, look at this mess.”

Now is a time to observe human nature. The place will get cleaned up, people will return to their individual lives. But for the moment, we can relate to our neighbors, family and friends on a level of shared concern. It’s a teaching moment for writers.

In your own life, what event has been a teaching moment?

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About Writers, blogging, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Here A.I. Comes, The Artificial Part, Anyway

Enjoying science fiction sometimes allows you to watch the future arrive. Artificial intelligence will soon happen. Robots have begun to replace human workers and they will assume roles as autonomous decision makers. Legal rights and protections between us and them will have to be worked out. We are about to decide who “us” is.

Yesterday, Mika Koverola posted on the Facebook group, SciFi Fandom,
“I’m conducting research into the connection between ‘science fiction hobbyism’ and people’s attitudes towards robots as a part of my PhD at Helsinki University. …. Please take my Science Fiction and Robots survey (https://tinyurl.com/SciFiRobots) and help science by spending approximately 45 minutes telling about your views on science fiction, robotics and ethical choices.”

A survey on how I feel about A.I. robots? Help science? How could I say no?
Mika’s questions explored my feelings towards A.I robots. How much do I trust companies that make them? Who do I think is responsible if they harm humans? Will it distress me if they make medical decisions contrary to the wishes of the patient? What are my reactions to people having sex with robots? The usual.

It struck me that if we give robots the right to tell us what to do, we surrender control to whoever controls the robots. Of course, the only way we would give rights to robots is if we assume A.I. is like us. When people talk about “true” A.I., the underlying assumption is that artificial intelligence confers personhood. Put another way, intelligence, even if artificial, is assumed to equal humanity.

Really? Is intelligence really our criteria for who we are? Or is it an awareness of something and we are that something?

What do you think we are?

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