Saturday, October 19, 2013

Speak English!

Last weekend I went to a writing group for the first time ever. I'm not sure how I felt about it so I won't say much about the experience, yet.

One thing I did find interesting was the animosity these folks had for certain plot devices, namely "speak English".

You know what I'm talking about. That's when the brainiest character in a story lays down some crazy-complicated technical jargon. Then the action-minded main character says, "Speak English." and the brainy character is forced to explain a concept or term. Of course, this is all for the benefit of the reader, who the author assumes doesn't or won't understand. It's used all the time, especially in Sci-Fi (which is usually particularly concept/jargon heavy).

Maybe that's the problem. It's potentially insulting to your reader to assume they won't know what your talking about. And this particular group of readers (the writing group folks) were really smart. I was easily the dumbest person in the room. So maybe they feel it's insulting. I didn't have the balls to ask.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with "Speak English". It's effective. It gets the job done. Just like all things, it should be used in moderation. But the fact is there are sometimes things that need to be explained. I would rather assume that my readers don't understand a concept and explain it than lose my readers completely.

What about you? Is it overused? Is it insulting? Let me know what you think. And please, speak English.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Smart Phones Make Smart Writers

I used to have a boss that was Borg.

If you're a Star Trek fan you know that it's not appropriate to say "He was a Borg" because the Borg are a collective consciousness. Instead, he was  Borg.

The guy was never disconnected. I think he slept with his blue-ray earpiece. In the 3.5 years I worked for him, I honestly never saw him without it.

Technology can be like that. You can't immagine why everyone's so worked up about the newest gizmo. You hold off buying one for years. In the end, resistance is futile. You give in and get the gizmo and soon, you can't imagine life without it.

Don't feel bad. Now days, it's a natural progression.

Enter the smart phone. I resisted for years but eventually my wife talked me into one. Now she complains that I can't leave it alone.

What does this have to do with writing?

Over the last year I've learned that a smart phone can be a great writing tool. How many times have you had a great idea for a story only to forget it before you can steal away to write it down? Not with a smart phone. Just bust out a free notepad app, type in a few notes, and your idea is stored. Or don't type it in. Use voice recognition to jot your notes. Then email them to your home computer.

Hell, I'll do you one better: WRITE THE WHOLE DAMN STORY ON YOUR PHONE.

It sounds a little crazy but I've written several short stories this way. I always have my phone on me. So what happens when I have to wait for wife/doctor/dmv/wife/etc? Bust out the phone and get some words in. It's basically like having constant access to a word processor.

How about you? Have you written anything on your phone? Are you resisting?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm Back...or At Least I'm Gonna Try To Be

It's been a long time since I've blogged. Things got pretty crazy for me with the end of grad school, thesis writing, manuscript writing, job searching, job finding, and moving. Things are still pretty crazy but they've settled down enough that I would like to try the blog thing again. I've learned a lot about writing and other creative arts and I'd like to share those things with you. There will be some catch-up posts to start with, then we'll see where things go.

I hope to hear from you all soon!