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Help me find some U.S. elementary school study aids from the mid '80s.

Tryin' to track down a portfolio of English reading/writing laminated bifold four page workbooks. [more inside]
posted by coolxcool=rad on Mar 20, 2014 - 6 answers

Technical writing... by robots?

I saw a somewhat blogspammy news article the other day (regrettably, I cannot remember where, and google is failing me) which listed the top ten or twenty professions that would be eliminated by automation in the next twenty years. Among them were ones I would expect: telemarketing, retail sales, etc. Nothing surprising there. And then they threw technical writing into the mix. My question is, how could software automate technical writing? [more inside]
posted by deathpanels on Mar 17, 2014 - 12 answers

Freelance writers: Should I be charging more for my work?

I'm 25 and have been in the freelance scene for about a year. I saw Igyre's question and how she was unhappy with making $25/hour. That's about what I'm making now. I'm looking for perspective and what I need to do to start charging more. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Mar 12, 2014 - 9 answers

Help me design a (possibly steampunk) spaceship

I am writing a short story in which an unmanned spaceship crashes in a field, and I've gotten stuck when it comes to visualizing/describing the spaceship. I like the idea of a steampunk craft, though it will have lights. In case you are wondering, the overall tone I am going for is magic with a hint of sadness. Got any ideas for what it looks like on the outside or inside? What might my characters find when they explore?
posted by mermaidcafe on Mar 12, 2014 - 10 answers

have no seafaring experience, what to read in order to write about it?

Please help me understand seaworthiness so I can write about it. [more inside]
posted by wallawallasweet on Mar 11, 2014 - 22 answers

Writing but not growing

How can you make sure that as a writer you're getting better? [more inside]
posted by litleozy on Mar 10, 2014 - 14 answers

Suggestions for a subtitle for my workbook?

I have a title for a self-help workbook I'm writing, but I'm having a lot of trouble thinking of a good subtitle... [more inside]
posted by DMelanogaster on Mar 9, 2014 - 12 answers

Where to get feedback on a French play?

My friend is a French expat living in the USA and is almost finished writing a play--in French. She is looking for some feedback on her work from people who are decent speakers of French and know enough about writing for theater, or fiction in general, but it's been surprisingly difficult to find such people. Do you have any ideas for helping her find such people? [more inside]
posted by ropeladder on Mar 2, 2014 - 4 answers

Can you help me figure out how to revise my novel after rejection?

I wrote a novel (hooray!). I got an agent (hooray!) The book went out to lots of great publishers (hooray!) who all rejected it (tears, sobbing, and gnashing of teeth). And now I'm flailing. Can you help me get my head straight and figure out a plan? [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Mar 2, 2014 - 18 answers

Anhedonia and creativity

I am a writer and visual artist, mostly a writer. I have been through a grueling bout with severe depression. Now the agonizing emotional pain is lessened, but I have been blank, apathetic, and anhedonic for a couple weeks. I started on Zoloft a couple days ago and also had my lithium increased, and I also recently started a prescription dose of vitamin D because my levels were low. I'm throwing all those things plus therapy, exercise,omega 3's, and light therapy at the problem, but there is little help right now. My big question has to do with the fact that I am seemingly unable to be creative right now. I try to write and nothing comes out,or it comes out awkward and flat. I've tried writing about the flatness,but even that trick doesn't work. The visual side hasn't fared much better. Does anyone have suggestions for how I can keep my creative side alive while I wait for all the treatments to help?
posted by mermaidcafe on Mar 1, 2014 - 12 answers

Writing for computer games?

I'm a fiction writing and I've always wanted to be involved in the storytelling aspect of a computer game. Can I make this happen without a career change or having to take on technical or design stuff? If so, how? [more inside]
posted by Calicatt on Mar 1, 2014 - 6 answers

Well-written math

Which mathematicians write exceptionally well or exceptionally clearly? (Individual books or articles would also be acceptable.) [more inside]
posted by hoyland on Feb 28, 2014 - 19 answers

What are some examples of completely unique writing systems?

I'm fascinated by writing systems. I've seen this wiki page about different types of systems in real and fictional languages. As I understand it, there are generally three kinds of systems: logographic, where symbols represent entire concepts or words; syllabaries, where symbols represent syllabic sounds; and segmental, where symbols represent phonemes or small units of sound. Is there any other way to write? I'm having a hard time coming up with how it would even work, but I'm sure some clever author somewhere has tried. Is there another way to write a language other than the above?
posted by RobotNinja on Feb 27, 2014 - 14 answers

YANAmazon, but…

I stumbled across an older book, and I'd love to find others like it. Help? [more inside]
posted by xenization on Feb 27, 2014 - 8 answers

Erudition as a service?

I've started writing more (blog posts), and several times this has happened: I use the Mac's search function to look up a word in the dictionary, for inspiration, and instead I notice a PDF search result from my folder full of (sadly illegal) PDF books, and end up on a totally wonderful track. Is there a more comprehensive, perhaps legal, way to do this? [more inside]
posted by mbrock on Feb 26, 2014 - 6 answers

Experience point tracker?

Could someone recommend a free or inexpensive program I could use to track experience points in a nerd project I'm working on? To inspire myself to write more, I thought I'd turn my automath afternoons into a sort of rpg, where I gain points for expanding my vocabulary, memorizing passages, writing, revising, and publishing. I could do it all on paper, but I've found I'm much more productive when I keep all my work on my laptop (hypotheses abound). I could also use a spread sheet, where current stat totals are in the top row, but that would quickly lead to tedious scrolling just to input new data. Ideally, I'd like to have a static page with fields I can plug numeric data into, and have that data compiled and displayed somewhere at the top of the page. Seems pretty basic--the kind of thing that must exist, right? Thanks!
posted by jwhite1979 on Feb 21, 2014 - 2 answers

Look at this old bookplate!

What language is this? What does it say? [more inside]
posted by steef on Feb 21, 2014 - 8 answers

Good 'Techno-Thrillers'?

I recently bought Zero Day by Mark Russinovish because it was cheap, and also I was vaguely interested in seeing how the whole 'techno-thriller' genre has evolved since I made the mistake of trying to read the Net Force books. It's not very good. Help me find an alternative! [more inside]
posted by anaximander on Feb 16, 2014 - 9 answers

Chapter Trails

Is there a formal term for the hyphen separated list of keywords and phrases that you sometimes see at the beginning of chapters in a book? These usually form a sequential summary of the chapter ahead. I've most often seen this in older books, but recently in Robert MacFarlane's, "The Old Ways".
posted by spudsilo on Feb 11, 2014 - 2 answers

Mid-career switch: reception to copywriting

I've been working as a receptionist for a few years, and I'd like to transition into a career as a copywriter. About three years ago I wrote back-of-the-box copy for a home entertainment distributor, I've written music and film reviews for a few blogs my friends run, and I recently finished the third draft of a novel. None of these seem like they'd work for a copywriting portfolio. I've also spoken to the marketing department at my current place of employment about writing press releases and blog entries, and I'm waiting to hear back from them about potential short-term projects. In the meantime, what can I do to get more experience and build up a portfolio?
posted by pxe2000 on Feb 11, 2014 - 7 answers

How do playwrights think about play structure and meaning?

Yesterday I saw a community theater production of Sam Shepherd's Buried Child. Later at home, I looked up some commentary/analysis on it. So many different meanings were attributed to various aspects of the play, such as the corn that Tilden kept bringing in from outside. It was tied to fertility, infertility, Sukkot, the Corn King, death, and on and on. At one point, Vince reentered the house from the screened-in porch by cutting the screen vertically top to bottom and stepping through. This was said to be a symbolic rebirth for his character. [more inside]
posted by michellenoel on Feb 10, 2014 - 5 answers

Give me some of that sexy, sexy self-loathing

Book recommendation filter: Guy loves girl. Guy hates himself for it. Romantic drama ensues. [more inside]
posted by pretentious illiterate on Feb 6, 2014 - 18 answers

Major Depressive Disorder and Imaginative Fiction

I've been depressed for many years. It has sapped my creative powers. I've had enough. How can I live as a depressed person, but elevate above the limitations this has imposed on me in the past to escape into a writing practice that could create imaginative works of fiction? [more inside]
posted by samizdat on Feb 3, 2014 - 15 answers

Prior knowledge = omniscience?

What are the narrative limitations of a third-person limited style? Solve this debate between me and a friend. [more inside]
posted by Zelos on Feb 3, 2014 - 11 answers

Does Barbara Ehrenreich get rape threats??

Um, hi guys. I know there are some other writers on MeFi (help me PhoBWanKenobi...) and I've seen a few previous questions here about writing fiction and non-fiction, but I think my Ask is specific enough to have merit: [more inside]
posted by polly_dactyl on Jan 31, 2014 - 25 answers

I got an essay accepted in July, but they still haven't published it.

I wrote a personal essay for a high-traffic website and it was accepted. But after seven months they still haven't published it. Do you think there's any chance they will? Should I email and ask about it a second time? [more inside]
posted by tuberose on Jan 30, 2014 - 9 answers

What poem and poet is this recording?

Who wrote this poem: "Blue Moon"? [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 30, 2014 - 2 answers

Synonyms for "silo"?

I'm having trouble with pithy ways to describe (in popular style) the concept of "silo-ing". In other words: a certain kind of data is siloed into disparate program and department offices, and because of the lack of collaboration the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Suggestions?
posted by powerbumpkin on Jan 29, 2014 - 18 answers

How can I write a script so that it's cheap to make?

For those who have made movies, I have heard that the cheaper you can write a movie (This is of course presuming your script is already awesome!) the greater your chances are of having it bought. I am more than happy to work creatively within such constraints, but I was wondering if there were scenes that counterintuitively cost a lot that a first-time writer wouldn't know about, and vice versa. [more inside]
posted by Sully on Jan 28, 2014 - 26 answers

accio worldbuilding project

I'm working on a worldbuilding project set in the Harry Potter universe that incorporates Bengali culture and history. What can I do and what resources can I consult to make this project awesome? (Mild spoiler for Pottermore inside.) [more inside]
posted by divabat on Jan 25, 2014 - 3 answers

Forever in search of the perfect (paper) notebook

I've tried many notebooks, but have yet to find the absolute perfect one. Requirements: graph, A5, ring bound, quality paper. [more inside]
posted by cosmic osmo on Jan 25, 2014 - 9 answers

Help me feed my 20-something wanderlust. Difficulty level: Wheelchair

I'm like every other post-college twentysomething in lots of ways: I make too little money, watch too much Netflix and indulge in an existential crisis oh, about once an hour. Also, like many in my cohort, I love the idea of packing up a ratty old duffel bag and heading off to some far corner of the world to taste, see and do all I can, while maybe giving myself either a leg to stand on once I return to the job market here or the warm-n-fuzzies that come from volunteering and/or service learning. All pretty standard fare. Here comes the doozy of snowflake: I'm in a wheelchair and have certain difficulties with speech fluency, owing to my CP and spastic diplegia diagnosis. Try as I might, I can't get myself to give up on the dream of spending a year or more abroad, even with all this in my way. Help me get there, oh beautiful hivemind? [more inside]
posted by marsbar77 on Jan 19, 2014 - 16 answers

Writing an "as told by" article, should I divide my compensation?

Asking for a friend. Friend interviewing a source for an article and wanted to publish it as an interview. He pitched it to a paper and the paper wants him to right a story in the form of "as told by." So the article reads like a narrative by the source but is written by my friend. He has never written anything like this before and wonders whether or not he should pay some of what he's paid for the article to the source?
posted by melissam on Jan 17, 2014 - 2 answers

Music to write by

I'm getting sick of writing to the same music. Suggest me new stuff please. Nitpicky particulars and what I'm listening to right now inside. [more inside]
posted by dersins on Jan 17, 2014 - 26 answers

Awesome lessons in college writing?

What really great activities, exercises or lessons do you remember from your undergrad-level writing or composition courses? [more inside]
posted by yersinia on Jan 17, 2014 - 12 answers

Usenet author posting in justified paragraphs?

Does anyone know the name/email address of a guy who used to post to Usenet in the mid-1990s in justified text? (When rendered in a monospaced font.) [more inside]
posted by mstillwell on Jan 14, 2014 - 10 answers

Sex blogs/columns written by straight men, for straight men?

I'm having trouble finding any decent quality writing on sex advice or on sex in general where the author and target audience are both straight men. Part of this is about being interested in reading such content, part is about wondering if there really is a void here and if I should start writing myself to fill it. [more inside]
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch on Jan 11, 2014 - 6 answers

Good examples of technical writing

What are good examples of technical documents? examples: business policies, research papers, references, documentation [more inside]
posted by ichomp on Jan 8, 2014 - 6 answers

Poetry writing classes in NYC... Gotham Writer's Workshop? 92Y?

I'm looking for NYC poetry class recommendations! Gotham Writer's Workshop and 92Y are both offering courses that start soon. Poet's House also offers classes but they haven't announced the dates yet. Does anyone have experiences with any of these? Are there other poetry classes or groups I'm overlooking? [more inside]
posted by yaymukund on Jan 6, 2014 - 6 answers

meta stories are meta

I really love works of fiction that use the style, setup, or form of another media product as a means of storytelling and sometimes subversion. For example: TEDxSummerisle (complete with tweets and botched livestream) and The Theory of Narrative Causality, written primarily in the form of Livejournal posts by the Sherlock Homes fandom (inc comments and bits of fanfic) as well as GChats, TVTropes, and related media. What other similar works are out there? [more inside]
posted by divabat on Jan 4, 2014 - 22 answers

When should an author respond to reviews?

I'm an author. I've seen enough other authors flame out when responding to criticism that I know never to respond to negative reviews. But I'm sometimes tempted to respond to positive reviews of my book on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites-- perhaps with a short "Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it;" perhaps with a longer reply if it seems appropriate. Should I ever do that? If so, when? [more inside]
posted by yankeefog on Jan 1, 2014 - 34 answers

Help me out with the old online dating profile please.

Hello, I'm trying out the whole Match.com thing for the first time and am having trouble making my profile really stand out. I'm getting a little writers block as well. I've tried doing the funny thing and it just comes across as corny. I'm not fond of my writing skills and what I've put together feels it's a little flat. Let me know if anybody has any suggestions for improvement. Of course, any grammar corrections are more than welcome as well. More inside and Thanks! [more inside]
posted by Che boludo! on Dec 31, 2013 - 31 answers

How does the shrinking work in Michael Crichton's book Micro?

There's a Michael Crichton book (technically finished based on his notes) called Micro. It is about a group of people who get shrunk to miniscule size and are attacked by mundane wildlife. [more inside]
posted by Lorc on Dec 31, 2013 - 4 answers

What does a "John Dos Passos-like list" look like?

I was reading a review of Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 and a reviewer said the following: The author inserts John Dos Passos-like lists here and there in the text. Not quite sure that works, however (These lists are distorted and truncated in the Kindle edition). What do these lists look like? [more inside]
posted by hjo3 on Dec 29, 2013 - 3 answers

How has the MFA/Creative Writing affected fiction?

Is it possible for a layperson to differentiate an MFA trained author from one who isn't?
posted by larry_darrell on Dec 28, 2013 - 13 answers

“Original” self-marketing ideas

I'm looking for original self-marketing ideas for a writer and/or a designer. Okay, social media is important: Design your own page, update it frequently and get your friends to like it and promote it to their friends. But I'm looking for those kinds of tips that you've read and thought to yourself "Well that's original!". Something on par with Nine Inch Nails'/H2DA/Radiohead's decision to give their music for free "lest they come to the unique live concert experience" marketing ploy. Have you ever come across a Seth Godin or a Malcolm Gladwell book (or anything else) and was struck by something interesting?
posted by omar.a on Dec 24, 2013 - 5 answers

This sentence is an example of the passive voice that I'm desperately

trying to get rid of. I have to write for my job and although I'm a good writer, the passive voice is my nemesis. I want to use it consciously and for a reason, not as a mistake or a bad habit. So ummm, yeah, I need some resources. [more inside]
posted by onecircleaday on Dec 22, 2013 - 22 answers

Online Magazines or Magazine-like Sites?

I enjot reading OMNI Reboot, Aeon Magazine, IEEE Spectrum, and Nautilus. Can you suggest more like them? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 18, 2013 - 11 answers

Resources on Alan Moore's process

I couldn't find any information as to how Alan Moore goes about writing his comics (namely Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell). I found an excerpt from his Watchmen script which shows how incredibly detailed he is in describing each panel. I once read that on Watchmen, it was a back-and-forth between him and Dave Gibbons, where Gibbons starts off with roughly sketching out the panels, gets comments from Moore, gets greenlit, then proceeds to drawing the final version. Any more information on Moore's process? Any other scripts you know of and is his writing as detailed for all his projects as detailed (I know that From Hell has labyrinthine appendices that almost match the work itself in length for example)?
posted by omar.a on Dec 17, 2013 - 3 answers

Chapter One: The End.

Tell me the story of how you managed to keep your novel organized! [more inside]
posted by mittens on Dec 16, 2013 - 15 answers

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