Which mathematicians write exceptionally well or exceptionally clearly? (Individual books or articles would also be acceptable.) [more inside]
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?
I stumbled across an older book, and I'd love to find others like it. Help? [more inside]
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]
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!
What language is this? What does it say? [more inside]
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]
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".
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?
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]
Book recommendation filter: Guy loves girl. Guy hates himself for it. Romantic drama ensues. [more inside]
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]
What are the narrative limitations of a third-person limited style? Solve this debate between me and a friend. [more inside]
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]
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]
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?
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]
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]
I've tried many notebooks, but have yet to find the absolute perfect one. Requirements: graph, A5, ring bound, quality paper. [more inside]
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]
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?
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]
What really great activities, exercises or lessons do you remember from your undergrad-level writing or composition courses? [more inside]
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]
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]
What are good examples of technical documents? examples: business policies, research papers, references, documentation [more inside]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
Is it possible for a layperson to differentiate an MFA trained author from one who isn't?
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?
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]
I enjot reading OMNI Reboot, Aeon Magazine, IEEE Spectrum, and Nautilus. Can you suggest more like them? [more inside]
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)?
Tell me the story of how you managed to keep your novel organized! [more inside]
I've recently noticed an irritating trend in English-language writing: sections that really should be written in the past perfect tense are instead in the simple past tense. I've seen this more in American English than in British English, but that might just be confirmation bias. Is there a reason for this, for example a new style of teaching in schools or universities? And is it really new, or am I just looking for things to get annoyed about? [more inside]
It's a common trope in literature, film, etc. where somebody warns another person: "You can't possibly grasp the secret that's going on here!" Which, of course, raises a mystery that an author's got to resolve, usually anticlimactically. What are instances of stories which pay off on those juicy teasers? i.e., stories in which the thing that our protagonist "can't possibly comprehend" is in fact astonishing, unexpected, and totally rewarding for the reader? (Bonus points for avoiding cosmic horror, unnecessary violence, sexual savagery.)
Is there some sort of online venue that's midway in concept between twitter and a blog? [more inside]
What's it called when authors put ****** in place of place names or character names? [more inside]
Where can I see numbered diagrams for handwriting each Cyrillic letter?
I'm a writer who doesn't really write anything...help? [more inside]
Can anyone point me to articles or books which investigate the artistic advantages and disadvantages of writing vis-a-vis other mediums like film (e.g. what effects can written documents have that movies cannot, and vice-versa)?
I'm looking for an example novel(s) that features several separate third person viewpoint characters with seemingly different plot strands at the beginning but whose plots converge as they go on and they end up meeting further on in the novel (if only briefly). I want to see how the author handles these meetings and the meta narrative of several stories merging into one. I would prefer mainstream rather than literary as I'd like to seem something straight forward rather than overly tricky and would prefer sf but please don't let that constrict you as I'm more interested in the mechanics rather than the background and any genre would do.
I enjoy writing but often have trouble with motivation. Is there a blog or other resource that tracks writing contests? Looking for anything from publishers looking for compilation submissions on a certain theme to overtly commercial contests (where you might write something about a product to win a small prize or the product itself) to just for fun bragging rights competitions. [more inside]
Is Marketing Communications a good fit for me? Career advice appreciated, especially from people with experience in the industry. [more inside]
Why doesn't a cursive capital G look like "G" or "g"?