In this episode of Typehammer, we discuss Gist and Github as a tool for tracking revisions to your work. We also talk about the Paragraph method and Snowflake methods of writing. John goes on a rant about poor writing in the latest book he read.
Works in Progress
Each week we summarize what we've been writing for accountability and encouragement.
[00:00:36] In the throes of a rewrite of his mystery/thriller Don't Wake Up. He got a few chapters in and then went back to the opening. The rewrite is tough because the story has three intertwining stories that happen during three different timelines. Because it jumps around, he is having some narrative "opportunities".
Mike is in research mode for the content marketing book, so he hasn't done a lot of writing on it. Chapter 1 is brewing! Mike is short about 30K words since we started the podcast.
John wrote another 1500 words in his Battletech story.
We just like the stuff that helps you write. We don't actually do the writing.
One idea that John read about was the "200 word nightcap". Outside of one's normal writing period, you commit to an additional 200 word nightcap as the last thing before bed. This let's your mind marinade your ideas and makes for better morning writing time.
What's happening online
Orbit Books' Online Fantasy Writing Workshop
Orbit is launching an online fantasy writing workshop, hosted on OrbitBooks.net. It will be led by Karen Miller author of The Innocent Mage and The Falcon Throne. The workshop starts 27th July 2015. Aspiring authors are invited to take part in a "write-along" challenge. At the end of the week, participants submit their sample into a competition. On July 29th, there will be a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Karen Miller.
Oliver Sacks and Journal Writing
Oliver Sacks was a doctor with a voracious love for pen and paper. In this blog post Oliver Sacks on Storytelling, the Curious Psychology of Writing, and What His Friendship with the Poet Thom Gunn Taught Him About Creativity and Originality it talks about how he wrote in journals as a way to sort his thoughts.
The interesting thing is that Dr. Sacks rarely went back to his journals to look at them again. In this video, Clive Thompson talks about how the physical act of writing changes your ability to remember things.
John finds that different pens are appropriate for him for different tasks. Sketchnoting works best with Pilot G2s. The Papermate Flairs are great for editing and highlighting. A nice sharp mechanical pencil is best for more artistic drawing.
Eric mentioned the Uni-Ball Kurutoga mechanical pencil which features automatic lead rotation to keep a sharp point.
Speculative Fiction versus Science Fiction
In our last episode, we discussed the difference between speculative fiction and science fiction. This article: Getting under the skin of speculative fiction, science fiction and scientific romance has a great quote by author Margaret Atwood:
"By “science fiction”, as [Margaret] Atwood explained [...], she meant books descended from [H.G.] Wells, which deal with “things that could not possibly happen”. By “speculative fiction” she meant books descended from [Jules] Verne, which deal with “things that really could happen but just hadn’t completely happened when the authors wrote”.
John likes speculative fiction, where something he reads online inspires "what could happen" ideas. Science Fiction, to John, is much more out there.
What It Was Really Like Writing Harry Potter
Rowling’s Life as an Author: What It Was Really Like Writing Harry Potter is a fantastic look into the mindset J.K. Rowling had during the writing of all seven Harry Potter books. The pressure she had to out-do her previous books, dealing with paparazzi, and rewrites.
Eric is still beta reading a western romance novel of a friend.
A Dark Lure
In what appears to be a trend, Mike is reading a thriller romance novel. (He swears its more of a thriller.) A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White is pretty good so far.
Mike finished (R)evolution by PJ Manney. It was 2/3 of a good book. Unfortunately, it started strong but got weak at the end. He probably won't continue to read the series.
War Hero: The Unlikely Story of A Stray Dog, An American Soldier and the Battle of Their Lives by Stephan Talty is the story of Pvt. James Donovan and his dog Rags, both of whom served with the 1st Infantry Division during World War I.
Apocalypse Weird: Reversal
It. Was. Terrible. Bad writing. Bad plotting. Bad charactarization. The only characters John rooted for were the sled dogs. For a while He rooted for the bloodthirsty polar bears but even they got stupid. The main character did nothing but react to random stuff that happened. There were no reasons to like her or any of the other characters. From the second page John just wanted to take a red edit pen to the book.
A few choice quotes:
"The wind whipped at their clothes and snow started to rain out of the sky."
How does snow "rain" out of the sky? Wouldn't that just be rain?
The heroine, searching for her friend in volcanic caves finally finds him:
"Soren was chained to the wall shirtless and spread-eagled, his rippled abdominal muscles streaked with sweat and soot."
This is the fourth book John read in this series, and the first that wasn't written or co-written by Nick Cole. And its the first one John couldn't stand. He only finished it in case there was some large-scale plot information from the whole universe.
How to Make a Living as a Writer - James Scott Bell
How to Make a Living as a Writer was a book John picked up on sale and it has been sitting on his Kindle app for a while. He's about a third of the way through this book, and there are some good points of advice:
Study the craft of writing
Get feedback and critiques
Make a business plan
How to Write More, faster:
Write without stopping
Set a quota
Write in 25 minute chunks
200 word nightcap
Tech Focus: Gist and Github
Git is a collaborative revisioning tool that allows people to make changes to the content and submit those changes back to the author. Github is a specific website that hosts the content in repositories.
GitBook is a git-based tool for collaborative book writing.
Gist is better for smaller pieces of work and moving documents across multiple computers.
Eric will use 750Words.com and write every day during lunch. He takes what he's written there and put it into StackEdit. From there he pushes his document up to Gist where he can pull it back down from any other computer. All of his changes can live in Gist and when he's done he can export it into Scrivener for polishing and preparation for his editor.
Love, Faith and Rust
Eric wrote the start of a science fiction story called Love, Faith and Rust that has been posted to Gist. Looking at the story, there is a link on the right to "revisions" that shows each change to the Gist. Deletions are shown in red, and additions in green.
The collaboration aspect of Gist and Github is like Draft, where changes must be approved by the owner before they are made part of the official document.
As nice as the collaboration is, there is overhead in learning how to use Github and Gist. Git started as a command-line tool - where users type commands to have things happen - but there are now tools to allow the user to use a mouse and a graphical interface.
Pro Git is a book Mike mentioned for those who want to learn more about git.
A potential use for Github is as an encyclopedia of the world and characters. John thought you could use the revisions to see how they change over time.
In Eric's writing group Write Time Writers Group, there was a discussion about the Paragraph method. Using the paragraph method is simple: Start with a paragraph summary of your story. Then for each sentence in that summary, create a paragraph telling that part of the story. Keep expanding the story/outline until you've written the entire story.
To John, that sounded a lot like the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson, although the Snowflake method does take characterization into account.
Writing that Pays
Each episode we like to feature sites seeking submissions for paid writing.
TheExpeditioner.com welcomes unsolicited article submissions. To submit your piece “on speculation” to The Expeditioner, please send your manuscript to Matt.Stabile (@) TheExpeditioner.com or e-mail us using this form.
At this time we are able to offer $30 per article, payable upon publication, and we will also include an author bio at the bottom of the piece with a relevant link to your active site/blog.
What Kinds of Submissions Do We Love?
Our articles tend to be first-person narratives in the range of 1,100 – 1,300 words, however these are both suggestions and not rules. We also publish “Top 10″ pieces, location overviews, and long-form pieces. We only require that your piece be interesting, informative and inspiring for future traveler