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Microsoft Word and writing

Has Microsoft Word affected the way we work? "Consider first the name that the computer industry assigned to it: word processor. The obvious analogy is with the food processor, a motorised culinary device that reduces everything to undifferentiated mush."
posted by anothermug on Mar 4, 2012 - 96 comments

"...whatever job you take, you're going to spend a lot of time there. You should try to make it fun."

In 2007, the Madison (WI) Police Department hired their first civilian Public Information Officer: former reporter Joel DeSpain. Over the last five years, Mr. DeSpain has reportedly combined "humor, a flair for the dramatic and sense of the absurd", and turned the mundane Madison Police Blotter into an "art form and a thing of joy." So Why Has Madison Wisconsin Has Become the Weird News Capitol of the Midwest? Meet the United States’ most whimsical police reporter. (Last one's a gawker link. If you dislike their site / interface, have no fear: all reports in that article (plus four extras) can be found after the jump.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 28, 2012 - 19 comments

"The only answer I received from Paypal was silence."

Paypal is coming down hard on online erotica retailers. The service has sent demands to such ebook self-publishing sites as Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks and Bookstrand, demanding that they remove all titles containing bestiality, rape-for-titillation, and incest- including the popular 'pseudo-incest' category of stepparent or stepsibling sex. [more inside]
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 28, 2012 - 56 comments

The Chinese Typewriter

As you can see, the [Chinese] typewriter is extremely complicated and cumbersome. The main tray — which is like a typesetter's font of lead type — has about two thousand of the most frequent characters. Two thousand characters are not nearly enough for literary and scholarly purposes, so there are also a number of supplementary trays from which less frequent characters may be retrieved when necessary. What is even more intimidating about a Chinese typewriter is that the characters as seen by the typist are backwards and upside down! [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 27, 2012 - 43 comments

Heart-wrenching

What it feels like to have your spouse die. This left me speechless.
posted by rahulrg on Feb 26, 2012 - 52 comments

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

If you use Americanisms just to show you know them, people may find you a tad tiresome, so be discriminating.
You may have to think harder if you are not to use jargon, but you can still be precise.
Use all metaphors, dead or alive, sparingly, otherwise you will make trouble for yourself.
Some words add nothing but length to your prose.

(Notes from The Economist's style guide.)
posted by Joey Bagels on Feb 24, 2012 - 126 comments

The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing

Barney Rosset, former owner of the influential Grove Press and Evergreen Review, boundary-shattering publisher of Tropic of Cancer, Waiting for Godot, and Naked Lunch, and U.S. distributor of I Am Curious (Yellow), died yesterday at the age of 90.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 22, 2012 - 30 comments

The Craziest Magazine Ever

The Police Gazette had it all: misogyny, violence, racism, and venereal disease. It was yellow journalism concentrated into its purest form (SL Cracked List).
posted by reenum on Feb 21, 2012 - 55 comments

Are facts stupid?

"Readers who demand verifiable truth in nonfiction—who were upset about James Frey, for example—are unsophisticated and ignorant, D’Agata said, and he wants to change that." Dan Kois reviews The Lifespan of a Fact, the transcript of the editorial battle between author and fact-checker on John D'agata's piece in the Believer (excerpt; full article requires payment) on the suicide of Levi Presley, who killed himself by jumping off the observation deck of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas in 2002.
posted by shivohum on Feb 16, 2012 - 107 comments

Digital Images are SomeThing to aspire to? (A reflection on Hito Steyerl's proposal)

Artist and film-maker, Hito Steyerl, asks us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our digital equivalents. Digital images are Things (like you and me) - a plethora of compressed, corrupted representations pushed and pulled through increasingly policed and capitalised information networks. If 80% of all internet traffic* is SPAM - a liberated excess withdrawn** from accepted channels of communication - perhaps it is in The Poor Image we find our closest kin? [more inside]
posted by 0bvious on Feb 16, 2012 - 5 comments

Janet Flanner

Janet Flanner began her career at The New Yorker composing evocative and cogent dispatches from Europe, writing nearly seven hundred Letters from Paris under the nom de plume Genêt, from 1925 to 1975. In between these, she contributed Profiles, Reporter at Large dispatches, and other Letters from around the globe. In a Postscript published after she died, in 1978, editor-in-chief William Shawn wrote of his prolific correspondent: "Her eye never became jaded, her ardor for what was new and alive never diminished, and her language remained restless. She was a stylist who devoted her style, bedazzling and heady in itself, to the subtle task of conveying the spirit of a subtle people." [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 15, 2012 - 7 comments

Go North

Playfic is a community for writing, sharing, and playing interactive fiction games (aka “text adventures”) entirely from your browser. [more inside]
posted by muckster on Feb 15, 2012 - 15 comments

'The album was created with no talking. It's telepathy – Wobble and me just have that'

How we made: Jah Wobble and Keith Levene on Public Image Ltd's Metal Box. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Feb 15, 2012 - 11 comments

yWriter

Since its last* appearance in the blue, yWriter has been updated to version 5. Designed specifically for novels, this freeware "contains no adverts, unwanted web toolbars, desktop search programs or other cruft".
posted by Trurl on Feb 11, 2012 - 56 comments

404: Sky not found

Why William Gibson Distrusts Aging Futurists’ Nostalgia
posted by Artw on Feb 8, 2012 - 59 comments

"...though we may have our differences, we are one people, and we are one nation, united by a common creed."

Founded in 1857, The Atlantic is one of the oldest publications still being produced in the US. They have created a commemorative issue for the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War that includes articles published in the magazine over a century ago, an extensive gallery of images, as well as a few essays and analyses by modern writers, including President Obama. Editor's note. (Via: James Fallows' Reddit AMA) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 8, 2012 - 22 comments

It’s kind of like making children

David Cronenberg talks to the LA Review of Books about making movies
posted by Artw on Jan 29, 2012 - 14 comments

Read twice, pass to your left.

A list of pothead novels.
posted by stinkycheese on Jan 28, 2012 - 61 comments

break Elmore's rules

CBC Radio's Day 6 is holding a contest to break, in one sentence, all of Elmore Leonard's 10 writing rules.
posted by anothermug on Jan 28, 2012 - 50 comments

Diary of an Author: Woke up. Googled self.

Diary of an Author: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5.
posted by fings on Jan 22, 2012 - 28 comments

#27 Help win war — beat fascism

Lists of Note is a new site from Shaun Usher, proprietor of Letters of Note. It posts interesting lists, running the gamut from funny to poignant, mostly by famous people, though other sources crop up. Here's a sampling of lists: Johnny Cash, Walt Whitman, Eero Saarinen, Don Carman, Marilyn Monroe and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 21, 2012 - 9 comments

Inform the troops

The Script Lab's top10 character introductions in film
posted by Artw on Jan 19, 2012 - 56 comments

Writing machines

Previously the Guardian has done a series on Writer's Rooms, now they have started on Writer's Desktops - "where writers show us around their working lives by revealing what's on their computer desktops" (Previously)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 19, 2012 - 10 comments

Writers are always selling somebody out.

"To really love Joan Didion—to have been blown over by things like the smell of jasmine and the packing list she kept by her suitcase—you have to be female. … Women who encountered Joan Didion when they were young received from her a way of being female and being writers that no one else could give them. She was our Hunter Thompson, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem was our Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He gave the boys twisted pig-fuckers and quarts of tequila; she gave us quiet days in Malibu and flowers in our hair. … Ultimately Joan Didion’s crime—artistic and personal—is the one of which all of us will eventually be convicted: she got old. Her writing got old, her perspective got old, her bag of tricks didn’t work anymore."
posted by Houyhnhnm on Jan 11, 2012 - 45 comments

The. Shortest. Fiction.

For those of us with really short attention spans.
posted by nospecialfx on Jan 10, 2012 - 19 comments

Plotto

William Wallace Cook, seeking to help mechanize the art of novel writing, came up with the 1462 possible plots for all stories. He then devised the Plotto system, whereby an author need only consult the book of plots to construct the next best seller.
posted by reenum on Jan 8, 2012 - 58 comments

"The long sentence opens the very doors that a short sentence simply slams shut."

"Your sentences are so long," [L.A.Times] The point of the long and winding sentence - Pico Iyer’s essay on why he’s made the conscious decision to write longer sentences.
posted by Fizz on Jan 8, 2012 - 83 comments

The Written World - A History of Writing

The Written World is a five part radio series put together by Melyvn Bragg as part of the In Our Time BBC radio project. The programmes look at the history of written word, and how it has shaped our intellectual history. Each episode is available as a podcast and has an accompanying page (1 2 3 4 5) with images and links for further exploration. Also: The books that shaped history (narrated slideshow); the British Library page. [more inside]
posted by carter on Jan 6, 2012 - 11 comments

Masturbate frequently

Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 2, 2012 - 65 comments

End of An Era?

A couple of commentators present conflicting arguments about whether the golden age of tech blogging is over.
posted by reenum on Dec 29, 2011 - 38 comments

Deus Est Machina

In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 27, 2011 - 39 comments

Save as new

Matthew Kirschenbaum, an English professor at the University of Maryland, is exploring the literary history of word processing. In a lecture at the New York Public Library entitled Stephen King's Wang, Kirschenbaum asks "When did literary writers begin using word processors? Who were the early adopters? How did the technology change their relation to their craft? Was the computer just a better typewriter, or was it something more?"
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 27, 2011 - 41 comments

The Year in Writing

The Browser has been mentioned before on Metafilter as a website that collects the best writing around the web. Over the past 3 days they've been posting their year end list of the best essays from 2011. The full annotated list is after the jump. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Dec 26, 2011 - 20 comments

Lists are the curse of the age.

Fifty things I've learned about the literary life
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 20, 2011 - 63 comments

There is a pulse

The Eye That Never Blinks -- Internet Obsession [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 19, 2011 - 16 comments

Never go with a cultist to a second location

Alan Moore talks about HP Lovecraft, The Courtyard and Neonomicon (audio)
posted by Artw on Dec 17, 2011 - 39 comments

MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE: _SCORPIONS_

Want to write a pulp novel full of two fisted tales of action and adventure in the mode of Doc Savage but don't know where to start? You need the Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot! "No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell."
posted by Artw on Dec 15, 2011 - 37 comments

Elias Canetti

Elias Canetti is regarded by many as one of the century’s most distinguished writers. At least since he was awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1981, he has been regularly compared, if not to Proust or Joyce or Mann, then certainly to his Viennese brethren Robert Musil and Hermann Broch. Yet one suspects that, in America at leasts Canetti’s works have been rather more respected than read. This is particularly true in the case of the two long and difficult books upon which his reputation mainly rests: Auto-da-Fé (1935), his first and only novel, and Crowds and Power (1960), the meticulously idiosyncratic contribution to social theory that he considers his major work. - Roger Kimball [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Dec 13, 2011 - 13 comments

John Updike's book reviews

All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books. ... In Picked-up Pieces (1975), Updike’s second collection of essays, he lists his rules for reviewing... Without coyness, Updike renders a stern judgment based on telling quotation. He builds toward his findings in plain sight, earning him an authority that is based on his presentation of a plausible case. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Dec 11, 2011 - 6 comments

JJS the new DFW

John Jeremiah Sullivan is the working writer most frequently compared to David Foster Wallace (he's also sometimes compared to a young Tom Wolfe). He has a new essay collection out, and many of its pieces are available online (see inside). [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Dec 11, 2011 - 35 comments

“This is not a definition, it is not true—and, therefore, your questions do not make sense.”

In reflecting on the project, McAllister feels “caught between the intimacy of each individual response, and the pattern of the cumulative replies.” The question remains: Why did they answer? McAllister claims no credit, describing his survey form as “barely literate.” He recalls that in his cover letter (no examples of which exist) he misused the word precocious—he meant presumptuous—and in hindsight he sees that he was both, though few writers seemed to mind. “The conclusion I came to was that nobody had asked them. New Criticism was about the scholars and the text; writers were cut out of the equation. Scholars would talk about symbolism in writing, but no one had asked the writers.” Sixteen year old boy dislikes English homework, goes outside the chain of command.
posted by villanelles at dawn on Dec 5, 2011 - 55 comments

This is the Classical

Kickstarter-funded sports site The Classical launched over the weekend. [more inside]
posted by troika on Dec 5, 2011 - 14 comments

Kitty Lit 101

Comediva is having a Cat Week, and one of the features is "Kitty Lit 101".
posted by reenum on Dec 4, 2011 - 9 comments

"Science writing tackles big ideas, important issues. It’s ambitious, creative, hard to do—yet utterly compelling."

SCOPE is the all-online student publication for MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing. [more inside]
posted by kagredon on Dec 3, 2011 - 4 comments

Beattitudes

The Nation's William Deresiewicz looks at Ann Beattie's evolution as a writer.
posted by reenum on Nov 28, 2011 - 5 comments

Animals Talking in All Caps

Sometimes animals talk in ALL CAPS. [more inside]
posted by pts on Nov 28, 2011 - 49 comments

"The blonde hadn't showed. She was smarter than I thought. I went outside to poison myself, with cigarettes and whisky."

Reader, I marinated it. [independent.co.uk] What if Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer or Raymond Chandler had turned their talents to food writing? Mark Crick imagines the contents of the celebrity cookbooks of yesteryear.
posted by Fizz on Nov 28, 2011 - 26 comments

Oh sugar!

It's that time of year again... the contenders for the Literary Review Bad Sex Award have been announced. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Nov 25, 2011 - 44 comments

The Open Notebook

The Open Notebook looks at how science writers, and some general nonfiction writers, practice their craft. Their Story-Behind-the-Story interviews are especially interesting, showing how projects like Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and David Dobbs Atavist story "My Mother's Lover" developed from start to finish. For writers, there's also a database of successful story pitches.
posted by gottabefunky on Nov 23, 2011 - 3 comments

Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011

Anne McCaffrey, author of Dragonriders of Pern, the first woman to win a Hugo award, is reported dead.
posted by Zarkonnen on Nov 22, 2011 - 222 comments

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