News and Resources for Writers

Knowledge is Good

30 August 2015


Cormac McCarthy rumored to release a science novel. McCarthy's 11th novel is said to pay “much allusion to mathematics and insanity" and includes topics like “Feynman diagrams, Kurt Gödel, subatomic particles, collisions, weighted routes, equations, variations, and reality.” more >

Hate learning grammar rules? It's okay, your brain does too. Complex grammar taxes your brain and your brain fights back (pragmatically) by trying to simplify things. A recent study from the University of Zurich shows a steady simplification of grammar across all languages. more >

Intercom raises $35 M to fix customer communication experience they say is "totally fucking broken". With systems and departments toiling in isolation and a "disjointed, disconnected" experience for the customer. more >

Pissing off humorless, PC-loving intellectuals is easy (and fun). Kate Gale, member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), deserves kudos for wading into things with her article AWP is Us , a deftful attack on the association's obsession with diversity. Seems not everyone at AWP got the joke. more >

Let's be brief. Want more citations of your next scientific paper? Then shorten the title claims a new study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. more >

Thanks to 'big English', "No one can understand what's being said", says UK and Ghana-based communication consultant, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. Instead, he's promoting a system he developed and named DESC: Distinctive, Effective, Simple, and Credible. more >

“In much of Europe in the 1950’s ... socialists ... were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.” The story of how the CIA secretly funded literary magazines for anti-totalitarian socialists. more >

"Area Man Plays Video Games, Eats Cheetos". Inevitable? Cannibis Journalism — aka writing about pot — is now an official part of the curriculum at the University of Denver. more >

Want to write? Then develop a habit of reading says the Head of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Madras. more >

Great cultural critic Clive James is still reading, writing and doing "unreasonably well" in his fight with leukaemia because of cancer drug. more >

Brooklyn-based, independent publisher Restless Books announce new literary prize for immigrant writing. more >


Gerald Clarke's interview with P. G. Wodehouse. The Art of Fiction No. 60

G.C: "If you were asked to give advice to somebody who wanted to write humorous fiction, what would you tell him?"

P.G.W: "I’d give him practical advice, and that is always get to the dialogue as soon as possible. I always feel the thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a great slab of prose at the start." more >

Excellent 11-part series about how to write better sentences. More detailed than your average style how-to, this series covers topics including key word placement, rhythm, and noun-based vs. verb-based styles. more >

To doc or not to doc, that is the question. At least it's a recurring question in a developer's life. Here we have a vote for documenting and some ideas about templates and 'doc sprints' that make a lot of sense. more >

John Cleese offers practical advice for young comedy writers: steal. "...because comedy is extraordinarily difficult. It's much, much harder than drama... pinch other people's ideas and then try to write them yourself, and that'll get you started." more >

Need help fleshing out characters? Here's a handy cheatsheet for writing body language. Offers up tips like "impatient: nod quickly, look at clock". more >

Elmore Leonard's primarily rule for writing was "if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it" He didn't have much use for adverbs or flowery descriptions either. Here is Leonard and other writers listing their ten rules for writing fiction. more >

Is technical writing dying? Companies are past hiring teams of writers to pound out reams of unread user docs, but tech writers can stay relevant by transferring their skills to other areas of software development. more >

Writers hating their jobs? It happens. Many pleasures to be gained as well though. Seven writers speak to the bitter and the sweet of writing as a career. more >

The ever prolific Stephen King lays out 22 lessons on how to be a great writer. more >

Julia Bell provides some solid nuts and bolts suggestions for struggles with creative writing. more >

Dream of being a screenwriter? Want any control over your career? Then write a novel instead says this veteran Hollywood screenwriter. more >

Other Stuff

On Kickstarter, analog games are beating digital games. Folks have given over $196 M to makers of traditional board and card games. Video games developers have received $179 M total. God loves grognards. more >

Assumptions abound of social media as echo-chambers resounding with the mob's group-think. Research from Psychological Science though finds many conversations developing across ideological divides and evidence of a democratic spirit that we may too readily dismiss. more >

Wired releases its list of seminal pop-culture. Some is suspect, but it does include The Wire, Arrested Development (show not band), and Chappelle's Show. more >

reddit banned in Russia over magic mushroom thread. The Russian censorship agency, Roskomnadzor , can ban any website without a court ruling and got cheesed off this time over a thread titled “Minimum and reliable method of growing psilocybe”. more >

Privately funded company Tri Alpha Energy claims to have taken a significant step towards controlling nuclear fusion, controlling a 10 million degrees Celsius ball of hot gas for 5 milliseconds. In competition with huge research efforts by both France and the US, Tri Alpha Energy and similar smaller companies are researching machines and fuels that are cheaper and quicker to develop. more >

GitHub published a graph showing the rise of open-source programming languages. Java in particular has moved from behind geeks' closed doors to, well, everywhere. more >

Kingsley Amis worried about remaining an ordinary working-man and saving his work from "art’s associations with foppishness and pretentiousness and self-aggrandizement". more >

Ongoing reddit poll about who is the "maestro of dialogue". No surprise Dutch Leonard is in the lead. With several mentions for Cormac McCarthy.

Video interview with the late, pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty on the end of inquiry (or lack thereof).