Thursday, December 27, 2012

When Snow Falls

When Snow Falls
When Snow Falls  -  Background Image courtesy of SummitCountyVoice, text and snow added by me


Joe shivered as he entered through the doorway. Not only was the morning freezing cold outside, but also his wife waited for him inside. He knew she’d care not that he’d broken the world record of most letters delivered in an hour. He knew this from her posture: sitting upright on her hardback chair meant she was annoyed. Her gaunt face tightened as Joe approached her.
“Good morning,” he said. “It’s Christmas tomorrow.”
She slowly rose from her chair, her heels putting her many inches higher than Joe’s already small being. She looked at her hand, as if contemplating its capabilities. Her long black nails caressed her palm as she flexed her fingers. Joe knew what was coming. His wife’s eyes squinted, signalling she had worked out her hand’s capability and that she was willing to show it off. She smacked it around his face; the nails left stinging scratches that no doubt shone red against his cold skin.
“Do not say that again,” she spat.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“Very good. Now, be a good husband and get my breakfast; I am growing hungrier by the minute. You should have been back ten minutes ago.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” He hurried off to the kitchen, his feet shuffling along the stone floor she had been so insistent on having. Opening the fridge, he welcomed the cool air on his burning scars. There were no eggs. He felt her moist breath on his neck.
“Why are there no eggs?” She asked.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“You insolent man. Why I put up with you as a husband is beyond me! No eggs. Has it escaped your memory that I have eggs for breakfast every fourth Monday of every month? Perhaps that ginger hair of yours blocks intelligence. You are a despicable being.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
She shook her head. “Why are you still here? Why aren’t you buying eggs?”
“I’m sorry ma’am.”
He hadn’t even taken a full step before she spoke again. “Are you forgetting something?”
“I’m sorry ma’am.” He bent down and kissed her feet. Twice on the right, once on the left. She waved a hand signalling he was ‘free’ to go.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Inspiration

Last December I wrote about how Christmas is Inspiring. In the article, I covered how to use Christmas to your advantage: using the ready-made character sets and letting yourself loose with a fun, quirky story. This year I’m going to discuss inspiration again, but this time specifically focus on how I generate ideas. This list won’t work for everyone. Some people won’t find the same things inspirational as I do. I will describe my top three techniques to generate ideas. Bear in mind that you will have to take on the role of some unusual characters.

Toilet based inspiration
Image courtesy of Behance.net
Character 1:  The Faux-eco-nutter
Next time you go to the toilet at night, don’t turn the bathroom light on. People around you will think you an eco-nutter, but really you’re not trying to save the environment (I guess that just leaves nutter, then). Whilst you relieve yourself of urine and faeces, let your mind wander. Direct it down paths your characters could take, but then twist it at the last moment. The reason you do this in the dark is that images form in your mind much easier without glaring lights.
This technique is fantastic for generating fantasy fight ideas. If you go in knowing you want a fight, turn the lights off, sit on the bog and let rip (with ideas, of course). If you are anything like me, you will get fight scenes popping into your head a rate of ten a second. If any idea lingers, let it. Toy with it. Remember you are in the dark, nobody will see if you start waving your hands around to manipulate the scene unfolding in front of you.
Once you’ve finished you excretion get up, wipe, and flush. Then whilst washing your hands (still in the dark) you can finalise your concept. Work out who wins, and, equally importantly, who starts the fight. Now, with your bowels emptied and your hands cleansed you may leave the bathroom, no doubt to the concerned eyes of your co-habitants.



Character 2:  The Virtuoso
This one isn’t quite as mad as the first character, but if you get into it, your hands start conducting and well...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

This is Awkward

Background Image courtesy of prisonplanet - Text added by me
Well, this is awkward.

The world didn't end yesterday--and I was so sure it would. It rained a bit where I live. Granted it rained more on Thursday, but I can assure you there was water falling from the sky yesterday.

Fine, I got it wrong. Congratulations, you can laugh in the face of the fools.

And so can I! Yes, I am laughing at you - the person who doesn't understand satire and genuinely thought I believed the world was going to end. Yeah, that will do as a cover up:  my post on Thursday was 'Satire'.

But, I can assure you above all possible doubt that the world will end on May the 19th 2013 as Ronald Weinland predicted. I know he was wrong on his 2011 and 2012 predictions of this event, but I am sure Jesus Christ will return. I don't know how that will end the world, perhaps he'll bring an army of other mythical beings like dragons and perhaps an alien or two!

Oh, and here's your fish back...

Matt B

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End is Nigh!

The End is Nigh
Background Image courtesy of prisonplanet - Text added by me
Have you built your underground bunker? No? You idiot! Did you not know the world is ending tomorrow?

I suppose the fact that you haven't built a bunker means I won't have to compete with you for food and other resources when I cautiously leave my bunker after the worst is over. Of course, I doubt very much anybody hasn't put serious thought and consideration into their end-of-the-world plans.

Some silly people don't believe the world will end. Those ignorant people are thinking about supposedly more important things like Christmas and the New Year. Why would you be as daft to buy Christmas presents when you should be spending your money on survival kits such as this:

2012 Survival Kit
Survival Kit
Image courtesy of The Die Line
Those of us with the forethought to prepare for this major world event are well aware that their are naysayers who contradict the prospect of an apocalypse tomorrow. But we know more than they do. We know that Nibiru will collide with the Earth and that it is no mere coincidence that the 13th b'ak'tun of the Maya Calendar ends this day. Sure the modern Mayan civilisations still around today say it is just the end of a cycle and that it will start a fresh. But what do they know. It's not like they have unfounded science on their side like we do. We know the end is coming tomorrow and I laugh in the face of those who seriously believe we will see the 22nd.

I can assure you that we do not have some silly prediction that Christ is is returning to Earth to destroy the Antichrist as was predicted on the 27th May 2012, 29th September 2011, 6th April 2000, 1901, 7th August 1847, 31st December 1843, 1700, 1694, 1033, 500, 2, and year 1 . We aren't stupid enough to say an alien will destroy the Earth as was predicted in May 2003 and August 1967. Don't be daft! We have strong evidence from an unknown unreliable source that an asteroid/inter-planetary object will 100% collide with the Earth tomorrow. I don't know what all the idiots who have predicted the world will end further in the future are thinking. It is clearly going to end tomorrow.

If you are one of those who don't believe the world is going to end, then you're going to look like one almighty silly-billy tomorrow as the world crashes down around you and I'm safe in my DIY bunker a few feet underground. Who's going to be the fool then, hey?

If some miracle occurs and Nibiru doesn't collide with us then I guarantee you that Aliens will attack (but not in the silly way previously predicted - these will come with the cover of Nibiru) and/or Yellowstone Park's volcano will erupt and/or the magnetic poles of the Earth will switch (faster than the thousand's of years so called geologists say it'll take) and cause devastation and then the world will blow up or something.

This is likely my last ever blog post as a) I won't have internet connection after the world ends, b) I might be dead if my bunker doesn't hold out, c) the same points as a) and b) only in relation to you, the reader.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Matt B

Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm Sorry, ma'am

Long Black Nails
Image Courtesy of Kiss and Makeup
As regular readers of my blog will know, I am writing a Christmas Short Story at the moment. Now that I have solved my paradox with a little help from some friends, I have started writing it.

I wrote 230 words this evening which isn't bad as they are the opening 230 words. Normally I start off with small word counts for the first few days, reach 500 words a day in the middle and then write the last 1000 in a single sitting. With this in mind I should be able to finish before Christmas Eve with time to spare.

Today, I thought it would be nice to share these first 230 raw words with you. Remember they are highly likely to change, and I rarely share work this raw. But, I have decided to share it with you today so you can see my writing method. In these paragraphs I have focused mainly on the evil wife and Joe's submissiveness, but haven't yet got to fully describing his appearance.


Working Title: When Snow Falls

Joe shivered as he entered through the doorway. Not only was the morning freezing cold outside, but also his wife waited for him inside. He knew she’d care not that he’d broken the world record of most letters delivered in an hour. He knew this from her posture: sitting upright on her hardback chair meant she was annoyed. Her gaunt face tightened as Joe approached her.

###

“Good morning,” he said. “It’s Christmas tomorrow.”
She slowly rose from her chair, her heels putting her many heads higher than Joe’s already small being. She looked at her hand, as if contemplating its abilities. Her long black nails caressed her palm as she flexed her fingers. Joe knew what was coming. His wife’s eyes squinted, signalling she had worked out her hand’s ability and that she was willing to show it off. She smacked it around his face; the nails left stinging scratches that no doubt shone red against his cold skin.
“Do not say that again,” she spat.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“Very good. Now, be a good husband and get my breakfast; I am growing hungrier by the minute. You should have been back ten minutes ago.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” He hurried off to the kitchen, his feet shuffling along the stone floor she had been so insistent on having. Opening the fridge, he welcomed the cool air on his burning scars.

###

Feeling Christmassy yet? I don't think Joe's wife is!

Thanks

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paradox

As with Science for Writers, the Vocab Builder series is on hold until after my January exams are over. But as I promised I will still be blogging, only not taking 2 hours to write a post!

I still haven't started writing my Christmas Short, hence the face-palm. My problem is although I have the characters, I have one major plot hole. And it's to do with time travel, hence the sci-fi reference.

It reminds me why I haven't written a story with time travel before. There are just too many damn paradoxes to contend with. But, it is a necessity for the character arc and to give the Joe's evil wife her comeuppance.

The issue is how I want time travel to be used in the story. It needs the character to either replace his old self or interact with him. Problem is after he does this the character has no need to travel into the past to interfere with events. I originally thought of shrugging the problem off with this exchange:

"But how can I have changed the past? It makes no sense," he asked.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snowman Mafia

Night of the Evil Snowman
Image courtesy of Rate my MS Paint
Science for writers is on hiatus until after my January A Level Exams are over. They take a long time to write and I don't have a long time to write blog posts at the moment.

However, I will be blogging at least twice a week throughout the period. I am hoping to keep you all updated with news and snippets from my Christmas Short story this year. I plan to start writing it on Tuesday and have it finished and uploaded by Christmas Eve. Today I came up with the idea in a burst of weird inspiration. All the characters and main plot lines popped into my head and for a moment I felt like what I can only assume someone on LSD would feel. You'll understand why I felt like that in a moment.

I don't want to give too much plot away, so today I'm just letting you in on the characters that will be making their appearances in the story.

Postman Joe
This guy's an average, boring man who gives in to people way to easily. He will go through the largest character arc in the story.

The Postman's Evil wife
This woman's a bitch! Skinny and gaunt she looks like one of James' mean aunts from RD's James and the Giant Peach. Utterly evil to Joe she makes him do whatever she wants, because she knows he won't say no. I hope I can give her her comeuppance in this piece.

Santa Clause
Well, it's a Christmas story written by me, he has to be in it! Unlike previous years this one's not a drunkard, nor hopelessly stuck in a chimney. In this story Santa will actually be like most people's interpretations of Santa ... only with a few twists.

The Elves
Don't get too attached to these nice beings, I think I may make them get caught in the cross fire.

The Snowman Mafia
May be called the Snow Mafia, depending on how I feel on Tuesday. As you might have guessed these are the main antagonists of the story. These make Evil wife look pleasantly mean. The head of the Mafia, Big Snowy will do everything in his power to stop Joe and Santa from reaching/meeting their goal. I haven't decided if Little Frosty or Skinny Jack (Frost) will make apperences in the Mafia.

So, can you see now why I felt like I was high on LSD? When a postman, Santa, elves and a Mafia made from snow enter your imagination it's hard to feel much else!


Thanks

Monday, December 3, 2012

Top 4 Questions You Never Knew You Wanted to Ask

Welcome to the latest Science for Writers post. Last time we discussed the Nobel Prize winners in Peace and Economic Sciences. In this post I will be doing a quick fire of the top 4 questions you never knew you wanted to ask. The questions are a mix of those you thought too obvious to even contemplate asking and those that just weren't even on your radar.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in science and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.



Why Does Salt + Water = Pain?

In this video we see a bunch of idiots doing the Salt and Ice Challenge. Before I even go into the science of this I think I should take a moment and say not to try this at home, though I doubt you'll want to after reading the background to this challenge.

Let's think a bit about what they're actually doing here. They pour salt onto their hands, add an ice cube, and squeeze; seems harmless enough. But then they start crying out in pain and laughter. The laughter is likely because they don't want to cry in front of their friends, but the pain ... the pain is definitely real. To give them credit, they lasted longer than some other people on YouTube doing this challenge have.

So, why does squeezing salt and ice cause pain? Well it's to do with the type of reaction happening. In this case it is an endothermic reaction. That means it takes energy in from its surroundings, which in this challenge in the person's warm hand. The salt wants to react with the water in the ice. When it does the ice will melt at a colder temperature. This is why we grit roads with ice in the winter; the ice will melt despite the colder temperature. But doing that means it draws energy from your hand, much more than just normal ice would.

But why does it burn if it's getting colder? Those burns are frostbite. When you do this challenge you give yourself second degree (and sometimes third) frostbite burns that take weeks to heal and can leave a permanent scar.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who Won the 2012 Nobel Prizes? Part 3


Science for Writers Nobel prize
Welcome to the latest Science for Writers post. Last time we discussed the Nobel Prize winners in Medicine and Literature. In this post I will be discussing the Nobel Prizes in Peace and Economic Sciences.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in science and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.



Peace

As these posts are more about science, I won't be spending too long on the Peace Prize, which this year went to the European Union that  'for over six decades [has] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe'.

EU Countries
Image Courtesy of Euro-Dollar-Currency
World War II saw many deaths and truly highlighted the 'need for a new Europe'. Germany and France had been at war 3 times in the space of just seventy years, but now, thanks to the EU, the thought of the two being at war is 'unthinkable'.

The EU gained Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 198s which meant they all had to have a democracy. Having a democracy is one of the key requirements to joining the EU. When the Berlin Wall fell, EU membership became possible for many Central and Eastern European countries. This has been dubbed as the opening of a new era for the EU.

Next year Croatia will join the EU on the 1st of July 2013 and will be the 28th country to do so. In addition Montenegro and Serbia are both candidate countries with the potential of becoming members in the future. This is dais to be 'strengthening' reconciliation in the Balkans.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vocab Builder: H

Vocab builder H
Welcome to the eighth of the Vocab Builder series. Last week we covered the letter G. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter H.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say.Whether you're a harbinger, bringing about a halcyon change, or are a histrionic guy with hubris, you should have a strong vocabulary suited to your situation.

It has been commented that it is all very well knowing these words but one mustn't show off vocabulary for the sake of it. Remember if you want to use these words make sure you are using them correctly and because they are the right word for the job. Let's start:







halcyon
adjective

Meaning:  calm/peaceful / happy / prosperous/affluent

Sentence:  The dragon slept, dreaming of those halcyon days where knights didn't try to slay him.

Origin:  Greek. Alkyone was the daughter of the Greek god of the winds. Her husband dies in a shipwreck and threw herself into the sea becoming a kingfisher (as you do). The ancient Greeks then called kingfishers 'halkyon'. Myth was that they had floating nests on the sea and the god of the winds made a period of calm between eggs being laid and hatched.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Spirit

Bleeding Teddy
Image courtesy of shazbotinyoureye
I spoke a while back about my annual dark story for Halloween. Halloween has obviously past, but I did get the story written by the 25th of October. But, I wasn't happy with it so I took a couple of weeks to edit it.

The piece was written with the theme of 'Possession' and is rated 18+ on WDC, though 15 is a better rating for it.

It is posted in its entirety on writing.com, but I'll give you the opening on the blog:






Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vocab Builder: G


Vocab builder G
Welcome to the seventh of the Vocab Builder series. Last week we covered the letter F. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter G.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say.Whether you're a writer on Grub Street, or talking to your gormless friend, you should have a strong vocabulary suited to your situation.

It has been commented that it is all very well knowing these words but one mustn't show off vocabulary for the sake of it. Remember if you want to use these words make sure you are using them correctly and because they are the right word for the job. Let's start:


gloaming
noun

Meaning:  twilight / dusk

Sentence:  In the gloaming it was hard to tell if it was a sleeping dragon or just a statue.

Origin:  Old English. Glōmung is the Old English, from the stem Glōm meaning twilight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who Won the 2012 Nobel Prizes? Part 2

Science for Writers Nobel prize
Welcome to the latest Science for Writers post. Last time we discussed the Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry and Physics. In this post I will be discussing the Nobel Prizes in Medicine/Physiology and Literature.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in science and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.



Medicine or Physiology

This year the prize was in Medicine and was awarded to Sir John B. Gurdon of the UK, and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan for 'the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent'.

In easier terms, this means they have found that cells in the adult body can be changed to be able to become any type of cell we want (with limitations).

It had previously been thought that a developing foetus had many pluripotent (stem) cells and these then specialised to become skin, muscle, nerve cells, etc... It had always been a forward process. It was thought not to ever go backwards. There are some animals which can regrow lost limbs because they have stem cells, but that is a limited ability.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Who won the 2012 Nobel Prizes? Part 1

Science for Writers Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry
Welcome to the latest Science for Writers post. Last time we discussed The Placebo Effect. This week we are entering the realm of prized scientists with a look at the Nobel Prize winners for 2012. This is the first of a 3-part su-series looking the 6 Nobel Prizes this year. This week we look at the Physics and Chemistry Prizes.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in science and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.



About the Prize

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish who was interested in science, social and peace issues, and other technical stuff. He is perhaps best known for his work on trinitroglycerin (TNT) in the late 1800s. He died in 1869 and left a large sum of money in his will for a new prize. The Nobel Prize.

Despite the prize being for advances in science it wasn't until 5 years after his death the first prize was awarded. The reason was his family didn't agree with the amount of money being left for the prize.

Part of the will was as follows:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vocab Builder: F

Welcome to the sixth in the Vocab Builder series. Last week we covered the letter E. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter F.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say.Whether you're a funambulist entertaining a crowd or or if you're flyting, you should have a strong vocabulary.

Last week it was commented that it is all very well knowing these words but one mustn't show off vocabulary for the sake of it. Remember if you want to use these words make sure you are using them correctly and because they are the right word for the job. Let's start:


Fainéant
Adjective

Meaning:  idle/ineffectual

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vocab Builder: E


Vocab Builder: E
Welcome to the fifth in the Vocab Builder series. Last week we covered the letter D. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter E.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say.Whether you're trying to edulcorate those in difficult situations, or trying to expiate your wrongdoings by apologising, you should have a strong vocabulary.

As Neil Gaiman once said, 'Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.' Finding the right word is key here and is what I hope these Vocab Builders will help you with. So, with that I think we should get on with 7 words starting with the letter E:


Edulcorate
Verb

Meaning:  to soften or remove/free from harshness OR purify of acid (chemistry)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween Highlight: Kat Hawthorne

Kat's Sig
Kat's Forum sig
Courtesy of Kat Hawthorne and 'The Celloian'
This week I would like to highlight a fantastic dark fantasy writer. We know each other from writing.com and she is a member of my group, the CSFS. This author is Kat Hawthorne.

She specialises in dark stories and has written many twisted tales.

Recently a story of hers, The pain Merchant, has featured on the site, Fiction and Verse. Kat's profile can be found here:

fictionandverse.com/kat-hawthorne


The Pain Merchant is a chilling short about a man whose business is pain. It is only very short and one that I thoroughly recommend reading in the run up to Halloween.

The Pain Merchant can be found by visiting www.fictionandverse.com/the-pain-merchant. Please comment on Fiction and Verse your thoughts on the piece.

Additionally, you can find more of Kat's work by visiting her Writing.com profile, here:
writing.com/main/portfolio/view/kathawthorne

Or you can visit her blog here:
http://kathawthorne.blogspot.co.uk/

Enjoy!

Matt

p.s. I was unable to get a Science for Writers out last week, but hopefully will have one this Sunday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kill Your Darlings


Kill Your Darlings Word Cloud
courtesy of alvaradofrazier.com
William Faulkner famously once wrote, ‘in writing, you must kill all your darlings’. This is rather extreme, though very true. It is a tough truth to face; a truth I have only just come to terms with.

It is a shame that some of the things we hold most dear in our writing must face the chop. It is as if the heart and soul we poured into creating this section of masterful prose is wasted. But, it needn’t be. See, when we kill our darlings we give breathing space to other ideas that had previously been suffocated by the greedy being we called our darling.

What is a ‘darling’, you may well ask. It is a hard thing to define, but I view it as something you as a writer really, really love unconditionally. For example, you may have this brilliant idea of a scene where the protagonist enters a witty riposte with the antagonist and comes out on top. You love like your first born. It is amazing. It showcases your clever mind and makes the reader see how much cooler the protagonist is than the bad guy.

Cut it.

Plain and simple.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vocab Builder: D


Welcome to the fourth in the Vocab Builder series. Last week we covered the letter C and celebrated Language Day. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter D.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say that not only means what you mean, but also suits the style you're writing in. Whether you're a duffer pedalling 'goods' to tourists and require an easy to understand word, or an ice hockey commentator describing the defender who deked another player, you will need a good vocabulary suited to you.

As Neil Gaiman once said, 'Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.' Finding the right word is key here and is what I hope these Vocab Builders will help you with. So, with that I think we should get on with 7 words starting with the letter D:




Demulcent
Adjective

Meaning:  Soothing (often medically related, but not always)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is it real? The Placebo Effect


Welcome to the third Science for Writers post. Last week we discussed Taxonomy. This week we are entering the realm of medical science and with a discussion on the weird phenomena that is the Placebo Effect.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in medical science and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.



A bit of background science

Pavlov's dog is likely something you have heard of. To summarise this experiment will help understand the rest of this post.

The experiment goes that Ivan Pavlov would ring a bell and present food to his dog. He would do this time and time again, repeating the experiment so that eventually when he rang the bell the dog would salivate without the bell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vocab Builder: C


Vocab Builder:  C, Language DayThis is the third in the 26-part series, Vocab Builder. Last week we covered the letter B which means this week we are covering the letter C. In fact today is European Language Day so I will be translating the words into different languages for you. I haven't just done European Languages as this blog is viewed by people outside Europe so I have done international languages I have even picked out words which have roots in languages that are more than just Latin. Of course many come back to Latin but have a nice route through French or Greek.

Using strong vocabulary is always a good idea. Note the use of 'strong' rather than 'large'. From an extension of George Orwell's quote we know we should strive for the right word, not the largest word. In fact to further extend this idea we could use the C word, circumlocution, meaning 'to use an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea'. Why use loads of words when one, well chosen word can cover them all. For instance you don't need to tell someone, 'blimey, you use a lot of words to express that simple idea', you could just say, 'blimey, you use circumlocution a lot.'

So, without further ado let's start this list of 7 'C' words:

Cabotage
Noun

Meaning:  a trade/transport in coastal waters within a country (also airspace) and the right to engage in such an act.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What on Earth is Taxonomy?

science for writers - taxonomy

Welcome to the second Science for Writers post. Last weeks we discussed the Higgs Boson but this week we are going to the other side of the science spectrum and into the realm of biology with a discussion on Taxonomy.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in biology and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.

A bit of background science

In biology it is important to classify different organisms. This classification is done so that organisms with similar biological characteristics are grouped together which makes researching them and discussing them a whole lot easier.

The system works down to identify species. Before any further discussion can be made we should look at the definition of a species:
A species comprises a a group of individuals that can usually breed to produce fertile offspring.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vocab Builder: B

vocab builder:  B
This is the second in the 26-part series, Vocab Builder. Last week we covered the letter A which means this week (I bet you won't get this) we are covering the letter B. OK, so maybe you did get it!

Using strong vocabulary is always a good idea. Note the use of 'strong' rather than 'large'. From an extension of George Orwell's quote we know we should strive for the right word, not the largest word.

So, without further ado let's start this list of 7 'B' words:








backstairs

Adjective

The word means 'secret' and 'scandalous'. This meaning can be linked to the simple fact that the stairs at the rear of buildings are less visible. Less visibility naturally leads on to increased sneakiness. This use of the word gained appeal by 1663 and has been in use ever since.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What is the Higgs Boson?

Science for Writers - Higgs Boson
Welcome to the first official Science for Writers post. Last week I gave you a quick introduction. This week we will be discussing the Higgs Boson, its related Higgs Field and the standard model. Throughout the post I will discuss how this could be used in writing, but the main focus is on the science.

The science here shouldn't be too taxing. After all the Higgs Boson is science for the masses. If you aren't already, you'll be groaning at that joke by the end of the post!

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in physics and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important that you know the exact meaning, just so long as you get the gist of what they are you will be fine understanding this science for the masses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Science for Writers: An Introduction


Every Sunday I aim to write a post about an important aspect of science, be that physics, chemistry, biology, psychology or medicine.

This is Science for Writers. Writers in all genres should be aware of and have a basic understanding of any science that effects what they are writing about. Romance writers need to be aware of the psychology of love and how it effects other emotions. Action writers should understand the physics behind firing a gun. Crime writers need to know the chemistry behind blood analysis. Sci-fi writers should know about ... well, most sciences, but in particular inter-stellar flight. And, fantasy writers like my self, should understand evolution (if we are writing magical races), the physics of fire balls (if that kind of magic exists) and a whole bunch of other stuff.

The content of the posts will focus primarily on the science, but will contain my opinion on how the science can be incorporated into writing and potential misunderstanding that could degrade your work. 

Please post in the comments any science theories you wish to explained.

Thanks
Matt B

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Vocab Builder: A



'Never use a long word where a short one will do,' is George Orwell's famous quote. I have quoted it before and no doubt will in the future. The extension for this rule is 'use the right word, not the big word'. Sometimes the right word may well be a big word. The aim, as in all writing, is to be clear and precise so the reader fully understands what you are trying to say.

At the start of the year I made 5 New Year Resolutions and number 4 was to learn new words. This week I am going to list, define, and comment on some words beginning with 'A'. My source for the words, definitions, and origins will be the 365 New Words a Year calendar, but I will be writing my own commentaries.

I think it is only right to start with the first new word I learnt this year:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Magician's Tattoo, Chapter 1 - Purple

Bunny tattoo on foot with purple background

A purple light flashed past Nathan’s car. He slowed his descent of the slope leading to the seventh floor of the multi-storey car park. Another light whizzed by causing him to slow further. Typical teenagers and their laser pointers.
He looked around for the mirrors the lasers would be reflected off but found none.
Continuing down to what he assumed was the sixth floor, he was surprised at the amount of new graffiti. Guns and curse words were normal, but rabbits were certainly different. He chuckled to himself as a third light zoomed past. Whoever was shining the lasers probably went to the college he taught at and likely had a detention with him in the past.
A fourth light stopped in front of the car. Worrying for his, and the student’s safety, he stopped the car.
Ten purple lights circled the car - each glistening in puddles of rain water accumulated over the last few hours of near horizontal rain. A solo saxophone played a smooth jazz tune from somewhere unidentifiable, the lights pulsated to the swing rhythm.
He instantly recognised the song as Deluge. A student had recently performed this in a college recital. Nathan remembered the student’s face when he learnt a music professor from Cambridge had been listening and was able to award a scholarship. But, he knew it couldn’t be that student as they were on holiday.
Then it stopped. The lights vanished and the saxophone finished on a final big note. Silence.
He got out of the car and clapped the performer.
“I liked what you did with the ending.”
There was no response. They were probably worried he was going to tell them off for the lasers.
He got back in the car and looked at his watch, 7:05 p.m.. He had promised his girlfriend, Claire he’d be home in time for dinner. She wouldn’t be suspicious if he was late but that night he wanted her to say yes. He continued down the slope and laughed when he saw that all the floors had had their numbers changed to 8.
Something hit the car roof with a loud bang. Nathan lost control and swerved violently He tried to slam on the brakes, but missed hitting the accelerator. He managed to successfully bring his foot to the brake as the edge of the car park quickly approached. The car crashed through the barrier and stuck out over the ledge.

Friday, August 24, 2012

War Horse, The Play - Review

War Horse advert courtesy of
whatdidshesay.ca
In a word:  beautiful.

War Horse is a play based on the eponymous novel by Michael Morpurgo and performed at the New London Theatre in London.

The story tells of a boy, Albert, who looks after a foul, Joey, his father bid for whilst drunk and how he grows to love the horse. The foul grows into a stunning and powerful horse that is meant for riding after Albert trains it up.

Albert's drunken father, in a bid for more money, sells the horse to the army who will send it to the WW1 battlefields.

Eventually Albert gets into the army too and the story is of him trying to find Joey. Along side Albert's story there is Joey's tale of what he does during the war.

All the animals in the play are puppets associated with the Handspring Puppet Company. This premise concerned me before I went to the play. I thought the puppets would be off-putting. I couldn't have been more wrong! The puppetry was brilliant, elegant, and masterful. Joey was played by three people:  One for the head and two under the torso controlling the legs.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review of: The Final Empire (Mistborn book 1) by Brandon Sanderson


The best book I have ever read. That is no exaggeration. The book is a polished, intense masterpiece of epic fantasy.

The characters are fantastic. The plot is intricate. The world is suitably epic.


The premise of the book is simple:  'What if the Dark Lord won?' From that Sanderson has crafted a unique, engaging story full of intrigue, treachery, deception, and politics.

This book is my first in the Epic Fantasy genre. I have read a lot of fantasy but none in the Epic sub-genre. If you can't tell already, I am thrilled to have entered the sub-genre with this book.

Sanderson is perhaps best known for is complex magic systems with rules that determine how the whole thing works. The magic system used is known as Allomancy; users burn metals, and their alloys, to produce different affects.

For example burning Iron allows one to Pull on nearby metals. Burning Steel, an alloy of Iron, allows one to Push on nearby metals. The affect of this pushing and pulling allows them to send metal flying around the room making for the best fight sequence I have ever seen. I say 'seen' intentionally - the fight sequences are so well written it feels like you have just watched it live with the addition of feeling the emotion of the character.

Every metal either pushes or pulls on something and is either internal or external. A pure metal (Iron, Tin, Zinc, or Copper) Pulls and the metal's alloy Pushes. An internal metal affects the user and an external metal affects something outside of the user. In the example above Iron Pulls, Steel pushes and they are both external metals.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

AS results

Hi,

I've just collected my AS results. I was hoping for all A's.

I took my ICT a year early so have actually picked up my final result for A2 ICT. I got an A*! Obviously very pleased with that.

In Physics and Biology I got A's. An A is the highest possible in AS level, so am again thrilled with these results.

As you may know, I am hoping to take Chemistry at university and so Chemistry is really the most important result. I got a B. I'm disappointed with this as I thought the exam went ok, but I got a c in the exam, luckily I got an a in January, so it is possible to still get an A overall. I will be resitting the exam and ordering to get my paper sent to me so I can see where I went wrong.

Overall they are fantastic results, but it is marred somewhat by. The subject I'm wanting to take in university being the one I did worst in. I still want to do Chemsitry, and will just have to put more effort into it. Perhaps I was complacent after the success in my January exams and didn't put the needed effort into the exam. Needless to say I will be revising a lot more now. In fact I plan to start revision for the resit  during the holidays.

It might be that I need a new revision technique. Does anyone have any?

Thanks,
Matt B

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ted

Ted poster1
This film is rude, disgusting, vile, inappropriate, taboo.......
And that is why I loved it so much!

Essentially the film is about a teddy bear, Teddy, that can talk after a child made a Christmas wish. A child's Christmas wish is the powerful thing, but as the narrator correctly points out it isn't:
Now if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine.
The bear grows up, with its owner, into an offensive bear (now called Ted).

The two of them take drugs together, drink far too much and take the piss out of each other pretty much all day. But, they love each other which is one of the less comedic themes that runs throughout the film. The film is obviously a comedy, but in many ways could be construed as a weird romance involving 3 characters.

Ted loves John. John loves Ted back. But, John loves Lori. Lori doesn't love Ted (as much as John does anyway). She wants Ted out so John can finally grow up. He doesn't want Ted to go. Ted doesn't want to go. I mean it is a story as old as time itself.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pay for Privacy

I read an article today about how a man's entire digital life was ruined in the space of an hour. He was hacked by some so called 'ethical' hackers who were making a point about different companies lax security procedures, namely apple and amazon. After reading it I went to my most important and connected online accounts and went direct to their security pages. There I was looking for security and privacy options that I could turn on.

First I enabled two-step verification for my email account. This means when I log on to a computer I have not used before I must type in a 6 digit code that is sent to my mobile before I can log in. The same procedure is also used when I forget my password. Extra hassle, yes. Peace of mind, more so.

However, certain companies only offered the best privacy and security settings for premium members.

Why should I have to pay for security? Surely it is in the companies' best interest to offer me their most secure of security features and their most powerful privacy tools for free? The paid extras should be things like more space, or the ability to upload lager files. I should not have to pay to stop hackers from accessing my files.

On Box.com, for example, if I wish to have encrypted storage I need to pay for an enterprise account. Why? Why should I have to pay for my files which I upload to their servers to be encrypted? Why should I have to pay for them to be encrypted if I transfer them to another person?

I just received an email from Prezi - a service I haven't used in years. It was advertising their premium account. Their biggest feature was the ability to make Prezis private. I should have that feature for free. I should not have to pay for it.

Sure, companies have more at stake if you are paying for their services, so perhaps they feel the security of paying customers is more important. Bull-shit!

I wouldn't expect NatWest to say to me, "Good afternoon, sir. Did you know for only £20 a month NatWest won't put a poster up with your bank account details? For an extra £5 a week you also have the option of having a PIN. Even better if you pay us just £2 a day we will let you have a strong password on your online banking account."

It just wouldn't happen. But, a service I use to store backups of my school work and writing wants me to pay for security. I know that a hacker isn't going to personally target my school work, but that doesn't mean I won't be collateral damage to one of these 'ethical' hackers. What if I needed the backup of my work, but Box was targeted by LulzSec (I think they have disbanded, though) or Anonymous? What if my account was chosen at random to be the the account they decided to showcase the security holes with? Am I expected to sit back and think, 'if only I'd paid premium prices'?

It is utter stupidity that companies would even consider charging for security. In a world that is ever more online it is damn time that company execs got their heads out of the clouds and into cloud security ... for free.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Commitment

Writing is hard.

It just is.

That is why commitment is so important. If you start something, I think it is important that you try your hardest to finish it. I have been writing as a hobby for 6 years. In that time I have written some good stuff … and some not so good stuff. Despite the bad stuff, I pride myself on one particular statistic:  I have only ever stopped writing two pieces before they were finished.

For me this is important. The satisfaction of completing a piece of writing is one of the greatest feelings one can feel. The knowledge that you have crafted characters, worlds, civilisations, emotion, and more with just words. Since I joined writing.com, I have uploaded all but one of my stories. The reason is I get a thrill from knowing that someone, somewhere, has read those words and been transported to a world of my creation. What more could a writer wish for … apart from publication? However, if you don’t finish you leave yourself with half a world; a character left in endless turmoil; a civilisation, yet to defeat the evil wizard.

The decision to stop writing the two pieces was a tough one to make. The first one I stopped was a Christmas story that would be a sequel to one of my short stories. I stopped because I never really started. The feel was too different from the first story and my ability as a writer was not up to the level it needed to be to do the story justice. I wrote a different Christmas story that year that was, in my opinion, very good.
The second was more recently. I was entering a short story contest, but realised the story I was writing required me to write in early modern English for much of the dialogue. Without extensive support, I would not have been able to write it. Instead, I wrote a different story with a completely different plot and cast.
Both times, I stopped writing because I didn’t have the skills to do the story justice. I also kept copies of the stories I stopped; one day I may restart them with new skills and a fresh mind.

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