July 29th, 2012

a-links

[links] Link salad is one of the cats that you meet on the street who speaks of true love

A reader reacts to Green — Interesting review. They started out very suspicious of the book, and wound up liking it a lot.

A reader reacts to Death of a Starship — They liked it.

Hotel Replaces Bible with Fifty Shades of Grey — (Via [info]willyumtx.)

How to Write — Hahahah.

Friends of a Certain AgeWhy Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30? This article is a mix of the banal-and-silly with the fascinating.

Sunken World War II submarine found off Nantucket

Biochemically, All Is Fair[P]assionate love has the same biomarkers as addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder. This is completely unsurprising.

Vampire Stars Suck Life Out Of Stellar PartnersMany massive stars in our galaxy have smaller companion stars that are slowly being drained of gas.

Pastor Rick Warren tries to blame shooting on evolution? — Christianists are asses. Full stop.

Bang Bang Crazy — More on guns and society from Jim Wright. Long, worth the read. (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

The Olympics and the Muslims

Obama campaign doesn’t sell merchandise for Muslim supporters — (Via David Goldman.)

Half of Americans Do Not Know the President’s Religion — So let me see if I have the conservative narrative straight. We're all supposed to be outraged over President Obama's twenty year relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but we're also all supposed to pretend we don't think he's a Christian. Got it.

What drives the Obama doubters and haters? — Unfortunately, that question pretty much answers itself. Some pretty interesting detail here about the president's biography, however.

?otD: Are you sitting and crying at home?




7/29/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hour (60 minutes on Other Me)
Body movement: 60 minute suburban walk
Hours slept: 7.0 (solid)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems by Henry Petroski; Ironskin by Tina Connolly

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[conventions] Cascade Writers, Day 3

Yesterday was the third day of Cascade Writers. A nice morning's walk, another long critique session, a lunchtime pizza-and-cake birthday party for the Scholes twins, then some writing time on Other Me and an afternoon of one-on-ones with the attendees in my critique session. I bugged out yesterday evening for a while with Amanda Clark to attend a friend's birthday party, then came back to close out the evening in the Applebee's bar across the parking lot, where I was apparently neither as mouthy nor as flirty as advertised.

One does so hate to disappoint.

Another short round of critique and discussion this morning, then a group lunch of an unspecified nature, then I am out of here. [info]the_child comes home this afternoon from her latest 100% parent-free out of town adventure, and I haven't really seen her since last Monday, so that will be good.

Plus more writing, of course.
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[writing|process] Don't give me those hand-me-down shoes; or, the virtues of manuscript formatting

One topic that comes up fairly often when I'm working with aspiring writers is the subject of standard manuscript format. New writers are often puzzled as to why this is important, while established professional writers are so accustomed to the concept that they tend to not even think about. It's one of this things that feels kind of stupid and arbitrary, and often seems baffling to people just beginning their encounters with the magical fairyland that is publishing.

Well, it is kind of stupid and baffling. But that's the way things work.

Here at Cascade Writers this weekend, I hit on an analogy which seemed to help explain why.

When you go for a job interview, you fix your hair and put on a nice pair of shoes. Outside of consumer facing retail or front desk work, not all that many jobs actually require good hair and nice pair of shoes in order to perform your job functions. For example, most programmers I know work in cargo shorts and sandals and t-shirts, and you're lucky they're wearing clothes. Yet even most of them fixed their hair and put on a nice pair of shoes when they interviewed. Likewise, I don't really care what my plumber is wearing so long as I don't have to think about their anatomy while they're working.

The reason you dress like this for a job interview is fairly clear. You want the interviewer to focus on your qualifications for the job. You don't want them wondering if you slept in the bed of a pickup truck last night. The purpose of fixing your hair and wearing nice shoes to make your personal presentation transparent within the context of the social standards of job interviewing process. You are removing distractions.

So it is with standard manuscript format. The manuscript is not the story. At best, it's a tool for transmitting a version of the story from the writer to the reader. In this case, the editorial reader. If you follow standard manuscript format, your manuscript is functionally invisible, and all the reader sees is the story. You don't want them wondering why the heck you used Zapf Chancery for the font, or glancing at the sweet kittens at the top of your lavender letterhead. The purpose of standard manuscript format is to make your story's presentation transparent within the context of the professional standards of the editorial process. You are removing distractions.

And yes, if you're a brilliant enough writer, you can submit something written in crayon on butcher paper and get it published. Just like if you're a brilliant enough whatever, you can get a job in your field even if you show up to the interview hung over and decked out in bad skag. But why create the distraction?

Standard manuscript format brings the focus in sharply on the story. Exactly where you want it.