Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Plotting your story

Openculture has a hand-drawn spreadsheet of JK Rowling's plans for part of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix.  The page only shows the plot for part of the book and my image below has been cropped so if you want to see the whole thing, follow the link

Nanowrimo is ongoing and I can see the end...of the month, but not the story.  I will reach 50,000 words but I don't know when the story will end.

If I have a plan or technique for writing a novel -and I can't say I have as I haven't finished one -I guess it is to read 2-3 books on appropriate research topics, then write a first draft. Then, once I know what I need to know, do more research.  I need a big piece of paper to get organized on and Scrivener's bulletin board feature isn't tactile enough for me.  I prefer real paper and inks of varied colours.


Friday, November 20, 2015

TWIC: 2 quick notes

Alan Moore has advice for writers.  I'm too busy procrastinating on the writing i need to be doing tonight to watch it now, but I will.

Via Boingboing.
Yeah, that sounds like really useful research. Sarcasm makes you more creative.  Are teenage boys the most creative people in the world?
This is not the first set of studies showing that creativity can be boosted by things that would commonly be considered creativity killers. In one series of studies, for example, researchers found that moderate noise can be an untapped source of creativity, providing a welcome distraction that helps the brain make disparate associations. In addition, alcohol is believed to aid creativity, up to a point, by reducing focus and relaxing the mind.
Sarcasm can be interpreted negatively, and thus cause relationship costs. So, how do we harness its creative benefits without creating the type of conflict that can damage a relationship? It comes down to trust. Our studies show that, given the same content and tone, sarcasm expressed toward or received from someone we trust is less conflict provoking than sarcasm expressed toward or received from someone we distrust.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

For Busan area Nanowrimo people

Hello Writers!
Back up your novel! And think about doing the same for all your important data!
I was once an athlete, a competitive swimmer, and the third quarter of any event was always the toughest. I, and most swimmers, would dive in at the start and struggle to hold back a little in the first quarter. By halfway, we would feel tired and the fun aspect would fade. Once we were in the final quarter, the end was in sight; our competitors -who were often good friends - were beside us and we would go fast.
Too obvious a metaphor? Over-stretched? At least I didn't use the phrase "Dig down and give it 110%". Oh. sorry.
This is a strange competition. Even more than when I raced the two hundred freestyle, this race is against ourselves. Your race is against yourself. I had to complete two hundred meters. You have to complete what feels good for you. That's it.
I hope most of us are on pace or close to it for 50,000 words. I am but when I look at some other word-counts, I feel inadequate. Some people have managed 50,000 already! But my story is mine. Those fast writing people deserve credit and admiration but so does anyone who, uh, digs down and gives it the best effort they can.
I must admit that though I have completed the 50,000 words twice before, I have not gone beyond that. To my embarrassment, I have stopped typing on November 30, at perhaps 55,000 words, and walked away from my story. Next week I'll write about what I need to do in December and beyond.
For this week, let me keep the focus on finishing the month and thinking about what I, and hopefully you, are learning about writing. I am learning that despite the many terribly constructed sentences, I am also writing a few beautiful ones. I am a capable writer. I have learned I am not ready to be a full-time author but I am an author and this is something I can and should continue with. More trivially, I have re-learned the grammar of writing dialog and how to write fight scenes.
I don't know if I am the Motivational Leader type of ML. I'll end that part of the letter here.
Next, the final events for Busan Nanowrimo:
On Sunday, November 22, I will be at BEXCO from 1:30 to 4:30. There is a design exhibition going on and the Busan Art Museum is across the street if you need inspiration. See photos for details. For family reasons I cannot stay longer than that. I will try to arrive early enough to visit the museum or the expo - fee unknown - before I write.

For the weekend of November 28, 29, I am set on the teahouse in Seomyeon. This blog post has the details. No one has made suggestions for a day or time, so I will go with Sunday the 29th, from 1:00 pm until 5:00. If someone is there and not quite finished, I will stay longer, cheering gently from across the table. good luck writing through that! From the blog post:
                     "Just come up from the Someyeon Subway station Exit 11. As you come up from the underground do not U-turn,
                        do not cross any streets : Just walk 2 doors straight around the curvy corner and you'll see..."
                       "Straight ahead the green red and black sign and there, on the ground floor Hyung-Cha !
                        There's lots of seats and a great place to meet! Best Wishes and Stay Steeped! --M.W.T."
Seoul has a Thank God It's Over event planned for December 5. I will not be traveling to it. So I think we need a local event. We started in Gwangalli, perhaps we should finish there as well. I'm thinking a coffee shop and maybe dinner in the area as we see fit. Provisionally, Dec 5 at 4:00pm at the same Starbucks we started at, the one at the west end of the beach, near Geumnyeonsan stn.

Nov 21 Mnemonic presentation for Busan KOTESOL Meeting

Updated with material from the presentations!

This is mostly a placeholder for my November 21 presentation at HQ in Gwangalli. Embedded is the presentation slide deck that I will use, but it is likely to change before that time.

I will also add photos from the event here.  My presentation is titled:

Mnemonics and Synonyms in ESL settings

and the participants will make their own number-shape mnemonics which I will post pictures of here  are posted below.

I am posting this early so I can offer attendees a link and QR code at the event.
And now the photos!

One thing I did not do well was explain how to build on these mnemonics for repeated use.  A participant at the talk asked how he, or a student, could prepare more than one mnemonic.  In our case, have a group of twelve words describing tastes (sweet, sour crunchy, smooth, ...) and another group of twelve words offering synonyms for see (look, watch, glance, leer, ... - you may note my definition of 'synonym' is is pretty broad) and maybe another list of historic dates and another list of chemical principals.

I had, in fact, described how, but had not linked the two as clearly as I should have.  Indeed, it is only in hindsight that I see that I had offered an answer.  This number-shape mnemonic can be seen as a specialized form of the Method of Loci mnemonic.  In MoL, you think about a walking route you know very well and connect various points on the route to the thing you want to remember.

This was described in my presentation but the slides only offer a few points for emphasis or clarity - my talk was a 'talk' not a video where you only needed to read the info and ignore the speaker.

So the Number-Shape mnemonic is a form of Method of Loci, with a route everyone knows - from '1' to '12', more or less. We are linking each number to an idea that really has little to do with first or one or math.

It would be interesting to look at a Letter- Shape mnemonic with the western alphabet and with the Korean one.  Koreans don't seem to put the same emphasis on alphabetical order, or they do but very differently than English speakers do.
It's interesting having our meetings in a bar.  In practical terms, the lighting is weird and best next to the window. It was nice to have a beer with friends while watching a talk (I presented first and K Kelley, the chapter president, presented second.  The final picture is of one of her slides).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nov 17
Most spelling errors will be fixed but I will leave any instance of 'teh' as a reminder to myself of what I need to fight.  BOO to teh OK plateau! (Damn it.  Already I have one.)
East West U's classes cancelled today so high school students can visit, and I think take another entrance test- this one specific to our university.
I am at a coffee shop and have some goals.  I hope to follow this schedule:
20 minutes Nanowrimo
15 Minutes class prep
5 minutes to look for birds
15 minutes KOTESOL mnemonics presentation
5 minutes to walk and look for birds
repeat.  Hopefully, in the second runthrough, teh non-Nano tasks will be completed.

I am at the Amisan lookout or 아미산정만대, which has great views of the Nakdong River delta.  It is a cloudy day and teh swans I saw the last time I was here are absent.  Lots of magpies, common as dirt but so beautiful, fly nearby and it is always fun to watch them from above.

My presentation is on using mnemonics to help students remember and understand some differences between synonyms. We will be looking at synonyms for 'see' (look, watch, view, study, observe, stare, glare, glance and etc up to maybe 13 examples) and tastes.  Tastes are not synonyms (bitter vs sweet, etc) but they are presented as a group to our students, so some effort in grouping them in the students' minds and also differentiating them is important. We might look at pedal travel: walk, limps, run, jog... and talk: say, ask, reply, assert, report, ...

In this presentation, I will use a number-picture-sentence menemonic but will also touch on Loci-of-place and others...

Hmm a crow just passed below - it had the 'finger-feathers' at teh end of its wings that, well, do something and look distinctive.
image from The Telegraph

Anyway, In his book, Moonwalking with Einstein, Foer discusses the OK Plateau, where most people feel they are good enough.  I can type pretty quickly even including the time it takes to back up and fi xthe spacing and transpose letters, but I could do better.  I want to be more than OK.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

science communication

Natalie Sopinka at Canadian Science Publishing looks at how creativity fits into science communication.

I measure hormones in the blood of baby salmon. I use computer software to graph and analyze data. I write structured articles that describe my research. I present my scientific findings on PowerPoint slides at conferences.
Would someone describe my profession as creative? Probably not.

I’m a scientist after all, not an artist and artists are synonymous with creativity. Scientists are rigid and analytical. They lack the passion and spirit that artists possess.

The truth is, scientists are creative. Megan Fork sums it up as “good science relies on creativity.” To be creative is to create. Scientists are constantly creating. They generate new knowledge to explain natural phenomena. They discover new ways to solve problems. In the 1950’s, Dr. Archie Carr attached radio transmitters to weather balloons, the balloons to a float, and tied the float to sea turtles. This was one of the earliest examples of aquatic telemetry - the tracking of animals in water remotely. Creativity is also evident in conservation initiatives. The International Crane Foundation prevented crane chicks from imprinting on their human caregivers by feeding the chicks with a hand puppet resembling an adult crane. Scientists are also creating new platforms to communicate their research – platforms that incorporate the tools of an artist.

via science communication on Facebook.

Words typed but not spoken

At Poynter, there is a crowd-sourced list of words people, especially journalists, use in print but that people seldom say. Here are the top five, follow the link for more.

  • Lambaste
  • Foray
  • Ballyhoo
  • Tout
  • Oust
Here in Korea, I see the word 'mull' in the English newspapers frequently.  I have seen it in Canadian writings but not as often as here.  I have used the word, but only literally -as in mulling wine - or ironically because the frequency rate is so skewed.  Few people get that sarcasm - it's an in-joke for one.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


 As they say, I should be writing - my story rather than this blog post.  However, I have three brief notes about my Nanowrimo work and thought I would share them.

First, on the 22nd of November, I will have a Write In for Busan Nanowrimos - and others who are in the area. The photos with maps in the previous post.  I will also have a Write In on Tuesday the 17th and there is a photo showing the my favored location as well.

Second, I chose to write my current novel to see how last year's novel should end.  I frequently choose to jump ahead and organize a scene then see what needed to happen previously.  I have more professional company as my internet friend, Gord Seller, is using the same technique.
The first novel (set in 1720) is about 90% finished, and the second (set in 1736) is about 60% done. I’m trying to finish the second book first, which will make it easier for me to go back and finish the 1720 book, since one of the “characters” knows a lot about how things will unfold in the future so it’s helpful if I do, too.
Third, even in writing this short post, I have misspelled the word "the" three times.  Wehn will I get the muscle memory to write it properly?  I really feel I am seeing regression in my typign skill.  In this paragraph, I have chosen not to correct my errors.  So far, I have not hit the space bar too early, resulting in "I lik eapples" phrases.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Image for Nanowrimo Write Ins

I need to put some images -maps and locations, mostly - online for a Nanowrimo message to others in Busan.  I think I can post them when I have a URL.

 I'm currently in a hurry before work so that;s all the explanation you're getting until later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Good Taste as a demotivator

Everyone can write.  Okay, my handwriting is terrible, but I can type.  And, I know the conventions and rules of grammar, the intended flow patterns of sentences and paragraphs and chapters.  I know the fine details like noun-verb agreement and the larger scale details of ...well, ... uh, maybe I don't know those so well.

But I do have experience with them.  In my twelve years of public schooling and *cough* years at university, I was steadily taught increasingly subtle and complex rules for writing.

I did not get that training in wood carving or photography or video producing.

I should add that my schooling included some creative writing but that dried up around grade ten.  After that, it was all persuasive or technical writing.  I have recently discovered how little I remember about writing dialog.  Does the comma go inside the quotes or outside?

Ah, anyway, although I am relatively new to creative writing, I have had a lot of training on the subject and I have read literally thousands of books so I have seen examples, both good and bad, of how to write.  I have my own preferences and taste.  And that is a problem now as I try to create my own content as Zen Pencils explains.

Click on the image to expand it and/or follow the link to see the whole comic.  But if you don't follow the link, you will never see even the above at the intended full size as I have deliberately shrunk it a little.

Nanowrimo is going well.  It is too early to make predictions, but I feel confident that I will complete the challenge of 50,000 words this month.  50,000 words of relatively poor quality. But all mine.