Monday, July 18, 2022

The Brave Pantser - or not

 At Quora, I wrote about some of my Nanowrimo experiences. Here is most of my answer at Quora:

Profile photo for Brian Dean

Yes, most of the time.

A Nanowrimo story was set in space and I knew the setting very well; someone else had researched it and I thought it cool. I contacted the man for permission to put a story in his setting and he was happy to grant that permission. The setting was:

Building the ultimate Solar System
A while back I performed an experiment called build a better Solar System.  The game was to make better use of the Solar System’s habitable real estate.  In the game I was required to keep al…

36 Earth-sized moons and planets around a single star.

So someone else did most of the physics and I only needed to come up with the characters, plot, themes and tone. That’s all!

Okay, that’s a lot. But my story had a firm setting. So I sat down at 11:55pm on October 31, got ready and… really struggled at the start of November 1!

I wrote about some archaeologists and a university on one of the planets and then the story began to pick up momentum.

Nanowrimo only requires 50,000 toward a first draft be written by November 30, and I surpassed that number but I had nothing like a story.

I did have the actual beginnings of a story, I had solid characters, a satisfactory plot - not so much on the page but in my head or in notes about the story. I had, in short, the makings of a good (for me) story; probably not a first draft, but draft 0.6. Most of that work would be thrown out or kept as background in the actual story, but I had pantsed my way into an actual story.

And I learned so much about my science fictional setting. It was indeed fun. Not completely satisfying because it took so long in my writing for the story to appear, but still fun.

One more story about pantsing a story: I wrote a fantasy story based on some daydreams I had as a child (yes, in writing this, I see how much time I spent daydreaming. I had better become a real writer to make that time well-spent!). It had a child stolen from another world and then returned to that world after several years had passed - standard stuff. But because I was pantsing the story, I didn’t know yet why she had been taken or why she had been returned.

And at several points in the story, I could have made that choice, directed the story one way or another … and I chickened out! At every opportunity to make a decision, I passed and left it vague so I could make the decision later.

And the story was fluff. It had not meat. It wasn’t good and my anxiety about making, or not, that decision kinda poisoned the process for me. There were fun moments but the total was not fun. I needed to be a braver pantser.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Generic maps to give you ideas and show you perhaps what not to do

 @skerples1 offered a 'generic fantasy map' and others joined in with more in the comments.

As is my standard practice, the images shown here have been cropped and shrunk. To see the full images at full size, follow the links:


And more from Skerples:



and


Ash, the Loom of Doom, offered


And more. There are all fun and maybe they remind us of how many cliches there are out there.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

I like the research but think I would choose the nap over the idea.

 I feel that I run at full speed or I want a nap. I fear that I sleep too many hours a week.

So the possibility of using sleep to find creative insight was encouraging to me. Do something I am nearly addicted to and get a benefit from sounded too good to be true. ... And it is.

Salvador Dali and brief, uh, 'naps' to find creative solutions.

That link is to a Scientific American review and interview with the researchers. Their actual work is here (the quotes in my post are from Scientific American).

“You must seat yourself in a bony armchair, preferably of Spanish style,” he wrote. In your left hand, you were to clench a heavy key, suspended above a plate. Then, he continued, “you will have merely to let yourself be progressively invaded by a serene afternoon sleep, like the spiritual drop of anisette of your soul rising in the cube of sugar of your body.”

As you drifted off, the key would slip from your fingers and clang on the plate, awakening you. He claimed the brief moment spent between wake and sleep would revive your physical and psychic being. And he cautioned that “a mere second is infinitely too long.”

So an important point here is that it is not sleep nor dreams exactly that Dali was trying to access but the unfocused thoughts of a person nearly asleep.

I want to try this technique but also trying to put yourself to sleep and then not sleeping sounds like taking sex almost to orgasm and then stopping to get back to some more mundane activity. Yes, I may have a problem if my analogy for sex is sleep.

Anyway, if there is a way to strongly encourage creative thought, this seems to be it. It is not magic and in the experiment described at the link, it only made the participants more likely to solve the problem; not certain to do it.

From the article:

 Those who slept for longer periods actually did worse than both those who briefly slept and those who stayed awake.


Saturday, October 30, 2021

(bad) seeds of thought about inspiration

Some of the lyrics from the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song, (I'll love you till) The end of the world.

Some things we plan
We sit and we invent and we plot and cook up
Others are works of inspiration, of poetry
And it was this genius hand that pushed me 

This is how creativity and inspiration appear to me these days. That genius hand can start pushing any time now...

RIP Csikszentmihalyi

 From University of Chicago.

As a scholar, he is best known for creating flow theory—a state of being in which people become so immersed in the joy of their work or activity “that nothing else seems to matter.” He outlined the theory in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, a seminal 1990 book that influenced leaders from politics to sports.

“Mike had a genius for creating simple, generative models of flow, creativity and aesthetic experience, and then unfolding their implications in his writings; the impact of his ideas has been remarkably broad,” said Jeanne Nakamura, an associate professor at Claremont Graduate University, where Csikszentmihalyi taught after retiring from UChicago in 1999.
Nakamura also wrote:
“He was the best example of the things that he studied about the life well lived.”
Which suggests to me that in studying FLOW, he also lived it.


I first learned of his death from Boingboing.


Sunday, October 3, 2021

Hi there. Already thinking about Christmas

I want to make a wind up toy where when you turn a crank, the sleigh and reindeer rock up and down as if surfing the wind and clouds.

I worked out the basics here.
And this is where I am today.

I used the paper to measure how much room I will need for the base. More than  two feet! It is a big prototype!

And what would it look like with a cute dinosaur in Rudolph's position?




I can't recall what the schematic calls for, but I will use a 2X4 for the base, straightened and re-curled paperclips to hold the crank shaft and the crankshaft itself will be a straightened and refolded coat hanger.
 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Still alive and thinking about creativity

 Although the pandemic is ongoing, I have been busy at work, even managing some creative activities. I have on occasion been wildly creative and also lucky with my creating but mostly just doing my job.

Still, here is an interesting article about curiosity. 5 Dimensions of curiosity.

This sounds a little like how my own blog started but in a more serious way:

For over 20 years, I have been studying curiosity. I didn't plan to be a curiosity researcher. 

The following five categories are well explained at the link - I have removed the explanations to encourage your reading the original material:

1. Joyous Exploration. 

2. Deprivation Sensitivity. 

3. Stress Tolerance. 

4. Social Curiosity. 

5. Thrill Seeking.

4 types of curious people (again, details removed):

1. The Fascinated:

2. Problem Solvers: 

3. Empathizers: 

4. Avoiders: 

and

We found overt social curiosity to be linked to healthy psychological outcomes including open-mindedness, extraversionagreeableness, low negative emotionality, interpersonal competencies, and low levels of loneliness. With covert social curiosity, information is gathered by surreptitious routes such as gossiping, snooping, spying, and other indirect means of discovering what other people are like. Covert social curiosity was linked to much less adaptive psychological outcomes such as a motivation to avoid errors and mistakes in the workplace, and a tendency to complain to friends, family, and co-workers.

The discussion here on curiosity is also interesting.

Via Kottke.