There is this legendary thing I have heard tell of a writer's passion - write or die. I've felt it burn through my veins only twice in my life: last November, when NaNoWriMo saved my life, and now. But the thing that got me to finish my manuscript wasn't exactly that. And when it comes to winning, … Continue reading How I Wrote My Manuscript (Or, How NaNoWriMo Saved My Life)
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So I looked at fear last week and I will examine memory and trauma next. Before that, it will be useful to review how the brain works in a nutshell. The basics aren’t difficult. Here’s a little Brain 101 with a twist: neurons and synapses represented in text symbol pictures. The brain is a network … Continue reading Brain Basics in Text Symbol Pictures
For something so awkward and squishy-looking, the brain is a deliciously complex and efficient thing that commands and controls everything about us. In the spirit of Halloween, I look today at what the brain does when we are afraid (with the help of Ellen Degeneres and her team). When you experience something scary (or stressful), … Continue reading This is Your Brain on Fear
How do lasers work (including an attempt to explain an Einstein theory using the word “tickle”)? What’s the latest on laser weapons? Is it possible to construct a laser forcefield that lets some things pass through but not others (and if they try the get blown up)? In which I continue to build the setting … Continue reading Lasers: Guns and Forcefields
After boiling my novel down to Just One Thing and identifying some crap, I need to decide what to do with it all. Here is how, exactly, I am going to murder my darlings (and whether I will in the end). This is how I’m going to go into November armed with that list of scenes … Continue reading On Revision: How, Exactly, Do I Murder My Darlings?
November first is fast approaching, and that means hoards of novelists across the world are clanging their swords upon shields in anticipation. To bring my brain back into battle, I'm recalling some basics. Here are some practical steps for getting started, a case study on my relationship with Pantsing and Planning and three principles that helped … Continue reading Getting Started: A NaNoWriMo Basics Refresher
When my fingers were tip-tapping out words by the hundreds or thousands each day last year, I didn’t think about what needed to happen to get from that first draft to final. Between production and proofreading, there is a Schumpeterian-type (bless you) world of destruction and creation. But what do I destroy? What do I … Continue reading On Revision: A Useful Tool for Deciding What to Keep, Rework and Cut
The reserve of the Western world since the early 15th century, the Tallest-Manmade-Thing-in-the-World (TMTW) Baton has been passed around the Eastern Hemisphere for the last 15 years. And these things are getting taller. More generally, the average height of buildings in urban areas is increasing. There are problems with this, especially with respect to environmental … Continue reading Skyscrapers (Part 2 of 2)
I was getting ready to go to my morning ethics class. 9/11/2001 evokes the same question for our generation that the shooting of JFK did for the previous one: where were you? We remember how the Twin Towers went down. I never had the privilege of knowing them intimately when they stood, but as I did … Continue reading Skyscrapers (Part 1 of 2)
Most of us have been in one. Most of us live in one. According to the UN, 54 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas this year. By 2050, 66 percent of people in the world will. But what does that mean, anyway – “city”? It’s not as straightforward as it seems. In … Continue reading Cities