• A Word on the Opening Paragraph

    I'm not a terribly experienced writer. I came to the forum a few years ago as a demonstrably poor writer who wanted to get better. Through the encouragement (and occasional head bashing) I found here, my writing improved. I want to pass that along. I said elsewhere, and I'll say here (in particular because I'm not the first person to say this, but it bears repeating): [B][I]The sole job of the opening paragraph is to draw readers in; to tell them that they want to read more.[/I][/B] It doesn't matter if it's a 500-word short story or the opener for a million-word novel series, if you...
  • Amen, Sir.

    [SIZE=4][B] Coda from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury [/B][/SIZE] About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in space mythology, [I]The Martian Chronicles[/I]. But, she added, wouldn't it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women's characters and roles? A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn't I "do them over"? Along about then came a note from a Southern...
  • What's a Folder?

    There are complaints from college teachers that young students either don't use or can't even grasp the concept of file directories. I didn't believe this at first, given that the terms [I]file[/I] and [I]folder[/I] are sort of there to help understand the slightly abstract notion of directories, and that operating systems are mostly visual (GUI) anyway. [URL][/URL] [URL][/URL] Favourite anecdote is from Reddit,...
  • Exercise in futility?

    "When the mind is dumb, the body suffers," said my janitor co-worker to me in Swedish. That is true. Some years ago, I studided English at a university. I had decent grades and an excellent vocabulary. I only survived a few months before a mental illness took over. Nowadays it feels like my prime is gone. Like when I am trying to learn new things I can not do it. Getting new knowledge is like punching my meaty fists against a concrete wall. I feel stupid. I feel as though it is very hard to learn and adapt to new writing rules. Research might as well be that concrete wall. Perhaps my...


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