Tag: writing

  • How to Title Your Work

    Written as advice to visual artists (painters, sculptors, etc.), How to title your art is half rallying cry half tutorial on why and how you should give your art a title. As Claudia Dawson said in Recommendo, the guidance is useful for anyone who writes titles or headlines. Some points that stuck out for me:

  • Betteridge’s Law, or: Are Questions in Headlines a Good Idea?

    Pick up any tabloid newspaper today and take note of how many article headlines are phrased as a question. I understand that these headlines are an attempt to pique our interest (or the result of lazy copy editors/writers), but are they a good idea? What is the end result of using a question as a…

  • The Wadsworth Constant: Ignore 30% of Everything

    I’ll start with a story. Last year my girlfriend and I watched the pilot episode of a new TV show and were immediately hooked. The pilot episode was refreshingly complex and forced us to guess missing plot details continuously: it’s adventurous to make your audience work so hard during a pilot, we surmised. We later…

  • Common Misconceptions About Publishing and Writing

    After realising that “many people don’t have the first clue about how the publishing business works ÔÇö or even what it is“, the somewhat prolific science fiction writer┬áCharlie Stross┬ádecided to do something about it. The result was a series titled Common Misconceptions About Publishing. This is admittedly only one author’s viewpoint and set of opinions,…

  • Contextual Writing (Telescopic and Responsive Text)

    How can a writer cater to an audience with diverse preferences and needs (particularly, how much detail they want and how much time they have)? One way is to use telescopic or responsive text. Telescopic text is a method of iteratively displaying more and more textual detail on request┬á(I suppose the reader becomes the┬áuser). Joe…

  • The Good and Bad of Enumerated Lists

    Writing by enumeration–writing a ‘list of n things’–restricts you to a structure that is easier to produce and is easier for readers to follow and comprehend, but limits free thought. That’s one of many points that Paul Graham makes in an┬áessay┬ádiscussing┬áthe merits and disadvantages of writing enumerated lists. One obvious negative that Graham points out…

  • Successful Science Article Pitches

    Article and book pitches — both successful and unsuccessful — can give you a small insight into an editor’s selection process and the sales-side of a writer’s mind, as well as help you learn to write more effectively. As such I’ve started to collect sites featuring proposals and pitches. A recent addition to this list…

  • On Titles, or: Titles: Is There an Optimal Solution?

    As a co-editor of the open-access journal Theoretical Economics, Jeff Ely has seen his fair share of academic papers and their associated titles. Inevitably Ely has constructed a theory on how to title a paper (or anything else, for that matter) for maximum exposure, impact and intrigue. In his hilarious tongue-in-cheek article detailing this theory,…

  • Learning storytelling from a Sitcom writer

    What is a story? How can you tell better stories? There is a wealth of knowledge and research into story telling, story structure and techniques for enhancing narrative. The classic text is┬áThe Hero with a Thousand Faces┬áby┬áJoseph┬áCampbell, but this tome has been is criticised for being dense and academic. Syd Field‘s book Screenplay has influenced…

  • How to Internet: Publishing

    As you get better at the internet, you’ll likely start to feel a desire to share something with the world. Thankfully, the internet is awash with technologies that make that easy and painless. Outside of Facebook, the can-be-used-for publishing platform that most civilians are likely to have heard about is Twitter, which hardly qualifies as…