Category Archives: Thursday Writing

So, M$ Outlook Actually Taught Me Something Yesterday

I was in the middle of an email with my uber small writing circle, and misspelled “Epilogue”. The spellchecker in Outlook automatically throws up suggestions before you can even do a correct yourself, and “Apologue” came up as a suggestion.

I’d never heard of the word, so I had to search it out of morbid curiosity:

So yes, an allegory or parable. The word is obscure enough nowadays that I’m not certain if I’d use it in writing… Perhaps if a character was fairly erudite and known for their vocabulary.

Still nice to learn something new however. 🙂

Writers; Words Matter. Chose and Define them Properly

As a note before I get started, I am going to be discussing this topic partially in the context of some miscommunication in my social commentary post yesterday. However, I will be saving those specific issues for another post. This is NOT social commentary, just discussing the importance of clarity in communication.

The one reply I got to my post on the Elites yesterday made some interesting points. I did my best to refute them, but the problem really wasn’t with the replying person so much as it was that I hadn’t defined some of my terms clearly enough. Particularly for newer readers who may mot have seen earlier posts.

This is a common situation nowadays, and a lesson for writers. The extreme elements of both political parties and many special interest groups go out of their way to misuse terms and change definitions to suit their arguments. Even when we’re not talking political and social issues, both writers and readers tend to get lazy in how they interpret a word’s meaning or the intent of a paragraph.

Therefore, it falls upon us as writers to be as clear as possible. If you read the great thinkers of the enlightenment, such as Montesquieu, every word of their writing is carefully chosen and there’s never any doubt as to what they’re saying. These are folks you should read just to study critical thinking and good communication, even if you don’t care about government or humanities.

Around the time Neuro-Linguistic Programming came into being however, people trying to get clever with wording began to become epidemic. Ambiguity is an advocated technique in NLP. Ambiguity creates confusion in the mind of the listener / reader and makes them more open to persuasion as their mind tries to fit the vague wording and innuendo into an understandable framework.

Between lawyers and politicians, we also have the secondary cause of people trying to structure language as a way to give themselves an excuse or deniability… to avoid responsibility for any fallout.

While any writer or speaker should consider the ways their words might be misinterpreted, going out of one’s way to be vague is NOT being artful, it’s being a weasel. People are getting better at sensing it too, and nobody respects a weasel.

Chose your words carefully, but have the courage of your beliefs. Write or speak clearly.

If there’s any doubt about what you mean, find a better way to word it, or define your terms right there instead of waiting for them to be misinterpreted. Words like “elites” are used by numerous groups with wildly varying interpretations.

This problem is why editing and multiple drafts are also important to writers. Seat of your pants writing is fine for first drafts, but editing and rewrites are what makes the difference between a good writer and a great one.

Butterfingered Padawan…

It’s time for me to start creative writing again, even if I did miss Thursday Writing by a day. 😛 This idea came to me while mindlessly searching Star Wars memes on the internet.  I came across the one below where creator mocked Luke for looking right down the emitter of his father’s lightsaber right after Obi-Wan gave it to him:

OK, funny, but Luke isn’t THAT big of a doofus.  This exact scene or moment never appeared in “A New Hope” either, so I can only conclude the picture is photoshopped.  Still funny.  Anyway, I finally did start thinking “what if” though…  Here’s my take:

THE STORY:

Luke momentarily turned away from his work reattaching Threepio’s arm, and chuckled slightly.  “My father didn’t fight in the wars, he was a navigator on a spice freighter.

“That’s what your uncle told you.  He didn’t hold with your father’s ideals… thought he should have stayed here and not gotten involved.” Kenobi replied with a slight scowl as he rubbed his beard. 

A look of quiet disbelief washed over Luke’s face.  “You fought in the clone wars?”

“Yes,” Kenobi replied, looking away.  His troubled expression didn’t escape Luke’s notice.  “I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father.”  He leaned back in his seat and rubbed his chin.

“I wish I’d known him.” Luke replied quietly.

“He was the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior” Kenobi replied with a brief hint of a smile.  “I understand you’ve become quite a good pilot yourself.”

Luke smiled and half shrugged, returning his focus to finishing Threepio’s repairs.

Kenobi’s gaze drifted backwards in time and he allowed himself a brief smile again.  “He was a good friend…”  He glanced sideways and then stood up.  “Which reminds me…” Kenobi strolled across the small room to an old trunk.  “I have something here for you.”  He opened the chest rummaged through it.  “Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn’t allow it.  He feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damned fool idealistic crusade like your father did.”  Kenobi found what he was looking for and stood up straight as he removed it from the trunk.

“Sir, if you’ll not be needing me, I’ll close down for a while.” Threepio interjected.

“Sure, go ahead.” Luke replied, taking a quick glance at Threepio before returning a fixed gaze to the thick metallic cylinder in Kenobi’s hands.  He stood up and met Kenobi half way across the room.  “What is it?” he asked.

“Your father’s lightsaber.” Kenobi said, holding it out to Luke.   “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight.  Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster.”  Luke took the weapon from Kenobi and hit the power switch, the blue energy blade instantly springing to life.  “A more elegant weapon of a more civilized day.” Kenobi said as he returned to his earlier chair.

Artoo chirped excitedly as Luke moved the blade back and forth a few times.

“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic.” Kenobi said, watching Luke continue to move the blade about as if in a trance.  Kenobi looked down and scowled.  “…Before the dark times, before the Empire.”

Luke switched off the lightsaber and sat down on the bench next to Kenobi.  “How did my father die?”  He sat down and stared sadly into the barrel of the lightsaber.

Kenobi looked away for a moment, regret showing on his face.  He turned back to Luke and started to speak.  “A young Jedi named Darth Vad…”

Before Kenobi could finish his sentence, an explosion rocked the small desert house, blowing a hole in the wall and toppling Artoo onto his face.  The force of the blast also staggered Luke and made him fumble the lightsaber.  His thumb hit the activation button, igniting the blade and sending it right through his skull.  Luke slumped over dead, as the still ignited lightsaber fell to the floor.

Kenobi cursed and ignited his own saber as a Tusken Raider rushed through the hole in the wall.  With one clean swing, Kenobi cut the invader in half.  A second Raider appeared at the hole and tried to level its blaster rifle.  Kenobi force pushed the sandperson with all his might, sending him flying over the nearby cliff and to his death.

Kenobi rushed out the hole, a look of utter rage on his face.  “Do you realize what you filthy animals have cost us?  Cost the galaxy?” he screamed.  He flung his lightsaber, cutting down two more sandpeople.  “That damned boy was our last hope to kill the Emperor!”

Another sandperson leveled his rifle at Kenobi and started to pull the trigger.  Kenobi quickly used the Force to pull Luke’s lightsaber to him and deflect the shot right back at his attacker.  A half second later, Kenobi’s own saber arced back into his grasp.  Another two sandpeople charged Kenobi, swinging their gaffi sticks.  Kenobi cut one down and force pushed the other back into a third sandperson who was holding a thermal detonator.

Both tried to scramble away from the armed detonator, but Kenobi lifted them both into the air with the Force and flung them and the detonator over the cliff.  A moment later there was a blinding explosion and two screams cut short.

Obi-Wan moved to the cliff to see three more Tusken Raiders riding Banthas and retreating at full gallop.  He let out an enraged scream at them.

“Obi-Wan, control yourself!” a voice demanded from behind him.  “Do you want to end up like Anakin?”

Obi-Wan whipped around to see the Force apparition of his old master Qui-Gon Jinn.  “Everything we worked for, had hoped to bring to pass, it’s all gone!” he said angrily.  “Years and years watching the boy, masking his presence from detection by the dark side, all wasted…” he continued with a dejected sigh.  “There’s no one left that can stand up to Vader and the Emperor now.”

“So soon you forget…” said Yoda as his projected image appeared.  “Another, there is.” 

“Can the girl even be trained?” Kenobi asked, slowly regaining his center.

“Her immediate talent isn’t what the boy’s was.” Qui-Gon replied.  “Her connection to the living Force and ultimate potential may very well be even greater though.”

Yoda nodded slowly.  “Hmmm, find her you must.”

“How?” Kenobi asked.

“I believe the little droid in there will have the answers you seek.” Said Qui-Gon with a gesture towards the damaged house.

“Anakin’s old droid?” Kenobi asked rhetorically. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

To Be Continued?

Kenobi warned Luke those Sandpeople would be back, and in greater numbers. If I get any interest, I’ll continue my alternate reality Episode 4. 🙂

Writing Prompt!

Today is supposed to be Thursday Writing Day here at the blog. I decided to do something a little different and throw out a writing prompt for others. I may try to come up with a short story also if time and creativity allow.

Feel free to ignore the junk around the chair, as we’re still getting organized, sorting things out and gluing them back together after the move East. Include it if you want though. No rules here, just a prompt for fun and practice. Do a VSS, a short story, whatever. Post a link in the replies here also so that people can find your work. 🙂

A Little History:

The chair may not look like much at casual observation. It originally belonged to my great, great grandmother though. My mom recently passed it on to me, and I’m the fifth generation to own it. The wood is oil rubbed, not painted or stained, and the padding is old school straw stuffing. The claw feet are holding balls of glass, quartz or some sort of crystal.

My mom said my great grandmother used to sit in this chair and hold me as an infant when we came to visit.

I’m Cheating Today

Such a vague sentence with so many potential meanings, LOL. Today is supposed to be Writing related Thursdays here at the blog. Due to having so much to do and only a week(ish) before the movers show up, I’m going to cheat regarding the theme, and shortcut my writing load.

Instead of my own post, I’m going to recommend another blog out there. I follow several well crafted blogs on the various aspects of writing. THIS one focuses on the manipulative use of language though. Most readers know this is an area of particular interest to me, primarily because I see the damage it’s doing to society.

Todd Garrington’s blog focuses primarily on the manipulative wording and messages of advertising. He does a great job of analyzing the messages used to promote conspicuous consumption.

If you really want to become more aware of what you’re REALLY being told in that ad or commercial, give his blog a look. You may come away a little more cynical but you’ll certainly come away smarter and more aware.

Todd Garrington’s Blog

Minor Update on Scrivener!

I recently made a post in my adult oriented blog that I’m planning on returning to writing (non-erotica also). As part of that, and a general “get off my butt” mindset that I’m trying to adopt, I bought the full version of Scrivener 1.9 for Windows.

Long time followers may recall I downloaded the trial version of Scrivener months back and explored it for a little while. Moving drama took over everything the last few months though. That still isn’t over either, but that’s another post for another day…

RECAP OF INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

First, make sure you have time to do the tutorial that comes with Scrivener. It’s fairly good, and reasonably easy to follow. If you stop in the middle, you can start over, it’s just a little tricky to find the option to repeat the tutorial. It’s supposed to take about 2 hours. While it won’t make you a complete expert, you should have a solid grasp of the program and how versatile it is.

Much like MS Word, it’s fairly easy to just jump in and use the basic functions without the tutorial. All the extra goodies that make Scrivener shine take that extra time to learn though. Again, just like Word.

The extra features for authors are where Scrivener shines. Storyboarding, a virtual corkboard for notes, the ability to keep chapters separate and later compile them, a feature for keeping files on individual characters, story locations and plot points, etc…

Is it the ultimate writer’s tool? Not quite. It does a TON of wonderful things. *IF* you have a copy of MS Office, and are truly familiar with all the extra features of Word and Office’s other components, you can use Office fine for all the same features.

What Scrivener offers though is the ability to have everything integrated into one clean program. All that also comes at a price that’s much more appealing to the average starving writer.

Currently, Scrivener is $45 dollars, and still has a free trial period. That $45 dollar price is up almost $10 from the last time I looked though. If you look around, you can find discount codes online also. “REDDIT” was one I found that currently works for 20% off.

Scrivener 3!

The reason for the boost in prices is that version 3 is already out for Mac and iOS. It will be coming soon for Windows. If you buy 1.9 for windows now, you get a free upgrade to 3.0 when it’s released. Longer term users will have to pay $25 for the upgrade if I read correctly.

Version 3 will include 64 bit architecture, a better interface, improved ability to compile and merge book segments, improved ability to output the final product in ebook form, and an expanded array of ebook formats available.

The iOS version can be used on both iPads and iPhones.

A Link To Scrivener 3’s Introduction Page

Third Party Tutorials

As a addenda to my earlier comments, there are tons of free tutorials on YouTube to help people learn Scrivener. There are quite a few paid eCourses to learn the program as well. Costs vary widely there. A quick search engine lookup will give you a wide array of options there.

Conclusion:

I’m still early in learning things here, but I am impressed. Almost everything you could need as a writer is there at your fingertips, and at a much lower price than MS Word or Office. If you’re a serious writer or dream of being one, I’d recommend buying Scrivener. If you just need help keeping your writing organized, I’d still highly recommend it.

As a final note, I’m receiving absolutely no reimbursement of any kind for my review here. I’m not well known about for any product companies to care about, LOL. The review is honest though, and completely my own. 🙂