Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to sell your reader on your story's idea

(Link in post title). Haven't had time to read through this article - more posting this here as a "note to self" kind of thing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An apostrophe is the difference between...

A business that knows its shit, and a business that knows it's shit.

(Link in post title).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WTNTBUMO: "Curses and Blast!"

Well alright, these WTNTBUMO entries are going to have a bit of an "old British" -ness about them, but that's just how it's gonna be, ok?

"Curses and Blast." I can't think of a better way to exclaim frustration, anger, or general displeasure over a situation while at the same time exhibiting a level of...well, a level of something.

"Curses and blast! Foiled again! Now my evil plan involving mutated prawns and a giant spatula will never see the light of day!"

The two words also work separately. "Curses! I appear to be on fire!" "Blast! My arm's come off! Would you pick it up for me? There's a good lad."

I seem to remember a scene in one of the original Star Wars movies in which Luke Skywalker says "Blast!" to express frustration at something, but I can't remember exactly where it is in the movie. I remember thinking it was an awkward line, but then again, we are talking about the Star Wars movies...not known for their natural-sounding dialogue. Ahem. I'll just point out again that any director who makes Samuel L. Jackson act like a piece of wood needs to seriously rethink some stuff...

But I digress. The point is that "Curses and Blast!" is a great exclamation, and you should use it more.

Friday, August 12, 2011

NPR's top 100 sci-fi and fantasy novels

(Link in post title). NPR has revealed the results of the poll it took for the top 100 sci-fi and fantasy novels. I was delighted to find that the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made it to #2 on the list, behind only Lord of the Rings! Somewhere, Douglas Adams is smiling at that.

Having said that, there are a few surprising picks. For instance, I would argue that there were far too many books by Neal Stephenson on the list. I tried to read several of his books, and found them impenetrable and oddly written. That's obviously a personal opinion - and one that some of you might find inconsistent considering my love for another sometimes impenetrable and oddly written series, Dune. The Dune series finds itself at #4 on this list, which I think is a bit high, considering that it contains within it at least one utter dud, God Emperor of Dune. Still, it is a very important series in the sci-fi canon, so it definitely belongs on the list.

I'm also happy to see Terry Pratchett get a couple of his Discworld novels on here. He's in the same class as Douglas Adams, so he certainly deserves to be on this list.

I'm glad Ursula K. LeGuin got some books in there, although I'm disappointed not to see Lathe of Heaven or the Earthsea books listed. Lathe of Heaven is just a brilliant book - easily the equal of many on this list.

I would not have put anything by Terry Goodkind on the list. I read several of the Sword of Truth books. The way Goodkind just blatantly rips things off - from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars - should really give his readers pause before putting him among the greats.

The same argument applies to Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara series. I couldn't even get through the first book of this one - it was so stiffly written and so incredibly derivative of Lord of the Rings that I just lost interest.

Also, what the hell is a Star Wars series novelization doing on this list?

So dear reader(s), what books do you wish were/were not on the list?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EUTAM: "In Terms Of"

There's an increasing tendency that annoys me in terms of using the phrase "in terms of" as a way of adding words to the end of a sentence that should have been in the body of the sentence itself.


1) "We had an excellent year in terms of profit and pie."


"Our profits and pie this year were excellent."

2) "We need to look forward in terms of seeking new revenue and more pie."


"We need to seek new revenue and more pie."

Everyone is over-using this phrase. Everyone. And I really don't get it, in terms of why everyone insists on using it.

See how annoying it is?

It's like a little peg added to the end of a sentence that really doesn't mean anything at all.

We really need to stop doing things in terms of using the phrase "in terms of" too often.

Here endeth the lesson.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Feature: Words That Need To Be Used More Often

In the same spirit as my "English Usage That Annoys Me" (EUTAM) series, I present Words That Need To Be Used More Often (WTNTBUMO). Ok, the acronyms are a bit out of control...

Today's entry: Whilst.

Wiktionary thinks it sounds "pedantic or pompous." I don't know. I just like it.

I mean, which sounds better:

I am eating a sandwich while driving my hovercraft around the lake, or

I am eating a sandwich whilst driving my hovercraft around the lake?

Whilst. Use it wisely, and often. Let's bring it back.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Multiple universes?

(Link in post title). A study has "found" evidence of four possible "alternate universes." These things apparently exist in a region of our universe so far away that it would be impossible for light from them to get to us, and impossible for us to travel to them. To me, that doesn't sound like an alternate universe, really. The fact that they're "really far away" from us doesn't necessarily make them really far away from somewhere else in our universe. A planet a billion light years from us, but clearly still in "our universe" might be quite close to these "alternate universes."

To me, an alternate universe suggests a region of space-time separated from our universe by some kind of barrier, or maybe a region of space-time slightly out of phase with us. Of course, the major theory of alternate universes has to do with the notion that each decision an individual makes creates a new timeline, and each timeline is its own universe. Thus, alternate universes are more about time than they are about space.