Test Information Space

Journal of Tech, Testing and Trends


Posted by cadsmith on July 23, 2010


Narrative allows readers to intuitively visualize how well designs may meet expected circumstances. Writers who are exercising their imaginations to develop scenarios for technical documents, nonfiction, or fiction can use the classic Google notebook or any of the online documentation services where notes form an index which can be sorted and grouped into sections or further books, and can export or download to appropriate formats. Reviews can be done collaboratively or in separate comments or messages.

Recent links (about nineteen): 3D: ZCorp printer, mobile: batphone, wireless: body area network, research: automated, graphics: Incendia fractals, cloud: OpenStack, space: DIY satellite, economics: Facebook credits.

Book Reviews:

The Art of Creative Nonfiction, Lee Gutkind, 1997

Narrative stories make nonfiction much more interesting. Fictional writing techniques can be used without sacrificing fact, e.g. using scenes as building blocks to frame the actual settings, characters, plot and drama. Examples are shown from popular books. The writer immerses him or herself in the subject and may iterate between research and writing several times. The former can involve listening to personal accounts so that the subject’s thoughts can be recreated from their own recollections. The point of view is selected as third person unless the writer is relevant to the story. Ideally, a story has local sources and general audience appeal. If the initial draft seems too fanciful, then it can be edited to ensure accuracy, e.g. to be more like a documentary. The author’s first book was in 1974. He founded the creativenonfiction.org journal. In video presentations, he recommends the style for subjects like technology and the professions.

The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass, 2009

The title technique draws from the reader’s own experience. This assumes that they are writing a novel. The exercises convey them outside of their existing mindset and result in output that may be used in an actual manuscript. It is also enjoyable to read the author’s analysis of the new titles and excerpts since the previous 2004 workbook. There are nine chapters each having practical tools. These include extraordinary characters and heroes, turning points or setbacks and the tornado effect, setting’s relationship to character/sentiment/milieu/time, character and narrative voices, causes/motivations/believability/monsters, hyperbole/irony/parody/humor, tension in dialogue/action/exposition/sex/violence/nothing and common/uncommon/moral experience. This was available in ebook format.

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, Donald Maass, 2004

This book is often cited by successful writers. It has three parts on character, plot and general techniques, thirty-four chapters and two appendices. Each chapter has an explanation, brief summary box, and exercises which have a more verbose summary box. There are also five-hundred and ninety-one followup tasks. There are explicit qualities which improve a novel. Put tension on every page. Delay backstory and remove unnecessary commutes, refreshments, or hygiene. Layer multiple plot lines for the same character and add texture by nodes of conjunction. Give subplots to different characters. Combine multiple roles into a single character. Show heroic qualities early. Create some memorable moments of forgiveness, sacrifice, test or change of character, or death. Polish turning points. The protagonist has personal stakes, ultimate commitment, and larger-than-life dialog, action and thoughts. Inner conflict shows desire for two mutually exclusive things. Inner changes for a character show progress and pace of a plot. Symbols are abstract and stand for something inward like a mood or idea. The psychology of place measures change in a character’s perception of a setting over time. Moments in time give the protagonist a keen awareness of the world. Good first lines have a sense of intrigue. Last lines bring wit, poetry or peace.

Writing Fiction for Dummies, Ingermanson and Economy, 2009

Ingermanson, originally a physicist, describes a snowflake method for which he offers an app. It starts a big picture and, using three acts, continually adds detailed scenes rather than synopses, and adjusts original structure as necessary. There are usually about a hundred scenes. The other author, Economy, has eleven titles in the series. There are five parts for nineteen chapters The format is dynamic using brief paragraphs, lists, boxes, cartoons, and icons for tips and points to remember. The instructions summarize examples of each technique from twenty bestsellers and deconstructs a relevant major novel in more detail. This book substantially defines terms and techniques used in writing and publishing. The secret ingredient is like a film clip, alternating points of view between private and public. There are at least three disasters to commit the main character, change direction and force the climax. The authors show how to edit the flow of these, fixing cause-effect, time-scale, unintentional head-hopping, out-of-body experiences, and mixed clips. Fiction has five pillars: world, characters, plot, theme and style. Plot has six layers: single-sentence summary, three-act structure, scene, paragraph, synopsis and scene list. Research of the story world prevents writer’s block. Beside the story’s natural world and cultural groups, the author determines what makes change possible and when. Theme, or deep meaning, is usually rediscovered and refined after the novel is written and reviewed. it will be true, important and short. The historical novel is not a niche, it is a prefix for some other category. New writers most often choose favorite subjects since a novel usually includes about a tenth of what the writer knows. The book explains publishing and the importance of the acquisitions editor.

20 Master Plots & How to Build Them, Ronald B. Tobias, 2003

Story is a chronicle of events. Plot is why; it leads to expectations. The process may ultimately exceed these guidelines, but the writer will have a way to navigate in the interim. There are twenty-six chapters. Each begins with a quote by a famous writer. Examples are given from literature. The ones defining a plot type end with a checklist. Plots have two groups of types, action or character, body or mind. Comedy is the latter. Plot types may be combined. The twenty master plots are quest, adventure, pursuit, rescue, escape, revenge, the riddle, rivalry, underdog, temptation, metamorphosis, transformation, maturation, love, forbidden love, sacrifice, discovery, wretched excess, ascension and descension. Plot is a force of cohesion, and a container. The lowest common denominators are tension, opposition, increasing stakes, change is the point, significant events, casual appearance, reason for rules, central actor climax, Unified action involves the beginning, middle and end. The beginning establishes cause, intent and motivation. The middle has effect, rising action, reversals and recognition. The end has climax, falling action and denouement.

Videos of interest:

Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves | Video on TED.com

Authors@Google: David Kirkpatrick on Facebook

Documents of interest:

Scifi draft by yours truly.


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