AI Writing Assistants: A Cure for Writer's Block or Modern-Day Clippy?
uk.pcmag.com – Tuesday September 20, 2022
In recent years, I've watched AI weave its way into our daily lives. It's written and directed movies, acted as a therapist, and visualized alternate realities. But I was curious to learn if AI is now smart enough to be an "intelligent writing assistant."
It's not too far off. As Microsoft points out in its Future of Work report, "AI is good at learning and scaling patterns, meaning for these activities people can instead focus on doing things in new ways and generating novel ideas. For example, someone might write a document by merely listing the ideas it should include. The details can be fleshed out automatically, much like developers use Copilot to flesh out ideas through code.”
But how realistic is that for the average would-be writer? We tried Jasper, Rytr, and HyperWrite to see if artificial intelligence can give our writing an edge.
What Is Chekhov’s Gun? A Guide to Planting & Paying Off Details in Your Writing
backstage.com – Monday September 19, 2022
Writing a play or screenplay is a complex process that comes with a lot of rules of thumb—some more intuitive than others. One of the most important is Chekhov’s gun. Keep reading to learn about Anton Chekhov, his famed concept, and examples of the technique in film and television.
Anton Chekhov was a famed Russian playwright whose works include “The Seagull” (1895), “Uncle Vanya” (1898), “Three Sisters” (1900), and “The Cherry Orchard” (1903). After his death in 1904, Chekhov’s works went on to inspire countless movies and TV shows, and the concept of his “gun” has influenced screenwriting since the early days of cinema.
Chekhov corresponded with many other playwrights, offering advice for their careers. One of his primary principles was that playwrights should avoid making false promises to the audience; if you set an early expectation, you must make sure it’s resolved. “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one, it should be fired,” Chekhov wrote. “Otherwise, don’t put it there.”
Guide on submitting a manuscript
artshub.com.au – Monday September 19, 2022
Dear Emerging Creative,
This is one for the novice authors – because no one tells you how to do some of this stuff.
Submitting a manuscript to a publisher or magazine editor – whether it be short fiction, a non-fiction essay, or a novel – is a bit like writing a job application.
Celebrated New Zealand novelist Catherine Chidgey had this sage and pithy wisdom to offer: ’Make sure your work is typo-free – consider asking someone to proof it for you – and keep your cover letter brief.
‘How is your book similar to other successful books? How does it achieve something new?
‘Under no circumstances include emojis.’
The final sentence goes for most things in life.
Lucy Foley: ‘I never know the murderer when I start writing my books’
inews.co.uk – Sunday September 18, 2022
Lucy Foley’s hit crime novels are always set in glamorous places – a New Year’s Eve getaway at a highland lodge, a wedding at a remote Irish island, a beautiful Parisian apartment – but she usually writes them from somewhere completely different. “I wrote The Hunting Party in Iran, where it was really hot. I was finishing The Guest List [the Irish island] in an Airbnb in Paris when I came up with the idea for The Paris Apartment.” She likes to travel when she’s writing, and when we speak she has recently returned from six weeks in Northern Spain, where she rented an apartment with her toddler and got to work on a new book. Which is set, naturally, in the West Country.
Doesn’t it put her off, visiting wonderful new locations and then trying to immerse herself in entirely different ones while she’s writing? “It’s probably a bit w**ky to invoke Hemingway, but he said that to write properly about a place you have to have left it. And I do think there’s an element of that for me. It means you have to imagine somewhere more vividly.”
Thomas C. Foster on the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing
lithub.com – Friday September 16, 2022
If you hang around the writing racket long enough, you will see every sort of writing success and failure imaginable—and some you can’t imagine. I spent forty years teaching courses in writing and in literature where writing was a major component. Both during and after that time, I have been writing more or less steadily, sometimes frantically, once in a while ecstatically.
Through all that time, I have seen—and accomplished—all manner of failure. For some reason, students would sometimes come to my office to apologize for their poor (in their estimation) efforts, as if they had let me down personally. Often it turned out that the writing was anything but a failure, but it didn’t strike the student as a winner. Lacking any means of absolving themselves, they were asking me to do so for them. After offering what help I could, I obliged. In one terrible case, a brilliant mature student, although far too young for this fate, closed my door (something I never did on my own) and told me that trying to read and write for my course had revealed a change in her brain, an early-onset, not-yet-specified dementia. We wept together. Usually, such talks were much more mundane, with students seeking help after tying themselves up in knots. Help was one thing I had plenty of, both on my own and in sending them to our excellent writing center where their peers had knowledge and skills under less threatening rubrics than “professor.”
How Dealing in Facts Helps Fiction Writers Hone Their Craft
lithub.com – Wednesday September 14, 2022
When I left my career in journalism in 2018 to study creative writing, I was worried that my training as a news reporter might make it hard for me to write fiction. After all, if there was one thing my time in newsrooms taught me, it was that I wasn’t allowed to make things up. The facts were the facts. Dates and stats needed to be tripled-checked, statements and names confirmed, timelines cross-referenced, and if I ever got anything wrong, a correction had to be issued as I sulked in embarrassment.
And so, getting started in fiction felt like pulling teeth. I continuously doubted myself, unsure if the characters and events I concocted were believable. For months I wrote while looking over my shoulder, as though the Fact Police were going to tackle me to the ground for daring to do make things up. But as I kept writing, spinning up my novel, All That’s Left Unsaid—a literary mystery about a young woman who tracks down the witnesses to her brother’s grisly murder, determined to find out what happened and why they each claim to have seen nothing—much of my journalism training, which I’d thought would hold me back from writing fiction, actually helped me draft, revise, and sell my novel.
Below are some of the skills I picked up as a journalist that, rather than being a hindrance, have been an enormous help in writing fiction.
Five Writers on How Writing with Creative Constraints Unlocked Their Projects
lithub.com – Tuesday September 13, 2022
I have long been an anxious writer. Every sentence written reminds me of the hundreds more that could have stood in its place, missed opportunities for assonance or characterization, clauses left dependent that could have—should have—been made independent. Often it takes all the perseverance I can muster not to leap up and gaze out the window, or better yet, flip open a book by somebody who’s already figured it all out.
For me, the anxiety of writing is the anxiety of possibility. Musical performance—despite all its lore of stage-fright, jitters, and choking—has been my salvation. When performing in front of an audience, a wrong note can’t be taken back; the audience hears it immediately. I find this precariousness strangely freeing. Rather than obsessing over what was previously played, I’m forced to move forward, adapt, and accept my failings. Mistakes become opportunities; a wrong note may suddenly evoke some new cluster of tones I wouldn’t have found otherwise, or veer a solo into provocative territory.
Thwaites becomes head of books at Curtis Brown as new children’s division announced
thebookseller.com – Tuesday September 13, 2022
Senior literary agent Steph Thwaites has been appointed head of books at Curtis Brown amid a raft of promotions within the agency’s book division, and she will be setting up a new children’s division.
In her new role as head of the Books Department, she succeeds Sheila Crowley and Gordon Wise, joint managing directors of the Book Department over the past three years, who continue in their book board and senior agent capacities.
Val McDermid, Michael Robotham, J.P. Pomare on writing crime
rnz.co.nz – Monday September 12, 2022
Three of the world's finest crime writers; Val McDermid, Michael Robotham and J.P. Pomare join Kathryn in the studio. The trio are touring New Zealand this week, with an event, Crime after Crime.
Val McDermid is crime-writing royalty, with over 18 million copies of her books sold to date and several TV adaptions.
Michael Robotham is Australia's hottest crime writer; his Joseph O'Loughlin series was a worldwide bestseller and The Suspect is now streaming on TVNZ.
He's well known for The Secrets She Keeps, now an award-winning TV drama, and his latest book Lying Beside You is an international bestseller.
Rotorua-born J.P. Pomare is no stranger to Aotearoa's shores - his debut novel Call Me Evie won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel, and his second book In the Clearing will soon grace our screens via Disney+. The Wrong Woman is his fifth book.
Writing Science Fiction: Win a place on the Curtis Brown Creative Writing Course with Adam Roberts
scifinow.co.uk – Saturday September 10, 2022
Writing Science Fiction is a six-week online course from Curtis Brown Creative – the renowned writing school led by the major literary agency. Since launching in 2011, over 170 students have become commercially published authors.
Join prolific science fiction author Adam Roberts for a six-week voyage into the genre. Adam shares wisdom acquired from writing his 23 published novels, most recently Purgatory Mount (Gollancz 2021; shortlisted for the Prometheus Award) and The This (Gollancz 2022). You’ll work through six modules comprising teaching videos and substantial notes from Adam. You’ll learn how to develop your novum (‘new thing’), build a compelling world, people it with extraordinary characters, and write a story that transports your readers to somewhere that’s entirely yours. Topics include worldbuilding, narrative structure and navigating beloved tropes of the genre while avoiding clichés.