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May 14, 2012

As readers gobble up ebooks, publishers are demanding writers work faster

In E-Reader Age of Writer’s Cramp, a Book a Year Is Slacking - NYTimes.com
The push for more material comes as publishers and booksellers are desperately looking for ways to hold onto readers being lured by other forms of entertainment, much of it available nonstop and almost instantaneously. Television shows are rushed online only hours after they are originally broadcast, and some movies are offered on demand at home before they have left theaters. In this environment, publishers say, producing one a book a year, and nothing else, is just not enough. At the same time, the Internet has allowed readers to enjoy a more intimate relationship with their favorite authors, whom they now expect to be accessible online via blogs, Q. and A.’s on Twitter and updates on Facebook. Some of the extra work is being pushed by authors themselves, who are easing their own fears that if they stay out of the fickle book market too long, they might be forgotten. Ms. Scottoline has increased her output from one book a year to two, which she accomplishes with a brutal writing schedule: 2,000 words a day, seven days a week, usually “starting at 9 a.m. and going until Colbert,” she said.

May 12, 2012

The SCP Foundation: a treasure trove of uncanny horror

The SCP Foundation (Motto: To Secure, Contain, and Protect) is a group of scientists and researchers keeping the world safe from all kinds of incredibly creepy things. Their site lists all of their active cases, with identifying details redacted. Anyone can join the Foundation and investigate cases, but there is a rigorous application procedure. I read through a handful of cases last night and was absolutely impressed with the originality and sheer unheimlich horror of it all. It's a bit like Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves and Tales From The Darkside had a baby and that baby grew up to create an amazing crowdsourced horror story wiki. My current favorites are: SCP-087: The descending staircase SCP-093: Behind the mirror SCP-439: Earwig Bone Hive and SCP-1733: DVR time-loop When you read these MAKE SURE YOU READ THE ADDITIONAL MATERIALS at the bottom of each case. It's often where the meat of the story hides. Though not always. If you are a fan of creepy, something-is-not-quite-right horror then I really cannot recommend this enough. Top Rated Pages - The SCP Foundation (Huge thanks to @KenLowery who pointed this out to me.)

May 09, 2012

On fanfiction, paracosms, and exercising your creative muscles

Short version: writing fanfic can make you a more creative person. Clive Thompson on the Importance of Fan Fiction | Underwire | Wired.com
Fan fiction has boomed in the past decade, as young people (and many adults) have swarmed online to share what-if tales set in their favorite movies, books, animation, and videogames. Hunger Games fanfic? 10,692 stories. Teen Titans? 26,594 stories. Shakespeare fan fiction? Oh, yes way: 1,747 stories. You could, as many do, cluck disapprovingly at this activity. Haven’t these folks got anything better to do with their time? To which I reply: No, they don’t. Because they’re creating paracosms — an activity that, research is showing, builds creative skills that pay off in real life. Paracosms are the fantasy worlds that many dreamy, imaginative kids like to invent when they’re young. Some of history’s most creative adults had engaged in “worldplay” as children. The Bront� siblings, in one famous example, concocted paracosms so elaborate that they documented them with meticulous maps, drawings, and hundreds of pages of encyclopedic writing. It now appears that, like the Bront�s, kids who engage in paracosmic play are more likely to be creative as adults. In 2002 researchers Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein conducted an elegant study. They polled recipients of MacArthur genius grants — which reward those who’ve been particularly creative in areas as diverse as law, chemistry, and architecture — to see if they’d created paracosms as children. Amazingly, the MacArthur fellows were twice as likely as “normal” nongeniuses to have done so. Some fields were particularly rife with worldplayers: Fully 46 percent of the recipients polled in the social sciences had created paracosms in their youth.