makoyi: (Default)
Title: Not using filter words in a first person point of view
Author: [ profile] the-writers-society-deactivated
Genre: nonfiction, resources for writers

Author's Summary:

Hello! Would you mind doing an example of not using filter words in a first person point of view? While I know that you can just switch out the pronouns for I/me/my, I just want to see it in action and when you should (and shouldn't) use the filter words. Thank you!

the-writers-society-deactivated: Hi there! I would love to! I think I’ll start out with an example with filter words and then cut out the filter words to show you the difference.
For those of you who haven’t seen my post on Filter Words.

Fantastic writing advice if you're struggling to make your first person pov stories seem less passive or reactive!

Not using filter words in a first person point of view (on tumblr)
makoyi: (Default)
Someone on the Nanowrimo forums mentioned WikidPad a few months back and I have now tried it out and decided it's awesome.  WikiPad is a program for taking notes, organizing and cross-linking between them in a file tree format.  It saves all your information on a single database file on your harddrive.  Unlike a lot of other free wiki software, WikidPad stays on your computer and doesn't connect to the internet at all.  This lets you keep control over your data and allows you to work on it anywhere, regardless of connectivity - that's a big plus from my point of view.  It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, is 100% free and its open source!  WikidPad is great for writers who do a lot of world-building but it would also be great for students taking notes, genealogists organizing their research, and all sorts of other applications.  Another Pro- it autosaves frequently.  1 important con - 1 file means it only takes one bad error to destroy the whole file tree so be sure to manually back up your file periodically.
makoyi: (Default)
I don't know if any of you are teachers or professors or otherwise forced to write exams regularly for your work but if so, this post might be helpful to you.  I've been wanting to learn to write LyX layout files for awhile now and my previous experience learning CSS and LaTeX suggests that jumping in with a practical problem to solve is the way I learn coding best so I've spent the last few days writing up a .layout file to make exam class work in LyX (software that's sort of halfway between a word processor and a LaTeX processor).  LyX's automatic numbering and formatting makes writing exams quick to do and it's handling of equations, linguistic symbols, and tables/graphs/figures is great since the program is based on LaTeX.  You can find the contents of that layout file: here.  Be sure to read the class documentation for all the options the class offers for headers, footers, printing answer keys and points tables, etc.
makoyi: (Default)
I was browsing the Nanowrimo forums today, something I usually do daily so it's not that surprising.  There are some subjects I'm always on the lookout for in the Reference Desk because they're things I know a lot about and like to help writers understand.  I thought I'd post a list here of things people (not just writers) might want more info about that I would be happy to help with.  These are things that I know about through personal experience, academic study, or deep personal interest.  Ask anything on the subjects that you like - if I don't know the answer, I won't BS it, I'll just tell you I don't know and maybe suggest other places to ask or search if I can.  I know my profile page has tags for some of the things I'm interested in but these are the ones I know the most about.
  • Anthropology - both social and cultural (though personally, I'm on the social side), especially theory and cross-cultural comparison, also including some ethnographic methods.  You can definitely ask me about anything anthropological or cultural but my main research interests/passions are (in no particular order) history and heritage, anthropology of gender, storytelling and oral tradition, construction of authority and authenticity, power/knowledge and discourse, identity as process and performance, and perspectivism.
  • American vs. British life - especially East Coast USA and Scotland, also specifics of Washington, DC or Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Sensory Processing Disorder - especially Auditory
  • "Selective" Mutism (I really hate that name)
  • genealogy research
  • dogs - general info, breeds, basic and intermediate training, working in kennels, etc
  • music performance - particularly bassoon and practical musicianship (the part of musical theory that goes into playing rather than into composing), also musical instrument repair and working in a repair shop
  • quilting and sewing - I've been doing it for practically my whole life so ask away.  I make quilts, clothing, accessories, and costumes, I draft patterns, I make alterations, I'm quite good with fashion history too... really, you can ask just about anything :)
  • research (academic, secondary/library) and writing literature reviews - check out my research series first since your questions might be answered there already
  • working in a library (I've also worked in a museum, but there's more variance in that based on the type of collection, specific job, and size of museum so I may be less helpful with that depending on what you want to know)
You can also ask about any of the tags from my profile - I'm better in some areas than others since some of those interests are newer and some I've had a long time to learn about. 

Also, if you're an English Language Learner and are looking for a beta who can explain the rules behind any changes I may be willing to beta at least a chapter or two, more if I like the story, so long as real life isn't too crazy for me at the moment.  Please include basic information about your story as well as a summary of the work so I can decide if I'm interested - there are some things I just don't want to read.
makoyi: (Default)
Google Scholar is a search that gives only results you can use in scholarly papers such as books and journal articles.  It's a great way to find references for school papers or to get background research for fiction writing.  Use the resources you find to figure out new keywords and make sure to check the reference lists of the relevant works to find more works. is a way to search a ton of different school, university, public, and government libraries at the same time.  If you're trying to find an uncommon book that your school library doesn't have, search for it here and see if any libraries near you have it.  You may be able to arrange to borrow it through an interlibrary loan through your library or you might be able to talk to someone at the other library about getting copies of relevant pages or getting a guest pass to visit the library to read it and takes notes.

Annual Reviews Journals (by subject) - these journals available in a wide range of subjects have literature review articles on particular topics.  Find those closest to the topic of your paper and get a quick overview of all sorts of recent scholarly work related to it as well as an idea of how contemporary scholars interpret, think about, and frame the subject, plus a long list of other resources you can use in your own research.

Don't forget, if its for a school paper, check the assigned reading materials and their reference lists (more useful for reading lists than textbooks usually).  You can also visit your professors during their office hours - they won't do the work of compiling a resource list for you, but if you have done a lot of work already, they may be able to point you in new directions, play devil's advocate and/or pose thinking questions for you, or suggest a couple of resources that may balance out your existing references.

makoyi: (Default)
Have you ever been writing along in your story and suddenly realized you need to know more about something slightly shady in order to describe it? Maybe you're writing about a character attempting suicide.  Maybe they're about to commit a crime.  Maybe they're gay or transgender.  Did you have to stop and think if you really wanted to research that, just in case someone else found out and made assumptions about your reasons for researching that particular topic?  Maybe you share a computer with family and perhaps you don't want your granny to know you write explicit gay slash fiction.  Maybe you're using a college internet connection at one of those colleges that expels LGBTs or maybe your college has monitoring software in place to alert someone to students looking up information about violent crimes or suicide methods.  Well, if you have had these worries (or if you do now), this might be the tool for you.

Tor Browser is a really nice 100% free browser for doing research anonymously. Anytime you have a question you need an answer to that you worry might give your network admins the wrong idea or even put you on a watchlist somewhere, you can use the Tor Browser to search and read about it without anyone being able to connect your IP address or your Internet account to your search terms or viewing history.

Another thing that Tor is really fantastic for is finding quick answers to daily life type questions for contemporary characters that live in a different country than you do.  You just force a particular country for an exit node by opening the torrc file (in the Data>Tor folder) in a text editor and type ExitNodes {} at the end then type the two letter country code for your character's country between the curly brackets.  Save and exit, then open Tor again.  Now google will think that's your country and give you results tailored to it. That's helpful if, say, you want to know where the French might shop for bed linens or what OTC pain reliever a German character would reach for. It would take more time and some creative keywords to find an answer like that on a regular browser.

You can read more about the Tor Project and their browser at The Tor Project's website.

To get started:
1) Go here to get the browser package. Be sure to download the proper one for your operating system (Windows, Mac, or Linux).
2) Extract the file by double clicking the downloaded file.
3) Open the folder created by extracting and double click on the "Start Tor Browser" file (the one with the little onion icon).
4) Wait. It's a little slow to start up. After about a minute, it should connect and open the browser for you automatically.
5) Success! Configure the browser as you like it or just browse straight to your search engine and do your research without fear.

There is no installation because this browser is designed to be portable. This means all the files the browser needs to run are located in the unzipped folder. You can place the folder on your desktop for easy access or keep it on a USB drive so you can take it with you to a workstation at your school or library. You can also "pin" the exe file (the one with the little onion icon) to your Quick Launch or Start Menu in Windows or put a link to it on your desktop in Linux.

There are a few things to be aware of when using Tor Browser and the Tor network.
1) Don't log in with usernames and passwords to non-encrypted sites. That means don't input passwords to sites that have http instead of https in the URL [That includes this one!]. That said, you can run the Tor Browser at the same time, on the same computer as any of the other major web browsers (provided your computer can handle that workload) so you could be logged in on your regular browser while doing research on the Tor Browser.

2) Don't log in to Google and then make your searches because Google will connect your login with your search queries just like with any other browser and that would defeat the purpose of using this browser to research anonymously.

3) Google doesn't always work – you can end up in a Captcha loop because is doesn't believe you're not a bot. If that happens, just switch to another search engine for a while – Yahoo, Bing, Ixquick, etc. After awhile, you'll end up with a different connection, one that's not so busy, and you'll be able to use Google again if you prefer.

makoyi: (Default)
With Nanowrimo coming to a close soon, I'd like to point out a great program I use for turning a novel into a beautiful pdf. 

LyX is a free-to-download, multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) typesetting word processing program.  I love, love, love it for novel writing for a few reasons:

The Pros:
1. It typesets gorgeous pdf files.  This is because its a word-processor built over a LaTeX base - but don't worry, you don't actually have to know LaTeX language to get results - you can use the basic code at the end of this post.  Though if you do want to, you can customize it in millions of ways to get beautiful output (there's tons of guides on LaTeX online so just google what you want to do and you can probably find out how in the first few search hits).
2. It has a convenient outline feature so I can always see which chapters are finished and which scenes still need written and can navigate to them with a single click.
3. It saves your cursor position when you close the file and takes you right back to the same place when you next open it up!  This sounds minor but when you've got 100k+ words plus extra chapter outlines, it saves time and if you've loaded the program to try and pin down a sudden spark of inspiration, those are a valuable few seconds you don't have to spend  scrolling to the part you're working on atm.
4. It doesn't lag on autosave, even for very, very large files.  If you've ever worked on a 25+ chapter story in Word, Open Office, or LibreOffice, you may have noticed that it autosaves without warning and if you're not watching the screen, you may be halfway along the next line while it's still hanging to save your work and it may or may not catch up and add what you've typed in that time when it finishes.  LyX doesn't have that problem, thank goodness.
5. You can easily insert your cover as the first page of the pdf.  Just save the cover as a pdf page using a program like GIMP and then with the cursor at the top of your document, go to the Insert menu, select File, then External Material.  In the pulldown menu under Template, select PDF Pages, then click the Browse button and navigate to your cover pdf.  Lastly, click the LaTeX and LyX Options tab and then uncheck the box next to Show In LyX.  Click OK and it's done.  (The process for inserting illustrations is very similar - put your cursor where you want the illustration and use Insert > Graphics).

The Cons:
1. You need diskspace for the install.  You need not only LyX but a LaTeX install as well (there's a Windows installer bundle with both parts, just look for the one that says it includes MikTek).  Compared to Microsoft's Office Suite or a full Photoshop install, it's not outrageously huge, but it's no lightweight like Abiword so just something to be aware of.
2. There's a bit of a learning curve.  It will take some time to get used to the quirks of LyX - probably figure that it will take about as much time to learn to do the basics on LyX as it did for you to learn to be a Moderate-to-Advanced Microsoft Word user.  It's taken me about 9 months to get up to speed with LyX to the point that I can customize a lot of the pure LaTeX stuff with a little help from the internet.  Personally, I think the results are worth it, but YMMV.
3. LaTeX, which LyX is built on, is designed to tell you in programmer-speak what went wrong when it fails to compile a document (into a PDF or an RTF, usually) so you will probably get a scary error message at least a couple of times.  In LyX, this pretty much always refers to something in a red L-box or in the preamble (because that's the only custom coding there is to screw up).  Fiddle with whatever you've changed since compiling worked correctly and by process of elimination, you should be able to get it working again.
4. Copy-pasting from LyX into Word or into Rich Text fic submission can cause weird formatting.  If you're writing for those media rather than PDF, don't use the red L-Boxes and don't customize in the preamble.  Just use Memoir class as is, then export to RTF which will open in Word.

Overall, I think the Pros outweigh the Cons.  If you agree, give it a try.  Here's a guide to get your started:

Step-by-step to noveling in LyX (behind this cut)... )


makoyi: (Default)