Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Extra: Saving Money Printing

My children always entered elementary grades, science fairs, and each year I was impressed by some of the entries. I also gagged upon seeing “The Volcano” repeats. I have to say, our children's entries were different and interesting. Mom has a Ph.D., RN and dad has a BS in Natural Science among others.

Our oldest son has a real thirst for knowledge and love for science. One year he did a library research project to prove the existence of dragons. Pretty convincing. One of the judges said that was not a science project. She hid in a corner after mom and dad educated her about scientific investigations. The next year he did a project to correlate the temperature of ocean water with salinity. The judge chastised him for presenting a project his parents did for him and picked a volcano as best project. She's lucky to have continued teaching. A professor at the Scripp's Research Institute at Torey Pines, CA. asked to see the paper and pointed out some errors, but was overall impressed by what an eleven-year-old would try.

This year, our daughter's second-grade son did his first project, comparing the electrical voltage output of a lemon and orange with practical applications.

I ramble about this because our family is not out there alone. Fourteen-year-old Suvir Mirchandani who attends a Pittsburgh-area middle school embarked on a 6th grade science fair project to help his school district save money. What he ended up doing was showing how the US Government could save up to $400,000,000 a year.

Suvir's project focused on printing. As he showed, a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce. An equivalent amount of HP printer ink costs $75. By focusing on type faces and the amount of ink each letter requires to print, he determined that by using Garamond type face his school (and the US Goverment) could reduce ink consumption by 24%. Considering how much Uncle pumps out, that translate into a significant savings.

What does that mean to writers? First of all, Garamond is an excepted font to use when submitting manuscripts and that could save $$ printing them out. For publishers, that is also a significant savings per book. However, do not expect to see that translate into increased royalty payments when you have your manuscript published unless you use this information when dealing with the printer.

You can read Suvir's study and report on CNN News:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Point of View


Everyone has a point of view.

 The first draft may be trash, but it's better than nothing.

My talented writer-artist niece tossed this onto Facebook recently: “Got some more writing in. Big change from 3rd person . . . to 1st person POV!”

One of the most critical decisions a writer makes BEFORE putting words to manuscript is choosing the POV (Point of View.) How so?

The POV is the method used by the writer which allows the audience to listen in and watch as the plot unfolds. That could be one of three types:

    1) First-person (I, we)
    2) Second-person (you, your)
    3) Third-Person (he, she, it, they)

Which view the writer uses determines what the audience can or can not see, where they can travel within the story, and which minds can or can not be entered. Of all the players discussed in earlier eFiles, this is the first one selected for the story and determines how the story will be written. Let's look at each.


Writing in the first-person means the narrator is also a player within the story whether that be the protagonist or some other player who takes actions, makes judgements, and expresses opinions. Typically, the audience only sees things through this set of “eyes” and can not become privy to the thoughts, feelings, or perceptions of other players. Within this construct, the narrator gives or withholds information based on a biased slant.

Some examples are:
1. The narrator as protagonist. (Gulliver in Gulliver's Travels.)
2. Another player privy to the thoughts and actions of the protagonist. (Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Homes series or Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby.)
3. The narrator reports the narratives provided by others (Mr. Lockwood in Wuthering Heights.)
4. The 1st person omniscient narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other players. This is Rare. (The Book Thief. Here the narrator is Death. In The Lovely Bones, the narrator is a murdered girl making post-mortem descriptions.)

This is a rarely used POV. Here the narrator refers to the reader as "you", therefore making the audience feel as if he or she is an actor within the story by making emotional comparisons between the thoughts, actions, and feelings of "you" versus "I". An example of this is Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney who creates an intense sense of intimacy between the narrator and the reader to feel a part of the plot.

This POV is the most commonly used literary mode providing the greatest flexibility by using an omniscient entity who tells the story, but is not a player within the story. As if a god, they can go anywhere, any time, hear all, and see all.

This method switches the point of view between players. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and Rick Riordan's The Heros of Olympus series do this.

In my story under construct, A Pirate's Legacy: Return of the Brethren, Third Person is used enabling the audience privy to the thoughts and actions of a number of other players depending on the action and location. While the story is linear, it jumps between what the protagonists (yes, there are two, father and son) are doing, and what other players are doing at other locations in support of the impending conclusion. The reader sees what is happening on the home front and the threat to the protagonists while away on the quest, events that have happened, what things are happening to each protagonist because they are not always together, and then how they deal with events upon returning home.

With this understanding it is possible to see how the choice of POV drastically effects the way the writer develops the story. The next choice to make is what “voice” to use and “time.” That's something for later.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Restriction of Creativity

I offer this tidbit to demonstrate how individuals adhering to a strict line of thinking would restrict creativity and stagnate a diverse and fluid language such as English. At the opposite end is every writers' hero, William Shakesphere. Yes, olde, "Yikes, Yorik, ye lost your head," Shakespeare. 

Sir William (if he hasn't been knighted, he should, and a serious oversight of the realm) is reputed to have been familiar with seven foreign languages, often quoting them directly in his plays. At over twenty-four thousands words, his vocabulary was the largest of any writer. 

And then, there is a long list of phrases which he introduced for the first time that are still in common usage today.

[For more words that Shakespeare coined see the Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by Dr. Ernest Klein (1966) or Shakespeare-lexicon: A Complete Dictionary of All the English Words, Phrases and Constructions in the Works of the Poet by Alexander Schmidt (1902). For words Shakespeare used only once, please see The Once Used Words in Shakespeare by James Davie Butler (1886).
See: Mabillard, Amanda. Words Shakespeare Invented. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000.]

So, where would creativity go if restricted to arcane adherence to "rules"? 

Hark! What light breaks yonder window? It is the south and Juliet swinging her lantern, one if by land and two if daddy's home.

Okay, fracturing rules does not always work, but how do we know unless its kinda hung out like a close line of dirty drapers. It might smell like a rose by another name . . . And then, maybe not.