How writers can improve their novels by self-checking the ‘density of significance’

February 17th, 2012 by Zirk van den Berg § 0 comments § permalink

Writers, especially those early in their writing career, can improve their books with a straightforward self-check. The best books tend to have a high density of significance. By this rather fancy sounding term I mean the numerical ratio of sentences to significant realisations. Let me explain.

On the least dense end of the scale you might find » Read the rest of this entry «

Content Strategy: Master or Meta?

February 16th, 2012 by Anna von Veh § 0 comments § permalink

I was musing again about Content Strategy and it occurred to me that there are two ways of looking at it.

There is what I would call the ‘Master’ view: the all-seeing eye that knows everything, plans everything and creates clear structures to realise a certain vision. This is most appropriate to the ‘Enterprise’ model, particularly for industries where compliance is incredibly important or for highly structured modular content.

The other is the ‘Darwinian’ view: life develops largely through chance, circumstance, and constraints, making use of minute building blocks (DNA) to combine and create new life forms in endless and unforeseeable combinations. And, likewise, the binary nature of digital (so simple that it’s either on or it’s off) makes content uncontainable, unconstrainable and endlessly combinable. This paradox is both a threat and an opportunity.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Meet Laura Bontrager – a new romance author

February 11th, 2012 by Anna von Veh § 10 comments § permalink

We asked Laura Bontrager (@lily_bart), author of the forthcoming novel, Fences, to tell us about herself. (To find out how we discovered Laura, read Writing undercover on the web.)

What’s your story?

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, but my parents are from Ohio and California. They never expected to stay in Memphis when they came, and they spent a lot of time keeping me and my brother away from the Southern accent. So I’ve grown up with an interesting mixture of Southern, Californian, and Northern heritage.

Laura Bontrager

I graduated with a degree in English, and then worked as a behavioural aide for a boy with autism, and my poetry was published in various magazines and journals. Currently, I work in the library of a boys’ private school in Memphis. And I write.

When did you start writing and why?

I started telling stories first with my Barbie dolls as I created scene after scene of soap-opera-worthy tragedy. And then I wrote down stories because I wanted to illustrate them, not because I particularly loved the words. I felt I could show the pictures in my head better by creating pictures (but I turned out to be only a mediocre artist). Then I really got down to writing somewhere around 12 years old; the stories needed out. It was Holocaust survival tales (I was fascinated with WW2), and ‘magical realism’ (wizards and secret quests). And then those morphed into what is now called fan fiction. I wanted my favorite characters in my favorite TV shows to get together, to realize their love for each other, or to face certain doom and triumph. I rewrote episodes or I gave the characters backstories. I still didn’t think of it as writing though. » Read the rest of this entry «

Contented

February 6th, 2012 by Anna von Veh § 4 comments § permalink

The other day, Ingrid Goldstein and I were discussing content strategy and publishing (in preparation for a workshop we will be giving at the Publishers’ Forum in Berlin in April.) We got to talking about the often slow rate of adoption of content management when compared with other document-heavy industries.

One of the reasons may be that much of the current language of content management uses the language of logic, with little attention to the lyrical or personal. The reason for this may be that most companies using CMSs up until now have been businesses outside the creative field. Within these contexts, the purely rational language of content management may be valid.

Publishing companies, however, are different. » Read the rest of this entry «

Writing undercover on the web

February 3rd, 2012 by Anna von Veh § 21 comments § permalink

Confession: I’m a serious fan of the TV show, Castle,  which stars the ‘Geek God’, the witty Nathan Fillion, and the beautiful, and enviably multilingual, Stana Katic. What does this have to do with publishing, you may ask. Well, a lot it turns out.

I tweet about Castle under a ‘Castley’ pseudonym, and fangirl with the best of them (many of them teenagers, but also a fair smattering of English majors, doctors, teachers, film/media types, and of course, Firefly fans). What became increasingly interesting to me as I watched the show and followed fans on Twitter was the way the show crossed the usual boundaries of fandoms, media types and genres. I was particularly fascinated with how a show about a crime writer seemed to be encouraging young people to read long-form narrative that they might not have read otherwise, if they read books at all.

» Read the rest of this entry «

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