A Simple Way to Create Suspense - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing.
How do you create suspense? I’m asked that question often, and it seems that every writers’ symposium has a class with that title. It’s an important technical issue, and not just for so-called suspense novels. Every novel needs a narrative engine, a reason for people to keep reading to the end, whatever the subject, style, genre or approach. But it’s a bad question. Because “How do you create suspense?” So writers are taught to focus on ingredients and their combination. But it’s really much simpler than that. And the answer is: You make them wait four hours for dinner. As novelists, we should ask or imply a question at the beginning of the story, and then we should delay the answer. Brandon Schaefer Readers are human, and humans seem programmed to wait for answers to questions they witness being asked.
(You notice I haven’t told you what the invention was yet? So how did we respond? We knew most viewers would be intrigued. Pablo eCasso? In search of the first computer masterpiece - Nightly. For much of his adult life, painter and scholar Harold Cohen has been working in collaboration with a computer to make visual art.
Cohen has worked almost continuously on this creative artificial intelligence (AI) system since the 1970s, which he affectionately calls AARON. In essence, AARON is a piece of computer software that, when connected to a painting machine – a large-scale inkjet printer these days – can create artworks based on instructions given by Cohen. Over the years AARON’s artistic style has matured, much like that of a human artist. The earliest images were simple drawings “exploring the line” as a young child learning to draw might do. Gradually the images became more figurative, incorporating people, trees and complex shapes. The works are received and appreciated as fine art, and regularly exhibited at major galleries in the US and Europe. Cohen’s work has caused much philosophical debate about the possibility of computer creativity. Has it made us more creative? Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories and Good News vs. Bad News.
“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.”
This season has been ripe with Kurt Vonnegut releases, from the highly anticipated collection of his letters to his first and last works introduced by his daughter, shedding new light on the beloved author both as a complex character and a masterful storyteller. All the recent excitement reminded me of an old favorite, in which Vonnegut maps out the shapes of stories, with equal parts irreverence and perceptive insight, along the “G-I axis” of Good Fortune and Ill Fortune and the “B-E axis” of Beginning and Entropy. The below footage is an excerpt from a longer talk, the transcript of which was published in its entirety in Vonnegut’s almost-memoir A Man Without a Country (public library) under a section titled “Here is a lesson in creative writing,” featuring Vonnegut’s hand-drawn diagrams.
Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Humanity’s last invention and our uncertain future - Research - University of Cambridge - Nightly. In 1965, Irving John ‘Jack’ Good sat down and wrote a paper for New Scientist called Speculations concerning the first ultra-intelligent machine.
Good, a Cambridge-trained mathematician, Bletchley Park cryptographer, pioneering computer scientist and friend of Alan Turing, wrote that in the near future an ultra-intelligent machine would be built. This machine, he continued, would be the “last invention” that mankind will ever make, leading to an “intelligence explosion” - an exponential increase in self-generating machine intelligence. For Good, who went on to advise Stanley Kubrick on 2001: a Space Odyssey, the “survival of man” depended on the construction of this ultra-intelligent machine. Fast forward almost 50 years and the world looks very different. “Nature didn’t anticipate us, and we in our turn shouldn’t take AGI for granted.
“He (Tallinn) said that in his pessimistic moments he felt he was more likely to die from an AI accident than from cancer or heart disease. Electronic Music Interfaces - Nightly. © Portions copyright March 1998 by Joseph A.
Paradiso Electronic Music Interfaces Joseph Paradiso MIT Media Laboratory20 Ames St. E15-325Cambridge MA 02139USA 1) Introduction The desire for musical expression runs deeply across human cultures; although styles vary considerably, music is often thought of as a universal language. Electronic music, in contrast, has no such legacy. Throughout most of the history of electronic music, the interaction end of instrument design could be classed loosely as a branch of ergonomics. Interposing a computer in the loop between physical action and musical response allows essentially any imaginable sonic response to a given set of actions; this is termed "mapping". 2) Reign of the Keyboard With the notable exception of the Theremin, to be discussed below, all early electronic musical instruments were primarily controlled by a keyboard, frequently the standard 12-tone (chromatic) layout we know from the acoustic piano. 3) Percussion Interfaces.
American Innovations in Electronic Musical Instruments - Nightly. The desire for musical expression runs deeply across human culture; although specific styles can vary, music is generally considered a universal language.
It is tempting to surmise that one of the earliest applications of human toolmaking, after hunting, shelter, defense, and general survival, was probably to create expressive sound, developing into what we know and love as music. As toolmaking evolved into technology over the last centuries, inventors and musicians have been driven to apply new concepts and ideas into improving musical instruments or creating entirely new means of controlling and generating musical sounds. The classic acoustic instruments, such as the strings, horns, woodwinds, and percussion of the modern orchestra and others of the non-western world have been with us for centuries, thus have settled into what many think of being a near-optimal design, only slowly yielding to gradual change and improvements. Electronic music, in contrast, has no such legacy. How To Approach A Poem - Nightly.
Here, The Muse Of Literature offers a method, a practical example, and a few suggestions for how to get the most from reading or hearing a poem.
About this feature The aim of this feature is to provide a few pointers to people who want to better understand and experience a poem when they approach it. Poetic analysis Why bother to analyze poetry? The Muse Of Literature offers a few suggestions on how to get the most from reading or hearing a poem. A poem of substance is an expression of art. The checklist and procedure—how they work The Muse's way of approaching poems consists of two parts: 1) a checklist, and 2) a procedure for reading a poem with the aid of the checklist.
Checklist See The Muse's checklist, below on this page. All sonnets must have 14 lines and each line must be written in iambic pentameter. To approach a poem in the manner The Muse suggests, it's not necessary to be able to give a name to its every aspect, although naming a poem's aspects helps. The Muse's procedure. The Long, Weird History of Photo Manipulation. While "to Photoshop" is now synonymous with altering a photograph with intent to deceive, this not only pre-dates our digital era but can be traced back to the early years of photography itself.
Having a product become closely associated with dubious practices might be seen as a negative thing but Adobe would seem to have adopted Mae West's famous adage, who once said: "Honey, there ain't no such thing as bad publicity. " At least, that's one interpretation of its sponsoring role in a current exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Running until January 27, 2013, Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop covers a lot of ground, both historically and in terms of content, with photos arranged in such categories as Politics and Persuasion, and, somewhat self-servingly, Photoshop. Here we're told that, "In 1990 Adobe Systems released Photoshop 1.0. The Sleepwalker George Platt Lynes (American, East Orange, New Jersey 1907–1955 New York City) Date: 1935. Fanfare for the Comma Man - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing. Is it safe to talk about punctuation again?
Eight years ago, Lynne Truss’s best-selling “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” took, in the words of her subtitle, a “Zero Tolerance Approach” to the subject. Although Truss’s focus on errors drew the ire, if not the fire, of grammarians, linguists and other “descriptivists,” her book was, for the most part, harmless and legitimate. Still, it overlooked a lot. Maybe more than any other element of writing, punctuation combines rules with issues of sound, preference and personal style. The two big players in the field are the period and the comma. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” By about a century later, comma rules had been codified such that both commas in the sentence (after “acknowledged” and “fortune”) would be dispensed with.
There are three commas. Peter Arkle So, students will write sentences like this. The Sentence as a Miniature Narrative - NYTimes.com - Nightly. A Picture of Language - NYTimes.com - Nightly. What Can We Learn From Diagramming Sentences? - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing.
Diagramming sentences: what, after all, is it good for? Well, for one thing, it’s obvious that it’s good for stirring up controversy. The more than 300 comments (and close to 100 personal e-mails) in response to my last post, “A Picture of Language,” ran the glorious gamut from “love it/taught me to write/thank you, Mrs. Wengler!” To “ridiculous waste of time/confusing/who needs it?” But questions remain. I would answer: It teaches us a lot. Diagramming is basically a puzzle, and — as we all know in this age of Alzheimer’s awareness — puzzles keep our brains working. The spectator of whom they would thus well have been worthy might have read meanings of his own into the intensity of their communion — or indeed, even without meanings, have found his account, aesthetically, in some gratified play of our modern sense of type, so scantly to be distinguished from our modern sense of beauty.
Here is where I laid the book. Using Words Not Found in the Dictionary - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing.
There are lots of ways that writers use dictionaries, from the expected (checking spelling) to the unconventional (bibliomancy) to the ill advised (starting an article with some variation of the hackneyed “As my trusty desk dictionary tells me, term X is defined as …”). But perhaps the primary use of dictionaries by writers is as a malapropism preventer, in order to avoid what should be called the “Princess Bride” problem: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Traditional print and online dictionaries do very well at all these tasks, as long as the word being checked is actually included. Despite the best efforts of lexicographers, this is not always the case. One thing that shouldn’t stop you from using an undictionaried word: worrying about whether it’s “real” or (as Wordnik users like to say) “madeupical.” Jennifer Heuer Erin McKean is the founder of wordnik.com. Talking With Your Fingers - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing.
The latest word on the street about English in America – always bad, it seems – is that the shaggy construction of texting and e-mail spells the death of formal writing. Yet the truth about English in America – always sunnier, in fact – is that the looseness and creativity of these new ways of writing are a sign of a new sophistication in our society. This becomes clear when we understand that in the proper sense, e-mail and texting are not writing at all. Historical perspective is useful. Writing was only invented roughly 5,500 years ago with the emergence of cuneiform picture writing in Mesopotamia, what is now Iraq and parts of Iran, Syria and Turkey, whereas humanity arose a good 200,000 years ago, with language probably tracing back at least 50,000 years and most likely much further.
Thus spoken language is fundamental, while written language is an artifice. Leah Horowitz. The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing. This is the fourth in a series of writing lessons by the author, starting with the basics and leading to more advanced techniques. The word passive gets a bad rap. We throw it around to vent about friends who can’t stand up for themselves, and we combine it with aggressive to describe those who express anger indirectly rather than just blurting it out. When it comes to writing, many of us are haunted by this word.
Maybe a high school teacher forbade “passive constructions.” There is certainly some merit to this rule of thumb; some of the worst writing around suffers from inert verbs and the unintended use of the passive voice. But first, what, exactly, is it? Most (though not all) verbs have a property known as “voice,” which can be either active or passive. Joe Mortis In a classic English sentence in the active voice, the subject starts the show, followed by a dynamic verb. Such constructions are all too common in academic writing. Turning a Phrase - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing. This is the fifth in a series of writing lessons by the author, starting with the basics and leading to more advanced techniques. Writers dream of sentences that sail through the waters of thought. We try to control their shape and size, and we struggle to let them glide, rather than thrash at sea.
As I suggested in an earlier post, I think of the subject of a sentence, crafted mainly from nouns, as the hull of a boat. And I think of the predicate, whose key component is a verb, as the sail or motor, the part that makes the boat move. Taking the analogy a little further, what should we make of the various things attached to the hull, mast or motor? What is a phrase? I’ve already touched on adjectives and adverbs, so let’s focus on the phrase, a group of two or more words that form a kernel of meaning.
First, let’s get a handle on some of the different types of phrases. T. “For a long time, I went to bed early.” Grammar: A Matter of Fashion - NYTimes.com - Nightly. Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing. “Much was said, and much was ate, and all went well.” Clearly this sentence was written by a fourth grader – or at best someone not ushered into acquaintance with “proper” grammar. Like, say, Jane Austen? That’s straight out of her novel “Mansfield Park.” Linguists insist that it’s wrong to designate any kind of English “proper” because language always changes and always has.
Fair enough – but there’s a middle ground. Those who ignore rules of fashion exercise little influence in society, whether we like it or not. We are taught that a proper language makes perfect logical sense, and that allowing changes willy-nilly threatens chaos. Not to the Stone Age: just to the 19th century, to the characters in, say, Edith Wharton’s novels. Sabine Dowek To say the house is being built felt slangy and newfangled to many. So, hemlines went up, while Lobster Newburg, chintz and sarsaparilla fell out of fashion. Today, we have our own fads. DRAFT - Opinionator - NYTimes.com - Nightly.
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