How to write a good comment piece

Image by Lloyd Arnold via Wikimedia Commons Before he was a big game hunter, before he was a deep-sea fisherman, Ernest Hemingway was a craftsman who would rise very early in the morning and write. His best stories are masterpieces of the modern era, and his prose style is one of the most influential of the 20th century. Hemingway never wrote a treatise on the art of writing fiction. He did, however, leave behind a great many passages in letters, articles and books with opinions and advice on writing.

How to write a good comment piece

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This is a little like expecting a bus driver to have an informed opinion on every other form of four-wheeled road-going transport. Meanwhile, the world in which I interpret a work of fiction has changed. And in the here and now, I find it really difficult to suspend my disbelief in the sorts of worlds other science fiction writers are depicting.

About a decade ago, M. Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unnecessary permission for acts of writing indeed, for acts of reading. Above all, worldbuilding is not technically necessary.

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It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there.

The implicit construction of an artificial but plausible world is what distinguishes a work of science fiction from any other form of literature. Note the emphasis on implicit, though. Worldbuilding is like underwear: Worldbuilding is the scaffolding that supports the costume to which our attention is directed.

Without worldbuilding, the galactic emperor has no underpants to wear with his new suit, and runs the risk of leaving skidmarks on his story.

how to write a good comment piece

Storytelling is about humanity and its endless introspective quest to understand its own existence and meaning. But humans are social animals. And technology and environment inextricably dictate large parts of that context.

We live with constant low-level anxiety and trauma induced by our current media climate, tracking bizarre manufactured crises that distract and dismay us and keep us constantly emotionally off-balance.

These things are the worms in the heart of the mainstream novel of the 21st century. Now for a personal perspective.

I have to apply conscious reasoning to put myself in a different head-space. I strongly suspect I have mild ASD. For me, world-building provides a set of behavioural constraints that make it easier to understand the character of my fictional protagonists.

For example, if writing a story: And this is why my characters constantly feel uneasy and defensive, dominated by a low-level sense of alienation and angst.

The purpose of world-building is to provide the social context within which our characters feel, think, and act. Simply put, plausible world-building in the twenty-first century is incredibly hard work. One synonym for "plausible" in this sense is "internally consistent".

how to write a good comment piece

A lot of authors seem to have responded to this by jetisoning consistency and abandoning any pretense at plausibility: To a generation raised on movie and TV special effects, plausible internal consistency is generally less of a priority than spectacle.

When George Lucas was choreographing the dogfights in "Star Wars", he took his visual references from film of first world war dogfights over the trenches in western Europe.

Trying to accurately depict an engagement between modern jet fighters, with missiles launched from beyond visual range and a knife-fight with guns takes place in a fraction of a second at a range of multiple kilometres, is cinematically futile: You can take that movie as a perfect example of the triumph of spectacle over plausibility at just about every level.

Take the asteroid field scene from The Empire Strikes Back: This is of course utterly useless to a storyteller who wants an exciting game of hide-and-seek: Unfortunately, we get this regurgitated in one goddamned space opera after another: Let me say it here: But the effects of internal inconsistency are insidious.

If you play fast and loose with distance and time scale factors, then you undermine travel times. If your travel times are rubberized, you implicitly kneecapped the economics of trade in your futurescape. And, thereby, their human, emotional relationships.Pay for essay writing online a fair price and choose an academic writer who will provide an original and complete well-researched college paper in return.

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As editor of the Jargon File and author of a few other well-known documents of similar nature, I often get email requests from enthusiastic network newbies asking (in effect) "how can I learn to be a wizardly hacker?". Back in I noticed that there didn't seem to be any other FAQs or web documents that addressed this vital question, so I started this one.

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