Introducing the EditMinion

I had some important and pressing things to do recently so naturally I had to find something to work on while I was procrastinating. I decided to tackle the editing process.

I created a new tool called EditMinion.com.

EditMinion helps you refine your writing by searching your text for some common grammatical, spelling and diction mistakes that spellcheck won’t catch. It looks for adverbs, bad dialogue attribution, commonly misspelled words and ending a sentence with a preposition. It will also count how many times a given type of mistake is found.

It’s obviously no replacement for a human copy-editor but it will give you an idea of what areas you might need to focus on revising in your writing. If there are features you’d like to see implemented, please feel free to comment below.

WriteorDie.com!

Every year it seems I get a better web address. From the ridiculously cumbersome “http://lab.drwicked.com/writeordie.html” (what was I thinking !?) to the somewhat better writeordie.drwicked.com. At one point last year I even tried to get an Irish domain name so I could have WriteorD.ie, which would have been really confusing to explain to people.

But now, it’s as if I’ve come home, thanks to a gentleman named Brett.

Welcome to WriteorDie.com

The site is essentially the same but the address has changed, now that it’s easier to say, please tell your friends :) You may notice over on the right-hand navbar that there’s a new button. That’s part of my deal with Brett. He operates a CafePress store which just so happens to sell merchandise with “Write or Die” on it.

Just so we’re clear, the store is separate from the site and Brett is fully responsible for the store but I endorse what he’s doing.

So use the energy that you’re saving by not typing “.drwicked” and buy some gear. Thank you as always for coming to the site and let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see in this space.

There might be a few niggles to iron out as with any domain change, please let me know immediately: leave a comment below, get me on Twitter @drwicked or email doctorwicked@gmail.com

Scrabble: Quidditch Edition

As of late I’ve been getting back into Scrabble via Words with Friends on the iPhone. It’s the perfect implementation of the game for the platform so try it if you haven’t. It got me to thinking that there ought to be a variation on the traditional Scrabble rules. I present:

Scrabble: Quidditch Edition

The trouble with being megagaltastic and playing Scrabble is that the game is not designed to reward players for playing truly awesome words. This, I feel, is a shortcoming. On the opposite end of this proposed union is Quidditch, the wizarding game (I need not say) from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. One element of this game is a device called The Golden Snitch, which, if caught, ends the Quidditch game and awards 150 points to the team who capture it. I will not be drawn into how silly this is, I intend only to use it for my own devious linguaphilic purposes.

Perhaps you see where I’m going. I propose that the players agree before the start of the game on a set of “Snitch Words” which, when played, earn quadruple points.

Supplementary Rules:

  • Quadruple Word Score cannot be combined with double or triple word score spaces but may be combined with double or triple letter spaces.
  • Snitch words must be at least 5 letters long.
  • Shorter words can be agreed upon but should only get a triple word score as they are easier to play.
  • Snitch words cannot be changed or added to after the start of the game.
  • A given snitch word can only be used once per game.
  • Adding a suffix to an already played snitch word does not grant any score modifiers, after it is played it is treated as a normal word.

Snitch Word sets.
Non-dictionary snitch words should generally come from a shared knowledge base, having nerdy friends is great for this. Plumb the works of H.P. Lovecraft for some fantastic arcane vocabulary. To make it challenging and fun, snitch words should be words that would otherwise be disqualified from play in a typical Scrabble game. Proper names, fictional words, etc.

For instance, you might decide to use the nonsense words from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll as your snitch words.
brillig, slithy, mimsy, frumious, whiffling, tulgey, borogoves, outgrabe, vorpal, galumph

Ten words is a good start, you may even wish to keep a running list of words that you use each time you play. This could work for speed Scrabble (a.k.a. Scrabble Apple, Bananagrams, etc) as well. Sadly, it is not possible in digital versions of the game, including my personal favorite, Words with Friends. It would be nice in such games if players could agree to add custom words to the dictionary at the very least, but this will not likely happen.

I welcome comments with your ideas for additional rules, snitch word sets, or strategies.

Procrastination as an Extreme Sport

Much ink has been spilled in regards to procrastination: how to avoid it, how horrible and detrimental it is, people speak of it as a fierce affliction. Few people, if pressed, could give a rational explanation for their own procrastination. I have found one for myself and if you’d like to pilfer it for your own self-justification, you hereby have my permission.

Procrastination is my extreme sport.

Professor Wikipedia says…
An extreme sport is a popular term for certain activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger.

Writing has few inherent dangers, apart from the twin specters of carpal tunnel and the paper cut. Both Goethe and Nietzsche say that we should live dangerously so, if our chosen avocation is found to be lacking in danger we find that our interest flags and we may be left unfulfilled.

One way of judging an experience is how well it converts to a story after the fact. It’s hard to make an exciting story out of getting your work done on time; the bomb squad guy has a much better story to tell at the end of the day than the office worker, even if it’s been the most productive day of the office worker’s life. The danger makes the difference. This brings us back to the topic…

I procrastinate to feel alive.

By this definition, procrastination is not just putting off work until a later time, but the act of starting work on a project at the latest possible time. When you do this, you are living on the edge of your abilities, your focus is much keener than it would be if you had the warm, soft cushion of time between you and the cold, hard deadline.

This is why NaNoWriMo works. If you had 30 days to write 5,000 words, when do you think you would start? Knowing myself, my answer is 5PM on November 30th. It’s 50,000 words because 1,667 words a day is putting you on the highwire, over lions, flaming, zombie lions.

This is the philosophy of Write or Die. The most common criticism I hear is that “I don’t respond well to punishment” or “I don’t want anything to take my words away” or “I don’t need more stress”. News flash, if you’re good at getting things done on time, Write or Die is probably not your best bet. The goal is not to hit you with a stick or steal your words, but to instill in you a sense of danger so that, in the act of creation, you can feel alive.

So my advice for you today is to know where your capabilities end and spend as much time there as possible. Find yourself a deadline and make friends with it. Don’t beat yourself up for putting things off, but revel in the adrenaline of starting something as late as you can and finishing it just in the nick of time.

Google Scribe as Muse


As you may have surmised, I’m a big fan of devices that improve your creative process by strategically short-circuiting detrimental bits of your mind, in that spirit, I submit a challenge:

Use Google Scribe to write a story

Google Scribe is a tool that harnesses the power of Google’s autocomplete technology to guess either the next word you’re going to type or the rest of the word you’re currently typing. Some of it’s suggestions are complete bunk. I will type the next sentence using only what Scribe suggests. “There are no comments for this question was copied to your clipboard and paste it into your website.” Kindof like a VCR instruction manual. But the upside of this approach, potentially, is that if you simply can’t find the next word, Google will suggest what you should type.

Another unanticipated side effect is that I find myself typing faster just to keep the autocomplete window from coming up. I have it set to the default setting which will suggest as I type. The other options is “On Demand”, where it waits for you to press tab before it intrudes upon your thoughts with suggestions.

The challenge today is to use Google Scribe; in either mode, but I recommend trying the default mode; to write a story. You can either use this as a warm-up challenge for NaNoWriMo or you could try pasting a story in which you’ve come to an impasse into the Scribe window and see what it suggests. It might not give you the right words but it will give you options which might suggest a direction you might not have thought of on your own.

If you would care to submit your creations I will gladly read them and I might even do a podcast if there are good ones, though I make no promises. I’d also be happy to hear in the comments tales of where Google’s suggestions took you that you weren’t expecting. Most importantly, have fun, there are no consequences.

Redesign

Let’s just assume I’ve already written the obligatory, self-flagellating post about how I am a filthy, bad blogger. Let’s also assume I’ve gotten the necessary therapy to deal with my horrible blogging anxiety. Pretend that I posted and then deleted the entry that made you all kinds of promises to be better in the future. I’ll also spare you the excuses.

Deal? Deal.

Welcome to the new, updated Write or Die site ready for the second year of Write or Die Desktop Edition! Now migrated to WordPress for increased awesomeness. Everything should work exactly the same as it used to, with the execption that the WoD Online settings box is over there now →

I’ve got a couple of posts already scheduled and I’m hoping to keep up with regular blogging. I am aware that Word War is not currently working, I’ve had some server issues which I will do my best to resolve before November 1st so that you can use the feature during NaNo. I also intend to push out an update to the software itself to fix some compatibility issues. As always, let me know if you experience any issues via the feedback tab on the left.

Bear with me through the transition if you will and I hope we all have an excellent November!

Dark Lullabies for Strange Children

Subscribe in iTunes

Download MP3

Contents of this issue:
Grimble Bug
by Rachel Anding
(Who also did the artwork, thank you!)

In The Garden
by Lisa Jonte

An Almost Awful Confession
by Lise Quintana

Wishes: Another Lullaby
by Lydia Ondrusek

Untitled
by Stu Ffandt Hings

Seasonal Caprice
by J. L. Venson

Sleep My Darling
by Alia Thabit

Untitled
by Jessica Larson

Night of the Blindfolded Moon

by Tess Anderson

In Talking With Your Teddy Bear
by Dr Wicked

Bumpers at the beginning and end of the show are
Entertainment for the Braindead.
Beautiful music, most of which is free. I highly recommend checking her out.

Thank you to everyone who submitted for the podcast! I’m not going to spend long here because I’ve been doing so well keeping this whole podcast resolution thing I don’t want to linger too long before posting it. If your story was not included in the podcast it wasn’t because it wasn’t good. At times I doubted my concept and fundamental belief that good fiction can happen quickly. Not one submission was anything less than good. I chose the ones I chose because they worked well together and worked well with the theme. Thanks once more to everyone for submitting. There is absolutely no restriction on people submitting again whether you’ve been “published” previously on the podcast or not. This is an amazing group of talented people and I can’t wait to read more!

So that’s it for this issue. now onto the next. The topic for the month of February is:

Attic Archaeology

I want to read stories about things found in attics. Long lost treasures and adventures. Hidden darkness. Magic or mischief or malevolence. Rummage around in the spiderwebs of your mind and bring me back a story. I will accept stories of any length. Poetry or prose though I think this topic is better suited to prose. Maximum of 2000 words. Because I was a day late in releasing this I will give you an extra day to submit stories. Due on February 21st.

Thanks everyone for listening and I hope you enjoy the podcast!

SUBMIT: podcast@drwicked.com

Podcast: Reanimated


So I’ve decided that telling myself that it’s lame to make new years resolutions is just another stupid excuse. True, nearly everyone makes new years resolutions, but very few people keep them. In this way I shall remain distinct and un-lame.

The Goal:
Get the podcast off the ground by making it simpler, better quality, and easier to maintain/edit

  • One podcast per month
  • Each month there is a theme, stories must be written within that month to capitalize on the whole “don’t edit too much” thing.
  • Entries are due by the 20th of the month so I have time to edit and record.
  • Send entries to podcast@drwicked.com either as an attachment or in the body of the email.
  • The theme for each month will be announced in the podcast as well as on my website.

Why this will work:

  • It’s simpler, I had delusions of grandeur about some kind of voting system where listeners could vote on what would be recorded. This was too complex. It may rise again from the ashes but for now we’re going for good old email.
  • I have access to excellent recording environs: I work in the media department of a church and they have a studio where they record things for radio broadcast, so it should be good enough for this podcast.
  • Another nice thing about this setup is I’ll be forced to just run through it and edit later instead of editing in between takes because the recording gear is in a separate room.

The first theme is
“Dark Lullabies for Strange Children”

I wanted something short and simple and I’ve been on a poetry kick lately so I wanted to flex those muscles. I’m looking for fairly short form pieces. Under 700 words. You definitely don’t have to do poetry, but if you do, bonus points for rhyme, meter and form.
I won’t elaborate too much on the theme because I want to leave your options open but the “for strange children” bit means that I’d prefer something which could conceivably be read to a young person. I don’t mind if it’s disturbing, but I’d prefer if it wasn’t profane. I am recording this in a church after all.
Entries are due on January 20th, 2010. Good luck


SUBMIT: podcast@drwicked.com

Back in Effect

Thank God!
My webhost is back online! Many apologies to the many hours of lost productivity, I can only hope that absence made your heart grow fonder of my devious schemes.
I’m working on implementing a backup solution in case this ever happens again. It totally blindsided me, the longest 1and1 (my webhost) has gone down before this was for about 2 hours. So I’m working on a backup hosting solution, probably throwing it on the same box that is hosting my new project, Noctur.nl, which you should check out by the way.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m sorry this happened and it won’t happen again.
Thanks!

NaNoWriMo begins! And their progress widget is broken!

Just a quick note of panic and celebration to say that NaNoWriMo has officially begun! And since it seems that their progress bar widget is broken, you are more than welcome to use mine. Just paste the code from the box below into your blog or website, replacing words=1667 with whatever your current wordcount is.

You can also pick a custom goal, but it is preset to 50000 to accommodate NaNoWriMo.



Good luck to all of you, brave NaNoNauts!