The Happiness Machine – a free short story

I wrote this short story last week. It isn’t a horror story. It’s just a story. About the choices we make. And how luck and faith and blindness and so many other things, all prevent us from seeing what we are really choosing. The Happiness Machine 1 Just like everybody else, Jeremy and Roger had heard about the Happiness Machine for the first time when they were niners. It was a machine able to make sure you would never experience sadness or any other such uninspiring feelings. You just had to tell the man who operated it what you wanted.…

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The craft of writing – my top picks

I’m on vacation in Spain. Near Cartagena, to be precise. The weather is fine, and the sea pleasantly refreshing. A couple of hours ago I finished lunch. I had gazpacho, fried cheese, bread, salad, and lomo. I concluded my meal with a couple of ripe and tasty plums. And washed everything with genereous amounts of sangria. Then I wrote a short story. It is more or less 900 words long. And I think I’m going to post it sometime during the next week. You know, I need to let it rest a bit, to clean it adequately. Instead, today I’m…

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What genre of book should I write?

For some writers writing comes extremely easy. Like breathing. They are blessed humans who can write a first draft that is often also a final draft. Then they can have a Martini, or party all night long. After that, the following morning they start afresh on a new novel that, again, will be finished in no time. It seems impossible, but this is how they have it. For example George Simenon was able to come up with eighty pages a day. He could write a novel in a couple of weeks. Eleven days, to be precise. However, for the overwhelming…

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Daily word quota revisited – be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods

Setting up a daily word quota you have to hit can be an effective way to beat procrastination and improve your productivity–of course, provided you’re not like Douglas Adams, who is often quoted saying, I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. Famous quotes apart, some time ago I wrote about procrastination, and I must say I considered my daily word count the most important metric for productivity. However, lately I’ve been examining a bit more deeply my writing habits and I discovered that a fixed daily quota can be ultimately of detriment to…

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The essential three types of conflict in a story

In a story we often can find three types of conflict the protagonist has to delve with. These types of conflicts can be external, internal, and interpersonal. If your protagonist is riding a motorbike on a highway to chase a rapist on the run, that’s a pretty straightforward example of external conflict, or struggle. In fact, in this case the traffic, the high speed itself, the maneuvers the rapist may try to ram our protagonist’s bike off the road, are all external problems. Instead if your protagonist must come to terms with a traumatic episode of her life she’s been…

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Creativity and AI created art —will computers write the next generation of masterpieces?

While I believe that creativity will be perfectly explained one day. I also believe it will be far from being easy to be replicated artificially. I’m basing such a sweeping proclaim on a simple observation. That of AI and the way it has been implemented in chess programs up to now. In fact, although nowadays the best chess programs are so strong they can often beat even the strongest Grand Masters in the world—it all started with Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov’s match in 1997—these programs play in a way that is quite different from the style of any human…

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Concise writing in fiction

Concise writing in fiction can be an important asset, but when it comes to creative writing, what really means when we say a text is concise? If we look it up, the definition of the online Oxford dictionary for concise reads like this: giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive. At first blush it seems this definition presents a problematic aspect. In fact how can a piece of writing be brief and yet comprehensive? How can it give a lot of information in just a few words? The simple answer to these questions…

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Multitasking and monotasking – the essential difference

These days it seems you need to be multitasking away all the time if you are to truly consider yourself a citizen of the 21st century. Unfortunately, multitasking is the perfect way to carry out innumerable tasks at the same time with mediocre results at best. If what you’re trying to accomplish is something mundane or whose results are ultimately of small import, maybe multitasking can save you some time–maybe. But if you’re working at something that requires a lot of attention, multitasking is the best recipe to come up with sloppy results. Multitasking is also bad for your IQ and,…

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Story ideas, where do you get them?

In a way, it seems the problem of the origins tickles our consciousness as a species on countless levels. And, given how fascinating it is such a subject, understandably so. Usually, writers aren’t asked to tackle cosmic questions. Rather, they are asked over and over other kinds of ‘cosmic’ questions. Questions pertaining to the genesis of new ideas and stories. Where do you get your ideas from? How does an idea bloom into your mind? To such questions writers often come up with a lot of different answers. Some more articulated than others. Some more serious and thorough than others.…

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