Brain Science for Writers 3/3/16

© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons


The articles in this week's edition are from early last year, actually. But still interesting!

Top Pick: How Typing Is Destroying Your Memory

Simple Jury Persuasion: “I will give you this car for $9,000.” Framing offers in terms of what the other party is gaining increases their chance of acceptance.

Motivated to Fail: When Flunking Becomes an Ambition

Unsupervised Habits Reign in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Hit the Gym after Studying to Boost Recall

How to Combat Distrust of Science

Breaking the Silence: How I Conquered Selective Mutism

There Are Only Six Basic Book Plots, According to Computers (via Passive Guy)

Momnesia: Does Pregnancy Really Change The Brain?

Winning SCRABBLE and the Nature of Expertise

Brainstorming Does Not Work

How to Be a Better Spouse

Radicalisation: A mental health issue, not a religious one

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Redesigned Lesson Plan Covers

Self publishing is a continual learning curve.  I recently decided I wasn't happy with the cover for my Creative Writing Workshop for middle and high school students.  It wasn't really standing out in thumbnail view.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Creative-Writing-Workshop-Lesson-1-Introduction-to-Storytelling-2172722


So I tweaked it to give it bolder colors and more contrast.  What do you think?

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Creative-Writing-Workshop-Lesson-1-Introduction-to-Storytelling-2172722



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Brain Science For Writers 2/18/16

© Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons





Top Pick: People low in agreeableness ("jerks") are particularly adept at selling their creative ideas

Top Pick: The Creativity Bias against Women

Cynicism May Cost You. Having a distrustful attitude might limit your earning power

What kinds of actions do people think of as most stupid?

Giving Up Is the Enemy of Creativity. HT Passive Guy

What stops people raising the alarm when a friend heads down the dark path to violent extremism?

Are religious people really more prejudiced than non-believers?

Woman who has never felt pain experiences it for the first time

Men Are Attracted to Nonconformist Women

NeuroTribes: How autism has been badly misunderstood

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Thoughts on Plans




In Marissa Meyer's Winter, the cyborg heroine Cinder and her allies make  a a daring plan to sneak onto the moon and overthrow the evil Queen Levana.  Unsurprisingly, their plan goes awry very early on.

This got me thinking about plans.  When characters make them,  how should you reveal to your readers, and how well should things turn out?  So you have several possibilities.

1.  The reader knows what the characters are planning, but the plan goes wrong and things go in an unexpected direction.

This happens quite often, and provides a good amount of tension.

2.  The characters make a plan, but the reader doesn't know it.  Then, the reader finds out the plan as they watch its successful implementation.

This is a fun option as well, and usually involves some kind of clever plan.

3.  The characters make a plan.  The reader knows what it is, and everything goes off without a hitch.

Is this approach ever a good idea?  Does this just take away any element of surprise?  What do you think?

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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 2/4/2016

By Jty33 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Top Pick: Why resurgence of therapy that unearths ‘lost’ memories is risky

Top Pick: The Unfair Truth About How Creative People Really Succeed (via Passive Guy)

Ten minutes of uninterrupted eye contact causes hallucinations and other important things . This is actually another roundup of articles.

What do people think God is actually like?

Who Are You Wearing?: Does Competition Affect How Women View Luxury?

Social Class Differences in Mental Health: Do Parenting Style and Friendship Play a Role?

Hardwired for Stories (via Passive Guy)

Q&A: Why we Need to Forget

Your Favorite Candidate Speaks Simplistically. That's OK. For Now.

Did sexual equality fuel the evolution of human cooperation?


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Quick thoughts on nonlinear structure and punctuation comedy. (Analyzing WOOL by Hugh Howey)




I'm really enjoying WOOL by Hugh Howey right now, and wanted to jot down two quick notes.

First, some sections of make use of nonlinear structure.  The second section, for example, starts out with the main character in a jail cell, and then goes back several days to explain how she got there.

It made me start thinking about the types of stories that benefit from this type of backwards structure.  My best thought is:  this works well when it's not obvious how the character got to the later scene from the earlier scene.  The bigger the disconnect, the more intriguing the hook.  What do you think?  Are there any other factors that determine whether to use this structure?

That's the first thought, I also wanted to highlight this amusing passage. It's from an underwater diving scene where the POV character is diving and her eccentric friend Solo is communicating with her via intercom.  There's a running joke that Solo's voice is too loud over the intercom.

“YOU OKAY?” Solo asked, his voice startling her again.

“I’m fine,” she said. She held her chin down against her chest, leaving the contact open. “I’ll check in if I need you. The volume is a little high down here. Scares the hell out of me.”

She released the contact and turned to see how her lifeline was doing. All along the ceiling, her overflow bubbles danced in the glow of her flashlight like tiny jewels—

“OKAY. GOTCHA.”

“Goddammit,” she muttered, wishing she could reach inside her helmet to adjust the thing or to dig a finger in her ear. It felt like his voice was still lodged in there, tickling her.

I really like the exchange I bolded up above.  The juxtaposition of the poetic underwater description interrupted by the ALL CAPS response.  It's a great use of punctuation (the em-dash) and capitalization for comedic effect.  And also a good example of how the main character's internal dialogue interacts with external happenings.

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My Income Distribution for 2015

I'm getting my finances together from last year, and thought I'd post some stats on my writing income for 2015, as I did for 2014.  No specific numbers, but some trends.

Here is my writing income distribution for 2015:


91% of my income last year was from my traditionally published YA.  This included the second half of my advance from Daughter of Dusk and also my first royalties from Midnight Thief (yay!). The next highest income source was speaking and teaching fees (5%). That was a new category for me this year and something that I'd like to investigate more in the future. After suffering from some book event burnout at the end of last summer, I think I'm going have to be more discerning about appearances, especially if they don't pay an honorarium. Self pub income was about 3.5% of my income.  I didn't put out anything new this year, so these are all sales of books I had up before.

And here's how 2015 compares to 2014.


Self pub income was slightly lower, which makes sense since I didn't release anything new. The increase in traditional publisher income is mostly due to Midnight Thief starting to earn royalties. It's nice to see the total slightly higher than before, though as for the actual number, let's just say I'm glad Mr. Blackburne has a steady job. We like to say that he married me for my potential millions, and I married him for his guaranteed thousands ;-)

2016 should be an interesting year.  I'm drafting two books right now on spec -- one in the Midnight Thief universe and one unrelated YA fantasy.  So depending on how I end up publishing them, next year's chart might look quite different.

So writers, any financial thoughts/goals for 2016?



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