Tag Archives | Writing

Plotto: The 1462 Plots Of Every Possible Story

plottooldWe often describe films or books as “formulaic”, but has anyone truly deduced the formula? Via Brain Pickings, William Wallace Cook wrote a novel per week and in 1928 created Plotto, a coded system of mechanized storytelling. Is the endless bounty of Law & Order Plotto’s modern incarnation?

You are about write a story. How shall it begin? Perhaps there is a single conflict that needs to be resolved. Will my story have a happy ending or a sad ending? Perhaps the conflict has one of several distinct oppositions: man vs nature, man vs. technology, man vs. god or man vs. self.

In 1894, French critic Georges Polti recognized thirty-six possible plots, which included conflicts such as Supplication, Pursuit, Self-sacrifice, Adultery, Revolt, the Enigma, Abduction, and Disaster. In 1928, dime novelist William Wallace Cook, author of Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots, did him one better, cataloging every narrative he could think of through a method that bordered on madness.

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WikiLeaks: the Novel?

The Panama LaughAuthor Thomas S. Roche has written a new zombie novel which incorporates WikiLeaks, conspiracy forums, and viral YouTube videos, studying the new wasteland where military violence intersects corporate disinformation.

“I think WikiLeaks represents a very important impulse and the start of a strong movement toward anti-corporate sentiment and the demand for government transparency,” he explains in this new interview, “As ineffectual as that movement may end up being – because it started so late in the process of corporate control being consolidated…”

He moves from discussing fictional zombie-fighting to the brutal real-world military violence in neo-colonial nations around the world. And he ultimately wonders if our wireless technology-enhanced future will also include the potential for massive global disinformation.

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The Robot Author Has Arrived

dadoesWe can all agree that it’s O.K. for robots to take over unpleasant jobs — like cleaning up nuclear waste. But how could we have allowed them to commandeer one of the most gratifying occupations, that of author?

Via the New York Times, Pagan Kennedy looks into the phenomenon of android authors, and finds that their works are already being published and sold on Amazon:

One day, I stumbled across a book on Amazon called “Saltine Cracker.” It didn’t make sense: who would pay $54 for a book entirely about perforated crackers? The book was co-edited by someone called Lambert M. Surhone — a name that sounds like one of Kurt Vonnegut’s inventions. According to Amazon, Lambert M. Surhone has written or edited more than 100,000 titles, on every subject from beekeeping to the world’s largest cedar bucket. He was churning out books at a rate that was simply not possible for a human being.

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(Virtual) Monkeys at Typewriters Reproduced Shakespeare

Monkeys At TypewritersThis is a thousand monkeys working at a thousand typewriters. Soon, they'll have written the greatest novel known to mankind. [Reading one of the typewriters] "It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times"?! You stupid monkey! [Monkey screeches] Oh, shut up. —Montgomery Burns This Simpsons episode inspired programmer Jesse Anderson to see if it could actually work. As he explains:
Instead of having real monkeys typing on keyboards, I have virtual, computerized monkeys that output random gibberish. This is supposed to mimic a monkey randomly mashing the keys on a keyboard. The computer program I wrote compares that monkey’s gibberish to every work of Shakespeare to see if it actually matches a small portion of what Shakespeare wrote. If it does match, the portion of gibberish that matched Shakespeare is marked with green in the images below to show it was found by a monkey. The table below shows the exact number of characters and percentage the monkeys have found in Shakespeare. The parts of Shakespeare that have not been found are colored white. This process is repeated over and over until the monkeys have created every work of Shakespeare through random gibberish.
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Storytelling As A National Security Issue?

darpaDavid Metcalfe writes on Modern Mythology:

“If I were a betting man or woman, I would say that certain types of stories might be addictive and, neurobiologically speaking, not that different from taking a tiny hit of cocaine.”

—William Casebeer of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Despite the fact that it’s readily apparent Mr. Casebeer has never tried cocaine, DARPA’s current interest in narratives is an interesting development at an agency known for unique scientific inquiries. On April 25 and 26th DARPA held a conference called Narrative Networks (N2): The Neurobiology of Narratives. The purpose of this conference was to follow up a Feburary 26th event which sought to outline a quantitative methodology for measuring the effect of storytelling on human action.

We owe much of the early development of the internet to DARPA, along with remote viewing, remote controlled moths, invisibility cloaks and other wonders of the contemporary age.

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My Eight Hours of Hell in a Content Farm

BieberStacie Adams writes on the Nervous Breakdown:

I was a copy writer for about eight hours this week. I was employed by a content farm. I would produce weekly blogs for clients at about $15 a pop. After I established myself as a viable content farmer I would be given larger assignments, at $50 to $75 per piece. You can see where this is going. My first assignment was sort of a test run, to see if I was up to it. I had to produce roughly 300 hundred words on hair extensions. Hair. Extensions. … Here’s how that turned out:

Most famous celebrity haircuts for men

The Bieber – I propose we start calling this one ‘The Skywalker’ because that’s really how it all started. Want yourself a Bieber? Just swear off hair cuts for about six months or so. Every man has had a Bieber, whether intentional or not.

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Male Self-Loathing, Popular Music, and Passive-Aggressively Defusing Women’s Anger

James Blunt. Photo: Adam Ososki (CC)

James Blunt. Photo: Adam Ososki (CC)

Hugo Schwyzer wrote back in 2006:

I go back and forth between playing music while I write.  When I blog from home, I just open our Itunes account and let the party shuffle bring out a gloriously random mix.  When I need to do some serious writing, I turn down the sound to minimize the noise that goes into my head.  But just before I sat down to write, two songs I’ve recently downloaded came on, back to back: James Blunt’s “Goodbye My Lover” and Blue October’s “Hate Me.”  Both songs have been getting quite a bit of airplay, and they were catchy enough that I paid $.99 each for ‘em.

In both songs, the male singer seems to be cataloging his own shortcomings.  As popular and over-played as his music is, there’s something seductive about Blunt’s material, and his “Goodbye My Lover” ends:

Goodbye my lover.

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Erik Davis on ‘Nomad Codes’

Nomad CodesFrom Technoccult:

Erik Davis has been covering fringe spiritual movements, underground music and subcultures for magazines like Wired, Arthur and Spin for the past two decades. He’s probably best known for books his books TechGnosis and Visionary State. He’s currently a contributor to several publications, including Reality Sandwich and HiLobrow. His web site is here and you can follow him on Twitter.

Erik’s latest book, Nomad Codes, is a collection of several of his articles and essays. I talked with Erik about the new book, the changing American spiritual landscape, and why he’s now pursuing academia.

Klint Finley: Over the last few years, while writing the essays that comprise this book, have you seen any significant shift in American spirituality? Has much changed since the publication of TechGnosis?

Erik Davis: Spirituality is always changing, because “spirituality” itself is almost defined by its informality, at least in contrast to those more organized movements we call “religion.” And even religions are always changing.

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Interview With ‘The American Book of the Dead’ Author Henry Baum

Via Technoccult:
How much do you buy the fringe ideas that have influenced the The American Book of the Dead novels? For example, do you really think the world is in need of a mass die-off to curb over population? Baum: It's a disturbing concept and one I'm still exploring. I look at the recent mosque controversy and wonder, for instance, what would happen if there was UFO disclosure. If people think Obama's a socialist Hitler terrorist now, they might be turned into David Ickean conspiracy theorists at that point - he's a reptilian. There's just so much volatility that seems like it could end in violence. People are crazy - how do we introduce new radical ideas into the culture if a centrist like Obama is seen as a radical? I'm not advocating genocide...
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