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October 17, 2006

VP 10: Home again
Posted by Teresa at 08:28 PM * 132 comments

Patrick and I and Jim Macdonald are home again after a week of teaching at the Viable Paradise writers’ workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. We do this every year. The other five instructors (this year we had eight total) were Debra Doyle, James Patrick Kelly, Steve Gould, Laura Mixon, and Cory Doctorow.

Teaching at VP is intense and tiring. Most of our time is spent working with critique groups and individual students, but we also give lectures. Let me see if I can do the list from memory:

Jim Macdonald: How to put together a plot.
Jim Kelly: Ten cheap plot tricks.
Debra Doyle: Style, language, and names.
Me: Expository theory and close-up text analysis.
Cory Doctorow: Copyrights, other rights, and how to sell yourself as an author.
Laura Mixon: The care and feeding of creativity; getting the Muse to show up on schedule.
Steve Gould: The real life of the writer, and how to cope with it.
Patrick: The current state of the industry.
Those are all approximate descriptions.

(In less structured settings, we can find ourselves explaining anything from useful handwaving dodges, how to fake guns and ammo, coping with reviews, the one true way to do word counts, worldbuilding techniques, model dialogues with prospective agents, some known pitfalls of sex scenes, the history of the anthology, what goes into an editorial style sheet, and how to behave at conventions, to the finer points of Mafia and Thing. There is an Oath, and the occasional grant of Permission to Write Badly.)

To go with our eight instructors, we had twenty-eight students: our biggest year ever. (Group shots.) I refuse to try to correlate names with photographed heads, and as of right now I’m giving up on trying to match names to links (krylyr? orogeny? huh?), so here’s the name list as it stands: Terry Berube, Lucia Bibolini, Evelyn Brown, John Chu, Linda J. Daly, Terri Defino, Monica Eiland, Evan Goer, Barbara Gordon, John Hawkes Reed, Scott Hawkins, Lucy Huntzinger, Zak Jarvis, Mur Lafferty, Nicole LeBoeuf-Little, Greg London, Emily Mah Tippetts, Elise Matthesen, Andrew Miller, Chris Miller, Bart Patton, Cal Primer, Kathleen Retterson, Diana Stewart, Macallister Stone, Laura Strickman, Dave Thompson, and Erin Underwood.

Also the staff, of whom I’m surely forgetting a few: Kate Salter, Ernie Jackson, Jennifer Pelland, Andy, Bill and Carol Boyke and their daughters and Max, Pippin Macdonald, and Emma and Carita Mixon-Gould.

I need to speak here in praise of Carol Boyke. Every year, after VP, I swear I’m going to keep track of my lecture notes. Every year, when I’m getting ready for VP, I find I lost them in the morass of post-workshop exhaustion, so I have to reconstruct my lecture on the fly. This year was running true to form. Then, when I got to the workshop, Carol handed me my notes from last year. She’d saved them. She also put them up online as a .pdf file, so I can find them whenever I want. Yay, Carol!

It was an excellent VP: great students, interesting stories, nonstop teaching. It remains only for me to catch up on my sleep so I can stop nodding off …

Comments on VP 10: Home again:
#1 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:37 PM:

Yes, I too am rolled in battering and deep fried.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 10:38 PM:

I think we all are, students included.

#3 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 11:50 PM:

I had a brain before the workshop - I think it's still in one of the rooms waiting for me to dig it outof the piece of luggage it was hiding in. But it was a good workshop.

#4 ::: Chris Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:03 AM:

I was linked to three times in that post. Nice! :)

I'm still at the stage where I'm enjoying soaking up everyone's accounts of VP. I guess I'm still there in spirit. Furthermore, in the past two days my productivity in terms of fiction writing has skyrocketed.

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful, wonderful time!

#5 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:19 AM:

I'm trying to figure out how to attend VP. Waah. I'm going to throw myself against the battlements during NaNoWriMo to get a start at it, because my prior efforts are very MS-ish. I presented an short story at my local writing group that they had "this is good/this is bad" ideas about and "it needs to be a small novel" and I may break it down and hit it running. Because it's the first new story I've actually written in 10 years.

We'll see. Right now I'm a huge amount of desire but very tired because of my no-weekend RenFest trudge. (seven weekends, full-time job, no break)

#6 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 01:26 AM:

I finally got a chance to try Werewolf at this last worldcon. What do people think about "reveal" vs. "no reveal"? That is, when someone gets lynched, should the survivors be told their role? I'm currently leaning towards "reveal"; "no reveal" stays a little too random for too long.

#7 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 03:37 AM:

Quoth Kate:

I had a brain before the workshop - I think it's still in one of the rooms waiting for me to dig it outof the piece of luggage it was hiding in.
Could it have fallen amongst the sofa cushions? Like Cory's ring?

I wish I could say that my output has skyrocketed in the past two days, likewise. However, I used my train ride home to decompress from VP, and my first day back to decompress from the train. Decompression takes the form of alternating sleep and video games. And knitting.

Tomorrow, however--!

#8 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 03:40 AM:

(Oh, and insert comment here about what an incredible experience it was, and how much I learned, and how jazzed I am to bring what I learned to my work going forward, only, I'm still a little too brainfried to actually say it.)

#9 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:31 AM:

Truly, an amazing experience. Thank you so much to all the instructors and staff for such hard work on behalf of us Viable Parasites.

#10 ::: Hunter McEvoy ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:41 AM:

I'm intrigued; what's the one true way to do word counts?

#11 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 06:24 AM:

Evan's on lj as evangoer. Because he's sneaky like that.

Glad you all had such a great workshop!

#12 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 06:31 AM:

Heh. I even updated my long-neglected LJ in honor of the occasion. (Thanks to Digital Medievalist, who pointed out I'd been linked here, then laughed at me for not having updated since May...)

Teresa, thanks so very much for sharing your time, attention, and knowledge with us all.

And you're a kick-ass party-goer, too!

#13 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 07:52 AM:

#10, Hunter McEvoy: Try this link.

#14 ::: Tim Walker ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 08:11 AM:

Like Hunter McEvoy, I was immediately drawn to your comment on "the one true way to do word counts". Your method seems eminently sensible, but . . . how much variance does it produce from using the word-count feature in Word? I'm obsessive enough about this that I have my Word toolbar customized to include the word-count button (on every computer I've used for the past 10 years), and I check it constantly (with keystroke shortcuts, even!) as I'm writing.

But if it not as good as the One True Way . . . I can change.

Anxiously awaiting your reply,

Mr. OCD Word-Count Man. :)

#15 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 10:27 AM:

As M'ris points out, I'm pretty stealthy that way. Even more stealthy -- that "evangoer" LJ account is only a stub that I created so that I could more easily comment on Mris's LJs. :) The *real* link is in my sig.[*]

I think you only get to use the word "lifechanging" a few times in your life, maybe at the birth of your first child, for instance. So is there a word that means, "just one level below lifechanging"...? Anyway, that's what Viable Paradise was like.

* Or is it? Dun-dun-dun...

#16 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 10:56 AM:

VP X way surpassed any expectations I might have had for it. I don't think it's overstating it to say that, for me, it was a numinous experience. (I don't get to use the word "numinous" very often.)

For a week, I was in this fantastical place where writers and good writing were the norm. It wasn't unlike those stories where the protagonist goes to the Other to gain wisdom and insight to return to the community. (Can you tell that I've read Joseph Campbell?) You don't get to stay there and that's probably a good thing. But that week will always be a profound influence on my life. I've made connections which I hope will last to the end of my days. (I will also be able to seriously name drop in the coming years.)

I was going on so little sleep that I don't remember if I ever thanked the instructors and staff for their work. They were always there when I needed them. What they did was literally invaluable to me. I don't remember if I thanked my fellow students for their support, including their insightful critiques. So thank you, everyone.

(And eventually, I will have caught up on sleep.)

On to a couple of mundane matters:

Cory did actually find his ring. Or rather, Jim Kelly found it in the couch in their room.

I am prusik on LJ. All of my blog entries are friends only right now, but after listening to Cory and Jim Kelly, I thinking about making public blog entries. (If you're still wondering who I am, look at the e-mail address in my Making Light comments.)

I hope Dave doesn't mind me mentioning that he is krylyr. I'm embarassed to admit that I have no idea who orogeny is except that she is clearly a VP X alumna.

#17 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:01 AM:

I think they way I described it to my writing group was "it blew the back of my skull off in an incredibly amazing way" and then "absolutely 1000000% worth every frakkin' penny".

Still in process of transcription of my horrible handwritten notes into something that can act as a mental anchor to remind me some of those "unknown knowns" the pros have.

I'm glad in a way that the instructors are as crispy as the students and staff were, it's one of those weird neuroses that crop up:

"Surely Professionals Don't Go Through This"

That last Friday conversation I had with Uncle Jim re: his accepted work really helped me feel *so* much more sane.

"Home again, home again, jiggity jig"

#18 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:18 AM:

JC, Orogeny is me, for what it's worth. I saw it on a bumper sticker that tickled me, and it seemed rather apropos, so I nicked it.

I'm trying to remember all the quotes from the week. I think one of my favorites remains, "Don't overweird the pudding."

#19 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Before I forget:

Teresa, I posted this question on the yahoogroup, but wanted to ask if you and/or Patrick have any objections with my transcribing those lecture notes and sharing with the community (here, AW, LiveJournal)

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:29 AM:

Dru, I'd really rather you didn't do that with my formal lecture.

Um.

I was just about to add, "Feel free to transcribe stuff I said at any other time," but it now occurs to me that there are things I'll comfortably say to a VP class that I wouldn't say online.

Let me think about this some more.

#21 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:37 AM:

No worries, that is why I asked. I figured there would be some variance on the matter. Get some sleep/rest and let me know your thoughts when it is convenient for you.

#22 ::: Evelyn Browne ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:46 AM:

I've been too exhausted to even comment on anyone else's VP posts, that's how brainfried I've been. But in the best way possible; it was an incredible week.

#23 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:01 PM:

Wow. If I hadn't already been thinking about applying for Viable Paradise next year, this thread certainly would have pulled me off the fence.

Something I've been wondering about, which I haven't found addressed anywhere: Does VP focus mainly on adult SF&F, or has anyone applied with and/or brought YA SF&F?

#24 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:16 PM:

Next year, we get texts distributed earlier.

#25 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:17 PM:

Teresa:

I can also send you what I have for your lecture, so that you may peruse that. Hmm. I think I'll do that for all the instructors. I won't send anything out without checking with the lecturer prior.

G. Jules:

There were several people who had YA sf. I was one of them, and hoo-boy did VP crank up my understanding about a thousand-fold.

All:
Back to security land now. I *love* audits.

#26 ::: Xopher wallows in self-hatred ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:22 PM:

I've always thought about going to VP, but I shoot down the dream every time. I'm not a productive/fast/good enough writer, I don't have a laptop, I don't drive, plus whatever other whatiffity blahblah I need to use to talk myself out of doing something that, while it might be painful, would certainly (certainly) be extremely useful and worthwhile for me to do.

Which is, of course, the real reason I don't do it. Anything that might actually put me on a path to happiness must be stopped.

Do I have a shrink appointment tomorrow? Oh, good, I do.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:26 PM:

What's your true will?

#28 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 12:32 PM:

Teresa, thank you for asking that! Of course, if I could find my true will as easily as that, I wouldn't need a shrink. But that's an excellent approach to the problem.

I would like to claim credit, however, for the invention of the word 'whatiffity' and the phrase 'whatiffity blahblah', which I think is an excellent characterization of the sort of thinking that Matthew 6:34 advises against.

#29 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 01:02 PM:

We've had YA in the past; we had YA this year. Doyle and I both write YA (among other things).

#30 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 01:43 PM:

YA we're fairly strong on. Laura's first pubbed novel was YA, my books 1,2, and 5 were ALA "best books for young adults" even if I wasn't trying for YA. Cory's most recently completed novel is YA. And Jim and Debra, as Jim noted, have several YA novels and short works out there. Patrick has edited two different best of year anthologies of YA works.

We will be putting something about the correct way to measure word count on the VP website but the gist is that we're interested in column inches, not actual words.

This means we (and your average editor) are looking at average characters per line (including spaces) times the number of lines on a page and dividing by six to get the number of words on that page. Sampling should go across several pages so it will reflect things like dialog and formatting (such as indented text) oddness. Multiple times page count.

Word grossly undercounts by this criteria--especially if your vocabulary is polysyllabic.

#31 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 01:47 PM:

I'm still filling in the diary I was trying to keep. Were we really only there for a week? I feel like someone who's come back from Elfland, except reversed - nothing at home is changed, it's me who's older. Not so much life-changing, for me, as life-confirming. That this is what I want to do and it's worth working at.
Evan, big thanks for the gmail account. I'll try to get everyone's comments typed in so I can post them along with my chapters. I'm not going to revise the chapters yet, because I think it might be more useful to see what the comments refer to, rather than the fixes.
-Barbara

#32 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:07 PM:

I dunno 'bout Xopher, but I think my true will is tied up in probate.

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:13 PM:

My True Will is out to sea. Come home, Will, to your Nancy (boy). Or else admit that you're actually just another Henry!

#34 ::: Mur ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:17 PM:

I am still finding myself at a loss for words (which speaks volumes about myself as a writer, I suppose). It was worth every penny, as well as the utter travel hell I went through to get home. I recommend it to anyone who wants to get serious about writing. It's a fun time where you find your tribe, as Jim Kelly puts it, and there's much bonding to be done.

This is not a vacation where you sit around and are lauded as brilliant (or at least, I wasn't...) - and there's a distinct lack of massages (unless you find another workshopper to help you out; being married I didn't even seek this).

It's work - reading, attending lectures, critting others, and hearing your own crits with hopefully open and objective ears. Sure, the crits can sting, you're probably a robot if they don't, but this also isn't masochism camp; people are there to help you become a better writer as you help them.

Now I'm off to pick up the grammar books Teresa and Cory recommended to me...

Thanks to the instructors and my fellow students for a kick-ass time.

#35 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:19 PM:

It seemed like a very good group this year. I wish I'd had more of a chance to get to know people at the reunion, but folks were rather burnt out by then. Still, even the brief visit was more than worthwhile -- it was very instructive watching that last game of Thing from the sidelines, in terms of strategy...

#36 ::: Dave Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Viable Paradise X was an awesome experience. It redefined me as a writer and helped me plan out some very attainable goals for how to finish my book. I have now been granted permission to write crap, understand I need to stop overweirding the pudding, and know to cut the f'ing prologue. I've also learned some cool new slang. But most of all, I'm excited to be inducted into what feels like the sci-fi/fantasy community.

I can't give enough thanks to both the instructors and staff. And I'm looking forward to seeing all the alumni again soon.

Dave aka Krylyr

#37 ::: alsafi gets down into that wallow that Xopher is in... ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Maybe next year... I've been telling myself that for 3 years now.

It's vicariously uplifting to hear everyone who was there talking about it, though--like a little touch of faerie by proxy.

#38 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Pretty much what Mur said. I'm still wandering about zombified, but feeling thoughts and information quietly shuffle into place as I go.

I'm also glad I wasn't the only one banging on about tribes. It's been particularly life-affirming to just be able to dive in and hear that 'gabba gabba' chorus in the background. (And indeed have the mental fortitude to be able to dive in)

I say for the n'th time: If you've any vague ambition in the SFnal area, then you should absolutely apply to VP.

#39 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:39 PM:

Dave: Don't forget, your enemy is obscurity!

(Enter Hamlet, with a Creative Commons License with derivative works allowed.)

#40 ::: Mur ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:44 PM:

Augh - staff too. Wonderful staff. Thank you staff for the food and the rides and the beer and the food and the copies and all the other stuff. Like the food.

Told you my brain was fried.

one of us... one of us... one of us...

#41 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 02:53 PM:

(Enter Hamlet, with a Creative Commons License with derivative works allowed.)

Almost forgot. Thank you for giving me what is probably my only chance ever to play Hamlet (or at least Hamlet up to and including Act III Scene I). I've known his three big monologues in the first half since I was a freshman in high school. (The rest of it, not so much unfortunately.)

#42 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 03:37 PM:

The main thing I learned at VP was it's time to take my writing career seriously. That sounds simple, but it's still setting off internal aftershocks.

#43 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:17 PM:

A point of sheer vulgar curiosity: in whatever markets are left that pay by the word, how many use the estimation-of-bulk count (character estimate / 6, per the link and comments) and how many count actual words (as I'm guessing Word does -- I've never looked for that feature)?

I'm also curious about the need to do character-per-line counts at all when working with fixed-pitch fonts. (BTW -- I thought those were still preferred by editors? Or have they given up that battle?) The method specifically says to ignore "unusual" lines; given this, isn't it reasonable to draw an approximate frame on \one/ page (doing a riffle scan of right and bottom edges to make sure it's roughly correct) and multiply the characters that fit in that frame by the number of pages? Ignoring unusual lines will, overcount long sections of short dialog -- but that may not hurt the estimate since printed bulk would be underestimated if they were included without some extra allowance.

Way too many years ago I ran the NESFA Short Story Contest (twice!); if a story was marginal against our 7500-word limit I'd do word estimates rather than characters/6 because I felt it matched the rules, but I never was willing to waste an hour of a NESFA meeting's time to get a formal ruling. I did have some choice words for the author of a bounced entry >9000 words who sent back "No, it's really 7480 words!", but that's another story.

#44 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Stephen Gould wrote...

This means we (and your average editor) are looking at average characters per line (including spaces) times the number of lines on a page and dividing by six to get the number of words on that page. Sampling should go across several pages so it will reflect things like dialog and formatting (such as indented text) oddness. Multiple times page count.

Word grossly undercounts by this criteria--especially if your vocabulary is polysyllabic.

If it wasn't for that last paragraph (and if you'd actually mentioned the moon phase and the influence of solar flares as well) I would have been sure you were kidding. Can you explain the reasoning behind this way of counting? Surely vocabularies don't vary so wildly that after say 70k words space usage (which I assume is what this is about) wouldn't have averaged out to something nearly the same for every writer? Or did you merely forget to mention the influence of solar flares and background radiation? ;)

#45 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 05:15 PM:

VPX good.

Thanks to all the instructors and staff who were so generous with their time and energy to create this labor of love.

Big thanks to all the students who gave me a massive shot of enthusiasm for the genre.

Since getting home, I've written on average one complete scene a day. That is some crazy $#!+ considereing how slow I was writing before.

Oh, and if anyone has questions about Creative Commons licenses, how they work, and how you would apply them to your content, shoot me an email offline.

Now write!


#46 ::: Laura Strickman ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Thank you so much, Teresa, Patrick, and the rest of the instructors and staff. What a thing.

And if you're curious about it, or you've been considering it for a while-- just go ahead and apply. I didn't think I was going to get in, either.

The instruction was brilliant, the crits were invaluable, but the thing that really sticks with me is the other students-- knowing that there are so many other (sweet, hilarious) people out there in the same place that I am is deeply heartening. And it's a real ego boost to look around at what your fellow students are writing. You can't help but think, "Hey, if they're so great, I must be great too, right?"

(Okay, or you might think, "This is all some hideous mistake! I am nowhere near this level! Surely my acceptance was a clerical error!" But after a few more hours of sleep things usually get better.)

If all else fails, write a story about eyeballs.

#47 ::: Laura Strickman ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 05:44 PM:

(Um, when I said "What a thing"... no oozing tentacles were implied.)

#48 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 05:50 PM:

Laura?

You are /so/ the thing.

#49 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 06:09 PM:

Laura is a great thing vector, along with Steve G., quiet and unassuming. Of course, TNH and Jen are excellent things once thing'd, as they are such Alphas, everyone just burbles along, allowing them to infect.

I am quite possibly the worst thing vector, evah. The dimples kill me every time. Well that, and no poker face.

#50 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 06:23 PM:

I keep telling a friend of mine to apply to VP and he keeps vetoing it because he doesn't have the funds. A shame, that. Based on what you've all have said it sounds like he'd have the peak experience of his life.

Maybe I will take up a collection among my friends and send him.

(I would love to do it myself -- writing SF and other fiction is one of those things that's on my back burner while I'm in graduate school, and occasionally pokes me in the back just long enough to get me excited before I remember all the schoolwork I need to do instead.)

#51 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 07:12 PM:

In re: YA: Very cool, and definitely good to know. :-)

#52 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Gah! I almost started waxing a cat. After the long and complicated discussion about true word counts, I started writing a perl script which would figure out this information if you give it a text file to parse.

Based on number of characters per line, lines per page, and tab size, it figures out how to lay out the text so that it formats nicely. All the while keeping track of the total number of lines you've chewed up so far.

The last thing it does is spit out total lines used and then the total pages required.

The only missing bit is to keep a running average of words per page so that I could translate the number of pages to a publisher-friendly word count. Then I wondered if maybe a given number of possible words per page could be multiplied by some factor like 70 percent to get an average, and if that were possible, then a running words-per-page sequence to average at the end would not be needed. Just take chars per line, lines per page, divide by six, and multiply by some corrective factor such as 60 percent. Then I could multiply this calculated words per page by total pages and get a publisher friendly word count.

It was at this point that I realized I was quite fond of the shiny new coat on my feline, so I stopped and uploaded the script at it is, to the web.

Those wishing to play with the beast can download a copy of the perl script here:

https://pause.perl.org/pub/PAUSE/authors/id/G/GS/GSLONDON/wordcount_20061018.pl

You will need to install perl on your computer to run it. Perl is free to download for your PC here:
http://www.activestate.com/Products/ActivePerl/?tn=1

or for your linux box here:
http://www.cpan.org/

Anyway, I may toy with figuring out total words per page based on some percentage factor. but that's another time.

must write fiction now...

#53 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2006, 11:03 PM:

Caroline, taking up a collection for your friend is a good idea. Seriously. I only applied because my fried Paul Lalonde *waves furiously, hi Paul!!* dared me to, with the payoff of him covering my travel costs.
Seeing as I come from the picturesque overpriced tourist-trap island on the other side of the continent, the travel cost had been my rational excuse for not taking the chance.

-Barbara

#54 ::: Ernie ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 06:58 AM:

Theresa is ALWAYS the thing. Remember that, and you will do fine at VP.

#55 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Re: Insane yarn lust

Immediately forwarded the link to Yarnharlot. He who steals my purse steals trash; she who steals my Noro and Lantern Moons is in deep shit.

#56 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 01:39 PM:

rams @ 55

And whoever tries to walk off with my messenger bag will die, seeing as it has inside it a pair of 8mm Clovers and a matching circular, with a scarf being worked in Paton's SWS (color: natural geranium). Not to mention that the bag has Mike's 'Comprehensive Dungeon Services' logo.

#57 ::: The Commandant ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 02:03 PM:

Yes, Teresa is Thing/Mafia.

Here performance was Oscar-worthy . . .

I think the instructors stack the decks . . . but that just may be student paranoia.

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:00 PM:

How come y'all only remember the times when I'm the bad guy? Twice this year I was only Thinged at the end of a game, because the evil scheming Things (viz., Jen Pelland and Steve Gould) knew that if they left me human, the other humans would keep wasting tests on me. In fact, most of my time was spent being a douce and lawful human being, and while thus aligned, I helped kill quite a few Things and Mafiosi.

Furthermore, I told no unnecessary lies. The list of them is short:

I am not Mafia/the Thing.
He/she is not Mafia/the Thing.
We suck.
In the time since you've been tested, I've been tested
[n] times.
Ask yourselves: if I come up with an argument like, "You shouldn't vote to kill me, because it'll be a much more interesting game if you leave me in," and you buy it, is that a reflection on me, or on you?

#59 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:03 PM:

Word really is counting words. But it doesn't care how long or short they are and it has nothing to do with column inches.

Your other choice is to use 6 inch lines with a fixed-space font (10 character per inch) and 25 lines per page.

4 pages = 1000 words

When my editor is looking at a completed manuscript, she's judging things like how many 16 page signatures the book will need at a decent font size and whether the price will have to be bumped. Fortunately for me, I already sold the book, but this sort of thing can determine whether or not they'll buy the book in the first place.

No matter what you put on the front page (114,000 words) they're still going to do this kind of count. The only exception I can think of is electronic publication. Cypberspace pages manufactured from the finest virtual pulp are pretty cheap.


#60 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:27 PM:

How come y'all only remember the times when I'm the bad guy?

Teresa, when you're good, you're good. But when you're bad, you're downright eeevvvilll.

#61 ::: The Commandant ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:32 PM:

Evil is definitely more memorable.

And what can I say? I have credibility envy. I admit it.

#62 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:33 PM:

(10 character per inch) and 25 lines per page.
4 pages = 1000 words

Cool. I'll tweak the program after I've written another chapter of fiction. new rule for cat waxing. If you must do it, do it after you've written fiction. maybe by the time you've written your fiction, you won't feel the urge to wax that cat anymore. And if you still want to do it after that, fine.

hm. stupidly obvious question, but how many characters in a line? or inches. either way.

Also, is there a standard typographical way to indicate "new chapter"? double return? the word "Chapter" followed by a number? my script is jamming all the text together, and currently doesn't allow for chapters that start on new pages.

I promise not to use the information until after I've written my fiction assignment....

#63 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 04:48 PM:

Greg - '6 inch lines' times 10 chars/inch = 60 chars per line.

#64 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Xopher at #26 - in hopes you may find it useful, allow me to pass along a link to a piece by Zen teacher Cheri Huber on process mapping as a way of getting to the bottom of that sort of self-talk.

Feel free to ignore this recommendation, of course — it's meant as a "maybe this will be helpful", not as a "here's what you should do to fix yourself". :-)

#65 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Ask yourselves: if I come up with an argument like, "You shouldn't vote to kill me, because it'll be a much more interesting game if you leave me in," and you buy it, is that a reflection on me, or on you?

I thought that argument was sheer genius. I was even in position to enjoy it since I was one of the three things at the start of that game and we had just thing-ed you (Teresa) a round or two before that. (Miraculously, I was still alive at that point.)

My big achievement that game was talking you out of testing me during the first rounds. I think that I'm a much better thing when I have a few ounces of tequila in me. (This is obviously not a long term solution.)

Along those lines, I now know that it's possible for Greg London to lie if he's drunk. Or, at least, the drunkeness is a convincing cover for unconvincing lies. In that same game, it was obvious to me that Greg was a thing during the first round. (i.e., before we revealed ourselves to each other.) However, since I was also a thing, I didn't say anything.

#66 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 05:18 PM:

it's possible for Greg London to lie if he's drunk.

Part of the incentive is that I figure it would be a pain in the ass for everyone else to restart the game after two rounds. The lawful good strategy to Thing is to realize that Things are Evil, and the best solution is as a Lawful Good person turned Thing is to find out the identity of the other Things, and then confess and identify all the Things. Good prevails in the end. But that can make for boring, one round long games.

But yes, I was one of the first Things that game, and the alcohol helped me conceal my evilness. If anyone recalls, when I was finally tested, my death throes consisted of grabbing my neck, screaming "It burns!" like Golem with the Elven rope around his neck.

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Lexica, thanks. Haven't had time to read it yet, but I appreciate such things, even if I don't take the advice therein contained.

And Teresa...my reaction to that argument would be "Let's see...interesting game, or win. Let's think."

#68 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 05:21 PM:

#63 '6 inch lines'

Gak. I missed that.
thirty lashes with a wet noodle for me.

#69 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 06:00 PM:

#26: Xopher, based on what you've said at #26 (including Anything that might actually put me on a path to happiness must be stopped.) and based on the quality of your prior posts in general, I find it neccessary to make a pledge to you:

If you don't apply to VP11 (Jan 2007), I will hunt you down and recite Vogon poetry to you till your head explodes.

#70 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 10:10 PM:

#52.

I wrote another scene, so I get to put a new coat of wax on my cat. Hooray! So, taking Steve's numbers for page info and words per page, I tweaked my script so it will give a "publisher's word count" based on how much
paper it will chew up.

The current version is available here:

http://cpan.uchicago.edu/pub/CPAN/authors/id/G/GS/GSLONDON/wordcount_20061019.pl

I just ran it on my story, and it spit out the following:

C:\wordcounter>perl wordcount_20061019.pl story.txt
########################################
Characters per line is 60
total lines for this text is 479
With a lines per page of 25
that yields a total of 19.1 pages
With a words per page of 250,
that yields a publisher word count of 4775
########################################

The only thing it doesn't handle is chapters that start on new pages. right now, they just jam together one after another. I would need to have some sort of text string that would mark the beginning of a chapter, and then I'd have to figure out how many lines would get inserted.

but pretty neat so far.

#71 ::: The Avocado of Death ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2006, 10:11 PM:

I still can't believe Terry Defino got me tested in that last game of Thing, in spite of Teresa's excellent defense. Next time, maybe Teresa will defend me in English instead of Latin.

Speaking of/to Teresa: was it during the last game Saturday night when you (TNH), someone on your left (Elise? Patrick? Mary?), and I started naming Jack Dunns in the middle of a round? We got interrupted by someone dying, I think. Pity.

I want a continuation. Moving Pictures Terry Pratchett.

As for (en)Viable Paradise and my hearty endorsement of this product or event, what's left to be said? (Laura Mixon was trying to come up with a word for the perceived need to say something different and interesting when one is the last person to critique in a workshop, even at the risk of saying something harmful. Any suggestions?)

All of the lectures were useful, but writing them down wouldn't be the same as seeing the instructors debate during those lectures or the collegia. You can't get VP from a book, nor can you cure it with penicillin. (Commence singing "VP is for Everybody.")

The group critique sessions were sometimes painful, but never (to my knowledge) mean-spirited. As one of the instructors said (Yog?), real-world readers are your willing confederates in the magic act of writing. They *want* to enjoy reading your work. Not true in every workshop setting, but it was at VP.

I felt the instructors were overwhelmed by the increased number of students and requests for one-on-one sessions, but they were still surprisingly gracious with their time. In private sessions, the instructors were glad to answer questions about submission pieces, but also about genre conventions, style, markets, the publishing industry, academia, careers in writing--everything except who killed Asmodean.

People made friends without making cliques. I still don't know how that worked, but it did. (Wild accusation: the instructors have an algorithm, involving a fractal geometry, High John the Conqueroo, our cover letters, and gleaming viscera in jars, to pick the 28 applicants most likely to become friends in five days. No other explanation fits.)

The staff was helpful and kind. (When Jennifer Pelland is being kind to you, that kindness may involve a hilarious 5-minute rant about some personal topic, for which you would gladly at a comedy club pay good money and inhale bad air. All the while, Jen will be cooking potatoes and arranging rides to the grocery store for the next day. If Kate had time, she would be beside you, apologizing like a wounded Canadian to you for something that's not the staff's fault, but she's out arranging a baby shower, getting a card signed, and helping someone make copies, be back in five minutes.) The staff always kept the sheer barefoot chaos of VP pointed in the right direction. Again, I suspect voodoo magic and unsavory mathematics are somehow involved.

Most of all, I wouldn't have imagined the value of being around people who are passionate about writing--yours, mine, theirs, and ours. Maybe your friends and family are supportive of your writing habit, but a pat on the back is *so* not the thing. Dylan Thomas said that a good poem is a contribution to reality; a few days into VP, I started to feel my writing was like that--something that, if I worked at it, could help make the universe more like what it was intended to be, more real.

Thank you all.

And to think, that I was barely writing complete sentences before VP.

Bart

P. S. Would this be better with footnotes?

P. P. S. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak.


#72 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:21 AM:

oooh, shiny!

Wonderfully said Bart.
*wavels madly at Bart's prose*
What he said.

VP is not the sum of the technical parts. It is tribe, meme, wordplay, collation in the stairwell, jellyfish at night, patience, thoughtfulness and more.

--

Greg:

How about something *really* bog simple, like grepping for a newline and then [cC]hapter 1-9(verbal/numeric) followed by another newline? Or have the script prompt for someone's new chapter common-string?


#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 08:31 AM:

Xopher #33: Surely you prefer a Henry to a Willy or a Sam?

#74 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 09:02 AM:

[cC]hapter 1-9(verbal/numeric)

Yeah, I was thinking of that.
I didn't do that in my manuscript, though,
so I was hoping for something more flexible.
Two empty lines in a row, perhaps?
Or maybe I'm using too weird a format for
my book. Each scene is a separate, small chapter.
I don't do chapter XXX, I just put a short title
to indicate new chapter, and then run them all
together, rather than having each chapter start
on a clean page.

Then I was thinking this morning that maybe
the whitespace between chapters isn't part
of the word count you inform a publisher on.
at which point, I realized that my brain is
fried.

#75 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 09:57 AM:

*sporfle*

Thanks, Bart. I needed that :)

#76 ::: kr ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 10:12 AM:

Ditto what Dru said re what Bart said. Death's Avocado speaks for me, too.

#77 ::: kr ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 10:26 AM:

Dru,

Can you please pass me this week's vocabulary study sheet? I seem to be missing:

wavels
grepping
newline

Gawd!! I hate it when my ignorance is showing.

(p.s. -- I'm prose-envy of you, too)

#78 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 10:39 AM:

wavels - fat finger on the "l" key, I think

grepping - a computer programming concept that basically means "smart search within a string of characters."

newline - a computer programming concept that indicates a hard return. often represented by "\n" in software, where the "n" is short for "newline".

Sorry, Dru and I were talking computer geek shop.

#79 ::: Lisa ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 11:08 AM:

It was such a big deal for me to come down on the last day and crash the par-tay and meet everyone. Thanks for having me. Uncle Jim is a dear. Mac is...well, delightfully Mac. Teresa, you said my name is familiar to you, but you *look* familiar to me, and I'm trying to figure out where I may have met you before.

I want to apply for next year.

#80 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 11:12 AM:

kr:

hard to explain wavel. just one of those nettisms like Jen's sporfle.

greg:

last comment for waxing utilities: why not give the user the ability to enter in the strings used for chapter and scene (I've used ***, # and ###), that way if they were freaky it shouldn't matter. One thing to keep in mind, all this really doesn't matter until you're ready to submit, so you can just do it on the assembled MS, which should just be one big file?

#81 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 12:26 PM:

Greg London @70: I wrote another scene, so I get to put a new coat of wax on my cat.

I've only noticed this “cat waxing / cat vacuuming” phrase recently.

Is this a writer's description of the tendency to procrastinate by doing various other tasks (some of dubious necessity)?

Often when I got a rush illustration project, the first thing I did was wash the dishes which had collected in the sink.

#82 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Rob Rusick, #81:

Indeed, I have always seen cat vacuuming used as a term for displacement activities when on a deadline, some of a less than necessary nature.

In much the same manner, student rooms are cleanest around mid- and endterm exams, and so on and so forth.

#83 ::: kr ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 12:49 PM:

If only I weren't allergic to cats, I'd take up waxing them. My dishes go undone, my children go unfed because I feel guilty doing those things and not writing.

I suppose posting on bb's is a form of cat-waxing, though, huh?

So, how does one "wax a cat?" I somehow think what comes to mind for a man is different from what comes to mind for a woman. I don't think I'd engaging in waxing a cat, because I suspect the cat would bolt after the first wax strip was pulled off.

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Fragano #73: Every sailor is Henry, unless he's a True Love, in which case he's called William (or Willy or Will). I don't know who Sam is (unless you're referring to the founder of the estimable Gardener clan, in which case one could do far worse).

At any rate, my True Love must either be a Willy, or at least have one.

#85 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:00 PM:

why not give the user the ability to enter in the strings used for chapter and scene (I've used ***, # and ###), that way if they were freaky it shouldn't matter. One thing to keep in mind, all this really doesn't matter until you're ready to submit, so you can just do it on the assembled MS, which should just be one big file?

I think a programmable string pattern is the best way. I don't like it completely, but I can't think of any better solution that makes it usable by most writers. Maybe I'll be able to add it this weekend.

I do use word count as I write to track my progress. This allows me to look at things more objectively than simply boiling things down to "I suck" or some such thing. It's also useful to know my rate of progress so I can try and set specific goals like "Act 1 done in three weeks" or "Book finished in three months". that graph paper pinned up by the computer that's always there looking at me is quite helpful for me.

#86 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:08 PM:

how does one "wax a cat?"

It's one of those things done just outside the camera's view. Picture Tim Allen with a big power waxer. He's kneeling on teh floor, and there's a sofa between him and the camera. You then see him take his cat out of one of those little kennel cages, and put it on the floor. Due to the angles, the camera can't see the cat, but can see the arm that is holding the cat. Tim then takes the big, heavy duty, electric cat-waxer, and with his other arm, brings it down, just out of view of the camera, to where the cat is assumed to be.

At this point, Tim would be struggling to keep the cat in place while running the waxer. The foley guys would be making 'meowing' and cat screaching noises, and someone would be hiding behind the couch with a fan blowing tufts of fur into the air.

The actual process is left to the viewer to imagine. This has the advantage that it enrolls the viewer into creating the cat-waxing story, and also keeps the SPCA slightly more happy.

#87 ::: kr ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Re: Cat Waxing

But of course! You (being a boy -- the cowboy hat was a dead-giveaway) envision Tim Allen, and I (being a girl) envision a scene similar to the one in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" where Steve Carrel is getting his chest waxed -- only with a cat instead of Steve.

I think of the technical difficulties of getting the hot wax on the squirming cat. Once that's accomplished, I have a vision of a cat covered in white gauze strips. Enter a Nurse Ratchet look-a-like but in a pink smock instead, ready to . . . fade to black. It's all very disturbing and I'd rather write instead of thinking about it.

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Gee, and here I was thinking cat-waxing was done with something like an aerosol can of Pledge and a soft cloth! (Not that I'd need to try it on my cat: she's already glossy.)

#89 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:37 PM:

I'm with P J Evans (#88) on this one. Maybe we should just stick to vacuuming the cat. The images are less...disturbing.

--Mary Aileen

#90 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:43 PM:

I'm still a fan of the great bacon-taping.

#91 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Xopher #84:

See Herman's Hermits, "I'm Henry the Eighth I am", with the immortal lines "I'm her eighth old man, I'm Henery, wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam (no Sam!)".

#92 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 02:52 PM:

That's "'Enery", not "Henry". My Britspeak must be slipping.

#93 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 03:07 PM:

joann #91-2: Ohhhhh. And Ewwwww.

#94 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 03:34 PM:

I'm with the "deeply disturbed" crowd on cat waxing. I'm much happier with yak shaving :)

(and what a pile of yak hair I'd have if it were literal yak shaving...)

#95 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 04:13 PM:

re: cat waxing

guess I'm in the disturbing/disturbed crowd. vacuuming always seemed so passive, while trying to give a good brazilian to a cat seemed to reach the height of displacement activities. clipping nails is hard enough!

then again the whole traveling to another country to learn how to construct a yurt for "story research" does top my list of actual activities.

greg:

sometimes you just have to step away from a tool, just like a story. get it "good enough" and see how you feel about it in three months. otherwise you really will be waxing (says he, posting on ML)

#96 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 04:27 PM:

No, no! Cat waxing refers to bringing your kitty to a high gloss, not removing its body hair.

#97 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 04:49 PM:

Re #95, Dru:

then again the whole traveling to another country to learn how to construct a yurt for "story research" does top my list of actual activities.
Depends on what country you're starting in, I suppose.   There are Mongolian-culture buffs in the USA who have yurts, camp in them, even make and sell them.   If you ever get to the SCA's Pennsic War, go visit the Dark Horde Moritu camp.   If you go when they're just setting up, you can help set up a yurt (actually a ger *), or several.   And Washington DC recently had a cultural display with items (and folks) actually from Mongolia, if you want to be absolutely sure of getting every cultural detail right.

On the other hand, don't let me talk you out of taking a trip you want to take for its own sake.

* Ger : Yurt :: House : Home

#98 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 04:50 PM:

#91: just because I have the lyrics to all songs ever played on oldies radio imprinted on my brain, taking up valuable space that could be used for, say, my class in electrical stimulation of the nervous system -- I have a tiny correction:

"I got married to the widow next door / She'd been married seven times before / And every one was an 'en-er-y / She wouldn't 'ave a Willie or a Sam (no Sam!)..."

(As for cat waxing: I first thought of body-hair-waxing, but realized from context it must be furniture wax. Mine would have neither. Nor would they consent to be vacuumed.)

#99 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Xopher #84:

I'm Henery the Eighth, I am!
Henery the Eighth I am! I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She's been married seven times before.
Every one was an Henery
She wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam
I'm her eighth old man named Henery
Henery the Eighth I am.

#100 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:05 PM:
JC: Almost forgot. Thank you for giving me what is probably my only chance ever to play Hamlet (or at least Hamlet up to and including Act III Scene I). I've known his three big monologues in the first half since I was a freshman in high school. (The rest of it, not so much unfortunately.)
You made a kick-ass Hamlet, too! Heck, everyone was awesome. Double-mad-propz to all the 2nd-half readers who were probably cross-eyed with beer and still sounded awesome.
Dru:Laura is a great thing vector, along with Steve G., quiet and unassuming. Of course, TNH and Jen are excellent things once thing'd, as they are such Alphas, everyone just burbles along, allowing them to infect.
I learned this a little too late, but next time we meet in an Antarctic research station I shall know better: Once you notice TNH starts aggressively calling the shots, it's time to have her tested for thinginess.

On the subject of thing: How come nobody mentioned this was based on a movie? At least not where I could hear? I got home and babbled about this wonderful pass-time to my husband, who, it turned out, has played Mafia and Werewolf, has seen "The Thing," but hasn't played Thing. He said the actual scene in which the thinged human is tested is actually quite chilling.

Greg: Perl script way too damn cool. Have you ever tried being a vacuum salesman? I mean, as a side gig to being an agent. Because you just sold me a damn vacuum and my cats are looking worried.

Bart! Good to see you got home safely; lovely to see you post, and ditto to everything in it, 'specially as regards staff members. How did we not actually end up gabbing until the ferry-and-bus away from the island? Fastest damn 2 hours that ever flew by under my nose, and for that early in the morning that's sayin' something. Y'all, I want my VPX reunion right now.

Linda @90: *splortch* My keyboard!!!!!

#101 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:09 PM:

#97 ::: Raven wrote:
Depends on what country you're starting in, I suppose. There are Mongolian-culture buffs in the USA who have yurts, camp in them, even make and sell them. If you ever get to the SCA's Pennsic War, go visit the Dark Horde Moritu camp. If you go when they're just setting up, you can help set up a yurt (actually a ger *), or several. And Washington DC recently had a cultural display with items (and folks) actually from Mongolia, if you want to be absolutely sure of getting every cultural detail right.

... should I be saying "Hello cousin?"

#102 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 05:17 PM:

Perl script way too damn cool. Have you ever tried being a vacuum salesman? I mean, as a side gig to being an agent. Because you just sold me a damn vacuum and my cats are looking worried.

I wrote it in two nights. Total time spent was probably on the order of four hours. I was surprised it was a bit more difficult than I first thought. But it really wasn't too bad, I sneeze perl scripts in my sleep. The idea, of course, would be that folks would use it, and it would do what they needed without further waxing.

Hm, I think I have a perl thing installed somewhere on my PC that generates an executable from a perl so that folks don't get the source code, just an executable. Perhaps that would reduce further waxing efforts.

That would have the added advantage that you could use the script without installing perl, which can be a bit of a pain... I'll have to peruse my PC this weekend.

anyway, any waxing on the part of downstream users of this script was unintentional. My apologies.

As for the agent thing, I do have one author I'm currently representing, in the hard SF category. His initials are GL...

#103 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:06 PM:

RE: the Perl script.

Use HTML and Javascript to make a front end, either locally (user fills in a path to Perl) or on a Web server (user fills in a path to Perl.

Said Front End would include radio buttons for the chosen chapter marker, *** or ### or whatever.

#104 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:10 PM:

I'm wondering if you can simply use Microsoft Word's word count but ignore the words. Instead look down at the line that says "character count including spaces". Divide by six.

Haven't tested this.

#105 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:29 PM:

Caroline #98:

The problem is, I never heard it on oldies radio. Just newbies. (If you see what I mean.) Memory sort of does things after more than 40 years, sometimes. (Or is that "doesn't"?)

#106 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:32 PM:

Steven #104:

This occurred to me, too. I tried it on the WIR and came out with less words than the Microsoft Word word count. I don't think that was supposed to happen.

#107 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 07:33 PM:

Isn't there a classic SF short story that inspired Thing and the similarly named film? Campbell's "Who Goes There?"

#108 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 09:40 PM:

I'm wondering if you can simply use Microsoft Word's word count but ignore the words. Instead look down at the line that says "character count including spaces". Divide by six.

Haven't tested this.

#109 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 09:41 PM:

(oops. hit the back key on a dormant browser and accidentally reposted.)

#110 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 09:54 PM:

rasfc has actual cat-vacuuming lapel pins, for recognition purposes at cons. Very nice they are too. (Thank you, Marilee.)

#111 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 10:15 PM:

I know I'm checking in late here, but I wanted to echo the big round of thanks that everyone else has had for the instructors and staff.

You guys did it. You made me think of myself as a writer. Really and for true. It took me exactly one day to get to writing after returning home. I've prgot all kinds of stories piling up against the filter in my brain.

I really can't add anything more to the compliments on the meat of the course other than a big "what they said!" Still, there's one remarkable thing about the time for me that hasn't been touched on as much.

I'd never been to a party with that many people I didn't know that was that enjoyable. I really just had a great time with all the people there.

It was a tremendous privilege to be there. Thank you everyone!

#112 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 10:42 PM:

Lisa: the story is "Who Goes There?" Definitely a classic, and IMO some of Campbell's best writing; it reads to me as almost all meat even by today's standards, where much of his work is overwritten enough that it might show up in Kirk Poland.

#113 ::: Carol Boyke ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Thank you, Teresa, for your kind words. Sorry it took me so long to drop into Making Light and see them, but life's a whirlwind right now that doesn't include much pc time.

I'm also very sorry I had to leave VP early. No one really had a chance to get to know the true and amazing insanity of the entire collected Boyke Bunch over an extended week. I wish they could have. But there are those of you who know why.

As for your lecture notes...I left before being able to retrieve the originals from you. Fear not, however! I made a color copy of your notes as a back-up, in addition to the pdf file. Next year you shall have them in hand from my hand in hard copy once again. :o)

#114 ::: kr ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2006, 11:18 PM:

Word's characters + spaces divided by 6 gives a number that is LESS than Word's actual word count. At least on my manuscripts it does. I waxed that cat last night on ten of my manuscripts.

#115 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 10:44 AM:

At CapClave now. Appallingly busy month. Ran into Evelyn; told her that IMO she's the record holder for Weirdest VP Submission Ever (a compliment).

Must go do panel shortly.

Using MSW's character-only count will give a skewed result because it only counts the characters in short lines, not the characters that would be there if it weren't a short line.

And of course the white space between chapters matters. That's what "chapter sinks" means.

Later --

#116 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 05:10 PM:

Greg London: If you could sneeze a perl script that could take a text file and convert it to PsYcHo ChIcKeN I would appreciate it. The BBS I frequented that included it in it's optional filters is long dead and nobody has ever ported the thing to the Mac--or anything else that I've seen.

(It was created when the mandatory BUNNY FILTER was added--there was a woman using the BBS who used the login "Sugar Bunny" who insisted on doing ALL CAPS. Bunny filter converted postings in all caps to upper and lower case, and I expect PsYcHo ChIcKeN jUsT cAmE aLoNg FoR tHe RiDe.)

#117 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 05:34 PM:

THis script will take PsYcHo ChIcKeN text and convert it all to lower case. Just give it the name of the file on the command line.

my $filename = shift(@ARGV);
open(my $in, $filename)
or die "ERROR: unable to open $filename";

while($in) { # that should be $in surrounded by angle brackets, but I can't figure out how to do that on this thread.
$_ =~ tr{[A-Z]}{[a-z}};
print $_;
}
close($in);

Hm, if you want to convert normal text to PsYcHoC ChIcKeN, then that's a little weird.

my $filename = shift(@ARGV);
open(my $in, $filename)
or die "ERROR: unable to open $filename";

my $toggle=0;

while($in) {# that should be $in surrounded by angle brackets, but I can't figure out how to do that on this thread.
my @letters = split(//, $_);
my $char;
for $char (@letters) {
if($char=~m{\w}) {
if($toggle) {
$char = uc($char);
$toggle=0;
} else {
$char = lc($char);
$toggle=1;
}
}

print $char;
}
}
close($in);


There might be a shorter way to do it. Perl hackers can get into "golf" tournaments where they try to write a script that does a function using the fewest (key) strokes. Mine might be long, but it works.

#118 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 05:36 PM:

how do you do a line that says
(less than symbol) $in (greater than symbol)
?

It keeps getting interpretted by the blog as invalid versions of angle-i-angle commands for italics or something, and gets stripped out.

#119 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Greg: I think you need to do ampersand lt; and and ampersand rt; but go here to check:
http://www.cookwood.com/html/extras/entities.html

It's anyway the ASCII version of the HTML code for 'less than' and 'greater than'.

#120 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 06:31 PM:

<$in>

hey, it works.
Thanks!

#121 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Greg London: Cool, and thank you! So, in theory, if I ran your PsYcHo ChIcKeN script through DropScript, rating and brief description here (which indicates you can use the results as services!) I could have a stand-alone app on the Mac that could run on any 10.1 or higher mac, right?

#122 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Oh, if anyone cares how DropScript was developed and how it works, there's an essay about it here.

#123 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 08:24 PM:

Bruce, I have no idea. I'm not familiar with Macs (I'd really like to buy one for my next computer, though), and I've never heard of DropScript. I'd say try it and see what happens.

I did run that perl script on my PC with Perl installed to make sure it actually works. You give it a filename on a command line. If you have perl on your Mac, you should be able to run it from a command line by typing something like

perl scriptname.pl plaintext.txt

If DropScript can wrap that up into an icon, go for it.

#124 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 09:26 PM:

Thanks, Julia, but I just handled the organization. It was cicada who made the design.

#125 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 11:52 PM:

Greg: I'll give it a try and let you know how it works.

#126 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 02:13 AM:

#117 ::: Greg London mused:
There might be a shorter way to do it. Perl hackers can get into "golf" tournaments where they try to write a script that does a function using the fewest (key) strokes. Mine might be long, but it works.

I can recommend Text::Bastardize as a fun way to mangle text...

#127 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2006, 10:15 AM:

*grin*

What I tend to do to the cat is shampoo it. It's my general purpose excuse for avoiding something I'd rather not attend anyway - "no thanks, I'll be shampooing the cat that day". As for displacement activity, mine tends to be either games, web or housework (the latter when I'm bored with the two former), although lately I've been using the writing as a displacement activity in and of itself, which works quite nicely.

"Viable Paradise" sounds wonderful. I wonder if there's anything similar on this side of the Pacific (and preferably on the Indian Ocean side of the country).

#128 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:09 PM:

If you want to make a Perl script/shell script/apple script/python script/ruby script (in Leopard) on Mac OS X into a stand along app with a gorgeous GUI, all you need is Xcode, which is in the /developer directory.

#129 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 04:28 PM:

Cat-vacuuming design by Suzanne Palmer: here.

#130 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Thanks, Kate! I couldn't remember which name she used here.

#131 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2006, 04:45 AM:

I see a lot of posts upstream about people who want to come to VP, and find tons of reasons not too. Just apply, drat it all. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. ( A week on Martha's Vineyard, Thing and Mafia, and all sorts of fun things. Knitting! Beads! Cat waxing! Sarah! Hmm, I'm biased on the last item. )

Carol and Jen - I can't say it enough - thank you for your tireless efforts and help for the past few years. You both contributed in endless ways to making VP work.

Viable Paradise 11 - Sept 30th to October 6/7th 2007. Next year's group could call themselves the Elevenses.

#132 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 11:13 AM:

#125

Bruce, how'd it go? Any luck getting it to work?

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