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Monday, May 11, 2015

Typing on a Dvorak Keyboard

I'm surprised how many people have never heard of the Dvorak keyboard, a keyboard layout that ramps up your typing speed, fends off carpel tunnel, and increases your accuracy. It's a layout that almost any computer lets you switch over to. If you're into writing for the long haul, you should consider swapping to the Dvorak.

The standard keyboard that we use here in the U.S. (as well as other English-speaking countries, I assume) is called the Qwerty keyboard. It's named after the first letters on it: Q,W,E,R,T,Y. Back in the day, the layout was designed to keep typewriters from jamming. The letters are arranged to keep those that are commonly used together, far apart. So we have "Q" and "U" six buttons away from each other even though they are almost always used together. This kept fast typists from jamming typewriters. It made them type slower.

Today, the Qwerty keyboard is still the standard layout even though its arrangement is not only irrelevant, but is holding pretty much everyone's typing speed and accuracy back, while helping them develop ailments like carpel tunnel more quickly than a Dvorak keyboard.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Writing Micro-concepts

Today I'm going to talk about what I call "micro-concepts." I don't know if there is a real term for them, but micro-concepts are cool little tidbits, little concepts that come up in some minor point of the story. They can be about a minor character, or a bit of indirect plot, or a snip of detail. They are really cool ideas or just great ideas that come up in passing. They may be only one sentence long or a couple of paragraphs.

In contrast, a "macro-concept" is an overall concept in a story. It might be the concept of your story itself. In The Hunger Games the idea that kids have to fight each other to the death in a reality t.v. show is a macro-concept. In the trilogy, Peeta becoming exactly what he feared was a character macro-concept. Macro-concepts are usually what come to mind when we talk about concepts in a story--we're thinking of the big picture. The overarching ideas.

But concepts appear in small aspects too. Micro-concepts are like that post I did a while back on picking the right details. We could pick some kind of generic concept for something small in our story, or we can pick something fresh or interesting. I'll give some examples.