Cheeseburger Gothic

Some answers to questions from Friday's writing blog.

Posted October 21, 2009 by John Birmingham
Got a pretty good response to the idea of running a regular writing blog and I've clipped quite a few of the questions and discussion ideas into a separate file to run as standalone threads in the future. There were a couple of you who asked questions, however, which I reckon I could deal with briefly.

Medway sort of turned the blog topic back in on itself by asking what is writer's block. He wasn't sure how to tell the difference between a genuine lack of inspiration and just being a bit of a lazy knob. I guess the difference is sweating blood. Those of you who've done any kind of academic writing will recognize the signs of laziness. You have an assignment or an essay due and all of a sudden daytime television becomes immeasurably more fascinating than it was just last week, the apartment needs cleaning, your toenails need clipping, anything, please God anything other than sitting down and actually doing the work you've been assigned. That's procrastination. When you do it on purpose with the full knowledge of what you doing, it's laziness.

Writers block is something different. It's when you desperately want to write, and you don't get distracted you don't watch TV you don't put on music you don't fuck around on the net you don't restump the house -- you just sit staring at the screen sweating bullets of blood from your forehead because Nothing Is Coming. Well, sorry, that's wrong: one thing is coming. Your fucking deadline. It's rushing towards you like a black tsunami of doom and the terrible world ending roar of it is making your inability to think of anything worth writing all the worse, like some sort of evil feedback loop.

Hope that clears a few things up, Medders.

Kieran asked whether I try and get around occasional creative blockages by writing out of sequence, a suggestion his girlfriend made to him. Sometimes I do. One of the nice things about writing multithreaded narratives is that when one isn't working for you you can abandon it for a short time and pick up one of the other threads. It happens occasionally that a character or story arc will simply stop engaging us. Often the best way to deal with it is just to walk away for a short time. That's as true of any job as it is of writing. Sometimes you just need to step away from the desk even if it's only for a quick cigarette break. And of course if you're not intent of dying from lung cancer one way of stepping away from a story is to just work on another story. I thoroughly recommend this technique.

Since we're on the topic of writer's block, and there's weeks worth of other questions to answer, I might finish up with a few more suggestions for how to get around it.

Sometimes it helps if you change the point of view from which the scene is being narrated. You can do this even in a first-person POV story, even if your narrator is the only person in the scene. If it's just not working for you, try switching to a third person POV. If you have multiple characters in the scene switch to a minor character and try writing it from their point of view, or switch to an antagonist and do the same thing. You'll be surprised how often that frees up an imaginative logjam.

Sometimes you just need to rush the thing like a bull at a gate. This can be particularly so when writing nonfiction. You paint yourself into a corner, or at least convince yourself that's what you've done. If you just can't come up with a form of words to get your idea onto the screen in good order, step away from the screen. Grab a notepad and pen, walk out of the room, sit down somewhere else and work old school for just a few minutes. Ask yourself "what the fuck am I actually trying to say". Then without worrying about spelling and syntax, grammar, the ugliness of what you're writing or any of that shit, just write in longhand as quickly as you can every thought that comes into your mind about what ever topic you're writing about. Fill the page, take a minute or two to have a break, then go back to the computer with your scrawled, virtually unreadable page of notes, and type them up. Then spend the next 15 minutes turning them into readable paragraphs.

Finally, here's a little trick I use in the most desperate of straits. Take yourself off to the nearest bookshop and have a look at some of the worthless crap that has made it into publication, and tell yourself if losers like Birmingham can do it, so can I.

91 Responses to ‘Some answers to questions from Friday's writing blog.’

Quokka puts forth...

Posted October 21, 2009
This is so much more fun than cleaning the dead cockroaches out of the pantry.

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot has opinions thus...

Posted October 21, 2009
Great tips, I especially the last one. Not that you write crap of course, just another of your jokes, but some people do get utter rubbish published. Ah, must be the joys of the agent's couch.

Hard to believe that you suffer from writer's block. Your sheer prolific writing nature and of course genius too have certainly inspired me. And even inspired me to write about you as a writing inspiration! It looks as if you've learnt how to deal with writer's block when it does strike so thanks for sharing your tips with us.

I say a big YES to the regular writing blog and a hip hip hooray to you for penning it for us and keeping us on our toes:)

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beeso reckons...

Posted October 21, 2009
I'd just like to add a small story that sort of furthers what birmo is saying here, about braking the zone. I did a bit of public speaking in my youth and particularly liked the writing for it I always wrote longhand and then transcribed to palmcards in full, even though i rarely used them. I turned up to a rostrum event thinking that there would be ah um a rostrum so i had no palmcards. No. So in the hour that i had before i spoke i rewrote the speech onto palmcards, but in small grabs, like triggers. When i came to speak i had a vastly different one to what i had turned up with and it went on tangents during talking as well, because i wasn't wedded to my notes. One of the best speeches i ever did. I wonder if i should try editing longer blog posts this way, or setting them out way first before i jump on the machine.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2009
"black tsunami of doom"

Sooo been there.

Good thinks, thanks JB.

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted October 21, 2009
JB:

Thanks for the laugh as I struggle with another story.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 21, 2009
OK, I know I said I'd do that yesterday but I went to the movies instead. And then The Bloke started whining about toothache and I became convinced he's got a peridontal abscess (I've temped in a dental clinic. I know how to pick it)

And then I started to obsess that this is going to fuck over our long weekend in Sydney and dinner at Longrain.

See? I understand this procrastination thing.

Its simple. If you really want to ramp it up, add neurosis. It really sparks things up.

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Medway mumbles...

Posted October 21, 2009
Yay for name recognition!

That does give an accurate description on my big piece that I have. The amount of times I've sat down in front of it, reviewed it, made notes of what I want to rehash, and attempted to figure out where I want to go with it has frustrated me to no end. I guess it's fortunate that I don't have any actual deadlines (except death or senility, whichever comes first), just a desire to get to 250 pages.

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SJPONeill is gonna tell you...

Posted October 21, 2009
Good stuff, cheers, keep it coming...

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 21, 2009
funny your last para..I have numerous times gone.." shit...does that work or is this the right way"..NFI. Then grab abook off the shelf and have a read..AHHH, thats how its done again...

I just need to be able to FKN replicate it on god dam paper!..

Yours, Coyle and eric L Harry get a thumping on that stuff some days

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 21, 2009
Question..this may apply less and less I suspect the more you write.

Have you ever writen a scene and then thought..SHITE..I reckon I have read that or its ....very similar. then had to modify it!

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Abigail is gonna tell you...

Posted October 21, 2009
Wow John, I think it's amazing that you're doing this! Thx for putting the time in.

To all you suggested:

Yep, yep and yep. Point taken.

It's funny, when you mentioned two things, ie, getting tired of one strand of the story so you leave it alone for a while, and secondly, looking at badly written books and feeling encouraged by that (LOL): when I saw those things, I put the two together in my mind. Since I've been writing quite a lot in the last couple of years, I have started to be able to tell when a writer has lost the plot or they've laboured the point, or whatever it is. I mean, I don't do it on purpose and I'm not sniffing down my nose at any writer while doing so, I just start recognising funny little things about the process (rather than the story).Don't people find, you just start develop this critical faculty and you don't even feel it happening?

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Abigail asserts...

Posted October 21, 2009
oh, ps- about the difference between procrastinating and getting a complete block: yes, it is good to get an expereinced writer's definition of the difference between the two, because, via the evil that is the right hemisphere, you can *believe* it is the latter; it feels like a block, when in fact, it's just avoidance. Gotta face the truth. Harsh, but true.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 21, 2009
Abigail I suspect that sometimes an author takes great pleasure in killing off a character or feeding them to the scorpions for exactly that reason.

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Allan Dunbar would have you know...

Posted October 21, 2009
I hope you're going to do a blog on nuts and bolts stuff like planning and shit. I like to write and I rarely have writers block, but I think my biggest issue is I get an idea and just start writing. I do that to explore the idea a bit, but sometimes I think I need to do that, then go to a whiteboard and just plan the hell out of it.

I don't write multi-POV narratives most of the time, I write single POV. However, when you write a multi-POV, do you plot out the story, then section off blocks that each character will tell? Or do you have a story worked out for each character before you start writing?

Seriously though, it's great to read this kind of thing, a real insight. Thanks. :)

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2009
Hum...I"d like to know how much you have to actually get out there and sell yourself.

I saw an author at the WF recently and if she got any more Chipper I swear to God someone was gonna toss something at her. Probably me. And if I wasn't wearing lace ups it might've been a shoe.

I was seriously tempted to ask her if she'd double dosed on her medication that day.

And you could see that it was putting people off.

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Steven Danno reckons...

Posted October 21, 2009
The grim spectre of the deadline looms large in our collective unconsciousness, black tsunami of doom indeed. We turn ourselves inside out and all give knowingly grave nods when the term is mentioned. I would like to know if anyone has actually missed a deadline? Or one that uhh actually mattered because they were too drunk too stoned too selfish too disorganised too fucked in the head...if this is the case you need to wonder whether they are in the right gig. Deadlines are the procrastinator's friend. But I bet there are some doozies all the same? I missed a Devo concert once for all of the above reasons, arrived after the encore had finished wrote the review anyway. No great loss on reflection.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted October 21, 2009
" too drunk too stoned too selfish too disorganised too fucked in the head..."

Hey, I resemble that remark!

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Medway puts forth...

Posted October 21, 2009
NowhereBob: An example to us all

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Orin mutters...

Posted October 21, 2009
I saw this posted the other day, the Turkey City Lexicon - some good advice in it for writers:

http://www.sfwa.org/2009/06/turkey-city-lexicon-a-primer-for-sf-workshops/

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jp reckons...

Posted October 21, 2009
While in the bookstore we can go to the "Big L" Lit section to see what real writing pain looks like.

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Chas Dean has opinions thus...

Posted October 21, 2009
Birmo - no need to put yourself down re the final par. My motivation? Two words.

Paranormal. Fiction.

I gotta be able to produce a more worthy effort than the "I can has hot vampire sexings" horde. Seriously.

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Chaz puts forth...

Posted October 21, 2009
Nothing better to make you feel more upbeat than to check out the fantasy sections. The amount of crap there is amazing, along with all the trek and WofW novels.

Yeah have to agree though that Manchester bloke is a real loser.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 21, 2009
Wow. I actually cleaned the FKN pantry. Progress.

WhadidImiss?

And where's Doc Yobbo?

Spam Trap gobble him up?

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2009
Chaz, I'll put my hand up as a closet HALO lit fan.

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted October 21, 2009
Lobes, damn I was hoping to unload my copies on someone!!

Quokka, cleaned the pantry? Where to roaches complaining?

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Abigail reckons...

Posted October 21, 2009
Chas: " gotta be able to produce a more worthy effort than the “I can has hot vampire sexings” horde. Seriously"

I can has hot vampire sexings? that's hilarious.

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2009
God it's like you just held a big mirror up to me. I really needed to read this post, especially at this point in my life.

Thank you.

You should save these blog posts and turn them into a collection for a book, sort of like Stephen King's "On Writing."

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted October 21, 2009
On something.

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Enjoy Medway mumbles...

Posted October 21, 2009
On ya mum.

Waitaminute...

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sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2009
off topic but new Stephen King has damn fin US cover (uk one is rubbsih) reminds me of when we were all talking about the cover for WW

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/books/SS.EMS/JacketCoverLarge900x430.jpg

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 22, 2009
Ahoy JB I can't seem to get a post up this morning and I had an absolute CORKER of a suggestion. I have to head out and am almightily pissed off with the NT that they have lost 1. my BRILLIANT suggestion and 2. the post an hour later that My Brilliant Suggestion has been devoured by the spam trap.

This is bullshit. I lose at least one comment on each of these threads. I was sitting there cackling with my own genius this morning, The Bloke was keen to see what I was gurgling evilly about - and naught.

They are never gonna fix this, are they?

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2009
Does the spam trap perhaps have a special snapping trap door for anyone that mentions Oversized Bronzed Genitalia?

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 22, 2009
the thing that pisses me off is that when I've got something good to toss out there and it vanishes, we all miss out on the 'sparks' that fly when the sharks circle around the chum, so to speak.

My suggestion involved replacing the bust with a 6m full length naked bronze statue, and I felt that it should speak. On the hour, every hour, it should bellow THIS IS SPARTA! Just to remind the shop owners that it's there.

And what happens when you'd prefer an organic garden patch.

I'm not playing anymore. this is no fun.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 22, 2009
I have fairfax spam, and its somehow dodged the filter that I created to junk it and appeared in my inbox. I emailed them last time and said that I don't want any more so clearly they aren't listening.

I don't know if its connected to the problem but on the days that they issue me with spam I can't seem to get my posts up.

I suspect its nothing technical, just Spite.

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MickH puts forth...

Posted October 22, 2009
off topic but.....

Z O M B I E S !!!!!

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/entertainment/your-brisbane/zombies-plan-weekend-invasion-20091019-h467.html

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virty has opinions thus...

Posted October 22, 2009
gotta agree with ya quaks, i reckon all burga's should/ could/ must post to NT(numbnuts publications) in CAPS LOCK (see amanda farking palmers my space blurb or twits on this one) for at least three months to giv'em a taste of true spartan hegemony hereby renamed burgamony.

Q. is WTF to do about numbnuts incorporated ... send 'em a spartan horse read: virtual metamorphic machine code :)

pz.v.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted October 22, 2009
"Q. is WTF to do about numbnuts incorporated"

Its very fucking simple. NT will start listening pretty damn quick if we bring our displeasure to the site sponsors:

Tandberg

Neural.com.au

Mozo

CreditWorld

MyCareer

Newcastle Airport

eCertIT.com.au

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Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2009
Of course Im not advocating this. My opinion is we should let JB work things out internally. But if and when it becomes obvious NT are just not gonna play along its pretty easy to panic the herd with a few choice emails and blog posts.

Seriously though NT, what sort of mug punters do you think you're dealing with? We bought down an Austereo program we could take your pissy little site in our sleep.

You will learn to do things the way we like it or we will teach you. Because THIS IS FKN SPARTA!!!!

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Quokka mutters...

Posted October 22, 2009
Exactly.

And if they'd posted my suggestion when I got in from Dog Walkies at 7am there would be a huge crowd in Brunswick clamoring for my idea of having a 6m bust of the Dude, naked and glistening in bronze, bellowing at hourly intervals 'THIS IS SPARTA!'

My only disappointment now, apart from getting junked, is that I didn't make the suggestion that they turn it into a tasteful and engaging water feature as well.

The days when my brain is asleep they print me instantly.

the days when I'm firing with mischief I end up in the shit box.

I really do think they have a special Quokka Quarantine Enclosure, some days.

Now if you'll excuse me I have errands to run. And tomorrow, a plain to catch.

If any of you Sydney folk care to comment on What's Good at Longrain, The Bloke is keen for some tips. We're off there for dinner on the weekend. Still pissed off I missed out on the food festival. Next year I think we should all crash it.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted October 22, 2009
Bust? I'm brain dead. Full length naked statue.

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virty is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2009
check FKN simple.

bringing about displeasure ..... turn CAPS LOCK ON .....

loading metamorphic source code ..... sending .....

now.

SHIT

error message

says:

"enter correct security code"

"exceeded the character count for today"

"we're logically pissed off so"

they're not listening muriel

pz.v.

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2009
none of the last two posts have made it up and I just sent a SHORT third one to NT. Its driving me FKN Nuts. I know stuff takes time, but in all honesty..I have not seen much progress, its fkn cumbersome to shift through the posts and now its taken a real fkn likening to MY FKN POSTS and gobled the fkrs up.Its either that or somebody does not like what I had to say about NT. ITS FKN HIGH TIME THE MUPPETS FKN DID SOMETHING..weeks, fkn weeks have gone by now and jack fkn shit has surfaced.

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virty mutters...

Posted October 22, 2009
this is what was uploaded approx 10 am & 10.47 am ...... 'n as far as crook cooks are concerned, there ain't that fkn much to "bring about NT displeasure" now is there?

first post

/ dusting off the TTS (see below)

"yeah, they threw us out of leons motorcycle shop on brunswick st in 1971 for getting sidecars airborn (chair wheel only), doin' road tests down the main st on the rear wheel and using the tram tracks illegally. now theres a story i'd forgotten about ... we modified a set of rims off an old single side valve excelsior (or was that a rudge?) to run on the track. a bit hairy at the junctions and we never worked out how to stop successfully from memory.

dem war thar dayz my friends

- now about this sparta thangy y'r all 'et up ab'urt, like turn up the CAPS LOCK why dontchas!. you of course all realize that adolf baby idolized this pack of thugs ("terrorism" doesn't even describe some of their activities), apart from ephors (like a magistrate) murdering most offspring that didn't have a big dick or looked a little undernourished, hitler implemented his ethnic cleansing program and race superiority regime on spartan military ethos.

- thats not to say that sparta was a breeding ground for spart'oles and oligarchs, although coming into contact with the current version of this mentality would have you thinking WTF have we not learned anything from B.C./ A.D. or the more PC " B.C.E./C.E" age - documented attrocities (read heodorus philetas, the grimorie of al azif .. for those interested search: The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names)

If you've ever been to greece you'll appreciate the statue concept much better & besides, i'd rather the coast road from patra to argos (like mega triple esses) than brunswick st anyday :)

pz.v.

*TTS you wish "

RICGED

(i did edit this when they threw it back at me with the word count)

then:

"/ about to go all out FKN CAPS LOCK

BAH & corporate BS .... ok, put a bit of grunt & spittle into the last post & besides only havin' had one lonely fkn stove top coffee by 10.47 am GRRRRRR, this damn BOX, surrounded by some type of 19th century un-colour highlight AND be-bottomed by this idiot random security code BS, THE THANGY (for want of a better expression) made a logical decision about how many fkn words were in the box. like you ain't anywhere near the money OR the fkn box fellas.

319 words my perfectly manicured phhhhhts.

So:

text was saved (in notetab) TFC, but edited it online (in this box) and blew 20 words off the dialogue.

re-enter security code (which doesn't seem to want to be there for some reason .... in logical denial already?)

press enter.

NIX

more fkn blood-y-red words of wonder.

SO

pasted all to ms word which re-affirmed a word count of 258 ... err HELL0000000 ALREADY, IN NO UNCERTAIN CAPS LOCK SPEAK.

Wanna pay for another anger management program mr NT fairfax?

but knowing the powers that be and birminghams uncanny (read tinny) knack (or should that be bollocks) for dragging dead stuff up from around the place it is perhaps being rebirthed as I again press the futility button of digital privation.

V."

BOODAY

go figure.

gotta do a runner into town and p/u some aldi flash sticks, probably all gone by now :( AND 'TIS ALL YOUR FKN FAULT NT!!!!! BAH

V

p.s. apologizes about the invasion of burger web space but WTF already

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted October 22, 2009
just put this one up.

Dear ED, or BOSS man or whomever hpping to wish..that they be in charge there at the Ntional Times. You should I guess be aware that recently the weekdy posts were migrated so masterfully from the Brissy times to NT, I am told this reside in the great city of Melbourne, populated almost exclusively with legends. Now, I have never been one to jump up and down, throw rocks or berate people in a manner, not meeting my high status and education. BUT, I would like to bring to your attention the issue of the wandering replies from commentors. It does sem that there might be a slight chance some have gone missing. Whilst I would never ever believe its the resuly of people or systems within your great organisation and i almost without doubt caused by the sender, I would be greatly appreciative if you could take time out of your very busy schedule to take a wander around the NO FIT FOR PRINT in tray that you might have and perhaps release some...just to keep the minions happy. If you could do that, you would be a dear....

Yours Faithfully

Master & Commander of the FKN Legions that are gunna cap ya arse if this continues.

MR HAVOCK

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 22, 2009
Back from buying paint and catfood and just look at the uproar.

Nice suggestion Virty BUT I CAN'T BE FUCKED even going to look at the FKR any more today. I've got a lotta little pissy errands to run and appointments today and I just don't have time for the BS.

BTW JB I go the same BS the other day with the miscount of words, so I edited it and hit 'reload security code' to get rid of the mystery vowels/could be consonants/who FKN knows - and it kept replacing my sec code with a little box with a ? inside.

No security card.

Just the Joker's Symbol.

Where's Batman when that sucker turns up, eh?

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2009
quokka..its doen THAT to me as well..I jumped out. lost me comments and tor me fkn hair out. Good things PC's costs money or I would hve Blew the FKN thing up

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2009
Yep.

I've got the shits with it so much I can't be arsed even going back there to see what everyone else has to say. It's just too provoking knowing that there'll be something I want to latch onto and respond to and no FKN point given that the GD thing is just hitting the eject button on me today.

I'm off to the hairdresser so that someone else can remove my hair, safely.

I'll be back when my mullet has been restored to order.

Meanwhile, all, good luck with the mongrels. I'm sick of 'em.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2009
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,26245412-952,00.html

Urk.

I'm not a big fan of warfare but this is one sick bastard. JB, you know about this FWIT?

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted October 22, 2009
well I just checked NT, that pot hich is bove me here was the last one i put up and its not yet mde it to NT post site... I guess its spam trapped as well n its got zero reason to be...FKRS

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2009
2.59 PM post..attempt number 4 now...

this is it.

I'm thinking that the BRONZE stat may well not last more than a night...we are talking about BRUNSWICK afterall.. If it does go missing I suggest they look for it attached to a bonnet or with the head modified to wobble around and mounted on a dashboard..thru a windscreen.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 22, 2009
Cannot believe that..it went up straight away...WTF is going on!

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Lobes asserts...

Posted October 22, 2009
Wow I think this thread sets a new record for "FKNs"

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted October 22, 2009
At least you guys have a chance to vent here (and virty go for it, dont worry about the Burgerspace its probably better you flock here than twitter like what happened on Tuesday).

The ones I feel sorry for are the commenters who are unaware of CBG or just wandered across Blunty and then got bounced the same way. They'll try once, maybe twice before they give up and never come back. Keep trying though you guys. I cant even register an account :-(

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 22, 2009
Lobes, that's what worries me.

I know when I first started reading this blog it was just so obvious that the core group here knew each other really well and there were all sorts of 'in' jokes that I didn't get and it felt a little daunting, the idea of joining in, because it seemed like this elite group of witty friends who knew each other really well...I was a bit loathe to just 'push in'.

So many people who write - and write well - just don't have the sort of confidence that is going to see them through the kind of rejection that we froth about here. They'll try once, or twice, or a few times, and then get pissed off - or wonder why they aren't making it to the 'elite' list - and they won't come back. They don't necessarily know about Cheeseburger and if our steady griping about how FKN useless the format is keep getting spammed, then the nubies might think its just them. And that sucks.

This can't be good for business, JB.

I feel for you, being caught in the middle of all this and with only one good arm to smack them with.

Keep up with the bag work and fill the boxing glove with cement. It looks like you're gonna need it for this battle.

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Havock would have you know...

Posted October 22, 2009
Lobes... Lol ya might be fkn right. Can't get account... Fk me. Anywonder ya wasn't happy, took two login attempts from me phone early a m .

Quokka.....never fkn give up. At least not fkn yet. Blood from the cretins first. They'l get it right sooner or later. I just hope for my keyboards sake it's fkn sooner

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted October 22, 2009
I'm off to Sydney for three days Hav, so I had better things to do than fight with those mongrels today.

I still don't have much in the way of faith that Fairfax have any real interest in improving the format. This has just been bad, today. 53 comments, on what should have been a fun little sparring match for all. That's just crazy. I wonder what it would've been if we'd all managed to get our comments up and actually get a fully charged conversation going?

I really don't think that Fairfax understand the magic of the blog, that its about the sparks that fly when we all rub up against each other.

And as for the FKN spam...Jesus.

Evidence that they just don't FKN listen.

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted October 22, 2009
Hmmm, If I was JB I would consider leaving the comments thread open on his next Blunty link here at the Burger.

The problem he faces is that on Monday with the Jess Watson thread there was a mass exodus of comments about the topic to Twitter. I probably only read 20 comments about Ms Watson on Blunty itself but literally dozens and dozens on twitter from the usual suspects (Doc Yobbo, Nautilis, Albion LD, Beeso etc). Mr Stu suggests it was in the realm of 300 but who really knows, it went on for the whole day which proves how a well maintained comment thread can hook people in. It didnt happen with the Sparta/Brunswick thread because despite our love of that movie its basically a non issue that nobody here would have heard about had Guru-Bob not delivered. With the next Jess Watson-esque thread of widespread interest the exodus is going to turn into a flood.

Part of the problem is JB has developed a fan base of extremely tech-savvy followers who have taken to using a whole variety of social media. At any one time he is being followed on Twitter, Facebook, Fairfax, The 'Burger, A variety of Blogs some of which are linked on the left and no shortage of emails as well. This has left him open to commenters choosing to bypass Fairfax (notably the only ones in that list providing hard currency for JB) in favour of the other worlds of the Birmoverse. But pursuing this strategy was the right move IMHO as the internet is pretty ephemereal and todays blog can be yesterdays Friendster or tomorrows Twitter. Better to cast ones net wide in the search for followers. I mean lets face it imagine if he relied SOLELY on Fairfax. How fukd would that be? For him and us.

What the Watson twitter thread demonstrated is that commenters will flock to the most convenient way of expressing their point. At the moment its far and away twitter though (as I suggested above) I think the 'Burger could give it a good run for its money.

If the aggravation from Quokka, Hav, Virty et al is any indication then at some point JB is going to start losing followers because of this. Not necessarily the aforesaid (who are all longtermers) but the less dedicated who also cant get a fair go from NT and just wander off not to return.

What JB has to decide is whom does he want to keep most happy. Fairfax who pay him $$$ and provide him this national exposure (albeit hamhanded) or the followers who essentially put him there. Thats not to suggest he should walk away from Fairfax but maybe try and mitigate the damage by running an open comments thread on the Burger or elsewhere. At least on the Burger he would have some control over the input and be able to quantify what hes missing out on wheras on twitter its gone man and his claim to have inspired comments there is on shakier ground.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted October 22, 2009
And if you havnt guessed already I am finding the drama and conflict this move to NT has provoked quite the most interesting thing about JBs blogging at the moment, LoL.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2009
Lobes I would imagine that there's something in the Devil's contract that disallows leaving the link from here to Blunty open to comments. Otherwise I'm sure JB would have done it long ago.

You're right, though. When people get pissed off they vote with their feet and even I was tempted to climb aboard the Twitter Train the other day.

I'm still scratching my head in amazement at the idiocy of Fairfax. Its the most profound stupidity to take a product, change it, piss off the consumers, and be utterly, rigidly, unapologetic - and SLOW - about fixing it.

I started off thinking that someone in there had an agenda and they simply wanted to add JB as another columnist but now I'm not so sure. I really do think that they are just behind the times, they don't get it, and those articles that you see about how they can't think into the future are just totally on the mark.

I just can't figure out if it's someone in marketing, who seriously needs to be replaced by someone with a better understanding of What The People Want, or if its one of the conservative old dinosaurs in the place that's holding them back by withholding funds and being unwilling to embrace new forms of communication.

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 22, 2009
Could be both. Idiocy, I have found, is all too frequently a top down process.

They know they can't stand without support so they find even bigger idiots to prop them up.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2009
I'm just so pissed off my comment didn't get up at 7am. You have no idea the LOATHING I have for FKN boutique shops. Must get The Bloke to drop in some time and testify to how dangerous I become when forced to go FKN shopping.

Don't mind if its paint or taps or fittings but all that stinky girly shit makes me nose run.

Grrr. and Grrrr again.

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virty puts forth...

Posted October 22, 2009
mission accomplished (8gig stick for $20) thats what you get when you own a fkn bargain hunting aldi addicted mule. it's a decent old run from the chateaux and back and thank fkn christ there wasn't any diesel in the middle of them roundabouts hereabouts. like it's been 8 months since i've been able to ride even.

seein' as todays NT thread count is sufferin' slightly am gonna repost the above garbage (no peanut gall. comments please) again. the main comment split into 2 just to maim their addled word/ character count. methinks it's a character count which includes goddam everythang. might even edit out the FKN's & the html for 'em. like it all worked yesterday, maybe it's something about t'ursd'y ... themistocles ? thelma? george thoroughgood? NA ... it's gotta be thucydides.

lata lata alligata's

p.s. having pigged out at most eating houses in downtown sydney i only got one thang to say kwaka, the barrenjoey. go for the chilli crab with starched apron, a set of sterling silver crab cutlery and the biggest finger bowl you've ever seen this side of the strezleki track. (the cottage point inn is pretty kewl as well but you gotta take the sea plane from rose bay if ya gonna sample ALL THE GOODIES.

the prawn and double garlic pizzas are to die for at Bar Reggio (cnr of crown and stanley) and for lata i think the "top of the cross" has just reopened .... excellent martinis. the taxi club does a cheap but yummy brekkie. cheers. v. 'tis way after beer o'clock.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 22, 2009
Thanks Virty. We are staying at The Rocks.

I'll google it.

The bloke is standing behind me drooling over the concept of Chilli Crab and trying to get the FKN cat off the washing machine. I suspect we're all out of betadine. This will not end well.

I'm allergic to seafood (I'm dreading the day I ever sit down to eat with you lot and am humiliatingly exposed as an enthusiastic Tofu and Snow Pea Consumer) so he only gets to eat the real stuff when we go out/away.

Where's JB? Spam Trap?

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uberVU - social comments mutters...

Posted October 22, 2009
Social comments and analytics for this post...

This post was mentioned on Twitter by missamanda: on writing: "...and tell yourself if losers like Birmingham can do it, so can I." AMEN LOSER! ;) RT @JohnBirmingham: http://bit.ly/2aclfn...

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virty mumbles...

Posted October 22, 2009
i'd stick the fkn cat IN the washer, select spin.

you got a wringer?

na don't go there.

we got too many fkn predatory ferals up here to appreciate domestics AND it's fox fkn season.

- post re-uploaded X 2 but numbnuts didn't like it .. sec code "APPEST" then "PASIES"

pz.v.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 22, 2009
http://www.catmax.com.au/photo-gallery.php

All ferals are a menace, they don't deserve to be tortured because FWTS brought them here though.

Ours are contained (see above)in the house and special built enclosure (done by above company, they were gonna put our enclosure on their site but its not up yet that I can see) and are not at liberty to roam about.

Did I hear something about a feral camel derailing a train in the NT or SA the other day?

We've got feral deer in Brisbane. They ringbark the trees. Serious problem out in the western suburbs. Another reason never to live at Kenmore

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted October 22, 2009
Re. open comment thread here, I'm thinking about it. Somebody other than twitter may as well get the traffic.

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virty ducks in to say...

Posted October 22, 2009
hey presto. it worked ... a bit of SHOVE IT technology?

now it's got me AND the mule wonderin' if 'twas doggone persistence, tinny bollocks AKA birmingham, lobes- ious threats, drooling, HAVOCKness + CAPS LOCK or the demise of don lane (by god how i loathed that yank)

hey ... 'ow about the wheels >>>> google munch WITH an umlout.

anyone got an alcoholmeter? can't find ours anywhere. this

15 month old chocolate stout must be 10 - 12%. bloody rocket fuel. better go crack another one. cheers.v.

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted October 22, 2009
Yeah think about it JB. Wouldnt necessarily be my first option if I was in your boots but I'd definitely have it in the mix.

Thing is you want to direct as much traffic as you can to Fairfax because despite their chronic retardation they are paying after all. But if there develops an exodus to Twitter then really its probably too late and you should have had the burger thread open already.

I guess what Im trying to say is pick your battles carefully.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted October 22, 2009
yeah, lobes is right, can;t shut the gate..cant open a new one either,,just let. BAD fkn case of balancing. Hope is they get their collective shit together. We AINT BAILED YET!...and they can bank on worse sprays yet if they don't get their collective shit together..not that my opinion is THAT persuasive..but HEY..better out than in sometimes.

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Mayhem reckons...

Posted October 22, 2009
Touch wood. I haven't had any trouble today, even though most of my comments were ridiculously off topic (fun but). I have twice on other days (but both blunty) had the issue with over the word count, which suggests to me that somethings out of whack with the counter thingy. I watch it and it flat out lies. Maybe it's daylight savings that's stuffed it?

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted October 23, 2009
http://www.mf2fm.com/vicky/venues/review.php?venue=00601

Something you're not telling us Virty Dear?

Gaaaarn. You're among friends here.

Found this review of the Taxi Club by Vicki's Transvestite Review.

Sunday Brekky looking good.

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Steven Danno would have you know...

Posted October 23, 2009
I like the idea of a bellowing naked statue. I trust the statue would be rendered in fine detail complete with rampant member, not because I really would want to see that but could be guaranteed to enrage the lesbians. A water feature could be imagined that operates intermittently in umm manly spurts and timed to coinicide with the vocalisations...THIS IS SPARTA ...UHH UHH UHH .

Also I find the idea of Newcastle Airport stirring itself to intervene as a displeased sponsor of NT surreal and disturbing. Can imagine the NT trolls syaing "Oh shit weve really done it this time Newcastle Airport is on the move"

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jennicki mumbles...

Posted October 23, 2009
Question.

Regarding writing, that is (sorry to interrupt the flow everyone).

I know you've addressed external factors already, such as child wrangling while working from home.

But what about internal distractions? How do you block out issues that are bugging you personally when you're writing?

For example, how do you flip that "off" switch when you're dealing with Blunty/NT issues all day that upset and frustrate you, and you still have columns and a chapter to write? How do you get yourself to calm down and focus on your project?

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virty mutters...

Posted October 23, 2009
"Something you’re not telling us Virty Dear?"

NA...NEVA,

caf is downstairs so your relatively safe apart from the used condoms stuck to the floor, well at least it was on ground level the last time i went awol down south, brekkie on flinders st around 6-7 'ish/ sunup is a total hoot.

forgot to mention the Q bar on oxford, used to be one of my regular pitstops, good for the 2 - 3 am nightcap (pretty x'y tho') they had this industrial alien thing happening add the odd roller skating waitress (there's a funny story there) and woo hoo, i'll see if i can find the automatic entry - we don't cue - Q membership key ring. pz.v.

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Medway is gonna tell you...

Posted October 23, 2009
@jenniki: I blog about personal things. I find some of the best drivel that I come up with is because of something so piss poor as making an ass out of myself in front of a girl I'm interested in.

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Medway mutters...

Posted October 23, 2009
Mind you, I keep those hidden away from the most public of eyes. The stories that come out, though, they're up for browsing.

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 23, 2009
I don't know if anyone will see my post now, but if I don't see any replies in the next few days, I'll assume October 22nd is a long, long time ago already.

If it's not too much bother, would anyone be kind enough to explain (in the language of a kindergarten reader book, level one) what all this means about:

1/. A spam trap and people getting caught in it

2/. An open thread is... ? and what are its virtues and implications?

3/. People reading comments on Twitter but can't access them on BT site? how come/ does it matter? (those q's are linked to q. 2 ,I guess). I won't use Twitter ,but does that mean if I want to follow JB discussions and responses , most of replies are actually on Twitter? Or is it al linked to FB anyway? (in which case, I'm getting comments, as I use that social media).

4/. Any comment I've made, either here or at Geek /Blunty blogs has appeared, but it sounds like something weird technical thing is happening which is annoying people. No matter, Im a loyal reader;can't kill me with a stick

But I feel out of the loop and I'd like to understand.

Thanks, Abi.

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jennicki is gonna tell you...

Posted October 23, 2009
Medway: I will check your blog out, thanks!

Abigail:

1. A spam trap is basically the purgatory between when you hit "send" on your comment and when it's actually posted. It's just hanging out there in cyberspace, probably marked as "spam"--much like your spam mailbox on a personal email account--ignored as junk mail.

2. An open thread is basically a coversation where anyone can join in, like this one here at jb's blog. As for virtues...I'm sorry I have to leave in a few minutes so I don't have much time to expound on it beyond adding that in a conversation, the more the merrier!

3. JB does a good job of keeping up with his "birmoverse"--that is, keeping up with all of his accounts--blog, Blunty, The Geek, Facebook and Twitter.

What they've been talking about recently is that due to the problems with NT's Blunty, the regular commenters have taken their converstion thread from Blunty and are now having those discusssions on Twitter, which takes away from Blunty.

So the flow of conversation has been derailed, basically, and if you're not on Twitter or following the reguars on Twitter, and then right now you are missing some of the "meat" of the Blunty thread.

But, NT and JB are working on that.

4. It's good that your comments are all going through! For some reason other people are not able to see their comments due to the spamn trap and that's what's causing the frustration.

I hope this helps, I've gotta go now!

Jen :D

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Abigail ducks in to say...

Posted October 23, 2009
Ah-ha! Thanks a lot, Jenn.

I know my questions were tiresome ones and I'm glad someone had the patience to answer them. Before you clarified the above it was like I was in Spain only I couldn't speak Spanish and everyone was saying what sounded like : " This whole discussion forum is falling to bits because of cyber-IT- technical-computery thingys" But apparently not. It's funny that some of it goes to Twitter - what's the point? It's 140 character replies! How silly. But I'm so 10 years ago.

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 24, 2009
Jennicki pretty much nailed it.

Some expansion. You dont have to join twitter to read the comments there - but it helps.

None of the worlds in the birmoverse are particularly linked together. You will have to search out for the conversations you want to be part of - Hint: look for commenter names ie; Jennicki, Dr Yobbo, Havock etc. They are all posting in multiple worlds, Twitter. Geek, Burger etc. Facebooks a bit different as its a gated community and many people use proper names rather than the handles they use elsewhere.

As has been stated repeatedly, most of this fuss is caused by NT being several steps behind the rest of the worlds. Its causing much aggravation as you can see.

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Abigail is gonna tell you...

Posted October 24, 2009
lobes-

Thanks for taking the time to answer as well.

I don't know what it mens that NT is behind the rst of the weorlds but I *thin* that must mean, NT could link every comment thread together. For example, say John posted a blog topic to BT/NT (I guess they're the same thing, or employ identical conventions) then presently, NT doesn't allow an open comment thread so you have to go to NT site to see the comments, OR you can go to Twitter but you can't see one "room" from the other. At Facebook, we see all of John's updates, but I guess the replies are from FB peeps only; we don't see Twitter replies/comments on FB.

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virty has opinions thus...

Posted October 24, 2009
re: q.1.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODshB09FQ8w

says it all, WITH vikings

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted October 24, 2009
Yes more or less. You will also not see NT/BT updates on Facebook. JB runs a program on his computer that will update Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. It will not work on NT/BT or here though. He needs to do those updates separately.

The basic problem is NT uses some cheap, poorly designed and implemented technology to run its blog site. It does not work very well and makes it difficult for people to leave comment. Like most media groups Fairfax has been clobbered by the IT revolution and is losing readership share and advertising revenue to the internet. They can't develop NT any further as this would cost money they cant afford to spend. The irony is by using such behind the times tech they are driving punters away and further contributing to their own demise.

Unfortunately for Fairfax they still believe in a Top-Down power relationship where they hold all the cards and commenters like you and I are expendable. They believe if they lose one or two of us it doesnt really matter. What they dont understand is that some power has shifted to us. If we so desire we can make things difficult for Fairfax by leaving critical comments on their blogs and elsewhere, running a boycott campaign against their site sponsors or in extreme circumstances running a DDOS against their servers (loosely - hacking their site and crashing it).

These are things you largely could not do with a newspaper but are mere keystrokes away on the internet. But Fairfax just dont get it, probably because most of their management are leftovers from when print journalism was their dominant business model. They really need to do themselves a favour and go through and clean out all their current management and editorial teams and replace them with people who understand the new dynamic of the internet.

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virty mumbles...

Posted October 24, 2009
hey wtf ... virty relegated to the burger spam trap?

now ya see it next ya don't.

DE JA FKN VU already.

bin a while since we was black listed on a forum.

at least i'm surely t'inkin' it was in 'ere somewheres. & it 'aint drug fkt paranoia. it might be the 12% choco stout fallabout but i doubt it.

only explanation is that young b'rgr goth fella is REAL BUSY he be'n agin' vikings and one eyed python spam links.

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virty ducks in to say...

Posted October 25, 2009
merde ... it's reappeared.

just like that.

there IS a forum fairy after all.

pz.v.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 26, 2009
Nope Virty, you're not seeing things.

Every now and then I go back to read a thread from the beginning (usually when someone's picked up a conversation and I can't figure out how it started) and I see something that I Swear to Dog wasn't there before.

Thanks for the eating out in Sydney tips. Ate so much on the first day (longrain, guylan cafe, food markets at The Rocks) that I had trouble with the buttons on my jeans. So decided to forgo the Bar Reggio. Next time. The Bloke is still salivating at the thought of what's on offer at the Barrenjoey too.

Sydney was a nuthouse. We stayed at the Siebel at The Rocks and while we were napping on Sat arvo one of those big river cruise party boats (The Lady Rose) pulled in to eject a few unruly partygoers. The whole friggin boat was completely out of control and about thirty minutes after they'd managed to get the boat away from the wildly masturbating and convulsing blonde they'd dumped on the wharf, the boat reappeared, escorted by water police and the maritime safety authority to eject the whole FKN lot of them.

We had a great view of the fun from our hotel room and it looked like a riot was about to start up but thankfully one of the funsters jumped into the water and tried to dodge the MSA boat so that turned the whole thing into a clown show. Which diverted attention from the bunch that were jumping up and down on that car wreck in the centre of the roundabout. They were somersaulting off it and into the path of oncoming traffic like they had no awareness it was there.

Looked like the entire boatload was off their faces on some sort of nasty aggro party drug.

Wow, and I thought the ferals in my neighbourhood were something else. What an eye opener.

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fknvirty reckons...

Posted October 26, 2009
LOFL fkn 'ell the siebel huh, used to have a very sexy nouveau piano bar downstairs, stingy martinis tho'.

- park bench with SMH or discarded soapbox in the domain is more my style. pz.v.

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 26, 2009
Thanks for further clarifying things, Lobes. (I only just backtracked and saw your reply. I'm kept busy following all the JB blog threads -there are several. I don't think I'd find time to pick up another blogverse at this rate :)

Yes, gee, that's terribly short-sighted of Fairfax. It's a bit business -oriented for me to fully grasp - you know, there's 1000 questions I could ask, but I get the major issue now.

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Abigail puts forth...

Posted October 26, 2009
PS- I think I'm going to have to sign up to Twitter so I have the choice to follow the rest of comments (as jennicki points out). Am I transformimg into a cheeseburger comments addict?? I am, aren't I??? Oh no!!!!!!

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Phantom reckons...

Posted October 30, 2009
That last part is so true. Not that JB writes crap, far from it, but I get more inspiration from a really bad published novel than anything else.

Yeah, Stephanie Meyer, I'm looking at YOU.

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Respond to 'Some answers to questions from Friday's writing blog.'

Massive multi-threaded narrative versus single POV or small ensemble cast stories.

Posted October 7, 2009 by John Birmingham
I noticed a small off-topic discussion break out in one of the 'Answers' threads below about whether in future I should be writing books with the same multiple POV structure used in AOT and Without Warning. I think I mentioned that both my Australian and US publishers were very keen for me to develop a single character who could then be set up in a franchise series of books.

I do have a great character I developed years ago for this very purpose and kinda stoked the idea, however I also really like huge multi-threaded narratives, especially for thrillers. I think it was Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising which first got me into that particular format, at least with military thrillers. Stephen King of course used the same structure in a few of his horror titles, most notably The Stand.

With two more books to finish in the current series it's not a decision I have to make quickly, but I would be interested in hearing everyone's opinions at this early stage.

For me, technically, the challenge of single point-of-view novels is that the reader can only know what the single protagonist knows. Whereas I've always had the luxury of setting things up out of view of my characters, simply by shifting POV into another character. That is a great luxury as a writer and not one I would give up easily.

88 Responses to ‘Massive multi-threaded narrative versus single POV or small ensemble cast stories.’

Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted October 7, 2009
I love reading stories written from a different point of view. I think they offer up the potential to see the things that one character is entirely unable to see about themselves and if you've got a character who is kind of 'off balance' it gives you the chance to walk in their shoes and see how distorted their world view is and how, often, they sink their own ships through their own defects.

In psychology they speak of 'Blind spots' - how there's always something about yourself or someone close to you that is hidden.

Multiple points of view give you the chance to explore those and you get a richness and a depth of layers that is missing from a single perspective.

Oh, and did you know that the BCC library doesn't hold a copy of Leviathan?

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Miche is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
Good Morning JB,

From my perspective as a reader I enjoy investing emotionally into one character for the length of the book and beyond. Most of my favorite books are so because I like/love the characters. While I know the plot is important and the explody goodness is mandatory, if the characters don't interest me the book is never read again. In books that have multiple POV I will skip/skim characters that don't interest me to read more of the characters that do.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
I've also noticed its a common criticism in movie reviews, that one character seems to be the focus of all the attention and other characters are not explored in any depth. So you get these glimpses into an interesting but unexplored character which leave the watcher feeling like they've never gotten the chance to see what makes them tick. They only get one perspective.

So if you want something to be made into a film that's likely to impress David And Margaret, (I am being facetious) you need layers.

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SirPhil swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 7, 2009
I like the idea of about 3 - 4 threads, like how Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn work. You have your Hero, you have the heroes support (CIA, FBI, Whitehouse) and then you have a couple of bad guy perspectives (AGAIN can possibly be CIA, FBI Whitehouse or Terrorists etc)

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NBlob reckons...

Posted October 7, 2009
*Chants*

Multi thread

Multi thread

Multi thread!

If WW had been the all singing all dancing Kaitlyn Show I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much as I did. Ditto AoT.

"Whereas I’ve always had the luxury of setting things up out of view of my characters, simply by shifting POV into another character." The theatre level action that I enjoy so much would be intolerably dry without the "Bejewelled bug caught in gum on whatsiswhosits boot" dirt level exlpodey goodness - and if you stuck to a single character you'd never get this balance. What does that ivory tower egghead General Murphy know about rubf*cking the ground under fire?

*runs away cackling maniacly*

Aunty Q, Coolum (Sunshine Coast) Library has a copy that looks like it's done about a million hard miles, but at least it has a copy.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted October 7, 2009
Ta, NwBob.

I'm still waiting for the revised edition to come out so I can purchase it from Avid.

Is that happening or is that another one of my wishful thinking type flights of fancy?

I felt it was my civic duty to point out to JB that the BCC library system is failing him.

And, more to the point, ME.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted October 7, 2009
Tell ya publishers to Kiss ya fury rump. Multi is just that. A single character book, only that you have several single characters all rolled into the book is all.

TC and Red Storm Rising did it for me, its possibly the most consumed book I have..AFTER AoT of course.

But gumps above have touched it already. It lets so much more action or romance or whatever you wish be able to be dragged into the mix. I am much , much more a fan of the Multiheaded hydra, jugger author ensemble book than a dinky singled headed, bland bit of publisher wanted diatribe.

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yankeedog is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
Depends. While I like books with multiple points of view, if a book covers, say, the actions of a single unit or group, then I don't have a problem with a single POV. I'd go back to Coyle's 'Team Yankee' as a good example of single POV-the team didn't have much knowledge of what was going on on a grand-strategic level, just what was happening in their given area of operations.

There's a good, non-committal answer for you. Any time I can not help, let me know.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted October 7, 2009
Depends on the character.

One issue that I have observed in the AoT and Without Warning projects is that certain characters are either highly popular or deeply disliked by the readership.

Forex, I know that Julia Duffy is popular with many (though personally, I have never warmed to her myself). Conversely, I know there has been some criticism of Caitlin in the Without Warning series.

The danger of a single character is that you might narrow the tent you operate the show out of. With a multi character system, you give readers the opportunity to skim some sections while concentrating on others.

The great strength of multiple POV is the ability to paint on a very large canvas. The problem is that you sacrifice character development for that large stage.

Conversely, the great strength of a single POV is that you can spend a lot of your time focusing on creating a dynamic, enduring character.

If I were writing a novel myself, my preference would be to do a single POV. That said, I do not think AoT lends itself to this, mainly due to precedent set by the original trilogy.

My two cents. I'm onboard no matter which way you go.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted October 7, 2009
Have to agreee wiff ya YD, team Yankee is possibly one of the best sml team, POV books hat I have read, certainly within he Mil Fiction range at least. Coyle did that very well, but I noticed that it was a stand alone.

Yet within the other books, Sword Point, Bright star and my FAV The Ten Thousand, which IMHO is the best of the lot. He keeps the team small, the scale is not overly large and follows his charactrs through. Thats possibly one a the great balances, he still manages to keep yo up to speed Theater wise on whats going on, even larger than that on occasion.

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
JB, look in large, world (maybe multiverse?) spanning novels i think multiple threads work best. However single POV or small cast novels work well esp in a limited locale.

If you write a single POV or small cast novel within a wider event you are likely to get disatsifaction from readers who want to know more, which will of course mean more work for you and less time playing Xbox live.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
Multi thread, I dont find claudine or celeste or whatever her name is (the spy in WW) that attractive or grippping a character. Focusing on but one person takes the risk of alienating people who cant/wont empathise with the protagonist.

I prefer the idea that we're all in this together (as in real life). You write such scenarios well so why not make the most of it.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 7, 2009
Lobes..it was caitlen, catland or whatever her name was. ..yeah, i didnt identify really well with her. the scenes were good, but i fear the rest of the attraction by some people relates o it bein in frog central. not for me. gimmea multi's jb.

chaz..he sucks at xbox...wont go on line for fear of getting pawned...AGAIN..pussie

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beeso reckons...

Posted October 7, 2009
I think the multi thread approach definitely suits the layered approach that your writing follows.

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DrYobbo reckons...

Posted October 7, 2009
Meh, they're just trying to make you into Matt Reilly. Cynical wankers. And who drives a fkn DeLorean anyway. What a choad.

I reckon single POV novels work best as first person, but that's a personal opinion.

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Brian mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
Multi-thread. And Multi POV. Its a useful exposition tool. Sweeping scope narrowed down to nuts and bolts single scope action. It also allows limited backstory. If you have single POV - you have to do a lot of backstory with it, you also end up with more spear carriers.

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DNABeast mumbles...

Posted October 7, 2009
I like single POV stories a lot.

If I haven't bonded with the character I get lost with the names and have to rely on various location and character cues to figure out if 'this is the same girl who collapsed during "the event" or if it's the beautiful journalist from the past'.

And of course, if I have bonded with them you can be sure that they'll die, tragically and pointlessly. Just like in real life.

(You're a Monster! :P )

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jennicki swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 7, 2009
Personally I think I would enjoy a single POV with Caitlin.

That being said, I think the multi-thread works best with stories like WW. The Wave was a worldwide event and it would've crippled the story if the perspective was limited to one person in one part of the world. I wanted to know how it affected the survivors in the US, and how it impacted the rest of the world, and I think the only way you can really reveal that to readers is through the use of multiple character perspectives.

And I can't imagine it's easy at all to write an expansive thriller with multiple characters and story archs, knowing when to run with it and when to rein them in.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 7, 2009
I know I am just a simple, ol' country lawyer, but I just don't understand why you can't do both, John. You can organize a book so that it has a dominant central character focused on a central stand-alone plot line AND have peripheral story lines featuring peripheral (although robust [think Stavros in WW]) characters that augment the novel but can be severed from it to support a screenplay. I really don't see why that isn't doable for someone of your proclivities.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 7, 2009
I'm sorry; did I say screenplay? I meant series of novels.

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Albion Love Den (Blue Box) asserts...

Posted October 7, 2009
I'm on the single POV band-wagon too, but with multi-thread approach to give context to what's happening with the main character.

As a nice addition, while single POV restricts what ground you can cover, it possibly provides exponentionally more entry points for fan-fic options?

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
I prefer the multi-thread format, especially with the expansive scope of your premises in AOT and WW. For a single character POV I'd wanna see one of the Quiet Room operatives as the star.

Or perhaps a new character called Able Seaman Haddock? Just sayin'.

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Naut has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
I have a gen Y attention span in a gen X brain. So multi-thread suits me. Maybe even multi-threads all in the same paragraph.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
Therbs, NAUT, ya on the TEAM. this other bunch of lets do single POV shite need taking out back nd swinging across the effin TOW BAR!...

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jennicki has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
Havock, wouldn't you love a single POV if the character was, oh let's say, Kate Beckinsale in a fkn PONYTAIL?

LOL

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MickH is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
I can't see why you can't do both. You have am ain character sure but why can't you go to the POV of secondary characters too. Take Dan Brown's latest Novel. We have the POV of Langdon, but you also have the POV of the antagonist and another secondary character as well. Seems to work so far.

I'm enjoying this one so far, except for a gaff of using a mobile phone in an RF free area.

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aaron ducks in to say...

Posted October 7, 2009
i like both formats but probably prefer the multi character the best. i find with single characters, as much as i like them, i start having trouble suspending my disbelief - just how many near death adventures can this person have before they say 'fuck it, i am working for the council' it can also get repetitive.

with multi POV, you get multiple angles and a wider world to explore (and more meat for sequels). for example I have had just as much fun on this blog discussing the side stories like that of Ali Moerterpo in AOT on this blog as i have reading the actual novels.

I think if JB's publishers want a dedicated franchise, wouldnt a 'This is an Axis of Time universe novel' do just as well as a character?

having said that, i am sure birmo's single pov character would have all the requisite explodey goodness

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
Jen...if she has FA on or is in DENIM jeans..FK YES!....

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted October 7, 2009
actually..just the ponytail will do.lol

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted October 7, 2009
You could do both. Imagine a novel filled with clones of The Rhino.

(jokes to the side, Alastair Reynolds House of Suns does the multiple perspectives with clones thing)

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simon bedak has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
Greetings all from Macca's, Wagga Wagga.

Call me old fashioned, but 1st pers narrative from a diarised present-tense is easier to bung on stage. then again, I'm in Bernard Levin's camp that all novels should have an index. Then again, JG Ballard's attempt to write a story using just a Index was just as good.

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lostatlunch puts forth...

Posted October 7, 2009
multi threads... all the big stars of all the books get a ample pages to get a story out... although all of them have other interesting stories in their back stories. I would be disappointed if there was only one major cast member, I did not really get the Caitlin angle but the crew of the Aussie Rules rocked my boat... in AOT, I liked the Harry portions more than the Lonesome Jones bits.. I would have loved to have seen more of Willett & Habibi... I felt they were squeezed out in order to only deliver a monolith.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
Okay, you're old fashioned, you wine drinking, play-writing, footy tipping contest hosting, cattle breeding bastard. You're fucking old fashioned.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted October 7, 2009
Bedes - is first person P.O.V. easier to cover when you get a gig doing audiobooks? You know, with that radio voice of yours?

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted October 7, 2009
Therbs, ireckon we would call bedes's notes as a " Rotund Rumble"

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Chaz mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
Dr Y;funny i was thinking something similar of course Mr Reilly is younger and allegedly more photogenic than the Scribe.

Squire B:bloody country yokels...

Therbs: could you imagine him doing most of the voices? it would be a scream.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted October 7, 2009
http://www.matthewreilly.com/authorbio.html

Chaz, if so I don't think his photo on his bio is evidence of this.

He looks bloody miserable.

At least JB can master teh appropriate author images of 'cranky' 'sleepy' and 'giggly'.

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DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted October 7, 2009
Am loving Aaron's idea of Jason Bourne or Jack Ryan (or even Our Cait) surviving one scrape too many and going 'Fuck this for a game of soldiers, I'm gonna fuck off and be a fucken stop and go man instead.'

Bedes, you're old school. You've been retro since back in the DAY.

It worries me that H wants to have the seksi times with a disembodied ponytail, and nothing else.

IMO the 'Universe' idea would probably be just as much a moneyspinner for the publishers as a Cait Monroe spinoff series, or whatever they have in mind.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 7, 2009
Dunno Dr. Yobbo,

If you had nasty enough ptsd I think you'd go ballistic with the stop and go sign and mash a soccer mum's SWAT vehicle into scrap metal.

For lack of a better weapon, I was tempted to take my rubber kick board to a few of them just yesterday in the car park at the local pool.

5km p/h in the toddler zone?

Nup. Hyperspeed for those overcaffeinated bitches.

I think Caitlin would need a job that offered less in the way of temptation towards violence.

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Abe puts forth...

Posted October 7, 2009
Please register my vote for multiple POV.

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Allan Dunbar would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2009
I think its a matter of greed. When you do something as momentous as you did in WW or AoT you want to see what is going on everywhere because they are earthshaking events.

That's not to say you couldn't tell the same story from a single character POV, but you might not be able to show events all over the world. You could mention them, but its not the same as having a character experience them.

I enjoy both types of novels and I would certainly buy a single character book if JB wrote it, but the sequels would depend on whether or not it worked. :)

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
"I would certainly buy a single character book if JB wrote it" Nice one Allan, look up the definition of solidarity sometime- we had better than 80% punching the Multistrand chad. [Joking]

"...events all over the world. You could mention them, but its not the same as having a character experience them." JB's thinking immersive VR as you type. Reccomend Barnes "Mother of All Storms" for (largely)interesting VR playout.

Lord Blarkon, Sir, multiple Rhino's is just too much for one small bear to bear.

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Guy would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2009
Definitely the multiple POV. JB the best thing about AOT and WW is the way you've created credible worlds with lots of lovely big picture detail. Single or small group POV stories inevitably have less information about what's happening worldwide. There was nothing wrong with Coyle's writing in Team Yankee but Red Storm Rising was much more interesting and enjoyable because we got to see what was going on away from the POV of a few junior grunts.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure you would do a fine job if you caved into the pressure to write a series of single character books but I strongly suspect that the finished product would be altogether less satisying than the material you have produced thus far.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2009
GUY..you also left out that the BAND OF BROTHERS WOULD BE SERIOUSLY PISSED!....

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Guy mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
Heaven forbid!

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Matthew K would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2009
Thisa is something I have thought about

It is much easier to empathise/indentify and establish depth with single character

Multiples characters each need their individual identities clearly defined. I must admit to finding the multiple POVs hard going in WW: it was like "Who's eyes am I seeing through now?"

My ideal is a single protagonist who is kick ass enough to survive in the hostile environment of a John Birmingham novel, gets around a lot but needs to have stuff explained to him by lots of other characters, (ie a big dumb guy but likeable and admirable). Lee Childs Jack Reacher character springs to mind.

So overall I agree with PNB: "dominant central character focused on a central stand-alone plot line AND have peripheral story lines".

Anyone here ever read Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand faces"? I'm struggling through it at the mo', it's very relevant to this debate.

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savo asserts...

Posted October 7, 2009
multi POV.

need I say more?

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simon bedak has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
Well if it's the Abe multi-player version that gets the nod, perhaps have the PageMaker monkey run different threads in different colours so an idiot like me can follow it more easily.

To be frank from the playwright pov, I find it's hard enough working with simple dialogue only to reflect characters without having the cunts all sound largely the same.

I know this'd probably translate across as more of a style thing than a substance thing with multi-pov's off the pages, but the fucker'd be the spoken language of the characters, and even their fucking thoughts, would have to be even more marked than on stage.

On the boards, some drunken poofter or over talented bimbo can say the chatter and do the work and differentiate in the audience's mind, one page liberated butterfly among a seething mass of cockroaches. The next night, they can be a moth, or a budgie, or whatever floats their boat.

But flat off the page?

Fucking hell. Better you than me. To make it rock, you'd need a way to train/direct the reader to be your actor/s.

Find a way, to have the reader want to change that every-page reading voice that peels through from odd-to-even-odd-page-thru. What a job.

Annoyingly good test one of my tutors use to inflict on me was to cover the names of the characters in the margins and if he couldn't tell who was who just from the chatter on the page, he'd say it was shit and make me do it again.

But within your medium? Nup. As I saym, fucking better you than me Birmo.

Then again, an e-book with character avatars might assist. Oops, unless I don't really exist, that's a bit self-referential.

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zeniph has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
love all the main characters - kolhammer, duffy, prince harry

probably love even more the bit players that fill in the gaps - the temp soldiers scoping out japanese occupied island with the hidden planes, the US guys at guantanamo bay (stavros?)

but most of all I love the world(s) they all exist in and all the concepts and tech that allows them to exist. so yaay massive multi-threaded

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damian asserts...

Posted October 7, 2009
quokka - "If you had nasty enough ptsd I think you’d go ballistic with the stop and go sign and mash a soccer mum’s SWAT vehicle into scrap metal."

You say that like it's a bad thing?

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girlclumsy has opinions thus...

Posted October 7, 2009
Apologies if this has already been said, but could you try a single-character book as a one-off experiment? Just to see how it goes.

As you say, you have luxuries with multi-POV, but maybe the challenge of a single thread might give you some awesome SPARTA self-pride. ;)

But thn, I have no idea. You write 'em, I'll read 'em.

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Moko reckons...

Posted October 7, 2009
Sounds like a reasonable pepsi challenge for Mr Birmingham. Keep ya on ya toes and all that.

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2009
As has all ready been said (partly) you'll have two worlds (plus a universe perhaps) to play in. I enjoy the multi POV, but no reason not test the waters of a single character. As you've said there are holes in the story you could fill.

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mckinneytexas would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2009
Multi, definitely. Single character, franchise novels in which the same person has an endless series of improbable adventures, endlessly dodging bullets and saving the day, taxes the thinking audience as well as the author. It is good marketing, up to a point, since the theory is that a market is captured, waiting breathlessly for the next book.

But it ceases to be about ideas and more about the central character. What makes JB's books so worthwhile is the thought that goes into, first, the POD, and then the impact on a range of characters in different, and at times, antagonistic, situations.

As a loyal Burger, I would buy and read all of JB's "Spiff, the Spaceman" novels, but I would mainly reread and compare them to AoT and WW/AA/??.

It is a rare single character that can consistently deliver--Flashman comes to mind, but then only because Fraser had a series of 19th century actual events to drop his character into as a witness/silent catalyst, etc.

JB has the chops to push back on this point and, IMHO, he should. Clancey's Red Storm Rising was a good book, one of Clancy's better books, actually, and it didn't involve Jack Ryan peeling off his shirt to reveal the blue suit with the red and yellow lettering.

I may have mentioned this point some years back (Jesus, it has been years now, hasn't it?): stay with what you know and do best. Left to your own devices and tendencies, you've kicked out a great series that really does beg for more and you have another in progress. You are susceptible, as any thinking person would be, to 'theme fatigue' after three books or so. Limiting yourself to a single character--or worse yet, contracting to write 3-5 books about the same person--could prove problematical.

But, if you must, "The Adventures of Tex McKinney, Civil Trial Lawyer" has a nice ring to it.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
There are some very good comments in this thread advocating for either direction. However I still think multi-threads are the more suitable for story telling on this scale (ie global event)

Of course factor in all the regulars here are used to reading crazy multi-threaded threads on a daily basis right 'here' and of course they will lean that way for stories as well.

Cannot get PNBs comment out of my head. Visualising a giant chicken approaching the bar a la futurama

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robW is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2009
Tex makes several good points, but the awful truth here is that for an analysis to be useful it should be comprehensive rather than anecdotal. I'm sure the analysis would show that the POV types would fall in clusters rather than monolithic styles: compare Michener's HAWAII and THE SOURCE, Wouk's THE WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, and of course, Clancy's RED STORM RISING. At one end of the continuum is Clancy: his RED STORM chapters are more like what we would call short treatments. At the other end is Michener, whose SOURCE chapters are stories complete within themselves, stitched together within a central story. While each is structurally similar, they all fall differently under the “seven basic plots” and the “seven basic needs.”

On the other hand, the motivation of the authors themselves was entirely different. Clancy and Michener were businessmen who were more interested in publishing franchises driven by invisible galley slaves writing for them. Wouk and King, on the other hand, are incorrigible writers, and no one can pry the pen out of their hands.

But wait, there's more. Look a Clive Cussler, back when he still had a day job as a copy writer for an advertising agency in Denver and was just starting to develop his central character, Dirk Pitt. The list could go on and on.

I end by suggesting that in your prolific free time you take a look at a long out-of-print book by an English academic, Jerry Palmer. One is THRILLERS: GENESIS AND STRUCTURE OF A POPULAR GENRE and the other is POTBOILERS.

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you continue to enjoy writing yourself and don't end up with hired penmen in your basement cranking out formula books.

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robW puts forth...

Posted October 8, 2009
Did something happen here? The conversation froze.

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joe asserts...

Posted October 8, 2009
Whatever you write, I will probably end up giving it a read, and let you know how I thought it went.

Is it true you are rewriting/have rewritten Leviathan? It really didn't flow so well but had plenty of "awesome" in it regardless.

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joe mutters...

Posted October 8, 2009
How would you do that in single-perspective I wonder?

An immortal Cockroach being from the future come to take notes for a thesis?

Fly(roach) on the wall?

:)

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 8, 2009
Hum, JB, re: the current NT conversation...there is something about being asked to justify a group's raison d'etre that never fails to give me flashbacks to boarding school.

I was front and centre of a couple of activities that got banned.

One of course was the karate club - which didn't stop me training outside of school and going on to black belt, and the other, oddly enough, was the Rowing Club.

The headmistress had a fairly conservative agenda of these activities being 'unladylike'. Which, in 1980, she was never going to come out point blank and state.

I never did figure out what she had against rowing until I had a client who coached rowing at a rival girls' school. She explained that our headmistress hated rowing because it gave girls big arms and shoulders and made us appear intimidating to the boys. (yep. GRRRRRAAAAAHHH) And since our school churned out a good number of girl -on girl partnerships I don't think she wanted to add to the Unmarried Stats.

As you may or may not have noticed on meeting me, the girth of my shoulders is in fact, greater than that of my hips...yup, sorry GC but I am in fact a size larger up top becoz of my tender leanings towards rebelling against authority figures...

My point being that I don't think I have a lot to add to the cause of Fairfax V. Cheeseburger, today.

I'm getting far too many flashbacks to 'Well, tell us why this activity is important to you and if you can justify it's importance, we will allow it to continue.'

Sorry, but over and above the scent of Spam I smell Hidden Agenda.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 8, 2009
Then again maybe she was just worried I'd end up in some hell hole working as a jelly wrestler.

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Brian puts forth...

Posted October 8, 2009
Yaaay! Score! I lost a post on the NT thread . . . . .

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El Coqui asserts...

Posted October 8, 2009
I had used multi as well as single POVs on my stories. Which is best depends on what tale are you trying to tell.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted October 8, 2009
Welcome to the Spam Trap, Brian.

I hope you packed the cat shit.

They love that stuff in there.

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted October 8, 2009
I say, I seem to have run aground on one of those spamfiltering shoals as well. Not that I need much excuse to sit around and wait for the tide of course. Beer anyone?

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Brian mutters...

Posted October 8, 2009
Well . . . .looks like I've got interesting company. I reckon it was when I mentioned 'Quokka' . . . .and then . . . Melbourne Storm. I was looking for triggers . .

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aaron swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 8, 2009
you know what dr yobbo, if i get the time i will write a fan fic about - one of the jb's characters chucking in to become a council lifer. that would be hilarious!

another thing about multi threads i've noticed is that they are like The Beatles White Album - everyone has a different opinion of what the best bits are.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted October 8, 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooKaCbMvaZ0

Attention GirlClumsy if you are out there, you might want to check out Harry Connick in his Pot Calling The Kettle Black attire.

Sorry for the hijack all but if the NT had their shit together, I could chuck it in there.

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sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 8, 2009
"handling multiple characters / threads" = skill set John Birmingham. enuff said.

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sparty asserts...

Posted October 8, 2009
How the hell do you create a account on that bloody thing? doe sit only accept Oz postcodes? (which i have tried..)

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted October 8, 2009
Ooh, the tide came in. Now adrift, champagne?

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted October 8, 2009
Damian, I appear to have found a simmilar sand bar a few hundred yards upstream this afternoon.

Holy bat-spoor JB - The Love In has arrived! 91 comments of pure pant-moistening adoration.

What impresses me the most is the capacity to steer "blunty’s main battle tank" like a maestro fiddles his stradavariwhatsit.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 8, 2009
Ah, the Spam Trap.

It swallows us all.

And spits up the the tentacle porn of BigBillyBlowOff.

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damian mumbles...

Posted October 8, 2009
NBob, on first glance that looked like stradivariwurst, a vaguely compelling prospect. I think it would go very well indeed with this nice Western Australian Cabernet Merlot.

As for the love in - I think the best aspect of blunty is the ironic distance.

Now I am imagining a Blondie song called 'Ironic'. Interteshamuality an' all that.

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted October 8, 2009
sparty: doe sit only accept Oz postcodes?

Yes, according to Birmo it does indeed need an Aus postcode. It didn't like my Cambridgeshire UK one at all.

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savo puts forth...

Posted October 8, 2009
I don't know if this has been mentioned previously, but without multiple points of view like we had in AoT, we can't has such an utter act of bastardery perpetrated on us like "Our Scribe" did with Dan Black.

Without such a spread of characters we can't have a heavy emotional investment shattered in such a way. If there is only the one major character, the emotional investment is only really in that one character and it's a bit pointless killing off the franchise.

So, again multiple POV please.

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savo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 8, 2009
“The Adventures of Tex McKinney, Civil Trial Lawyer” ... Even my wife says she'll read that book.

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted October 8, 2009
Senator McKinney is correct. The Flashman novels are da schnitzel.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 8, 2009
Joe, yes, I am rewriting Leviathan. Folding the 3rd and 4th chapters into each other, and adding a chapter on the city's aesthetic history.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 8, 2009
Sparty, MattK had the same issue. Used a local post code. Mine actually 4171 Bulimba, Qld.

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Scott has opinions thus...

Posted October 9, 2009
Multi Pov please! The types of books you write wouldn't work in single pov. Anyway it is limiting, just look at Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan could only go so far.

Your books are set on a planetary scale and readers like me get the shits with authors who create large events like the wave and sending a fleet back in time and then leave out the jucey details.

Besides multi pov allows for higher bodycount, as above there is only a limited number of times person x can escape from plot device y.

Thanks for the graight books!

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 9, 2009
The Bloke (He Who Could Not Give A Rat's Nad's about Blogging - but who reads your books) wishes to register his vote for multi POV.

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Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted October 9, 2009
After counting the votes I've got multi-thread beating single-POV 23-7

I didnt count fence sitters like Chaz, Jennicki and Blarkon. Also left off a few others who I couldnt work out what they were saying (but nothing new there)

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted October 9, 2009
Lobes, what are you purple monkey dishwasher saying?

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted October 9, 2009
Lobes, you could probably count me as more your Joseph Conrad, many stories in one but layered to come through a single 1st person narrator right at the top level sort of guy. But don't count that as an actual vote - I'm more "meh whatever" on how Birmo chooses to write, he seems to do both styles pretty well.

Mind you, there's the danger that any 1st person narrator character Birmo comes up with would be the same one from Tassie Babes, in improbable disguises. The really interesting project would be where he consciously invents a character with a voice very different to his own, and shows us the world of the novel through that voice. Quite a challenge, that - possibly not a timely one. And I don't think Birmo's quite finished what he started in the multi-threaded story space.

And sorry Birmo, I only realised halway through that I was basically addressing you in the 3rd person. Too lazy and tipsy to go back and fix it just now ;)

NFknBob, all I can say to you at this point, is "potatoes".

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damian puts forth...

Posted October 9, 2009
Ray - along the Tom Clancy line, I recall quite clearly from the movie version of Patriot Games, when they're in the operations centre during the raid on the terrorist camp, how unpleasant it makes some of the CIA agents/analysts look. Well, specifically the dude who quite superfluously pipes up with "That's a kill". Not sure if it's meant to draw attention to the modern professional's dispassionate regard for violence, but whatever it is that didn't work for me.

Interestingly a box of books from my teenage years came back into my possession recently, including a stack of Cussler's novels. I will probably have to reread a couple to see if I still hate him ;)

Now Geoffry Jenkins - there's a good thriller writer.

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mckinneytexas asserts...

Posted October 9, 2009
John, per Lobes, the vote it is in.

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SJPONeill reckons...

Posted October 9, 2009
Sorry, I'm late...multi-POV works better for me in stories on the scale of AoT and WW...as above Tom Clancy got it right in Red Storm Rising then totally lost me for about 10 years because I could not get into Jack Ryan...the down side of multi-POV is that they can be so broad that they become difficult to screw into a single coherent movie as a follow-up project (PJ got so lucky with LOTR that it actually worked). Other good examples on a multi approach include Larry Bond's Red Phoenix, Cauldron and Vortex; Mark Berent's Vietnam series; and Barret Tillman's The Sixth Battle. 633 Squadron, Charlie Mike, and The Eagle Has Landed are great examples of the single POV way and 2 of those 3 are also great movies...

FKN Damian - I binned all my Cusslers years ago but have now reacquired most of them, having found that I now quite enjoy them as non-challenging entertainment; ditto for the Jack Ryan's - probably a sign that I've chilled out a bit over the years and no longer expect everything I read to be 110% accurate and realistic - probably why I can enjoy Matthew Reilly as well...

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Respond to 'Massive multi-threaded narrative versus single POV or small ensemble cast stories.'

Even more answers.

Posted October 5, 2009 by John Birmingham
Springfield Fats asked in the Ivan thread how much scenario planning went into the AOT series. I guess the short answer is bugger all into Weapons of Choice, and rather too much into the other two books. Designated Targets in particular was plotted out scene by scene, against a huge white board full of branching consequences for every single plot point. I dialed it back significantly for Final Impact. And I must admit there were some scenarios I should have spent more time investigating, but I didn't. The middle east for instance was an arena in which very little on screen action took place, and I've often wondered about whether or not it'd be cool to set a spinoff series there. But then on the other hand NBob did raise a whole Indonesian storyline which all took place of the page. Again there's a lot you could do there.

I think that Guy identifies the narrative sweet spot however, in his comment about the European theater being the most interesting because of the Soviet takeover. I don't know how many of you read Steve Stirling's Draka series but the second book which was set in an alternate occupied Europe was quite amazing in terms of world building. If I was going to go back to the AOT at novel length I would probably do it in Europe 10 years after the end of the war. Something like an old Cold War espionage novel except in a Transition universe.

Having said that, McKinney's point about the Zone being another mother lode of narrative potential is also true. (By the way MacSpeech Dictate would like to call McKinney 'bikini'). When I was writing the novels I always found the sections set in the zone to be the most entertaining to write, with the possible exception of the New York scenes, simply because of all the concentrated points of divergence you have in the San Fernando Valley.

42 Responses to ‘Even more answers.’

Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
The Quiet Room is surely another sweet spot/mother lode.

Come on, John. Just commit to doing a fourth book picking up where you left off in the third. Nothing fancy. Nothing requiring extraordinary effort beyond the usual extraordinary effort it takes to write a novel. Hell, this one will damn well write itself.

Come on, John. Just say yes. You know you want to.

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HAVOCK is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2009
Europe 10 years on from the emergency as a follow on whilst interesting, I think would simply be the cold war brought forward on the time line. Unless of course as background the US and Russia have already gone AT IT somewhere else on the planet.

The one that always held great appeal to me and has been the content of numerous day dream session was pre the emergence, the Middle east. You touch just briefly on Damascus and ME previous battles and to be honest I find it fascinating. THAT or the ME post the AoT series holds vast potential. OK, there is vast potential all over…but that’s my fantasy thread if I could wave the wand.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
PNB...oh he wants too i reckon, just hes being a girl and not making up his mind, like an effin girl

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
I suspected the same, but didn't want to be the first to mention it because I harbor hope that a character will be named after me - one that is tall, good looking and athletic.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2009
The other reason I would like to see the AoT Prequel come out is the TECH. I’m willing to wager the Boss has thought about this. In the AoT series we see 21C go up against WW2 era ear, we have all marvelled at the oh so sexy kit but its relatively one sided.

Now just sit back an imagine 21C gear and like!, the terrorist and 21C kit, Syrian armoured units and 21C kit go off all over the page. The chance to dream up more shite as well that not fully included, expand on what countries are doing, play with he political landscape some more….DAM!, the possibilities are FKN endless and just about give me a H@RD ON ! thinking about it!

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
PNB my spouse is the JB fiction reader and he frequently tells me that one day JB is going to put a Quokka in his story and it will die a horrible, horrible, nasty death.

And he, The Bloke, will laugh his head off.

And PNB, I do not think it at all wise to make such a wish in the same post where JB has said 'Bikini' - unless you want your character to be a long legged cross dresser who hangs out at The Sportsman on Sunday nights wearing string shirts and sipping Long Island Iced Tea.

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Tarl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
PNB - remember, we saw a fanfic with Havock & Rhino being major characters.

I almost broke a rib reading it. That could happen to you :-)

Personally, I'd like to see a prequel or perhaps post-quel in the world the fleet came from. Seeing how that world is put together would be pretty interesting - and how they react to a fleet disappearing off the coast of Indonesia.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
Shut up! Shut up all of you! Just stick to the script! "4th book." "4th book." "4th book." You risk frightening the man with fancy talk of "prequel" and "postquel." Stick to the script.

Quokka: I'm not afraid.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
PNB.. ( in best YODA VOICE)....you should be....you should BE!

Quokka, whats the name for a book that comes out mid stride of the series...Interruptous..????

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 5, 2009
Depends what kind of bikini you've got on the cover, Hav.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted October 5, 2009
The books appeals, or the series I should say. Was in its WHAT IF and the blending of tech, the consequences, yeah and the characters as well.

But Like I said before, I will say it again. If we go down the path of T55/70’s running own the Fulda GAP, we simply have another Nato V RUSSIA type scenario.

You could do a whole mini series on HRH Harry and his daring do exploits…. An his just as dashing and daring do partner HAVOCK!. That would sell bucket loads of copies…

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Brian mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
'Marching Through Georgia'

That was the interesting one.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
As in "Life Partner"

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Tarl puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
Brian - disagree. Marching Through Georgia was a fairly standard war/battle story, with minor traces of world building underneath it. The scary one was Under the Yoke, where an entire slaveholding society was described in credible detail from both top and bottom.

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Chaz mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
I still think we should have a prequel, I will be willing to take one for the team and do the indepth research in France (as long as I can claim it against tax)!

JB BTW lunch was ok, not inspiring (just to make you feel better), should have gone to Rockpool

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
I bags the Middle east and TESTING of wepons characteristics......er...EFFECTS!

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HAVOCK is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2009
The question is: Would an Author who puts down, dare i say it, such a great series ( THREE) of books, who had such a gapping effin holes waiting to be filled in ( prequel), would they be called a girls blouse, sook, sisy, wimp, if they DID NOT DO A PREQUEL!...thats the sixty five million dollar question. After all, was it not the collective voice..PLUS MINE, that managed to slap own the cretins at NT and get some shite down...hey..hey!..was it not. So I'm thinking we shoudl belt the living verbal crap outta JB until he commits to the PREQUEL!.

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Chaz has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2009
H considering the Scribes enfeebled state (after being smacked around by a young girl), I can't say that it'd be too much of a challenge.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
I have yet to see results from this so called Bitch Slapping at the NT.

Suspect our complaints re: the format are about as bothersome to them as a gnat on an elephants arse.

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted October 5, 2009
Tarl. Depends on what I found interesting about it. :))

It was a Staligrad set-up.

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savo mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
Ladies and Gents, there is still plenty of room in the Mini-burger for you to expand on your favourite parts of AoT. Haddock, have you been holding anything back?

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Chaz puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
Savo, hmm got to dig up 'Dien Bien Phu II' if I can find it.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2009
oh, they're bothersome quokka. i've made myself very unpopular in some qtrs by insisting they be followed up.

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SJPONeill mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
I think the prequel will (let's use positive words here like it is going to happen and NEXT!!) rock and the concept excites me almost as much as it does Havock (scary in its own right)...was listening to the Beeb yesterday on my way back from Cosford and there was serious talk about Tony Blair becoming president of Europe so maybe the alternate universe is already here?

A 50/60s sequel to AoT (as opposed to Cold War as there might not be a Cold War) would be interesting (but not as much as the prequel) as it might provide an opportunity to 'learn' the lessons for the future...maybe the Allies will have a breather and then deal to Uncle Joe Stalin much like Dean koontz did in Lightning? Maybe the western nations won't go down the whole nationalisation, east of Suez path and secure the Middle East for ourselves; maybe Tahiti will nuke France before anyone in the Champs d'Elysee has ever heard of Mururoa; maybe the OSS will support Ho Chi Minh, the French will get arsed out of IndoChina (all in favour of an alternate universe that hammers France, raise your hands), the Vietnam wars will never occur and the space programme doesn't stop after Apollo? maybe David Lange (Google is your friend) sticks it to the French after Rainbow Warrier....

But I still think that the prequel would be better...

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 5, 2009
SJP that's the first good laugh I've had all day. Thanks.

And Savvo, who are you calling a Lady?

JB gotta admit that after sifting through some of the comments at the Courier Mail website today I have some sympathy for the spam trap at the NT. At the Courier Mail Website, no one can hear you scream....yaaaaaaargh...scary shit.

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sibeen mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
Jesus, he's not Frank Herbert, you know. His kids arn't old eneough to be writing novels as yet.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2009
Quokka. Yeah, if you take a peek around other NEWS sites and so forth, you can see that we tend to get away with a fuckload more than all the others. Thats a pretty big shift for the NT munters to get their head around. I suspect also its a pretty big shock on top of that, to have not only the author, but pretty much all the posters go POSTAL on their collective arses as well. Being told what you have is shit does not go down well with most people.

the smart ones look and listen and adapt, time will tell of course, but we have a very unique crew that comments, toss in the author and I reckon the have struggled with the whole ensemble going off at them somehow.

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Guy has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2009
Well I'm still hoping for a new AOT novel and I think JB is absolutely right that concentrating on Europe 10 years into a new cold war would be the way to go. Instead of East Germany we get the hideously evil state of southern France - to keep Mr SJPONeill happy it could even get nuked!

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sibeen ducks in to say...

Posted October 5, 2009
we get the hideously evil state of southern France

So things haven't changed in this universe then?

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
WTF...cheese eatin surrender monkeys..WTF..EFFIN HELL FK FRANCE..JFW..if he even goes near fkn france I'll cap his arse

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2009
Yes Hav.

I must remember to save them a little something from the kitty litter box as a gesture of my appreciation for all that they've done so far.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
quokka..not much..just some. THATS me doing my good deed for the day. As for the french think..well stomp, cap. rip tear crash and fkn burn the bastards

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sparty ducks in to say...

Posted October 5, 2009
interetsing that most research went into "Weapons of choice" for me that was the one with teh biggest pay off and the one where I ddint know what would happen. By final impact events were kind of limite dby cause and effect, particulary cause of nukes - so I'm very intrigued by the book idea of a alt his world where Mahahtten project failed.

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Matthew K would have you know...

Posted October 5, 2009
savo: "there is still plenty of room in the Mini-burger for you to expand on your favourite parts of AoT."

Actually I'm interested to see that there I'm not the only one still stuck on AoT, I thought you all had moved on to WW.

I do have a half finished AoT fanfic...

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Damaso mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
It must be an interesting position to be in to have so many options in terms of what to write and so very little time! I agree with Paul, we want to see whether or not a Sherman crashes into the Kremlin or a T55 into the White House.

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Vallon Davis mutters...

Posted October 6, 2009
I think that there should be a stand alone book that could serve as an added conclusion for the first three books, where we can find out what happened to other characters that were in the first two books, but were left out in the third, would include all the material that you originally wanted to include but had to cut (like the face off between Lonesome and contemporary Marine Generals), and parts set in other areas that were mentioned but not expanded on or not really concluded (the uprisings in the Middle East, the growing Civil War in the Soviet Union, Soviet Occupation further than where they went on the original time line, dealing with the killer of Anderson and Myizaki). As for the next trilogy, it can pick up some ten or fifteen years later, where the Soviets are fighting a war of attrition in China and Vietnam; where a large number of Russian troops are fighting a Dien Ben Phu type battle, and Zukhov is sent from the Civil War in the Soviet Union to command the forces there, but his helicopter is shot down and he is listed as missing in action to the Kremlin, but it was actually a reuse as he uses it as a way to defect to the Rebel Russian Forces who are growing in numbers and gaining more territory from those forces loyal to Stalin.

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mckinneytexas has opinions thus...

Posted October 6, 2009
The AoT-verse is a broad canvas. OTOH, JB's got to follow his advisers' leads, the question being whether he does it in real time or a point of departure yet to be announced. Maybe the WW is the vehicle for an extended story line . . .

Should he go back to AoT at some point (his advisers should give this some serious thought), it needs to be at a point when he is really on fire with an idea. Writing a book because you have to leads to the Turtledove syndrome (book after freaking book, yet not a single story to be told).

Under the Yoke was Stirling's second in the Draka series. Like AoT, the Draka series was one that could and should have been continued, but apparently, there are contractual differences and whatnot that keep that from happening. I think JB's situation is different. Burgers may recall, reading between JB's lines, that a bit of AoT fatigue had set in while he was grinding out the last of Final Impact. I suspect there is a lingering sense of "Jesus, when is this going to be over?" bouncing around in John's head. In time, maybe after he can learn to say 'no' to every commission that comes his way and learn to pace himself a bit better, he will have an epiphany and come up with 'the great story line' for another AoT trilogy. Until then, though, John should follow his current leads, probably for a couple of years anyway, until he can look at AoT with a totally fresh and enthusiastic view.

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Damaso mutters...

Posted October 7, 2009
This has probably been mentioned but what about a collection of short stories set in the AoT universe?

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NukemHill has opinions thus...

Posted October 9, 2009
Damaso, I had exactly the same thought. Even more interesting would be if he mixed in some fan-fic (if it's good enough, and gets solid editorial support). That'd be fun.

I hadn't realized until now that there was such an active interest in the AoT storyline. Like I said in an earlier thread--I'm picking up Designated Targets on the way home tonight. I'm absolutely looking forward to it. If possible, my appetite's been whetted even more by reading all of these comments.

And John? Nukem Hill will either be a sub driver, or a post-apocalyptic cowboy. Your choice. ;-) Either way, he's randy as hell, and dies a horrifying death.

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Guy puts forth...

Posted October 9, 2009
The short story option was taken quite successfully by Steve Stirling with the 'Drakas' collection (including one story by Harry Turtledove) and I have no doubt it would work well enough with the AOT. However it would not be a real sustitute for a new novel by JB - or better still a new series of novels.

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Barry is gonna tell you...

Posted June 15, 2015
Great to see the Skyhawks get a showing in Final Impact. One of the finest cheep attack aircraft produced.

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted June 15, 2015
Does this thread really date from October 2009? Barry, I love a considered response.

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Respond to 'Even more answers.'

More Ivan answers.

Posted October 5, 2009 by John Birmingham
Springfield Fats asked in the Ivan thread how much scenario planning went into the AOT series. I guess the short answer is bugger all in Weapons of Choice, and rather too much in the other two books. Designated Targets in particular was plotted out scene by scene, against a huge white board full of branching consequences for every single plot point. I dialed it back significantly for Final Impact. And I must admit it was some scenarios which I should have spent more time investigating, but I didn't. The middle east for instance was an arena in which very little on screen action took place, and I've often wondered about whether or not it'd be cool to set a spinoff series there. But then on the other hand NBob did raise a whole Indonesian storyline which all took place of the page. Again there's a whole spinoff series you could do there.

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Respond to 'More Ivan answers.'

Answers! Answers! Precious answers.

Posted October 4, 2009 by John Birmingham
Okay, at last. Sorry about that. Friday was a hell day with deadlines, Friday night we had visitors until quite late, and Saturday I was out all day. This morning however I woke up an hour earlier by accident because I suspect Telstra's 3G network pushed the clock on my iPhone forward an hour while I was sleeping, little realizing I live in Queensland, i.e. the past.

They'll be a reckoning for this, my friends. A heavy reckoning indeed.

Still, it gives me some time to answer a few questions before I walk the dog. So, the Kanto plain. Sparty (whom MacSpeech Dictate refers to as Spicy) is correct. I was thinking about an invasion of Japan at the end of Final Impact. There were a couple of reasons I didn't go down that path. Murph has covered a few of them in his notes, but there was also the complicating factor that I wanted to save an invasion of Japan for entirely separate series of alternate history novels set in the 1980s but with a point of departure at the end of the second world war when the Manhattan Project failed. I've done some work on that project but haven't presented it to any publishers or agents yet. Some of you may recall a brief extract I ran from it at the old cheeseburger back at journal space. Bottom line however, an invasion of Japan would have required an entire book all on its own. And I'm pretty happy with the way I wrapped it up. Nuking the Imperial Palace after all, what's not to love about that?

A few people asked about whether there would be any more books set in the AOT universe. That's hard to say. The books are very profitable, and still deliver a royalty stream, but both publishers here and in the US are very keen for me to do something with a single ongoing character in what ever series I do next. And I happen to have a project along those lines that I've been itching to do for about 10 years. However, that doesn't mean AOT is dead. If and when I push ahead with my plans to start releasing stories and books via the app store (and its non-iPhone equivalents) it will be that particular universe that I work in. And that could happen as soon as next year.

Timmo asked way back at the start of the thread about the naming of the incidental characters. He was wondering whether all of the non-historical characters were blog buddies, mates, minor literary figures and so on. Answer, no not all of them, but yes lots of them. It's a series in which hundreds of characters appear over the course of the three books and it's hard work naming them all. As for the second part of his question, asking whether Weapons Of Choice grew out of a bit of frivolous fuck knuckling around while I was working on Leviathan, yes, Nick Earls was correct. That is exactly how it came about.

Mr. havoc (Whom MacSpeech just referred to as 'haddock') is also correct. Capt. Halabi is entirely jumpable.

Right now, however I have to walk the dog. So I'll answer a few more of these later.

54 Responses to ‘Answers! Answers! Precious answers.’

Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 4, 2009
I knew there was something fishy about MacSpeech.

So my question, then, is why does it not call Cap. Halabi Captain Halibut?

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted October 4, 2009
If you do, it needs Javelin missiles.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted October 4, 2009
The electronic gods have spoken through their electronic prophet, MacSpeech (peace be unto it). Henceforth, Sparty should be referred to only as Spicy and Havoc only as Haddock, and spicy haddock should be the dish we eat during the high holidays of our new electronic religion to commemorate this very moment.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 4, 2009
Wait a minute, all kidding aside - John, are you saying that the only way I am going to get any more AoT will be via an iPhone?

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 4, 2009
PNB you need a new addiction.

May I suggest tupperware. The Happy Chopper is just what you need to spice up your fish.

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Abe mutters...

Posted October 4, 2009
Could the "single ongoing character" have a yen for sausages?

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted October 4, 2009
I was happy a little reference to the North Bondi RSL got slotted in - being a member and all, and it's my favoured watering hole at the rare times I get to rehydrate and top up alcohol levels.

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savo asserts...

Posted October 4, 2009
But what about the movie John, the Movie! or at least an anime series.

AND

WTF is that televison stuff you hinted at a few months ago? Not AoT related?

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yankeedog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 4, 2009
I am not HAVOCK, I AM a FKN GOD DAM fish!

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted October 4, 2009
Here fishy fishy fish.

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Quokka mutters...

Posted October 4, 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkF7Bj5cxJU

Ever since JB said the F word, I have had an image of Commander Haddock sitting for his engineer's exam, as per Rimmer in Red Dwarf.

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted October 4, 2009
God NWB! Leave Haddock alone. He's only a tiddler.

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FKN HDK would have you know...

Posted October 4, 2009
Fish CN GT FKD - all there FKN slimey nance feral schenanGNs. Sometin FKN FISHY about FKN FISH. Dont evun TruSt them at the shop when I order FKN FLAKE.

Only FKN Funny Fish is my TIE that is shaped like a fish which is FKN comedy GOLD!

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted October 4, 2009
'Comedy Gold' . . . .fish? Oh my Cod!

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Big Bad Al swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 4, 2009
Mmmm....Fried Haddock... Love the smell of Fish Oil in the morning.

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spicy is gonna tell you...

Posted October 4, 2009
cheers brimo!

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lostatlunch mutters...

Posted October 4, 2009
Abe, Julia Duffy had a yen for sausage..

I googled and found a smoked Haddock & bacon sausage

John, could any amount of on-going royalties lure you back into the Falafel omniverse?

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted October 4, 2009
Anyone else percieve a piscatorial pattern forming?

Tentacle pr0n one day & Haddock the next.

Yes yes move past the cheesy alliteration. It's my problem & the therapy is helping.

JB, these "stories and books via the app store " of which you speak, is there anyone doing it already or are you hanging out on the bleeding edge of lit? Not being either a Mac person nor in the 21st Century I'm yet to have the priviledge of the app store & would be interested to know more about the business model from a "content suppliers" perspective.

Also I'm intrigued by the ongoing character concept, any chance he / she or it will be betting horn inches & pettin pussy cats?

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Timmo ducks in to say...

Posted October 4, 2009
Comedy gold, indeed Captain Haddock! But perhaps it is found in the posts above, rather than in the form of a nautilean necktie or crustacean cravat?

JB, cheers for the answers.

I've been mostly a follower at Blunty, posting now and then, but have recently made the leap here.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
JB: "do something with a single ongoing character", mm yes! I understand the difficulty of limiting oneself and that a single protagonist must balancing sympathy, credibility and all round bottom kicking ability but I found it a bit tiring keeping up with the who's who of the cast.

Captain Haddock! Hah, of course! So does that mean JB is Tin Tin? who's Snowy?

When I was about 12 or 13 I read an invasion of Japan war novel, cannot remember who wrote it - it involved a black DUKW driver and a black aviator (amongst others).

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2009
There's a few novels on this it turns out. I think it was this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Lighter-Feather-David-Westheimer/dp/0929398904%3FSubscriptionId%3D1PBBW85R76PQTM62KDG2%26tag%3Danswers2000limit%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D0929398904

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
Smoke him a kipper, he'll be home for breakfast.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted October 5, 2009
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,26164722-952,00.html

Hmm. Back to what I was saying a while ago about people in my family history group discovering that someone in their family is embellishing their history.

This type of thing is fairly common.

I have a friend whose ex tells people that he was in the Vietnam War at a particularly famous battle and he has a metal plate in his head and other nasty injuries that he sustained from it. Nobody seems to question it, even though his age is a little 'off' for him to have been in that particular conflict.

I don't understand how they get away with it.

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
For those of you who are overseas, its very easy to check this stuff on the net.

I just don't see why it is so hard for a publisher to

1. Check the nominal roll to see if X has a service number and their story stacks up

2. Do a quick search to see if the Unit that X claimed to be in actually did the things that X claimed.

I don't get how this kind of fraud gets this far.

Oh, and for the record, my friend has trouble convincing some of her kids that Daddy is a liar. Even though you can see that there's nobody by that name on the Vietnam Vets nominal roll. There are no scars on his head to suggest a plate was ever inserted and short of running a metal detector over his head at the kid's hockey meetings, I can't see how she's ever going to be able to convince mutual acquaintances that this guy is FOS because he is very, very charming.

I know, I'm stuck on this but I just don't get how this kind of lie goes on for years and gets to this kind of pinnacle of deception. All it says to me is that people WANT to be deceived.

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted October 5, 2009
Ah yes, i recognise that ip addy now. Welcome to Hell.

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Lobes reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
The AoT series seems to be very popular and the large cast of characters does not seem to have hurt reader appreciation of it. I cannot understand why publishers are so intent on having JB write novels that only focus on one character.

Is it because thats what they know how to market best? Perhaps they have one eye on how this will afect future projects and spin offs or something else? These are all secondary considerations if you ask me. I have yet to hear any actual artistic justification for it.

JB should not be constrained from creating Tolstoyesque worlds if he wants to and more importantly we as readers should not have publishers dictate what is an appropriate way to construct a story. JB is the artist, let him do his work. Publishers should stick to making sure the printing plates are in the right order and that they have the right shade of ink for the cover art. Getting involved on a deeper level than that just demonstrates why they are not themselves writers.

tl;dr JB = writer, we = readers, publishers = booksellers. Just let everyone do their jobs.

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
I was bleeding edge until Nick Cave released his porno schlock fest last week. And no, it wont be exclusive to the app store or iphone.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2009
I thought Nick Cave stuck to heroin, sex, violence & the Old Testament not bleeding edge publishing.

On hindsight perhaps I should have just said heroin & the Old Testament as it covers the sex & violence angle pretty comprehensively.

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damian puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
Something that has been beginning to bother me more and more in recent years, quokka, is the strange standards of truth that people entertain.

As an example you would not credit the confusion that new pool fencing laws engender, particularly when it's very easy to produce a definitive document from the QLD government's website about them yet neighbors will still give higher credence to what some unnamed tradesman said, 2nd or 3rd hand.

In the case you mention, people WILL give the bloke more credence because he's a vietnam vet, even though it makes no sense at all to apply that credibility to his claim to being a vet itself. If you point out that is what someone is doing, they will deny it and cite some other reason that involves a lot of handwaving, refusing to be drawn out on detail but which is just as circular.

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savo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
Let it go Quokka, let it go. Come on- Big Breath now .. hold and ... release.

There, feeling better?

Either that or confront him, demand proof, he may huff and puff: "Are you calling me a liar" reply "Yes I am", if he fronts up with his service papers then you owe him BIG TIME otherwise you've just made a little man (he knows how sad his lying really is) even littler.

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Lobes asserts...

Posted October 5, 2009
Saw a thing in the paper yesterday about some guy who was president of the Aussie returned POWs association or something. He apparently made the entire thing up, he was never a prisoner of the Nazis and had lived his whole life in Adelaide (which is bad enough I suppose).

As I pointed out to my mate who showed me the story. When somebody tells you they were a veteran and a POW most peoples fisrt inclination is not to start checking for holes in the story. And these people are often not right in the head anyway. Someone (I think Quokka) pointed out previously that you will rarely find someone with as much charm and charisma as a crazy dude. I can attest having known several people like that.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
Lobes - Novels are seen as the first step of a long money making staircase. Publishers prefer single main character story lines because it enhances licensing/option potential. As a consumer of such fiction, I think that is bullshit. As an attorney who drafts licensing/option agreements, I more than understand.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
I trust you have altered the HADDOCk, god fkn forbit shite and replaced it with HAVOCK, or GOD, or FKN LEGEND, or GREAT LOOKING , TALL DARK'N FKN HANDSOME and articulate fella...or look out

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
Lobes, that sounds like the same story I gave the link to in today's Curious Snail.

Savvo, I do have evidence that an author has been er...misguided - in his claims. I've written to the author and the publisher with the relative documents as proof.

And was ignored.

And have heard a lot of similar stories from other family researchers.

If they got a response from the publisher it was 'Bad luck, its in print and we're not changing it.'

My spouse is the fiction reader, I like history, biographies, and memoirs. I like listening to their stories.

Should I let it go? Should others let it go?

Should the person who knew the truth about Arthur Crane have let it go?

I just find it disturbing that apparently Australian publishers are so willing to forgo the facts in the interests of promoting sales.

I have always loved bios and memoirs, but to be honest, now that I know that publishers and authors are so willing to lie, I'm becoming reluctant to buy them.

I'm much more likely to wait and get a copy from the library.

That's one person, but my disillusionment is affecting my purchasing choices. And I think that this is really unfair to people who DO tell the truth and are willing to correct their mistakes, if and when they are found, in their bios.

When I heard the others at the writers festival speak of the high handed and arrogant attitude of publishers towards correcting factual anomolies in bios and memoirs, it really made me question why I should bother to support their products.

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Springfield Fats swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
Following on from Mr Boylan's comments, I would have thought that a single character book series is easier/cheaper to adapt than an ensemble piece. I'm happy to accept that if it means well written explodey goodness on the screens.

As for itunes releases, I've been pleasently surprised how easy on the eyes reading on the iphone is. Not sure I could read anything longer than a short to medium story, but would be all over AoT stories to read on the train.

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2009
And I know its irrational but I guess its because I'm the child of a service man - but there's something about making false claims about having a military history that really gets to me.

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savo mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
Q it's so prevalent, certainly in Oz that JB made a minor character out of one.

Agree with you Lobes, that multiple charcters do not detract from the story. They are not a distraction, they add realism or rather allow the suspension of disbelief more easily. There is too much pap out there with story lines that are just a breeze, we need adult fiction that we can think about and not just accept, and having multiple POV's gives you the chance to think, let your imagine wander off the stoy into other 'unwritten' parts of it. It's amazing the amount of planning that JB developed to build the consistancy of the AoT'verse.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
Quokka, thats because we hodl those persons higher than normal upon a pedestal, emulation of them or call it what you wish. For a lot, its possible the wish or " I hope I would do that", if the situation were presented upon me. I guess!. Its also the reason we are so scathing and seek retribution when a FAKER is discovered, more so if they are spouting they have suffered or endured extreme hardship whilst serving , thats ACTIVE SERVICE in a conflict mind you.

Sick puppies, some need help..some just need cappin!

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
any author who has half a ticker and SOME moral fibre ould take it up to the publishers and simply say, " Listen Fk wit, its got multi characters, explodin hit throughout, bitches gettin caped, blokes flogged, cities nuked and tech shit out the wazoo, take it up or fk off".

See, its a simple negotiation method really.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2009
I guess I just don't understand why, if someone has made a genuine error, they would be unwilling to get their publisher to correct it when the alternative is having someone discover it down the track and accuse them of deliberately lying.

I would think that it would be in the interests of the author and the publisher house to step up to the plate and show some integrity, I mean, how hard can it be to make a public statement on an author page saying 'Unfortunately x information is incorrect and Author John Doe wishes to apologize to his readers for blah and blah.'

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spicy aka sparty mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
thing i liked about AoT were the breakout characters - If i remeber rightly Halabi was meant to go early in Trident auto destruct or something but stayed in the series and really meant something. I think in some ways Birmo AoT novels are a little like Maine small town set stephen king novels with similar characterisation that might be lost on concentration on a single Dirk Pitt style character, Just my two cents.

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Abe mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
Yeah, Im with spicy. Who was the cutie from the Ipswich again?

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Guru Bob asserts...

Posted October 5, 2009
Re Iphone the whole Nick Cave thing made me want to go out and buy one...

http://www.enhanced-editions.com/books/bunny-munro/

As for Captain Haddock who is going to be the guy with the bowler hat and moustache? Although my recollection of Tintin plot lines is now pretty hazy...

Juts one other note I did read a few years ago about a group of veterans who went aroudn beating up fake vets. Often it is more just a case of someone bignoting their actual service record after too many beers down at the RSL - you know somehow working at the motorpool at Wacol ends up being a member of the SAS behind the lines in Vietnam. That sort of thing...

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2009
I have a layman’s view on Multi headed ( threaded) novels. FAR FAR more interesting than almost solo character. And now let me make a small addendum to that as well. If the characters, scenes and general structure of Solo and side kick novels is not sufficiently engaging, they fail biblically. What I find is that I end up at the final para and almost go..WTF, mores the point, I then tend to struggle to remember the content of the book.

I have no doubt, non hydra threaded novels can take as much work and there are plenty of them out there, possible I guess, it takes more effort in the continuity of the story as you are unable to readily switch to another scene and character set. Likewise switching from set to set is not easy i guess either.

So now having done a full circle and smashed the original argument to pieces it really doe come back to TWO simple items.

1. Its what the readers preference really is.

2 Its the authors ability, if they cannot craft either style of book sufficiently then no matter what it will in all probability sick big time.

Too much thinking I think!

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted October 5, 2009
Abe...cuttie..you mean spanking hot as well and I would be looking for Captain Jane Willet, Commander of Her Majesties Armed Ship, HMAS HAVOCK!.........

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NBlob asserts...

Posted October 5, 2009
Yeah, that's a little freaky.

I worked with a Journalist who's name prominantly appears in AoT. Freaked me out as we didn't have what one could call a "warm & mutually respectfull" working relationship. I queried JB about it & he told me it was the outcome of her husband winning a charity auction gig. Fair enough.

Then he gave Jane Willet the surname of great friend who was much loved then lost on The Dark Path of addiction.

It'd be much easier reading for me if every character in AA had the surnames Smith or Jones, or alternatively Mr A, Miss B & Rev C like Dept Immigration.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted October 5, 2009
Guru Bob I think you've hit the nail on the head with what happened in the instance I'm referring to. Dad was in the RAAF in WW2 and I don't think we ever got three words all together out of him as to what he went through.

When I was little he would hang out in various pubs with his war mates and once together and suitably pissed there would be some rather tall stories told, by men who I imagine were normally as silent and as unforthcoming as my father.

My suspicion is that the family member I've written to actually believes the Beer Tales rather than what's on record at the National Archives.

I just took a look at the comments that have been attached to that story about Arthur Crane and I took one guy's advice and did a search on 'Australian Military Imposters'.

Wow.

There's a lot.

It certainly seems to piss the veterans off.

Don't know how I feel about the name and shame sites, though.

Some are probably players and grifters but I suspect a good number of them are simply delusional.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
Auntie Q.

*Stepping very carefully*

What is the probability of The National War Records being less than 100% complete?

I believe with the best will in the world the records are maintained by Professionals who sometimes, being human & all, may make errors, omissions & mistakes.

It is a Very Big Deal to allege that someone has fraudulantly claimed active service. More so inside a family.

Perhaps an option would be to take it up with the RSL & let them deal with it?

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 5, 2009
That's OK, NwBob I do understand the need for caution and this is why, when said book came out, and I noticed the discrepancy, after the initial 'WTF?' moment, I then spent nearly 2 years researching, finding unknown extended family members, and hunting through the national archives before I wrote to the author and the publisher saying 'Ahem. X and Y do not mesh with what's on record.'

But in the end the nuts and bolts of the information I came up with was still at your fingertips in under two minutes of doing a basic google search.

I just went that extra step further by discovering photos of Relative X at a training camp in Outer Whoop Whoop with his unit, which never left the country.

And was certainly never overseas doing the heroics that are spoken so proudly of in the text I refer to.

If my information is incorrect, and the author/publisher has proof that I am wrong and the author is right, I imagine it would be a very simple matter to respond to my letter with 'thank you for your concern but Person X served under the name and service number _______ in the unit of _______. Feel free to look it up, we have nothing to hide, go jump in the lake if you don't like it you squirrelly nutter.'

In this instance I think that the author has probably innocently passed on what I would call 'Family Myth' - and if the publisher, prior to publishing, had done that simple two minute google search, they would have been able to question the author as to why his story didn't mesh with what's in the national archives and thereby avert a situation where he's likely to end up with a large quantity of egg on his face.

So my point about why publishers don't check facts now extends to add 'There are probably situations where the author is well intentioned but ill informed and some simple fact checking by the publisher would save a good deal of mortification down the track.'

Which brings me back to my basic hijack of 'Why on earth don't publishers do some basic fact checking of bios, in this country?'

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2009
Quokka. Its called money. Pure and simple. Money is what it costs to do all the fact checking and money is what they get from the sales. So long as the auto or tale reads well and seems to fit reasonably well i suspect thats all the boxes that need ticking. Unless of course he is claiming a VC and not on the list or somthing just as outlandish.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted October 5, 2009
Havock that's what the cynic in me would like to believe too, but I suspect 'Laziness' on the matter of the publisher is closer to the mark.

I did a google search on the subject matter and discovered one opinion on a blog site that basically, publishers don't invest time and money in checking the facts in bios and memoirs because they take the attitude that if the author is Full of Shit/Delusional/Misguided, it will come back to bite the author on the arse, hard, and it falls into the heading of Not Our Problem.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted October 5, 2009
I probably boggle too much at human behaviour.

I can remember being four and saying to my mother 'Why don't you just tell your parents that you don't really like them and you don't feel like visiting today?'

I don't think I ever got a good explanation for that one, either.

Even though it did and still does seem like the most logical thing in the world to do.

(Evil naive grin)

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Matthew K mutters...

Posted October 5, 2009
The unofficial British army website calls them "walts": http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Walts

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Quokka reckons...

Posted October 6, 2009
I'd love to know what the psychiatrists call them.

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Respond to 'Answers! Answers! Precious answers.'

MacSpeech Dictate, a potted review.

Posted September 27, 2009 by John Birmingham
Okay, it's been a week since I got this thing. My first impressions were good, but they were also influenced by the fact that I was kinda desperate for this software to work. I really can't type worth for shit at the moment. Even hunting and pecking out a short e-mail is a pain. Ripping out tens of thousands of words of new manuscript or editing hundreds of thousands of words of After America are simply out of the question. If this didn't work I was pretty much fucked.

With that in mind I was probably a bit too enthusiastic, a bit too forgiving in my early assessment of MacSpeech Dictate. Or rather in my assessment of my own abilities to use it straight out of the box. This is an unusual product in that it really asks a lot of the user. If you're not willing to do the training, if you're not willing to understand the parameters of the software, and most importantly if you're not willing to read the fucking manual then forget it. It's not a cheap bit of kit and you'll do your dough cold. If you are willing to invest the time learning how to use MacSpeech (or its Dragon-based Windows equivalents) and training the software to work with you then it could be a really powerful tool.

First question, does it work?

Yes, and it's awesome. It is freakishly accurate, much more accurate than my own typing. And there is no need, as I mentioned in a previous post, to speak in an American accent, Shatner style. (And yes it recognizes the word 'Shatner').

But it's not Star Trek. It won't do all these things out of the box. You do need to train it to listen to your voice, and the software needs to train you to speak to it. The more time you spend using MacSpeech, or Dragon, the more accurate it will become. But only if you take the time to update your profile.

Your profile is the software's understanding of how you speak, and to a lesser extent how you write. Think of it as a super-avatar. It also includes a lot of environmental information, so you might record one profile for dictating in a quiet room and a different profile for a noisy room. When you first start dictating, the program will make errors and just as importantly you will make errors because you'll probably try to speak to it like a person, not just a bunch of code. If you mumble, cough, slur your speech, whatever, it'll all be transcribed.

The first couple of days you'll spend a lot of time pointing and clicking in what's called the Recognition Window. In this little box you'll find the programs interpretation of what you just said, and up to 10 alternatives. Option number one is always Dictate's best guess but if option number six was the right choice you just click on that and it swaps out the copy. If none of the options were accurate you can choose one to edit and use that. After a couple of hours of doing this and of saving your profile as you go, you'll notice a marked improvement in the program's ability to understand you. As you get more confident and you relax you'll also find you're able to speak much more quickly and conversationally until you do get to the point of that Star Trek moment where you just speak at the computer and the words magically appear on screen.

That's dictation, it's not editing. And editing is way more important than composition in terms of whether your finished product is readable. I had real fears that MacSpeech Dictate would be crap at editing, and in one sense it is. If I simply opened up a huge manuscript and tried to edit the thing via voice command I would fail. There is just no way that telling a cursor where to go and what to do is anywhere near as efficient as using a mouse and keyboard. But as all of the reviews and a lot of the documentation that comes with MacSpeech makes clear, you're in for a terrible hiding if you try to mix keyboard and voice commands. It just won't work, and you'll crash the program. As I did at least half a dozen times during one very frustrating hour this week.

Its all down to the cache. MacSpeech/Dragon keeps two things in its mind; what you said and what it wrote. If you fuck up that delicate balance by using your mouse and keyboard instead of your voice you'll blow the cache apart and overwhelm the program.

That could be a deal killer, because of the unwieldy nature of using voice command to edit. There is however a caveat. The software comes with its own notepad, a very very basic text editor in which you can compose your documents. Again most reviews and the software's documentation emphasize the ability to use MacSpeech with most of the other bits of software on your computer, with MS Word, with Firefox, whatever. But here is JB's tip... Don't Do It.

Yes, MacSpeech Dictate can work with all of these programs, but it probably won't. It will almost certainly crash within the first few minutes.

The notepad on the other hand is an exceptional environment into which to dictate. It is stable and robust and most important of all it allows you to edit with your mouse. You can just place the cursor wherever you want, define whatever text you want, and dictate right over the top of it. The essence of editing.

Unfortunately for me, I only figured that out after a couple of very frustrating days of constantly crashing the system. It got to the point where I was so pissed off, so depressed and so fucking desperate that I went back and did what I should have done in the first place. I Read The Fucking Manual from start to fucking finish. In doing that I learned of at least half a dozen very basic errors I'd been making over and over again, and I picked up a whole bunch of obscure but powerful pointers for getting the most out of the program. If I hadn't done that I reckon I'd have thrown it away and there'd have been tears before bedtime.

Bottom line, it works and it can work brilliantly, but whether it does is down to you.

There is one final point I'd make though. It feels weird. I am so used to 'thinking with the tips of my fingers' that, as lobes pointed out earlier this week, I just wasn't writing like normal when I used the dictation program. I'm still not, but I am getting past the initial strangeness where I constantly felt as though I was thinking about thinking about dictating the writing. I suspect that will take a bit longer to get used to than simply mastering the mechanics.

Anyway, my apologies. I am not a software reviewer and this entry has been a useful exercise in teaching me that if I ever wanted to be I'd have a lot to learn. There's so much more I could tell you. Some good, such as its ability to inhale vast slabs of your writing for syntactical analysis which then gets fed into MacSpeech's memory, allowing it to better understand how you write. And some bad, like its tendency to 'hear' your breathing as dictation (mostly a problem when you're sitting, staring at the screen, saying nothing).

So perhaps I should just throw the floor open to questions.

39 Responses to ‘MacSpeech Dictate, a potted review.’

Bangar mumbles...

Posted September 27, 2009
They'd have been an ocean of tears if it hadn't of worked out.

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Moko asserts...

Posted September 27, 2009
Well I'll be....manuals CAN be useful.

Would ya use it without a broken wing?.

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Lobes reckons...

Posted September 27, 2009
Good question Moko.

It seems a pretty long winded process to get up to speed. I wonder how hard it would be to just teach yourself to type fast and well with one hand. Perhaps need a special keyboard though? Its actually not that hard to train your non-preferred side if you really concentrate. I can play golf lefty, surf goofy and write poorly with my non preferred side. To be honest my handwritings not that flash even on my good side. Its a steep learning curve but not that long to get over it.

How do you speak to it? Through the mic in your computer or with a headset? Maybe get one of those special forces throat mics, be like STar Trek and SWAT rolled into one.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted September 27, 2009
Sniff. Gone, The old days. Nubile young touch typing bunnies.

Give 'em 15 minutes off every hour to relax those hands of theirs . . . .neck rubs spring to mind. . . recommended by physios . . .

Over . . .just 'cause JB has an unnatural fascination with gadgets.

Just watch what happens when you want your next grape peeled, son . . .

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Orin would have you know...

Posted September 27, 2009
Vista and Windows 7 have built in speech recognition, you just have to turn them on. Training them takes a while, but I found that it was a strong enough feature (and worked well enough) not to want to bother with the expensive alternatives.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 27, 2009
Moko, no. I doubt I would've had the motivation to stick with it beyond about a day or so. It does require a significant investment of your time to train it up. Without a broken wing, why would I have bothered? The more interesting question is whether I'll stick with it once my arm is healed. I can't say for certain right now, but I am impressed with how quickly it is learning. As long as I can get over the hump of feeling awkward about talking rather than just writing, then yes, I probably will stick with it. It could potentially increase my productivity by a huge margin.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 27, 2009
Lobes, it is a long-winded process, there's no avoiding it. But then so would be learning to touch type one handed with your nonpreferred hand. Any alternative to a long-established system is going to involve a steep learning curve and a lot of fuck knuckling around. I wouldn't do it if I had an alternative, but I don't. It's this, or sell the house.

Re. Input devices, it comes with a Plantronics headset in the box. You can upgrade to something way more expensive, but the Plantronics seems to work fine.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted September 27, 2009
Sounds pretty sweet.

How does it spell an exhalation? Different to a frustrated sigh?

If you stick with it post recovery it will free up those Nimble Bunny Fingers for more tanning lotion application, feet / neck massaging & grape peeling duties. You may need another profile that ignores little grunts of pleasure.

How is the exportablitility of the Notepad document? Does your preferred word processing software groove to the imported file? Manuscripts probably leave your desk a minimum formatting anyway -just paragraph breaks & punctuation.

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damian asserts...

Posted September 27, 2009
The speech recognition that has been in the various MacOSes since the 90s isn't too bad for commands and stuff. Not for dictation obviously, and it doesn't seem to have developed much over the years. I haven't played with the one in Vista, etc yet.

As for alternatives - single handed "chorded" keyboard replacements do exist and may have a less steep learning curve than what you've described with the speech stuff. I work on the assumption that one of those will eventually become a standard and the qwerty keyboard will simply go away. The Twiddler seems to be the best of breed, but I'm sure there are others around.

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted September 27, 2009
its gunna be funny reading the next MS ( BOOK), after all, given its Voice activated software, I'm not really sure how your fans are gunna take, to intermittent sections of reading, thats Fergal sharky , a good heart these days, and All I need is a Miracle, song words being in it, as we know you grove to tunes when writing. OH THE horror of it!......

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Orin has opinions thus...

Posted September 27, 2009
I like the Frogpad more than the Twiddler

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damian puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
As a desktop keyboard replacement, I agree it looks nicer (Twiddler s just the one that sticks in my mind for some reason).

Venturing into the world of wearables, the wrist-mounted FrogPad seems awkward to me. When on foot away from my flying car, I will want a HUD in my glasses, and a keyboard I can operate casually.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 28, 2009
What a great review. I'm sold. The spirit is strong, but all flesh is weak and time eventually takes - well, everything. I love my profession. The only way I am going to "retire" is feet first. What you describe, John, will allow me to be productive and effective long after my fingers lose their keyboard dexterity.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
NBob, usually as 'the' or 'a'.

And the pad exports perfectly, probably because it's SO basic. Not even itals or margin controls. That stuff can easy be tweaked in Word though, even one handed.

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Havock asserts...

Posted September 28, 2009
In time management though I suspect at the end you would be in front especially for those with poor to average keyboard skills. The amount of continual time spent correcting typos, grammar and the general typing rate in cumulative , I think would be far less than even a week of aggregate hrs traing the software. Unless you are a typing wizard, with really good accuracy

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Murphy mutters...

Posted September 28, 2009
John, you could fly me to Australia and dictate it to me while I transcribe it.

Just kidding. I want to see Australia but I don't want to leave my teaching career behind.

I suspect it is probably too expensive to hire someone to dictate the project to. Correct?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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robW would have you know...

Posted September 28, 2009
As a "code monkey" it really ticks me off when I'm referred to as a code monkey. Anyway, this monkey has coded lots of programs for control centers that use voice recognition like Microsoft voice servers to control devices. For example, taking voice commands and lighting up signs along motorways/freeways; voice commands to select cameras and monitors in the control room and pan, tilt, zoom, record video, playback and the like; voice commands to pull up maps, change the lats and longs of centerpoints, drill down, drill out, and so on.

Thereafter comes the implementation, which always seems to fail. Operators always get frustrated with speaking commands and talking to a computer. Invariably their frustration level rises not because of the responsiveness of the software, but because "it doesn't feel right" to them. They always abandon the software and go back to the tactile and use a joystick to control the devices or a keyboard for input or keyboard shortcuts for controls.

Consequently implementation always starts out (1) with wild enthusiasm at the novelty; then (2) awkwardness at what the operators call "like talking to myself in an empty room"; then finally (3) a return to using hand controls.

I know some people take to the software like a fish to water; certainly some authors like to dictate: Sidney Sheldon is one I know of, although he dictated to his secretary and not a machine. Others never seem to get over the tactile linkage to controlling output. Probably it is just a matter of rewiring the brain, but that takes time. I'm sure there is a million-dollar research project in there someplace.

Good luck.

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Havock is gonna tell you...

Posted September 28, 2009
Training the software would be less than the the other, I fkd that up in the delivery.

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
I hope that my arms never fall off.

I type somewhere between 70-80wpm and my brain works differently and better when it travels via my fingertips.

When I'm talking, words tend to come out backwards and sometimes I hunt for the right word, whereas if I'm typing its just there, on command. Most of my girlfriends started going through the same sort of memory issues with spoken language when we hit the 40mark so I suspect it's hormonal or something to do with the female brain. Not that I think I've ever had a particularly female brain, having been raised by a male (gosh, does it show?)

Anyway. There's definitely some different wiring going on between the sexes so I would be interested to see if there's studies out there that say that this is something males adapt to better.

Re: your arm, seriously, get some acupuncture. When they sliced up my foot they severed the nerves to the lateral and underside of the foot and said I'd never get the feeling back. I got acupuncture on it ASAP and my specialist was shocked at how well it recovered. It didn't restore the nerves fully, but I have the kind of sensation you get after you've been to the dentist and the numbing sensation is wearing off.

Weird, but better than nowt.

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Havock reckons...

Posted September 28, 2009
Quokka. We will adapt better hanfemales. The talking to ourselves bit is somthing that we are used to

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 28, 2009
When I first began working as an attorney all letters and documents were produced via dictation. I would dictate onto a cassette tape, which would in turn be put in an envelope, which would then be picked up by an office courier and delivered to a secretary who would then put it in a special foot-pedal controlled tape player and then transcribe the tape, printing out the draft, which would be delivered to me for my hand written revisions.

I was the very first attorney in my office to bypass the firm secretaries by using my own computer (a little, boxy Apple Mackintosh with attached dot matrix printer) to type my own letters, briefs and documents. The main partner called me into his office to explain that typing was considered secretarial work and that clients didn't like seeing attorneys doing it.

What an abysmal lack of vision. To make a long story very short, I worked faster with better results bypassing the dictation system. Slowly more and more attorneys began doing what I was doing.

Now, after all these years, I must learn how to dictate again. If it extends my usefulness as an advocate and advisor, then I am all for it.

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
Yeah, I can see the value in it for dictating letters and a shit....and if if you're a fraction flight challenged at the mo with the wing, but you've gotta proof read it all anyway and to do that you've gotta sit in front of the screen anyway.

It might be a good thing for one of the near final drafts just to see how it flows?. You're reading the script anyway and you'll pick stuff that doesn't quite sit right reading it out loud. As from a readers POV.

...and while you're proof reading a near end draft you could record it and FINALLY do audio books!. See, two birds, one stone, and no flying necessary. ;o)

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 28, 2009
JB how about an update about this filing in for Spencer thing on the ABC? Just for the benefit of those of us who aren't on facebook and twitter etc.

Will it be podcast so that the OS burgers can listen in?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted September 28, 2009
What is an OS burger?

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
You, as in 'overseas'.

Q, I'll be talking to the producers sometime this morning. When I have my briefing I'll put a note here. I have no idea whether it's podcast. It should be but, you know, the ABC.

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Naut has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
Robin Masters on Magnum would have loved it. He dictated all his books onto tape which I can only assume Higgins typed up later for him.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted September 28, 2009
As opposed to a OSS Burger.

Whom we may not talk abbout for operational security reasons.

I may have already said to much.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 28, 2009
WTF?

You are collaborating with the seperatist imperialist running dog Earls on the glorious peoples wireless?

Good Dog man, guilt by association! You'll be branded a counter-revolutionary, then where will you be? It's a slippery slope JB and we, I mean They in the politburo frown upon this kind of fratenisation with the enemy.

Or is it an insidious infiltraion excercise? aah nudge nudge wink wink say no more.

Hope you are calling in the comely favours of miss NatV, she'll sort that bounder in no time.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
Unless gooshy Brisbane romance novels are her Kryptonite in which case the whole plan may disintigrate.

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
Yup.

We are particularly fond of watching the ABC TV saturday night weather fuckups.

Whoever is in charge of that weather chart has serious problems. This weekend they put up the little symbol for 'Thundery Rain' beside all of Sunday's forecasts.

Of course it was a lie.

Someone in there just likes to mess with our heads.

PNB I'll try to find a link to the website so you can get in some practice listening in.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted September 28, 2009
Auntie Q.

Go back through the archives on Media watch. About 6 months ago they did a story on the introduction of a whizzo piece of software being rolled out across all ABC metro newsrooms. It was supposed to reduce the number of people required in Master Controll Room when news bulletins are aired. To sugest it has had Teething Issues would be an understatement of galactic proportions. There used to be DA's (Directors Assistants) part of whose job was to make sure the supers (the little text graphic identifying the talking head) was factually correct and appropriatly timed. The DA also made sure that the weather charts were all done correctly and flipped through at the appropriate timing.

The software now seems to be getting it right a lot less frequently than the human. This might be A; because of software glitches or user error or B; someone making a point that theyd prefer a human DA than a inanimate piece of software, as the are far less satisfying to kick in the @rse when things go pear shaped.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 28, 2009
http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/612_breakfast/index.html

PNB dunno what the time difference is in Davis, but the show starts 5amish our time, I think.

Above is a link to the ABC breakfast show.

Up in the left hand corner there's a 'how to listen' thingy. If you click on it, there will be an option for streaming online.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 28, 2009
Aha.

Curious that the worst offences happen on a saturday night, though.

Perhaps the software has a habit of nipping down to the pub at noon.

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Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
Whatever, Birmingham.... Orin! Yeah, you, Orin! I'm talking to you, Orin. WHAT IS THE BEST NOTEBOOK TO PURCHASE? PLEASE!! Imagine it's for a US federal employee that must research, gather, and send information to over 160 countries in the world. It must be secure and have high storage for visuals as well as documents. Think of something below $1200, Orin.

J.

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Tarl mumbles...

Posted September 28, 2009
Hmm. I'm reminded of advice I read from another author on how to write; among other things the author suggests "turn off all the doo-dads in your text editor". Turn off auto-spell correct, turn off highlighting, turn off grammar checking, turn off everything that might distract you from the process of getting words from brain into text file.

*After* you've had your burst of putting your thoughts into words, you go back and fix capitalization, spelling, quoting, bolding, grammar, and any other problems. That becomes drudgery you have to do, entirely separate from the crucial creative process of formulating the dialog and plot.

It sounds like this software is ideally suited to that process - blather away until you have 4 or 5k words in the notepad buffer, and when you run down, transfer from Notepad to OOo. A burst of a couple of hours of creative work, then several hours of drudgery, rinse and repeat until you have a finished novel.

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted September 28, 2009
SJS, I recommend the Corporate Express Steno Book, 6" x 9", green tint and Gregg rule. Staples sells them at $1.59 each.

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lostatlunch swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 28, 2009
should have pimped out for the full Borg upgrade.

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Sweet Jane Says swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 28, 2009
Lenovo IdeaPad Y730 - 40532JU? But, not in orange. Too easy a target...

J.

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Sylmobile is gonna tell you...

Posted October 9, 2009
Once your wing's healed, I can fully imagine you still using it while having a bath, preparing dinner or knitting.

Question: does speaking to the computer increase or decrease your urge to create podcasts?

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