comments and critiques

Maintaining source code originally created by a different programmer can be an interesting experience. Usually the previous programmer left comments to warn about bugs or document the intent. These comments help the new programmer update or add to the code.

Critiquing another writer’s work in progress (WIP) works much the same way. The best comments are a mix of constructive criticism and compliments. If you are new to critiquing and still learning the ropes, below are ways to help your critique partner troubleshoot and improve their WIP. Continue reading

questions and queries

A How-To Guide for Querying:

Step 1: Polish your work. Once you finish your work, do not immediately submit to agents! Find a critique partner (CP) or critique group to give constructive criticism. Some CPs/groups will swap a chapter (or around ten pages) at a time. Others may swap the entire work in progress (WIP). After this stage, find beta readers for your WIP. If affordable, you can also hire an editor. Continue reading

ideas and ice cream

Projects often start with a brainstorming session and a whiteboard. It helps to give a client choices along the way rather than asking a vague “What do you want?” For instance, if developing a website, the choices for the background could be classic white, familiar neutrals, or a surprising color.

When a writer starts a new book, staring at a blank page can also be daunting. The same method can be used to make decisions, similar to building an ice cream sundae with classic, familiar, or surprise options: Continue reading

open source and oceans

Open source software features a source code which any user can modify. This collaboration offers more stability and innovation than closed source software.

Similarly, authors share a source code. We live on the same planet, absorbing ideas from the world around us. Of course, copying the work of others is illegal and immoral, but it’s not uncommon for authors to share an inspiration. We’re all swimming in the same “idea ocean.” Continue reading

ducks and debugging

Just like writers, software developers can get stuck when their program runs into an issue. When all other debugging methods have failed, one trick is bringing in a rubber duck.  Explain to the duck what the code should be doing and what is happening instead. Sometimes saying it out loud suddenly makes the solution obvious.

The same tactic can be used for writers. If your story has stalled, bring in help to talk things out, even if it’s a rubber duck. Describe where your story is and where you want it to go. Speaking aloud can make the problem clear or spark an idea. Continue reading

auth and authors

Fun networking lesson with TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): To establish a connection, the client sends a SYN (synchronization) packet. In response, the server sends a SYN-ACK (synchronization-acknowledged) packet back. The client then replies with ACK, completing the three-way handshake.

Connection established.

Similar to the connection between the client and server, an implied agreement exists between an author and a reader. The author is promising to send satisfying data. The reader agrees to accept the data. But when the author doesn’t send what the reader is expecting, the connection is lost. Continue reading