We’re Going to Japan!

I’d just like to let everyone know that for the next couple weeks, regular posting will not be happening. I’ll be in Japan, and I have no idea if I’ll be able to make any blog posts. But I will be trying to post videos, and if I’m able to, I’ll post them here on the blog. If I can’t, you’ll know why I’ve disappeared.

I’m going to try to do a vlog about our trip, and here is the first video.

I hope to post sometimes, so keep an eye out for blog posts and videos! If you want to keep up on my travels, then please subscribe to my channel.

I Met Justin Trudeau! The Jay Dee Show 31

What a week it’s been in videos. Well, just three videos this week, but one of them was a pretty big event. You see, I met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! And yes, I have video.

So, on my main channel, there were three videos. The first is, of course, the Justin Trudeau video. And you know what? He hugged my daughter! Check it out!

Next up is some sad news. Zack Snyder pulled out of the Justice League movie, leaving it to Joss Whedon. His daughter committed suicide, so he decided to be with his family. Also, James Bond actor Roger Moore passed away this week. I talk about both in this special geek vlog (a new series of vlogs I’ll be doing whenever there’s something interesting to talk about that doesn’t fit in with my regular videos).

And finally, a kind of tutorial for anyone who wants to start a booktube channel on YouTube. I give some tips and pointers for beginners. If you’re interested, this may help you out! Check it out.

No science videos this week, but I may have one in the next couple days. I won’t be doing any science videos over the next two weeks, since I’ll be in Japan. Actually, one of the future science videos will be partly recorded in Japan.

And as for the next update, there might be one next weekend if I manage to spend time on my computer. I also plan on doing a travel vlog while I’m in Japan. So, definitely check out my main channel and subscribe if you want to follow that!

Which video did you enjoy the most? Let me know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 134 – Are Authors Organised?

Are authors organised? Many authors take notes, but not all do. Some authors have colour-coded pens, post-it notes, and different notebooks for different things. Some use paper, some use computer spreadsheets. Everyone has their own way. This week, we’re talking about how we organise our notes.

Question 134 – How do you organise your notes?

Beth Aman

For my first novel, I had a spiral notebook that held everything – all my plot ideas, scenes, characters, sketches.  For actual plotting, however, I used 3×5 notecards.  Each one had a major plot point on it, and I lined them all up on a wall in my room.  Then I could add other notecards underneath with further explanations or questions, and I could easily re-arrange my plot points.  It was a great visual, and I liked it better having it up on a wall instead of having it on a computer screen.  Now, I’ve started using a Google Doc for all my notes, because I can access that from my phone, and it’s simpler than using a notebook.  But sometimes, my notes still end up scribbled on the nearest scrap of paper/ napkin/ receipt, and hopefully they make it into my Google Doc at some point.

C E Aylett

Various ways – I start with mind mapping, just to get the main ideas down quickly. That could be plot ideas, or characterisation, background, or themes. I then expand on those notes within yWriter project and scene notes. For research, I use Evernote, mostly, because it’s so easy to organise bookmarked web pages, but also I make notes with yWriter and link to webpages or Evernote notes from within that application. There are more details on these software programs, their capabilities, and how they tie into novel writing here.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Organize?

Notes?

What are these things of which you speak?

In all seriousness though, I’m probably one of the least organized writers you’ll ever meet, and I don’t really have notes, so much as I obsessively flip through the pages of my own writing when I’ve forgotten something. It’s not a great strategy, I know, but organizing my writing has never really jived for me.

Gregory S. Close

I use the notes function on my phone to take notation and then I update those notes to Scrivener periodically.  I still have a metric ton of paper notes lying around in disarray that I have to keep track of, but I try to keep all new notes digital and (very important) backed up.

D. T. Nova

A file for each category of easily sorted information, ordered by a combination of prominence and chronology; a few for particularly important or hard-to-remember details; and a miscellaneous of for everything else.

Eric Wood

I don’t. I simply open my notebook to the next blank page and start writing the idea for a story. It is truly stream of consciousness. From there I start writing, picking out the parts sequentially, and adding in the rest as I move along the story line. Perhaps if I wrote a novel I would be more organised, but organisation is not my forte.

Paul B. Spence

Notes? What notes? Just kidding. I have folders of organized files sorted, by series: people, places, types of starships, terms, technology, races, star charts, names of starships, stages of civilization, types of travel, travel times, time dilation, backstories, additional misc. notes, deleted scenes, weapons, and lots of other stuff. I’m a junkie for notes.

I don’t do notes on plot. I figure out what general story I want to tell, and who I want to experience it. I then write the first scene with that person, then figure out where I want to go along the way. It is a very organic process. I do a lot of writing in my head.

Jean Davis

What is this organization thing you speak of? My notes are like my thoughts: Scattered. There are notes in a notebook that I try to pretend to be organized by using. These notes are usually things I should fix or questions that come up later as I write that I’ll need to tackle when editing. There are also notes in red in the MS as I type so I can go back and fix things. Then there are the notes in a separate .doc file where I keep my character and setting descriptions so they can’t get lost. So three kinds of notes all in their own places. It’s an odd system but it seems to work.

H. Anthe Davis

I have way too many notes for my own health or scatterbrained focus, and I mostly only organize them when I start working on the project (aka specific book) they’re meant for.  When they’re just in gestational idea form, it depends on what the idea is for: a story?  Then it goes in the Story Seeds file.  A plant or animal?  Then it goes in the Green Grimoire (repository of all my main-world flora and fauna info).  Something about another story world?  It will either get a note in my Non-WoM folder’s main story-seed file or a file/subfolder of its own, depending on the size of the idea.  Within my main story folder (where all the War of Memory stuff is), I have it broken down by book — Early Books folder for 1-3 with the master files and any notes on tweaks or rewrites, then folders for Books 4-6 with all the story-threads info, outlines et cetera, plus stray files of general information.  Plus lunar calendars, character history files, transcripts of discussions with my betas, lists of possible titles, the full-series timeline…  I guess what I mean is that it’s not very organized — certainly not in some sort of story-organization program — but I still know where to find anything, and if I can’t, I use a full-text file-search program to locate it.  Works for me!

Elizabeth Rhodes

Notes? Organize? Hah!

In seriousness, I use a program called FreeMind to keep details straight and help me brainstorm ideas before the outline phase. The outline itself is a simple Word document, but I’ve been experimenting with a new method here. While before I’d make a bulleted list for each chapter and a quick summary of each scene, I’m taking a much simpler approach and trying the ever-popular snowflake method.

Jay Dee Archer

I like taking notes. Unfortunately, I’ve taken notes in some random notebooks in the past, and mixed them up with other notes, including writing practice for Japanese! But I have some dedicated notebooks for various aspects of my writing. I have a character notebook, a plot outline notebook, and a folder filled with hand-drawn maps. I’ve also started one with sketches for concept art. I have notebooks specifically for Ariadne, and a separate notebook for other story ideas. I’ve considered using something on my computer, but I feel that it’s safer on paper and easily accessible that way.

How About You?

Are you an author? How do you organise your notes? Or do you even keep notes? Let us know in the comments section below.

Week in Review – May 21, 2017

The past week has been very, very interesting. Especially yesterday. But more on that later, because I do have a video to show you. That’ll come tomorrow. So, let’s check what happened.

Reading

Still at 79% in Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. I didn’t actually read anything.

Writing

Nothing much. I haven’t advanced.

Videos

I recorded and posted a total of 3 videos. On my main channel, I posted 2 videos, and neither one is my usual video. But they are about some very interesting things. Definitely check them out. On my science channel, I actually posted something! Very important question for you.

Patreon

Nothing yet. I’ve been going through some things about making my Patreon page look good. I’ll be implementing them this week.

Languages

A little bit of French. I want to work on Japanese, though.

The Blog

Not a whole lot going on this past week, but I’ve been making some more progress on The Star Trek Project. I’m trying to watch a lot more.

Studying

Nothing.

The Next Week’s Goals

In a bit over a week, we’re going to be traveling to Japan for a couple weeks. There will be no updates beyond next Monday for a while. So, until then, things will be as normal, though I want to do as much as I can in terms of recording videos, watching Star Trek, and maybe even a swim in the pool.

How was your week?

Star Trek: Discovery Trailer! The Jay Dee Show 30

Another week gone, and some videos to watch! Not as many as I’d hoped, though. But I think we’ve got some good stuff here. Actually, there were only two videos, one on each channel. But they are both worth watching.

On my main channel, I uploaded one video. And it had to do with Star Trek: Discovery! You see, the first trailer was released, and I had some interesting impressions about it. So, check out my Star Trek: Discovery trailer reaction!

On my science channel, I finally resumed uploading videos. I explained what happened in the past month, but also have a big request. And I want to ask you, too. Is there a science topic or question you’d like me to answer? If so, let me know in the comments section below or on the video. Check it out!

More to come next week. Definitely some Star Trek, a top 5 list about science fiction, Authors Answer, and some science! And a very, very special video that will be up tomorrow. It deserves its own blog post.

Let me know what you thought of these videos in the comments section below. And what did you think about the Star Trek: Discovery trailer, if you saw it?

Authors Answer 133 – The Passive Voice

The passive voice is something authors are often told not to use. But what exactly is the passive voice? Here’s a simple example.

Passive voice: The door was opened by John.

Active voice: John opened the door.

When you look at the two sentences, the active voice seems more dynamic. There’s actual movement. The passive voice is talking more about the door rather than John. In active, someone does something. For passive, something is done to something by someone or something. But is it something we should avoid using? Obviously, it shouldn’t be used when action is the focus of a scene. This week, we talk about the passive voice.

Question 133 – Do you find it difficult not to use passive voice? What advice would you give to writers who have this difficulty?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I do slip into it sometimes for reasons I can’t explain. I suppose for advice, I’d tell an author to write each sentence so that the action feels right in your face, as opposed to a distant event to witness. A tree was growing on the hill? Meh. A tree grew on the hill? Better.

H. Anthe Davis

Passive voice isn’t a 100% no-no; it has its uses here and there, mostly in formal conversation/dialogue.  I think the best way to handle it is just to study it, learn to recognize it in your writing, consider other options — and don’t press too hard if the passive way seems the only/best way to say what you want.  The English language is flexible.

Jean Davis

Over the years I’ve been trying hard to stomp out passive voice. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult not to use, but it can slip back in if you’re not watching for it. Always try to keep action and description in the present, making the character do things rather than things happening to or around them.

Paul B. Spence

Passive voice is sometimes needed. My advice is to try to not overuse it. All writers use it. Learn the true definition first, then worry if you do it too much. Sorry, the passive voice thing drives me nuts.

Eric Wood

I don’t really think about passive and active voices. Or at least not until I got this question. Now I will. I think I use an active voice. In my writing, I want to make the main character the focus of my sentences so I try to place them in the position of honor – as the subject of the sentence. For writers who have this difficulty I would tell them what I tell myself. As your story has a main character, so, too, do your sentences so keep your focus on keeping them the subject.

D. T. Nova

I don’t think I have a tendency to use it in situations where it should be avoided.

Gregory S. Close

When writing, using the passive voice is not a problem for me…

Crap!

Writing in the passive voice is less a problem than identifying later that you’ve written in the passive voice.  Sometimes, passive fits the need of the sentence.  Knowing when it doesn’t and editing it the heck out of there is the real trick.  Rules should never hinder writing.  Rules should polish it.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I do find it difficult not to use passive voice, and am often accused of “telling” instead of “showing”. The best advice I can give for writers with this problem is simply to have good beta-readers. A good beta-reader will notice such things and be able to point them out so that you can correct them and (hopefully) be more likely to notice them in the future.

C E Aylett

I use passive voice but I don’t overuse it. I don’t believe it should be avoided, if it is what’s required at the time. Passive voice has its place in many instances and to create certain effects. Of course, it’s always worth questioning where you have used it so you can double check it makes more sense in passive rather than turning it into a more active sentence Coincidentally, I am currently composing a whole article on the subject of when it’s better to use passive voice  for my own blog (www.thestorysmith.com), which I plan to post Sunday 19th May.

Beth Aman

Sometimes!  I used to struggle with this a lot more, and then someone on Critique Circle pointed it to me, and I suddenly understood what I was doing wrong!  Advice to writers who need to work on this: do some research, get your work critiqued, and learn from there.

Jay Dee Archer

In the beginning, I found it difficult to avoid the passive. After teaching English for 11 years, I’ve become extremely conscious of the grammar I use while writing. I don’t have much of a problem with it anymore. But that doesn’t mean using the passive is bad. There are cases when it may be the only type of sentence that makes sense.

But to avoid the passive, you first need to recognise the passive for what it is. Once you do, you’ll notice it a lot more in your writing. While you’re writing, try to think about what the character is doing. If you write through the eyes of the character, even if it is third person, you’ll write in a more active way. Focus on the character’s movements, thoughts, and their senses. This should help a lot.

How about you?

Do you have problems using the passive voice when you should be using the active? What advice would you give? Let us know in the comments section below.

Star Trek S1E13 – The Conscience of the King

Shakespeare seems to be a common theme in Star Trek, especially The Original Series and The Next Generation. William Shatner did train as a classic Shakespearean actor after all. Well, here is an episode where Shakespeare is on stage, literally.

Season 1, Episode 13: The Conscience of the King

Original Air Date: December 8, 1966

Stardate 2817.6

Planet: Planet Q, Benecia

Featured Alien: None

Main Cast: Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Rand, McCoy

Main Guest Characters: Anton Karidian / Kodos (Arnold Moss), Lenore Karidian (Barbara Anderson), Lt. Kevin Thomas Riley (Bruce Hyde), Dr. Thomas Leighton (William Sargent), Martha Leighton (Natalie Norwick), Lt. Leslie (Eddie Paskey)

Things I Noticed

I find it difficult to believe that there is famine on an Earth/Federation colony at this time. It may be possible, but I’d think it’s highly unlikely.

Odd that Dr. Leighton has half of his face covered by a black fabric. I’m sure cosmetic surgery is so advanced at that time that his original appearance could be restored, including a prosthetic eye that would function normally. Again, I understand this is due to the fact that this episode was made more than 50 years ago.

When Kirk called up information about Kodos and Anton Karidian, the computer made a lot of mechanical clicks. Weird.

Kirk is unusually smooth with Lenore Karidian. But then, this was just an act, I think.

As Kirk was walking on the bridge, it sounded like he was walking on a wood floor. I’m pretty sure it was, being a cheap set.

When Spock said his father’s race (the Vulcans) didn’t drink alcohol, McCoy said now he knows why they were conquered. Since when were the Vulcans conquered? This just confused me.

McCoy refered to Lenore as a creature. A bit of sexism here?

First time we see the observation deck above the shuttle bay. There are windows, too!

I think this is the first time Kirk kisses a woman! In previous episodes, he’s resisted because as a Captain, he’s pretty much married to his ship.

This is the second and final time Riley appears in a Star Trek episode.

The return of the 20th century spray bottle! This time to poison Riley’s milk. And of course, the ugly gelatin food appears again.

They used tape film for recorded audio. That’s not even used today.

McCoy inadvertently let Riley know about Kodos. It seemed rather careless. He was right behind him!

The acting company’s set is made of wood. Maybe they wanted authenticity. Or it’s just the material the Star Trek set designers had to use.

Kirk and Spock compare paper printouts of the Kodos’ and Karidian’s voice prints side-by-side. They actually used their eyes to compare the voice prints! That is an incredibly inefficient way to do it. Use the computer!

Who in their right mind would continue to quote Shakespeare after they’ve killed their father? But then, she did seem crazy.

Leaving Benecia at warp 1. Warp 1 again. Slow!

My Impressions

Way back when I used to watch Star Trek as a teenager, I was never impressed by this episode. I wanted Klingons and Romulans. Not Shakespeare. But after watching this episode as a 40 year old, I have a completely different feeling about it. I like Shakespeare. But that’s not why I like this episode.

I felt that the acting was pretty good in general. Sure, there was overacting by Shatner a bit (the scene with Lenore in the observation deck was a bit over the top) and some extreme overacting by Barbara Anderson as Lenore Karidian, but it was otherwise well done.

One thing I don’t get is why Kirk didn’t just confide in Spock and McCoy that he suspected Karidian of being Kodos. But I guess it’s possible that he didn’t want them to be subjected to disciplinary action if the transport of the Karidian Company was completely against protocol, and that Kirk was just on a wild goose chase.

The story had a decent amount of suspense. Is Karidian actually Kodos? Would Riley be killed? I thought that was done pretty well. Overall, I enjoyed this episode.

Verdict

★★★★

Your Voice

What did you think of this episode? Was Anderson’s portrayal of Lenore over the top? Did you think Karidian regretted what he had done? Let me know in the comments section below.