All-Purpose Writing Thread!


I love that title, Dave. There is only one book with that title and it’s a math book (as it should be). I’m not sure exactly what it means, but it sounds very playful. I bet it’s got sex in it. Dave, am I right? Am I right?


So much sex! Also, minusing.


Congratulations, Dave! I have no real mathematical grounding but sometimes like to flip through PDFs of subjects that are over my head (once skimmed a monograph on cockroaches for some reason), so I’m going to bookmark it for when I get that itch next. Cover looks great.


Thanks! And the cover art is by Rafael Aruajo, whose work can be seen here:

He allowed me to use his image at no charge!


My silly little story Strange Stars is published today in Third Flatiron’s “Cat’s Breakfast” Vonnegut-tribute anthology.


Congrats! Love Vonnegut.


Has anyone else tried the app Ulysses for writing? I’ve used Scrivener for about 4 years and Ulysses recently became my writing app of choice. It’s similar to Evernote but it presents writers with a pure writing environment. There are no word processor controls to deal with because it’s uses mark-up language. Want a line italicized? Type a * before text. ** does bolding. It sounds weird but I’ve really fallen in love with this program over the last few weeks. This program is Mac only, sorry PC users.

Another feature I like is having the ability to set keywords on projects chapters (called sheets). My current book has 3 alternating POVs. I set a keyword with the character’s name and it organizes the chapters by title. It also organizes them by keyword so I can see all of my “James” chapters in order. I’ve found this really useful for proofing.


I love it. It is my go-to app for writing.


I wish Ulysses had a daily word count counter. I do like how it handles word counts and the way you can set them on individual sheets, but I try to make a certain word count every day, and have to track it on paper now. That’s the one feature from Scrivener I miss.



Two math students and I are doing some summer research on a technique called “word embedding”. This is a way of attempting to quantify various features of a text (or set of texts). The more texts the better, but I think we have refined the technique to the point where it can say meaningful things about a single novel,

I sent @Mr_Zero a private message just now (this is what I want to ask you about, Mr Zero!) because he wrote a fantastic fantasy novel, The Chosen One, which I’d like to use as a text. Maybe he will agree and maybe he will not. If you’re around, Mr Zero, I can be more specific!

Meanwhile, I was wondering if anyone knows of a large quantity of writing by a single author that is not under copyright, or which you imagine we can get permission to use. Something as long as A Song of Fire and Ice or Harry Potter.


Stuff out of copyright will be stuff before 1921 or 22, something like that. If you want voluminous, you could look at Dickens or Trollope. I think Edgar Rice Burroughs has a lot of stuff out of copyright. I think most of the Wizard of Oz series of books by L. Frank Baum is out of copyright. There’s lots of stuff.


Thanks, Mark. We want to study modern fiction, so although those ideas are great, that olde timey stuff doesn’t hold any appeal. :(


Maybe some of the higher-quality fanfiction out there? Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality comes to mind.


I’m going to talk to our copyright librarian tomorrow, and I’ll ask about fan fiction!


Worm is an interesting serialized web fiction. The author is. . . ambivalent about fan-made PDFs and similar repackaging, and might be interested in being used in an academic context.


Check out the Baen Free Library, a bunch of free (sci-fi /fantasy) ebooks by publisher Baen.

There are probably a couple of series available, but notably the Lois McMaster Bujold Vorkosigan saga, which is a pretty large corpus. I can’t find a link anymore, but they were definitely free in the past, and you could probably dig them up with little effort.

Edit: looks like they were free / DRM free on a CD from one of the later books, you can still download the CD from Baen. I think 14 full length novels are available.


Fun fact: a good friend of mine from college did the Worm audiobook project. My wife did some voice work for it.


Thanks so much, peeps!


My story Thirteen Bullets is up on PodCastle today! A great podcast narration, or you can read it for yourself.


I liked Thirteen Bullets quite a lot! I shan’t say more, as I’d spoil.