Tag Archives: writing

2008 Bulwer-Lytton winner

This is the 26th year of the Bulwer-Lytton contest, aimed at finding the best of the worst opening lines to imaginary novels. The winner is pretty good, but I enjoyed the “Spy Fiction” Winner and Runner-Up better. So I copied them below as well. I mean the Spy Novel winner is baaaaaad and the Runner-Up is just to punny to pass up.

Continue reading 2008 Bulwer-Lytton winner

Ghost (Writer) in the machine

Philip Parker is the most prolific author in history, according to Amazon. The NY Times ran this article about Philip Parker and his amazing technicolor technical writing machines. Apparently, Parker unleashes his computers on the Internet, which look in every nook and cranny to glean all stats, numbers, data, etc. Then Parker peppers in a few introductions and transition pieces, hits another button to format, create charts and an index and…. bam! You have a collection of 200,000 “published” books (actually they’re sitting in a POD database waiting until someone buys one).

Most are dry niche-technical stuff. The kind of specialist info you might expect from a data miner like the one he is running. But he says that he’s looking to produce works in one area-of fiction… the romance novel.

“I’ve already set it up,” he said. “There are only so many body parts.”

Wow. Writing so formulaic that someone thinks a computer could do it? It will be interesting to see if it ever happens.

Ghost (Writer) in the machine

The NY Times ran an article about Philip Parker and his amazing technicolor technical writing computer program. Basically, his machine collects every factoid, statistic and number from the web, Parker then peppers a few introductions and transitional phrases in there, hits another button to format and index… and bam! You have a collection of 200,000 separate books “authored” by one man.

No doubt, the texts are dry and boring. But I bet some neat trends start to appear in what his program finds online. It’s a pretty interesting way to collect data and organize it for a book. Though I imagine, if you ever want anything beyond tables and graphs, you’ll always need that human element.

Of course, there is romance fiction which Parker said he has already targeted with new algorithms…

“I’ve already set it up,” he said. “There are only so many body parts.”

So we’ll have to wait and see if it ever goes any further!

Turning free web material into books

The NY Times ran an article on blogs/sites moving into printed products. Pretty interesting though nothing really new is mentioned. They don’t even mention the word “blook“. Which is a book mainly consisting of blog posts (and one word I hope never makes it into the dictionary). Basically some marketing folks look at a blog’s traffic stats and see dollar signs, but over the last two years, publishers have realized that a high number of unique visitors does not always translate into dollars.

Though it seems that comics and illustrations do seem to do better than fiction and narratives.

Basically, Frank Warren (of Post Secret fame) summed-up the whole business model when he is quoted in the article saying “I don’t think there is a formula,” Mr. Warren said. “There is a bit of magic there that can’t be replicated.”