Neil Gaiman on character, motivation and plot

The next [building block of story] is the characters. Who are they? What do they want? I’m going to harp on a lot about what characters want. I’m going to harp on about what characters want because over and over again you’ll find that when you’re plotting, when you’re putting something together, it’s the only question that opens the door…

The unglamorous work of doing good (2)

I recently delivered some food parcels to families in our area. This was “helping those who have less” in one of its clearer and more concrete forms. I was happy to do it, but it didn’t feel that great: I loaded up my car, delivered the packages to some people who said thanks, and then drove home. It didn’t feel…

The unglamorous work of doing good (1)

The side of the tracks Among the most rewarding pieces of “good” that I’ve ever done was to start a micro-savings group for a small community of men and women who lived along a railway line in West Jakarta. It was hard: hot, dusty, dirty and smelly from the rubbish that they recycled for a living, always smokey from cigarettes…

7k

Happy to announce that we’ve made it past 7,000 views. Thanks for coming, and HT to the Tyler Cowen spike. See also:Build it up (buttercup)The Patience of a spider [7000; seven thousand]

Values in tension (1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about values recently. I mean things like justice, peace, loyalty, family, courage, etc. etc. I think it’s super important to understand your values, to make good decisions for yourself and for the world, but it’s also easy for those values words to replace thinking. You can use the word in a sentence without really having…

Build it up (buttercup)

Reality checks Last October I ran the Jakarta half-marathon and found it much harder than I expected. There were mitigating factors – it was hot and humid, and I was running with very low weekly mileage (about 10 miles a week!) – but even so, it was a tough finish. Up until that point I’d always assumed that the marathon-I-never-quite-got-around-to…

What do you miss? McKinley Valentine on newsletters in general and BookRiot in particular

I kind of wanted to put the entire medium of newsletters as my tool because I do love them, but I’ve chosen Book Riot’s science fiction and fantasy newsletter, which I think comes out about twice a week… It just gives recommendations of science fiction and fantasy books, pretty much. It has the cover, it has the blurb – they’re…

Two questions mid-Covid

For any of the things you do… What don’t you / your customers miss about doing this in person? What do you / they miss? Whatever “real life” looks like in the coming months, it will help if the things we’re glad to see the back of stay gone, or stay at a minimum. Losing these things is likely to…

When I’m bigger

My sons tell fantastic stories about what they’re going to do and be when they’re grown up: spies, taxi drivers, race-car drivers, generals, fathers of improbably large numbers of children (!), expert fighters, designers, inventors… The stories are a wonderful mix of the improbable and the impossible with a smattering of the realistic and the actual thrown in for good…

Plato on ageing well

I love this little riff from the start of Plato’s fascinating-but-politically-iffy* Republic: We went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found his brothers … There too was Cephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had a…