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…

People stuff

It helps if you… Have a track record with someone Share goals Have a similar work ethic Have enough experience to have some perspective Are doing okay (aren’t desperate; can [let them] leave) Listen Always have something good to say Know who’s doing what Keep promises Share the assumption that you’re committed to the work, to doing it well, and…

Ben Dreyer on Good Writing and the Nonrules of English

Here’s rather a long extract – one I heartily agree with – to wet your whistle. Then go and get the book. I have nothing against rules. They’re indispensable when playing Monopoly or gin rummy, and their observance can go a long way toward improving a ride on the subway. The rule of law? Big fan. The English language, though,…

Seth Godin on difficult conversations

I highly recommend this week’s excellent episode of Akimbo about Difficult Conversations. Here’s my summary: There are lots of conversations that we think of as “difficult”: telling someone you manage that you’re not happy with their performance; complaining about customer service; asking a friend to change their behaviour. We often find having these conversations hard and even avoid having them…

When not to speak

Here’s a flow to help me with my “helpful contribution” problem:Is the priority of (this part of) the meeting to discuss things exhaustively, or to cover the essentials? If the purpose of the meeting is exhaustive discussion and there’s still time and attention available – go ahead and share your point. If the purpose of the meeting is to cover…

Obviously

If they knew what you knew, felt how you felt, had the right perspective, it would be obvious to them too. But they don’t. This means that – assuming that it’s necessary and helpful to point out the obvious in this case – the way you do it matters a lot: What are you going to do to help you…

Stimulus and response

MIND THE GAP… … is good advice: If you’re prone to saying things you regret. If you’re feeling snappy. When you’re under pressure. Most of the time. As we learn to mind the gap – first to see it as it whistles by; then to squeeze in a tiny breath and moderate our response; and then (in time) to pause…

Hand-washing, face masks and cultural hygiene

The best reason for washing your hands at regular intervals isn’t protecting yourself. You might only rarely wash your hands and still never get sick. This might be because you’re a clean sort of person, or it could be because you have a strong immune system. In this case, the best reason for washing your hands regularly is to protect…

Responsive (1): In good time

The way we respond to people – family, colleagues, strangers – carries a lot of information. Any response at all suggests that someone matters – whether because we like them or they’re otherwise important to us, or because they’re somehow in our way. The speed of our responses to people speaks volumes, and can send mixed messages. A fast response…