Category Archives: Writing

A New Start

Welcome to 2015, and a new start here at Fat Al.

2014 was – well, let’s be honest – not much fun. Lots of ups and downs, and not much in the way of writing, or anything creative at all.

2013 wasn’t much better (it appears) so this is going to be a new start, and we’ll see what happens.

There’s still blogging elsewhere, but this is going to be the place for stuff by Fat Al. 2015’s going to be the Year of the Fat.

Preserving Writing

Over the Christmas Break on Twitter, a couple of the people I follow had their computers crash, with the associated worries about loss of data and – more importantly – their writing.

Of course, we all know the reasons to back stuff up, but most of the time we don’t bother – we forget, or it’s just a pain to do.

So, in the spirit of security, and hoping it helps someone not lose their data, here’s what I do…

Use Dropbox. (Or Google Drive, or any other cloud-based file server – so long as it gives you a folder on your machine to sync with)

All my writing sits inside my Dropbox folder, always.  You can save it with a password if you’re feeling really paranoid (assuming your writing software allows you to do so) but regardless, it means that every time you save your document, it’s automatically backed up to Dropbox. (or your provider of similar services) Every. Time.

That’s the secret, really. Make the backups easy, unintrusive, invisible, and part of your normal save routine.

If you use Dropbox or it’s relations, you can’t forget to backup – it’s done by the simple act of having all your writing in that sync-ing folder, and just remembering to save it every so often.

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2013, and New Beginnings

So here we are, a new year again, and time to reboot my writing plans here at Fat Al.

I’ve got plans for what I want to write, and a couple of outlines for ideas, so I’m going to see how they go.

My goal is to write between 750 and 1000 words a day this year – at least ’til the ideas either work or they don’t.  If I don’t do the writing on one day, then I’ll be aiming to make up for it the day after.

Honestly, I don’t know how realistic those plans are, but it’ll do for now. I don’t really make New Year Resolutions, although I do have plans that tend to fit in with years. (It’s either that or do them November to November, working with birthdays)

Still, that’s the plan – we’ll see how we do.

About Writing

“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t wanna make eye contact while telling it.”

John Green (via silliiboo)

Getting Started

From today, I’m trying to get back into writing again. I’ve slacked off a bit over the last few months, although I can explain that with a lot of the stuff that’s been going on and needed dealing with before writing could come back into the options.

But now, with available time, some motivation, and some ideas, I’m going to see how I do.

As I get into it, it’s initially going to be an aim of 30 minutes a day, and we’ll see from there. Ideally I’d like to do an hour a day (or at least average out to that) but well, we’ll see.


The Problem with Great Influences

Over the last ten years – and for many years before that, but in this context, ten years – I’ve always dreamed of being a writer.  I’ve done odds and sods along the way, but there’s never been anything big, no matter how much I want it to be there.  It’ll happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.

But also over the last ten years I’ve been influenced by some great writers – and in this case, I’ve been influenced by Aaron Sorkin, the writer of (among others) West Wing, one of my favourite series ever. I’ve also been catching up on his latest series, The Newsroom.

I think Sorkin is one of the best writers in the world, certainly for film/TV drama. He’s been an influence on me for a decade, and I’m still in awe of the way he writes.

But at the same time, I don’t know, he’s an inspiration to me, but I always see myself as being inferior to him. In my head I guess I don’t want to be any old writer, I want to be at Sorkin’s level. And deep inside, I know I likely never will be.

I think I need to get inside my head that I don’t have to be as good as Aaron Sorkin, I just have to be my best. Not the best, my best.

I’m hoping that’ll sink in. We’ll see.

These are my Words

I love this image.  Can’t remember where I got it from originally, but I really should make it into a desktop image or something…



Of late, I’ve been really impressed with the American TV series “Homeland”, starring Damien Rice and Claire Danes. The basic concept is very “now”, but it’s all very twisted, and plays with preconceptions.

The basic premise is simple. An agent of Homeland Security is told by an informer that an American prisoner-of-war has been turned, and is going to be used for a terrorist attack in the US. When the American soldier, Nick Brody (played by Damien Lewis) is released/saved after years as an Iraqi prisoner-of-war (POW), the agent is obsessed with trying to prevent that attack.  But is Brody actually going to commit the attack? Or is it all a big double-bluff?

The most contentious (so far – I haven’t seen the final three episodes yet) piece has been where the show revealed why Brody might have been turned towards the terrorist cause – an American attack on a ‘terrorist compound’ that killed women and children as ‘collateral damage’, including one child that Brody had grown close to.  It’s pretty dark and shocking, particularly for a series made in the US.

Series like this are the ones that (in an ideal world) TV drama should all aspire to be. Homeland, West Wing, Fringe (to a degree), Dollhouse, Sons of Anarchy, Shield – they’re all there, but there should be so many more. We should be able to identify the bad shows as ones that are away from the norm, not vice versa.


Spoken vs. Written

Over on his site, Charlie Stross talks about the differences between prose and dialogue, and a writing experiment he plans to work on.

It’s a really interesting piece, and a fascinating concept – writing the prose, and using speech recognition software to do the dialogue pieces of the writing.I’ll be interested to see how it all works out.