Friday, September 26, 2008

Personality Indicator = Fun

I found the Gregorc Personality Indicator test online, and you should give it a whirl if you want insight into how you and others think, and why you don't understand the way other people work.

You'll have to print it out and do it by hand, but first go here.

Follow the instructions and map out your graph. Thinking styles are broken down into four types: Concrete Sequential, Concrete Random, Abstract Sequential, and Abstract Random. You will have a score of some type in each category, but will probably lean strongly toward one or more types of thinking.

Then go here and see what it all means.

What I like about this test is that it doesn't just label you as one thing. I fell into all four categories with varying degrees of intensity. Here are my scores. Then I'll show you what they mean.

(CS) Concrete Sequential: 4
(AS) Abstract Sequential: 24
(AR) Abstract Random: 56
(CR) Concrete Random: 28

So I scored strongest in Abstract Random, then got almost equal scores in in Concrete Random and Abstract Sequential, then scored really low in Concrete Sequential.

Which means - don't expect me to solve your math problems!

And here, in order of what I'm strongest in first, is a synopsis of each type.

Abstract Randoms prefer:
Cooperative work, Assignments with room for interpretation, Balance of social activities and work, Noncompetitive atmosphere, Personalized learning, Are given personal attention and emotional support.

Concrete Randoms prefer:
Trial and error approach, Hands-on experiences, Brainstorming and open-ended activities, Produce real, but creative, products, Original and unique approaches to problem solving, Self-directed learning.

Abstract Sequentials prefer:
Lecture and reading, Follow traditional procedures, Work alone, Research, Logical explanations, Are respected for intellectual ability.

Concrete Sequentials prefer:
Order and quiet, Exact directions, Guided Practice, Know the accepted way of doing something, Can apply ideas in a practical, hands-on way, Are given approval for specific work done.

Learning style summaries
Concrete-Sequential - Organized, stable, productive, perfectionist
Abstract-Sequential - Precise, conceptual, visionary, opinionated
Concrete-Random - Curious, hands-on, impulsive, impatient
Abstract-Random - Spontaneous, adaptable, social, perceptive

AR fits me very well, I think. I love cooperative games (don't much care for super competitive ones), adapt well, and all that. But I am capable of being logical, working alone, and following traditional procedures, and having a big fat opinion in AS fashion too. And so on. I do tend to lack organization in my work, which makes sense given my low CS score, although I CAN do it if I try. It just requires more effort and isn't a high priority for me.

This sort of thing can give you insight into how you work, your strengths and weaknesses, both as a person and as a writer. I know that I need to work a little harder on my organization (as I survey the sea of paper near my desk) and on actually finishing projects.

Give it a whirl and get your loved ones to do it too so that when they get all Random (or overly Sequential) during an argument, you don't go ballistic.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Check out the new look!

Notice anything... different around here lately?

Yeah, I've updated my photo and the look of the blog so that they tie in with my long range plans.

You see, eventually I'll be a published author with a website. At least, that's the promise I made to myself, and I'm proceeding as if my desires are actually going to happen in the real world. I guess I have a lot of faith, a lot of hubris, or both!

So the changes you see are part of those plans. Eventually the look of the blog will tie in with other elements of my plan.

Gah! Can you believe I'm getting all official and stuff? But about a year ago I made a deal with myself that I'd start acting like a professional until it became a reality. So this is one of many steps. Most of the steps involve actual writing, but you also need to market yourself, reach out to possible readers, all that good stuff.

Act like a professional and take the necessary steps toward becoming one. That's part of my current philosophy of making your dreams come true. Meanwhile, enjoy the new look. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Crutch

In reading my book out loud to myself, I figured out that I have certain go-to phrases and ideas that I lean on whenever I've run out of ideas.

It's really annoying to discover that you do this, but I've heard from other writers that I'm not the only one. (Thank goodness!) One writer told me that she always has her characters smiling.

"Thanks!" I smiled at him, trying not show my feelings.

That sort of thing, but over and over again.

Why does this happen? Personally, I get tired of writing the word "said." In writing dialogue, it's best to use "said" when you attribute a line to the speaker, rather than obscure things like "Oh, I would never," she averred. "Said" is more unobtrusive, often invisible to the reader, so it allows your dialogue to shine. But I get sick of it. So I insert action and motion into the dialogue, trying to add layers of meaning.

How do I do this?

By having people lift their eyebrows. Voila, my crutch. In reading my book again, I found my characters lifting their fricking eyebrows at each other left, right, and center, upside down and sideways. I had a veritable army of Spocks on my hands, indicating their attention and fascination and skepticism, and anything else I could think of, with their eyebrows. Lazy of me. Shiftless, slothful, and positively torpid of me.

The problem with the crutch is once you realize you have one, then you have to go in and change it every time you use it. Ugh. What the hell else is character going to do during an intense conversation other than lift their eyebrows?

Hello, "said."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Things She Learned About Telling Stories

Writer Elizabeth Bear has a great post on her blog about the Things I Have Learned About Telling Stories.

She tackles dream sequences, killer POVs, killing off protagonists, and so on. She knows whereof she speaks, so harken, ye writers. Take note.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Another Photo Appears on Schmap!

The online travel site Schmap must be hard up for photos of York, because they selected another of my shots of that city in UK to illustrate its online guide.

You can see my photo and the overall guide here.

It's not the most exciting photo in the world, but hey - it's another appearance on the web for me, a person not exactly renowned for her photography prowess. The shot is of a portrait of a man named John Foote (I forget the artist's name, alas) in the York Gallery. My travel buddy Wendy and I spend half a rainy day there quite happily viewing various pieces of art. As it happens, Wendy knows a man named John Foote through her work, so she asked me to take this photo. And another moment of internet "fame" occurs for me...

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reading (out loud) is Fundamental

I'm onto the final stages of rewriting, which is exciting, daunting, and, well, tedious.

I'm reading the whole frakking book out loud to myself. And it's taking forever.

(Ever heard that joke?

"How's life?"

"Taking forever.")

I had a whole three day weekend to do this and I'm only about a third of the way through. Okay, so laziness and a deep desire to take naps interfered somewhat. But also, your dang voice gets tired after awhile. And the cats look at you funny. And the neighbors can hear you as they pass your front door.

However, I deeply recommend this as something to do as you get ready to submit your manuscript. I've caught all sorts of typos, missing words, bad punctuation, stilted sentences, dialogue in need of work, ideas that need clarifying, and so on.

And you can practice your otherwise terrible acting skills and facility with accents. I've got the Cockney bodyguard down cold but am having trouble with the smooth more upper class British hero. But it's kind of fun to try. Most importantly, I'm making my book look as polished and professional as possible before anyone claps eyes on it.

Oy. More reading out loud ahead tonight. Wish me luch with the Corsican mobster!