I started reading The Forever War as part of my attempt to make the science in my science fiction more believable. And whenever you ask around about such things, the SF fans who know their science always point to this book, so I figured it was a good place to start.

Now, before I say anything, I just want to say that I won’t be saying “spoiler alert” when I discuss the book’s details. It’s been out for decades — published in 1974 — so if you haven’t made time for it yet, not my problem.

The author, Joe Haldeman…

In the previous article on Working Faster in Scrivener with Auto-Complete List we examined a way to pre-populate a list of auto-complete suggestions specific to the document you’re currently working in so little lists will pop-up as you type, allowing you to quickly select words from that menu and save yourself a little time in the long run.

This article is going to deal with enabling additional substitutions, allowing you to use shorthand for long chunks of text you find yourself typing over and over. For instance, if you write about science often, sometimes you’ll need the long form of…

The Auto-Complete List, in all its rough-hewn and splendored glory

So, you’re writing a novel, and you’ve foolishly chosen to name a character something like ‘DeGraaf’. All left-hand typing, two capitals. What a pain in the butt. Why, why would you do that? You’re going to have to re-type that name about four thousand times over the next hundred thousand words.

Well, fear not! You can always program macros into Microsoft Office so you can type shorthand into Word and it’ll automatically replace it for you.

But wait, you’re working in Scrivener? Me too! Here’s what you do now that macros aren’t an option. …

Photo by Sigmar Schnur on Unsplash

Gleipnok wakes to discover that some time while sleeping she transformed into a big, hairy Earthling. Legs already hanging from the end of her once roomy sleep pod, she wriggles out and reaches with her mind for her crewmates. Thinking things like, “Ah!” and “Help!” and “I’m a big, hairy Earthling! How did that happen?”

Once she stops her mental screaming, she hears how quiet it is in her mind. For the first time in her life, she’s alone with her thoughts. “Where is everyone?”

She sticks her gigantic head in Turmbladt’s sleep pod. He’s just getting up, rubbing his…

Photo by Tyler van der Hoeven on Unsplash

I used to teem with life. Now there’s only Marcela and her abuela — Pepita. Two lost souls marking time on the dark side of Proxima b. And Pepita and I aren’t on speaking terms anymore. Not since she yanked out her implants.

A ping comes in. “Galicia?”

“Hi, Marcela,” I reply. My default answer mode is cheerful and optimistic. “How can I help you this evening?”

“Can you send a medbot? For Abuela?”

“You’re sure?” The last time I tried, the old woman threatened to dismantle the poor bot with an atom slicer. Even as her temples bled.


Or, how to make your make-believe more believable

“fountain pen on spiral book” by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I used to struggle with fiction. Or rather, I perhaps didn’t struggle hard enough with it. Either way, I made my writing less accessible — and at times inaccessible — to others.

I’d get a weird idea, mistake it for brilliance, and whip off a 3,000-word story. Then I’d submit it to my writer’s group and wait for the accolades to pile up.

Okay, my expectations weren’t that unreal. But they were out of line with reality. I somehow expected people to love my story as much as I enjoyed the allegedly creative process of getting it down on the…

Some more realistic options for getting paid to write

“black typewriter on table” by Julie Johnson on Unsplash

Sometimes, success requires an action plan. And a doable one at that. But too often, young writers have unrealistic expectations about the ease with which one becomes a professional writer in today’s marketplace. The fame and riches of writers like J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins and their very successful book/movie franchises can easily lead newer scribes to think that making a living as a storyteller is a cakewalk.

Sadly, building a career plan around writing — in any form — is really dodgy. Even if you can get your book picked up by a traditional publisher who pays advances, there’s…

“person shadow holding glass door” by Tertia van Rensburg on Unsplash

Dick Jenson crushed a cigarette butt under the heel of his Italian leather shoe. Turning the corner onto his street, he discovered a second car parked in the driveway; a sombre-looking black Olds blocking in their two-tone Belair. He didn’t know anyone who drove an Oldsmobile.

His wife Trixie met him at the door, a martini in hand. The fragrant aroma of her pot roast wafted toward him from the kitchen. There was a hesitant look in Trix’s gray-green eyes. Dick knew he looked a sight. He had bloodshot eyes and a five o’clock shadow left over from last Tuesday…

“gray bearded dragon photography” by Milo McDowell on Unsplash

Goddamn miracle we’re all suited up for another day in the mines when the bomb hits. The ground shakes, a roar splits the air, and the gates of hell open as a huge plume of smoke and fire rises above the newts’ village.

At the top of the mine shaft, our transpo hasn’t left yet. Foreman’s talking to a guard at the security gate who’s got someone else on the radio. They’re falling over each other piecing together out what’s gone wrong. Once they figure it out, we’re back in the transpo, flying to the village. …

Steve Chatterton

Writer, dog walker, father of two, husband of one.

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