The Thursday Three #8

  1. I finished reading Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide last week (an overview of the NSA information leaks in 2013 — very interesting), and I noticed something odd: the book had no end notes or index, just a couple of sentences saying that both of those items could be found online at the author’s website. I have never seen that done before, and to me, it was a bit of an inconvenience because I didn’t want to haul myself out of my comfy chair and go online at just that moment. I wonder if more nonfiction books will do this in the future.
  2. RescueTime is an online tool that can help you manage your productivity and stop you from being distracted on the Internet. It tells you how much time you spend on certain websites, so you can create a kind of “time budget.” You can also block distracting websites, but only if you purchase a monthly subscription. I haven’t tried it, mostly because I already know where I tend to be distracted, but I imagine that it would be good for the self-employed or those who are thinking of becoming such.
  3. Now for something completely useless — three love songs: “Stand Inside Your Love” by the Smashing Pumpkins (the only true love song Billy Corgan ever wrote), “Ghost Love Score” by Nightwish (10 minutes of the most beautiful sound imaginable [well, if you like opera vocals]), and “Angel” by Aerosmith (embarrassingly cheesy, but sometimes I randomly get obsessed with 80s power ballads).

Hope everyone is having a good week!

Posthumously Famous

The “Will You Press the Button?” meme has been floating around on a few social networking sites lately. I suppose it’s sort of like the “would you rather” game that we played in high school, when two disgusting or inane choices were given, and you had to pick one or the other (you couldn’t say “neither” or “both”).

Here, the decision is pretty simple. The first choice is to not press the button at all. The second choice is to press the button and become the most talented artist of all time but only posthumously.

I’d press the button.

Sometimes I think of the “deathbed scenario” where you’re supposed to imagine yourself on your deathbed or in a nursing home and think about what you would like to have accomplished in your lifetime and how you can start to accomplish those things today. If I knew with absolute certainty that some piece of “art” that I worked on was going to have such a legacy, I would die happy.

Fame while living is a burden I would not want to bear. Whenever I hear about a celebrity being hounded by paparazzi, I shudder. The idea of going out in public for something as ordinary as grocery shopping and having to worry about being blinded by cameras and pelted with questions is scary in the extreme. For an author, I don’t think the celebrity madness would be as bad as if I was an actress or singer. After all, the author stereotype is that of a recluse. It would be nice to be as well known as Stephen King and sign books until my hand fell off, but I’d rather go the Emily Dickinson route and be virtually unknown, then be remembered for lifetimes later.

Chapter Titles

I was musing about chapter titles yesterday. It seems like most fiction books for adults and teens don’t have them. More middle-grade and children’s books have them, but I don’t believe they’re ubiquitous even in those genres. The books in the Harry Potter series do have chapter titles, and I remember skipping over the table of contents in the last Harry Potter book because I didn’t want to get even the slightest hint of a spoiler before I actually started to read.

Chapter (or even scene) titles can be useful for when you’re writing and trying to organize the pieces. It’s easier to remember a chapter as “Character X’s Revenge” rather than plain old “Chapter 12.” But the way I look at it, it’s hard enough to come up with a title for the whole book itself, so why bother with chapter titles at all?

Use of chapter titles can also depend on the ultimate destination of the book: is it going to be posted on a website somewhere? Are you going to traditionally publish or self-publish? I’ve noticed that on sites like FictionPress, chapter titles can be really useful; they can provide a bird’s-eye look at the content of the story, so you can determine whether reading it would be worthwhile.

For the most part, though, I don’t think chapter titles are used much for fiction. What do you think? Do you like chapter titles when reading or writing?