Wednesday, January 23, 2013


As part of the great diaspora of talent on the internet, a lot of things, such as writing, that can be learned about through degree programmes or books on the subject, can also now be learned about through short instructional written bits, called tutorials.

For a lot of people, me included, it's nice to be able to look up a specific piece of information and be told about the process. That's how I re-taught myself to knit, too: I went to and watched videos of how to cast on and then watched knitting videos, and then, when I was working on other projects, looked up specific increases and decreases.

But my thoughts on knitting are not what you're here for.

Actually, I'm not sure what you're here for, as apparently most of you are Russian Linux users and therefore probably cooler than me.

Writing tutorials are interesting. I posted one a couple weeks ago - more of an insulting crash course in the addressing comma, but it does count as a tutorial. I normally don't do those. I normally don't do anything approximating tutorials, because I am not comfortable speaking from a position of authority about writing in general. I am willing to go on for several minutes [link goes to audio file] about things that don't work for me at all as a writer or reader, but I tend not to spend a lot of time on the things that work for me. This is because different things work for different people, and there is no one true way to write.

For example, Horatio Alger and Stieg Larsson were both bestselling authors. I adore Larsson's prose, but reading Alger makes me want to stab myself in the face. These preferences mean that I do not have an absolute authority on what makes popular writing, and popular writing is often what people are aiming for in their endeavors. Therefore any tutorials by me would not address a full spectrum of possible right ways. I feel, then, that any tutorials I could write would be less than ideal, and, as a perfectionist, I therefore refrain from writing them (swearing about addressing commas is different: it is possible to be objectively wrong).

Other people have different approaches, and some people write fantastic writing tutorials because they can get over being obsessively perfectionist and just write down the things they know that work. What sparked this post, though, was a tutorial on writing fanfiction that has received a great deal of positive feedback. Holy shit, people, use your critical thinking skills when assessing whether something is good advice or not. Just because someone can put together The Ultimate Handbook or whatever does not automatically mean they have any idea what they're talking about.

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