Thursday, August 30, 2018

SAT Then and Now

When your parents took the SAT: 
1.) Apple : Fruit :: Horse : _______

A)  Animal
B)  Table
C)  Coffee
D)  Cheesecake

The SAT now: 
Instructions: Give the College Board all your parents' money. Open your answer packet, write in your answer in those tiny boxes in the separate examination packet, then bubble in the numbers you wrote. No calculators are allowed for this section. We don't care about seeing your work. You have thirty seconds.

1.) Regulation holes are the depth and width of a six-foot shovel. Alice can dig five regulation holes in sixteen minutes. Bob can dig nine holes in twenty minutes, but after an hour he gets tired and can only dig seven holes in twenty minutes. Eve can fill in nine holes in eight minutes. Alice and Bob arrive at 12 noon and begin working. If Eve arrives at 1:42 PM, what volume of land (in square meters) has been dug at 2:17 PM? Assume the holes are perfectly cylindrical.

Friday, August 3, 2018

How to Write Fantasy

After reading several fantasy novels, I believe that I am an expert in how to write novels. Below are some helpful pointers to getting started in writing your very own fantasy novel.

1. Put a chart or map at the beginning of the book. Nerds love that stuff. Make the font too small or too curly to read.
2. Make a different, more complicated map of many different places and expect your reader to memorize all of the places and where they are in relation to one another. Make sure the names of these places are counterintuitive and difficult to remember. This map, the one you use to write, is different from the map that you put in the book.
3. Make up at least one thousand years' worth of history in wars, famines, kings, etc. that your reader needs to know. If your reader does not understand, then your novel will be a confusing mess. 
4. Do not use BCE or AD or any timescale your readers will recognize. Make up your own. 
5. Create many different races of people (like dwarfs, orcs, Dothraki, etc.) and expect your reader to know them already. 
6. Make up a bunch of names for your characters that your reader has never heard before, such as Krytesmia and Olgensftorz. You can do this through putting a bunch of sounds together or taking a normal name and changing one letter. Make sure your reader has no clue how to pronounce any name. 
7. Make up a bunch of words that don't exist and stick them all over the place so that you can put an appendix in the back, like a tiny dictionary. 
8. Either utilize pretentious, antediluvian lexicon or use everyday words in unusual ways. 
9. Include several characters with the same name. For example, you could include nineteen characters whose names are all Branessma, but also expect that your reader will keep track of all of them. 
10. Include characters whose names are similar but different, such as Fíli and Kíli. Don't worry, that won't be confusing at all. 
11. Make a bunch of different families/clans/groups/tribes and expect your reader to keep track of them all, as well as all the relationships between them all. 
12. Include magic, but make the rules of that magic complicated and confusing.
13. Include several other forms of magic, each of which is also complicated and confusing. Make the relationship between each form of magic equally enigmatic. 
14. Ensure that the main cast of characters is composed of about twenty people. Expect your reader to remember and care about them all. 
15. Include a glib or catchy phrase that nerds can say to each other at Comic-Con or FantasyCon or whatever. 
16. Include at least one dragon. 
17. Obviously there must be kings, castles, and medieval things, or at least allusions to medieval things.
18. Include a prophecy or fortune that gives away the ending. 
19. Include an old wizard or healer who gives wise advice.
20. During a feast scene, include at least one list of food. Several lists preferred. I don't really know why every fantasy novel includes lists of food, but it's best not to stray too far from the formula.

Above all, remember this: In fantasy, more is best. More characters, more clans, more history, more love triangles, more everything!