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Article: Japan confronts disability stigma after silence over murder victims’ names

Japan confronts disability stigma after silence over murder victims’ names

A disturbing view of disability in Japan and how it is shrouded in silence. However, because of this silence it is unclear why these murders were committed. There is a danger that the media will sensationalise this before the facts emerge. Nevertheless it’s certainly a case that will generate much debate.

Interactive Fiction? Why Bother?

With many things I am quite late to the game and far from being an early adopter. Interactive Fiction (or IF) is no different.

If you don’t know what IF is then here’s a good guide.

I have started to play with a popular IF (and even better is that it’s open-source) tool called Twine. My first ever story (The Mirror) was incredibly short and not very interactive but it got me thinking about how Twine is a great tool for writers in understanding their plots.

You may not want to write IF but if you want to make your writing more interesting or to understand how your scenes relate then you really should map out a story in Twine.

Twine Plot

Before you get worried I must stress that you don’t need to be techie or a programmer to do this.

Even with my very short story I quickly understood how Twine makes you look at every element of your writing. Could the story branch off here? Should this character do this or would another character be better for that? What if instead of throwing a ball, the character threw a rock? Or a grenade?

Do you see where I’m going here? Twine opens your eyes to possibilities that you might not have imagined before. Instead of writing and plotting in a boring linear style your one story idea becomes 100 different story ideas.

Even if you already have the end in sight, like I did with The Mirror, taking the reader on a winding road but to the same destination can’t be a bad thing.

What If?

Are you stuck for ideas and unable to move your plot forward?
Here are five random ‘What If?’ scenarios to get you thinking and take your story somewhere new.

Blank page intentionally end of book

What if… the high school bully falls ill.

What if… the main character’s teacher tells – who or what?

What if… the main character’s neighbour elopes with – who?

What if… the main character’s lover goes to – where?

What if… the main character’s lover goes to – where?

Are these 5 not inspiring enough? Just refresh your browser and get 5 more.


I am still developing the What If randomizer so please let me have your feedback.

What works and what doesn’t?

What scenarios and characters would you like added?

Don’t Try to be a Great Writer

Social media is awash with advice and opinion on how to be a great writer as if there is some kind of magic bullet.
There are some rather obvious traits that seem universal –

  • Read widely
  • Write as much as you can
  • Be passionate and believe in yourself

Is this enough?

No, the first thing you should do is stop trying to be a great writer, don’t even think in those terms. It is limiting and self-defeating. You should instead be the best writer you can.
This, of course, is easier said than done. The first trick is to be passionate and believe in yourself. Think of yourself not as a writer but as an artist.

What makes a great artist?

Think on any great work of art. What made the artist so great?
They were passionate and they had vision. Vision of what their art could be and vision of what they could be.
They may have sketched it first. And again. And again. Maybe twenty or a hundred times. Writers call these drafts.
There may be dozens of those finished paintings in existence. Why? Because the artist wasn’t happy with them. They weren’t finished and they didn’t match the vision. They then may have tried painting it with different materials, different canvases and in different light.

Hands Leonardo (Windsor Castle)

But isn’t this just about perfecting the technique?

Yes and no. Because while you’re growing technically you’re allowing the art and the artist emerge. You’re finding yourself  and allowing greatness to find you.

Am I a great writer?

No. I don’t read enough and I don’t write enough. But I am passionate and I know I will be a great writer. For now I’m enjoying the journey and all the practice. My technique is improving and I have a clear vision.

Greatness will have to wait until I’m ready for it.

We Are All Generation N

Last night I was sitting trying to watch some TV but was getting distracted by my daughter’s antics in my peripheral vision. She was holding up her mobile phone, contorting her face and body to meet the desired pose and sending snapchats. But she was doing it and re-doing and re-doing it until she got one that achieved the desired effect.

In exasperation I labelled her as Generation N (Narcissus) to which she shrugged her shoulders and carried on regardless.

On reflection I was perhaps a little unfair. Admittedly, she is of the Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/etc (pick your preferred vanity platform) Generation where everything must be examined and manipulated for the perfect image before it is all laid bare. Unless you happen to be drunk or angry in which case everything is laid bare regardless of the consequences.

But aren’t we all? And haven’t writers always been?

“I write for pleasure”

“I’m an artist”

Oh really, I thought you just wanted fame and immortality?

Walk of Fame Category Theater

We all do, regardless of pretence otherwise. So writers and other artists have always been of Generation N but modern writers have so much more narcissism at their fingertips – e-publishing, social media, blogging, youtube etc.

There’s nothing wrong with a little self-publicity, in fact, the market demands it, but maybe, just maybe, we should be letting our work speak for itself rather than knocking on every single door and insisting complete strangers buy into it.