your next sentence
October 12, 2013 1:03 PM   Subscribe

your next sentence
A web app to help blocked fiction writers write the next sentence (and the one after that, and the one after that...)

I taught a handful of introductory courses in creative writing over the past few years (while also writing/trying and failing to write things myself) and I learned all about the various ways that writer's block can strike. I think the form of writer's block that people usually associate with the term is the thing that keeps you from sitting down and starting to write in the first place: the feeling that you don't have any (good) ideas to write about, that you're not "inspired", etc.. This is a problem, no doubt, but one that's been pretty well covered by the creative writing pedagogy industry (this is the prompt book I recommend to students, if you're looking for one).

A more pernicious (for me, at least) and less often discussed form of block is the one that can hit you when you may have had an idea and actually started writing and (wow) are maybe actually kind of into the thing you're working on, chugging along, and then you get to the end of a certain sentence or paragraph have no idea what to do next. You don't want a prompt, because you don't want to start something new; you want to keep working on this particular story, you just don't know how to do it. Ultimately, I don't think this is really a problem that technology can solve--in the end, you have to figure out how to write the next sentence and (sadly) nobody but you can do that for you--but if technology can give you a nudge to help you keep going, that's not nothing.

That's what this little app is for. If you click "your next sentence," you'll be presented with a trio of suggestions about what your next sentence should do, contain, and be. The suggestions are designed to be vague enough to be usable in a wide range of genres and contexts but specific enough (especially when combined together) that you don't get stuck in a lateral thinking wormhole (they were inspired by Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies, but are less...well...oblique). Click "your next sentence" again, when you need a little more help, and you'll be presented with three new suggestions. If you click the settings icon in the lower right corner of the screen, a menu will open: there, you can adjust the probability that you'll be presented with certain types of suggestions (if, say, your story demands a lot of sentence fragments rather than complex sentences or you want to push yourself to try to write a more character-driven story). The app uses HTML5 LocalStorage to hold on to any probability changes you make for your next session and is also optimized to work as an offline iOS home screen app.
Role: developer
posted by raisindebt (0 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

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