Modern computers can help you unravel the enigma that is going to be your novel. Use it to store — and find — your notes. (A Bombe computing device, via Wikimedia Commons)
Almost every writer does research. Some are lucky enough to be able to keep it all in their heads, but most of us need to take notes. It doesn’t matter if your notes are about Regency era dresses, or aesthetically pleasing scale patterns for dragons. Our notes are important ways to help expand our memory capacity. And our computer age allows us to take a phenomenal number of notes! Letter-perfect copies, pasted into documents; PDFs downloaded and saved for leisurely perusal; and one of my currently favorite tools, PRTSC (aka the “print screen” button).
Sometimes a website will have a striking image or a pleasing pattern of text. Or maybe you’re just in a hurry, and don’t want to take the time to transcribe a passage of text on an image or PDF. Or maybe, you can’t copy and paste. This is when that button comes in handy.
By the way, I’m talking about using PRTSC for taking notes for personal use, which I think falls under fair use. As soon as you make those notes public in a blog or printed publication, you have to worry about copyright issues. More on that in a couple of paragraphs. Continue reading
“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” T.S. Eliot in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism
Way back in the dark ages, when a Sony Walkman tape player was the height of technology, I was in journalism school and they talked about plagiarism, and scared the bejeezus out of us in Communication Law class. Plagiarism is one thing (and a very bad thing, both as an artist and as a consumer) but sometimes using other people’s words is the right thing to do on many levels.
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” And then it was turned into a play. And then a movie. Actually a couple of movies.
This week, NPR’s Planet Money had a podcast that touched tangentially on fair use, and for some reason, my subconscious perked up and listened. I don’t think I’m planning any grand literary heist, but if I do this summer, Continue reading