Writing: The Planning Stage

Reading & Writing

Serendipity plays a large part in finding inspiration

I’m thinking of starting another book, and to do so I’m going through the hunter/gatherer process that always occurs at this stage. It’s complicated and works differently every time, but part of it involves churning through the work of many writers and thinking about the way they approach stories.

For decades writers were held back by film lecturers like Robert McKee selling them courses on the ‘writer’s journey’, Joseph Campbell and three-act structures. Campbell’s watchwords were ‘Follow your bliss’, ie. let your enthusiasms guide you.

I studied the course but never truly believed in it, although it made some good points. McKee’s approach has largely been shot down and left in the dust by new writers who are now free to work in new streaming formats, and not before time. Writing can be reduced to a certain kind of formula but is rarely inspired.

Sarah Phelps, who has written over 100 episodes of ‘Eastenders’, is also responsible for some terrific TV adaptations of novels. Here she is on the subject;

‘Someone said to me, ‘What’s the inciting incident? I was like, ‘Don’t ever say that to me again.’ I talk to people who are doing writing courses and they talk like that and I just think, ‘This is horrible.’ The story tells you what the structure is. (If you think) in terms of a five-act structure for an hour’s worth of script I think, ‘But that only gives you ten minutes per act.’

It’s an impossible way to work and it gets work as others add their input, something that rarely happens with a novel. Sarah had to deal with a BBC executive who thought that her adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ should be shot like ‘Big Brother’. I’ve had executives who thought that Bryant & May should be cast with Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie ‘to capitalise on their fame as a double act’. You can see why they’d think that but the idea is, again, horrible.

When looking for a successful adaptation of a nigh-impossible-to-adapt book, I rewatched ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’, scripted from Susannah Clarke’s doorstop by Peter Harness. In paring back the story, the central conflicting relationship between the magicians incorporates all the wonderment of the book’s set pieces. I especially like the way in which the impatient Duke of Wellington treats Strange like a military asset to be exploited or abandoned.

One of the problems I have with Bryant & May is that the baroque atmosphere of the novels must necessarily extend to the plot itself, whereas my ultimate fantasy is to construct a murder mystery so organic that no explanation at all is needed at the end. That’s why I’ve separately written ‘Hot Water’, which has a moment of revelation at the end so natural and obvious in hindsight that it transcends explanation. It will, of course, garner little attention when published unless some bright spark picks up the TV rights.

Serendipity plays a large part in finding inspiration for another book. Here it’s a good idea to skim the classics, manga comics, Victorian recipe books, anything that will refresh the brain. My friend Porl is currently reading ‘The Pierrots of the Yorkshire Coast’. My friend Deborah is reading ‘By Bus to Malta’. I’ve been leafing through ‘Too Naked For The Nazis’ and ‘The First Night of Twelfth Night’ – non-fiction is often your best bet here.

Writers are either mapmakers or gardeners. We either create complex grids for plots or throw our seeds out anywhere and harvest whatever comes up. I’m the latter. Both have disadvantages; mapmakers get trapped by their own adherence to structure, while gardeners can come over as messy and disorganised.

But for now it’s all planning without actually planning. Absorbing books, talking to old friends, going on walks to unfamiliar places, refreshing the brain. It’s as crucial a part of the writing process as the writing itself.

If there’s any subject matter you feel that Bryant & May haven’t yet covered, something you’d like to see explored, just let me know.

45 comments on “Writing: The Planning Stage”

  1. John Griffin says:

    Loved “Too Naked for the Nazis”, but how weird it is that Wilson & Keppel kept anyone’s interest with that act! Says a lot for the wholly different mindset of my parents’ generation – but then many enjoyed the appalling B & W Minstrels. There were surprising undertones to the whole story too, unwritten but churning beneath the surface, e.g. the original Betty saga. I could envision a family saga or even an Agatha Christie or Robert Goddard clone built on the strange truth,

  2. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    ‘I’ve had executives who thought that Bryant & May should be cast with Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie’

    Which did they think would play which? I don’t want to think about either option.

    Glad that you are considering more B+M. Anything they explore will be worth reading.

  3. Brooke says:

    “my ultimate fantasy is to construct a murder mystery so organic that no explanation at all is needed at the end.” If you come anywhere close to Bainbridge’s Waton’s Apology, you’re good.

    “Chance favors the prepared mind…”

  4. Stu-I-Am says:

    What I enjoy about B&M, apart from the exuberance of your writing (and I don’t mean just the snappy patter) is that there is a naturalness or organicity, whatever the arcane elements. The characters fit seamlessly into the plot; they’re not “shoehorned in” as I feel is often the case with some of your contemporaries. Because you have fully realized characters — including Ms. Hargreaves who, as a testimonial to your skill, has immaculately sprung into existence — you can probably go just about anywhere storywise.

    I’m a fan of the “fish out of water” conceit and its cousin (sibling?), “time travel,” which is rarely rendered satisfactorily (to my taste) with the necessary exploration of the period in question. Now, it can be said without fear of contradiction, that Arthur Bryant, in particular, has been flopping around “out of water” almost from the beginning of the series but, I’d enjoy you extending this “stranger in a strange land” idea with either a contemporary or historical storyline. In the first instance, perhaps contemplating cybercrime, e.g. ransomware attack(s), cryptocurrency/NFT speculation.

    With Sidney now on board and a UK history of speculative bubbles (South Sea Company, Canal Mania and Railway Mania et al) as set dressing, you might have some fun with the PCU (and AB, in particular) having to deal with up-to-the-minute peculiar crimes. Another thought — since the PCU is technically homeless and remains an irritant for the Home Office — is to have it seconded to a new organization/location, either within the UK or without (US ?). The second idea might be a stretch, but I would love to see AB “transported” back to 19th c. London either through the dream conceit or a second self-poisoning,at least for a portion of a book, to return with a clue or solution for a contemporary crime. I’ll even take a short story along these lines, generous chap that I am. Of course, all of the above is easier said than done.

  5. Des Burkinshaw says:

    Chris – London’s film and TV industry, surely?!

  6. Roger says:

    “Writers are either mapmakers or gardeners. We either create complex grids for plots or throw our seeds out anywhere and harvest whatever comes up.”…except that mapmakers show complex grids other people have made and gardeners create complex grids and place the seeds carefully where they want them to grow.

  7. Stu-I-Am says:

    As you point out, TV and most certainly, film executives, are congenitally incapable of NOT meddling with a story. This is largely because they ‘always wanted to be a writer,’ but making pots of money got in the way. And of course, with film you also have the ‘auteurs’ to deal with. They stare at you as if through their director’s viewfinder with a look that says, ‘ Understand, you’re being tolerated. If I weren’t so important to this piece of filmic trash and Western Civilization, I’d write the damn script myself.’

    The worst executives are the haltingly ‘sensitive’ ones. The ones I call the ‘What ifs…,’ also sometimes known as the ‘How abouts…’ After a couple of meetings worth of these hesitatingly sensitive murmurings, it finally dawns that what is oh so diplomatically being ‘suggested’ is a complete rewrite that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the script under discussion — except for the title. “We love that.”

  8. Stu-I-Am says:

    @admin Several non-fiction books on theater, film and music halls to perhaps provide inspiration — since you seem to be ‘leafing through’ books with an entertainment theme. Spoiler alert: you may have already read all or some.

    ‘Mike Nichols: A Life’ by Mark Harris. A very well written bio of the American director
    ‘The Rise & Fall of Max Linder: The First Cinema Celebrity’ by Lisa Stein Haven 
    Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops’ by Ken Mandelbaum
    ‘The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine’ by E.J. Fleming
    ‘The Finest Years’ by Charles Drazin British cinema of the ’40s
    ‘My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall’ by John Major Yes, that ‘John Major’

  9. Paul C says:

    Just read a delightful book on the eccentric Irish film director Brian Desmond Hurst entitled The Empress of Ireland by Christopher Robbins (2004). Hurst directed Scrooge starring Alistair Sim and directed more films in the twentieth century than any other Irishman. In his quite bizarre old age Hurst spent a lot of time with the author who wrote this wonderfully mad and poignant memoir. This book should be far better known !

  10. admin says:

    Weirdly I have found I’ve read quite a few of the above-mentioned books, although not the John Major! I already skewered London’s film and TV industry in ‘Soho Black’ and don’t want to revisit it, but I love the idea of chucking them all back in time to do a Sherlock. I’m also thinking about museums, the suburbs and the one kind of investigation Mr Bryant has never conducted – into the dynamics of a seemingly ordinary family…

  11. Brooke says:

    I’m awaiting “The Kew Gardens Strangler,” “The Little Italian Whelk Horror,” and other stories that you promised.
    Arthur has done the family thing– remember 77 Clocks? Now that I think about it, Mr. Bryant often encounters seemingly ordinary families. And who cares about the suburbs; people go there to die of boredom.

    Museums, yes! One rainy afternoon I was exploring Harvard’s Agassiz Museum (renamed more accurately Museum of Comparative Zoology, as Dr. Agassiz’ racially charged research is under attack; interestingly all the science and culture museums are now under executive leadership of AA woman). I stumbled on cases of hominid skeletons, similar to Lucy. It was an eerie feeling that haunted me for a long time. That frisson hits especially hard in places like the British Museum that have an abundance of things much loved, venerated, touched by other peoples.

  12. Stu-I-Am says:

    Ah yes — museums. A natural with AB’s bits and bobs as well as perhaps, for the contemplation of the subject of looted or otherwise, illegally acquired, artefacts. A curse wouldn’t go amiss either.

  13. Stu-I-Am says:

    As for the ‘family’ storyline — it does open up the possibility of the next stage,or a continuation of, AB’s grudging empathy or ‘humanization,’ so long as there is your usual twist. For example, I could see a Timson-like (John Mortimer’s ‘Rumpole’ series) crime family helping with ‘enquiries’ or providing a context to explore the history of UK crime families or policing. Of course, you could also take a ‘gothic’ approach to ‘playing happy families.’

  14. Karina Hirschhorn says:

    I would never presume to make any suggestions regarding your writing — or anyone else’s for that matter. But to say “just please, keep writing.” Thank you.

  15. Peter+T says:

    Oranges and Lemons could be my favourite of the seires. I think Sidney is a great addition to the team. I appreciate the organic nature of the group. They feel that they can’t function without Arthur, certainly he leaves a big gap, but the impression he’s made on them allows them to function and even decode his clues to find Arthur.

    Laurie and Fry seem totally out of characte as B&M. However, they are excellent actors and I’ve never seen either fail to deliver a good peformance. Somehow, neither of them is Arthur. I guess Camilleri had even greater horror when Italian TV chose Zingaretti to play his Montalbano.

    I heard of a book that must be on Arthur’s shelf: “The Concise Lexicon of the Occult” by Gerina Dunwich, perhaps the pen name of Maggie Armitage?

  16. Rh says:

    I like the idea of Arthur and co taking on a case from the distant past. Suburbs? How about Shooter’s Hill… enough there to warrant an Arthur tour alone.

  17. David+Ronaldson says:

    I’d like to see the gents delve into London’s guilds and trades; so much history and arcane practice. Or perhaps the Press, with the history of Fleet Street and the diaspora around the city

  18. Renzo says:

    How about Epping Forest? Lots of legends, material and dark secrets to explore here……..

  19. Brooke says:

    What David R said. The Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers would welcome Arthur, as he would excel at the Knowledge of London test.

  20. Brooke says:

    Has anyone heard from Helen? Hope she and family are okay during this record-high temp climate event.

  21. Jan says:

    It’s a pity they wanted to use Fry and Laurie as a “double act ” primarily as Fry would be a contender 4 the Home office Baddie not the hapless one but the guy who appeared vampire like in the early novels….

    Hugh Laurie would make an absolutely wonderful Raymondo. The part could have been written for him. He would be my top nomination for Raymondo.

    We’ve previously gone over a fair bit about suburbia and have touched on Metroland more than once. Plus North West London plays a very interesting role in WW2 . Paddock, and also the naval bunker beneath the old government building in Cricklewood Broadway (now a Turkish Carpet emporium. Hoorah for Cricklewood!) Now seen as largely irrelevant but places important enough for war time gov. To consider partially draining the Welsh Harp to disguise their locations. The old station Z beneath government property near Kodaks in Wealdstone. Maybe too localised for you but my old stomping ground and interesting.

    I like the museum ideas some local museums are mind boggling in their eccentricities from Fans,to Whitefriars glassware. Wonderful places. I know you done the London u Dr ground but there’s those weird shelter places part of Northern line , Clapham, Goodge Street and one up in Kentish town. Apparently they are using these shelter as veg growing places now!

    If you are wild enough to tackle it (fair play to you)what about this time slip device you have constructed around Arthur B. taking him into alternative London’s. The London structures that didn’t quite make the cut. The proposed London opera house Site that became NSY and as you know there’s lots more where that came from.

  22. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    May I add Dollis Hill Post Office Research Station to the North West London sites?
    First transatlantic telephone, first programmable electronic computer, and of course ERNIE.

  23. Helen+Martin says:

    Museums – we did have the Soames one as well as the BM but that’s no reason not to do them again-ish. Could the Wellcome collection figure or the transport museum out your back door which would bring in canals and we haven’t had canals.
    Anything involving cool water appeals just now. I’ve been taking an hour long cool bath every morning and it is definitely helping. Perhaps we could have a “heat dome” locate itself over London. We’ve had an extraordinary number of sudden deaths among the slightly frail and the process of dealing with them has backed up the First Responder and police systems. If you didn’t die of Covid you can now die of heat, although we hear today that the dome is shifting over the mountains to Alberta. How is our Seattle correspondent I wonder. It went up to 47 in Lytton where I spent two years teaching and nearly that in the Fraser Valley. We were well over 30 and no air moving.

  24. Helen+Martin says:

    I am reliably informed (the usual source) that it was so hot in Portland (Oregon) the other day that they had to stop the trolley bus service because the wires were sagging so much they threatened to touch the cars and the insulation on the wires was actually melting. This heat dome extends all the way down the coast to LA and the only dip in it is at San Fran where the Bay area is separate. They’re probably having cold fog, just to be different. (I’m guessing.)

  25. Stu-I-Am says:

    @admin If you do, in fact, seriously consider ‘chucking’ B&M back in time to 19th c. London — I would, I’m sure, enjoy your take on any ‘homage’ to S. Holmes, but I wonder if there might not also be fertile ground a decade or so earlier with the advent of the ‘Peelers’ and the start of modern policing? I can easily see AB both bemusing and confounding Sir Robert Peel and perhaps bringing his ‘original’ approach to criminal investigation, well before a detective branch was institutionalised. Of course this was a time of great social change, requiring the addition or revision of laws to deal with it including, for example, the introduction of the modern insanity defense.

  26. Brooke says:

    Helen, glad to hear from you! My sources in Portland have moved to a hotel; they’re elderly so probably safer there. I haven’t heard from CA contacts but AZ is on fire according to friends there. We too have “triple digit” temps–but that’s our typical summer so we’re slightly more prepared. Libraries that closed for pandemic have re-opened in some neighborhoods–late hours with free water and food. Transit busesare set up as cooling stations, i.e. air conditioning running til late night. Municipal park fountains are spraying water all day–great way to calm down fractious children.
    Take good care.

  27. Helen+Martin says:

    A health emergency wasn’t declared so there are no cooling stations and now Lytton, which I mentioned above is on fire – the town itself. It just roared up the canyon in an hour. There are several small First Nations reserves along the river and I wonder how they’re doing. They’re evacuating the whole town to Spences Bridge. I wonder if the two schools will survive and the motel and the house where we rented a basement suite. Ooh, worra, worra.
    Look at those names: Lytton named for Lord Lytton of that day, the Fraser River named for Simon of that ilk, and Spences Bridge, named for a man who ran a ferry there. The high school is Kumsheen an anglicising of the local band name. I’m glad to talk to someone because I’d rather not burst into tears. The CBC is running an open line for people in the area to report on what is happening. Remember it’s close by to us in spite of it being a 4 hour drive.

  28. Ed+DesCamp says:

    Helen+Martin: Seattle has finally cooled down a bit. I never thought 30C would feel refreshingly cool, but we hit 45C on Saturday and Sunday, and 40C on Monday. I can’t wait for the border to open so we can run away to lovely cool BC…oh, wait…:-(

  29. Brooke says:

    Helen, it’s heartbreaking to watch the Lytton fire video and read the residents’ accounts of what happened. Fortunately, like most small communities, everyone seemed ready and able to help others. On webmap the fires do appear to be close so understand your anxieties. Stay in touch–we’ll take over Mr. Fowler’s blog –again.

  30. andrea says:

    I would love to see you so something with Pearly Kings/Queens in a Bryant and May book

  31. Jan says:

    Cornelia Dollis Hill Research station is where ‘Paddock’ was originally accessed from and the original entry point into Churchill ‘s out of town bunker was from the GPO building basement here.
    It’s now a Housing Association property but there’s very many interesting photos of the WW2 Research on display on the stairways and in the public spaces here.

    It’s also where much of the work on computing and early computer construction took place. Tommy Flowers a man almost as ignored and unacknowledged as Alan Turing was based here rather than @ Bletchley park. On the quiet I think the 2nd Collosus computer might actually have been constructed here.

    All around this part of NW London theres a clutch of very important WW2 “preparedness”Locations

  32. Jan says:

    A sub-basement of Selfridges in Oxford St was madly enough one of the main exchanges where the telephone lines across the Atlantic ended for relay into Downing street! Mr F assures me that all trace of this exchange has now gone. A real shame.

    Great international projects over decades – initially telegraph communication lines then undersea cabling for telephones under the Atlantic starting poInt being Porth Curno (literally translated port Cornwall) later for telephone lines to the US. Sort of the internet of its day.

  33. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    Thanks for the further info, Jan.

  34. Jan says:

    Cornelia are you on about the premium bonds ERNIE?!? Not I presume the fastest milkman in the West……North of Blackpool is it’s present base I can’t remember the exact location.

    I have just been writing elsewhere about the role of Fleetwood and Blackpool in WW2. Course the Welfare state was largely formulated by refugee civil servants relocated on the Fylde coast!

    Strange that certain embassies from Northern European nations became based in Fleetwood ….a town with some amazing architecture. Think that it might have been in both world wars the relocation of the embassies

  35. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    Yes, premium bonds ERNIE. The original was supposed to use the same technology as the machines used at Bletchley Park.
    The current ERNIE, version 5, is said to be powered by quantum technology, whatever that is.

  36. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Cornelia Appleyard Well, you certainly opened a can of…physics. Obviously, the whole point of ERNIE from the beginning was to generate an enormous quantity of random numbers, well beyond the number of prizes to be awarded. And this “randomness” could not be reproducible or predictable — so the boffins came up with using a physical source of randomness rather than an algorithm, or inputted set of processing rules, which could cause these undesirable effects.

    In ERNIE 1-4, signal noise — the actual hiss from an analog radio — was used to generate the random numbers. I won’t go into the ‘how’ since your eyes are probably already starting to glaze over. But it supposedly took ERNIE 1 three days to generate the required quantity of numbers. ERNIE 5 does it in about 12 minutes, thanks to the use of quantum computing or more specifically, quantum particles, which can move forward or backward in time, exist in two places at once and even ‘teleport’ — or more to the point, can provide the ultimate randomness. Just imagine if you had actually asked about quantum computing…

  37. Helen+Martin says:

    Yet another subject about which I know nothing. I’ve read the above and the Wikipedia article and I’m still bemused. How can radio static generate numbers, random or otherwise? Now, apparently it’s light. Do light waves flicker? Even so how could they generate numbers? The best use quantum physics can be put to is to generate numbers for a national lottery? Notice how often the question mark is used in that.
    (We’ve been looking at the picture of the remains of Lytton and hearing little interviews. The upper left is the bridge over the Thompson R. which joins the Fraser here. The greenish field is the elementary school grounds. The new school is just off the top of the photo. On that main street were the pharmacy, general store, post office, hotel, motel, gas station and garage. I think the ambulance was posted from here. The hospital used to be across the road from the school grounds but it was closed a number of years ago and I don’t see even the remains.)

  38. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Helen+Martin Should have been clearer — and added ‘the principle of” before ‘the actual hiss of an analog radio…’ It is not the ‘hiss’ itself but what it represents. In the case of ERNIE — high voltage were passed through neon filled tubes at both ends (similar to the non-gas filled valves or vacuum tubes found in the radios and still used in amplifiers for audiophiles, for example) setting up a current made up of the electrons hitting the neon atoms in a random path. It was this ‘randomized current’ which was captured digitally and generated the necessary numbers. Aren’t you glad you asked ?

    Now, as for quantum technology or computing, as you know doubt know, ‘classical’ computers use ones and noughts or zeros to do their work, that is, a transistor (one of billions in a circuit) is in a state of either ‘on’ or ‘off’.’ Quantum computers also use this binary scheme but they have a third state (thanks to the characteristics of quantum particles) which allow the ‘ones’ and ‘noughts/zeros’ to exist simultaneously. So, instead of analysing a one or a nought/zero sequentially, a quantum computer can analyse four ‘scenarios’ at the same time, needless to say, greatly speeding up data crunching and making a quantum computer up to a thousand times faster than a ‘classical’ one. That takes care of the speed, as for the randomness, again because of the characteristics of quantum particles — photons (yes- representing a quantum of light) in this instance — sent toward a semi-transparent mirror, generate the equivalent of the ‘randomized current’ of the valve/tube approach, which likewise is used to generate the numbers.

    And of course, quantum technology/computing, which is still pretty much in its infancy, can and will be used for far more important things then generating enormous quantities of random numbers extremely quickly for example —for applications that use artificial intelligence (AI), the faster development of chemicals and drugs (through molecular modeling), cryptography, financial modeling and weather forecasting, are just a few.

  39. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    Well, I did A level physics a long time ago, so quantum mechanics was mentioned, but that was about it.
    I understand a bit more now – thank you.

  40. Rupert says:

    How about the specialist UCL museums, or one out in the suburbs – my father donated local history stuff to the Gunnersbury Museum near Acton Town station. The local museums are always a strange mix of obsession, eccentricity and intrigue. And surely you could revisit the film or tv industry in an oblique way? [I’m thinking abut Nicholas Royle’s use of the White City exhibition halls and buried film up near the Post Office Tower inone of his novels]

  41. Helen+Martin says:

    Thank you, Stu – I think. I had a discussion with a psychiatrist (from Austria, I believe) a large number of years ago with regard to the study of physics vs literature and history. She said that surely a person should understand the physical laws under which the universe operated and I replied that surely a person should understand the culture in which one lived. I think we both had valid points. I still struggle with the principles of physics and chemistry, though. My father would have been with me and my mother would have been with the physicists. “Physics and math are straightforward, you’re either right or wrong.” I wonder how she would feel about those particles that can come up with 1400 different answers, if answers is the proper term and I don’t think it is.

  42. Helen+Martin says:

    Everything seems to rest on “the characteristics of quantum particles” and that is the one thing that is not defined. Obviously I should do some definition searches. We’ve had some trivial and/or strange diversions on this site but never one as difficult as this.

  43. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Helen+Martin All of this business about quantum particles, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with a literary blog and I’m sorry for introducing it, even if I thought I was answering a question. As you have noticed, these questions usually lead to more questions, rather than definitive answers.

    It’s not that anyone, if they have a mind to, can’t understand the underlying concepts of quantum mechanics, which is the physical theory to account for behaviour of matter (substances that have mass and occupy space) at the atomic and subatomic levels — it’s just that, well, why bother, unless you have a professional interest or, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. If the latter, I would suggest thirsting after anything else but quantum mechanics.

    And to be honest a good deal of the quantum ‘world’ are educated ‘guesses’ or conjecture rather than hard and fast ‘knowledge.’ Think of it as physics with a large dose of philosophy. Anyway, the most fundamental view of quantum particle behaviour is that atoms and their smaller relatives act as both particles or ‘objects’ and waves and — depending on the particular circumstances (e.g. certain energy applied) — can do all sorts of ‘magic’ tricks — ‘magic’ that is, by comparison to what we expect to see in the physical world around us. To further complicate things, you also have the overlay of probability — the chance that something will happen at a particular time and ‘place.’ So, in effect it’s like understanding and playing multi-dimensional chess.

  44. Helen+Martin says:

    I like the multi-generational chess analogy, especially as it takes us into the realm of a number of fantasy worlds.
    It bothers me not to understand the principles of something which controls much of the world around us. I was asked to read a PhD thesis about mining geology. When I said I don’t know much about geology and can’t interpret the equations she said that you have to have an outsider read your work to make sure that the logic and statements in general make sense to a reasonably intelligent person. That makes sense to me.

  45. Helen+Martin says:

    multi dimentional, not “generational”. What was I thinking?

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