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Old 11-24-2017, 10:30 AM   #1
svetlanarosemond
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Do programmers make good writers?


I was browsing Amazons Kindle section and noticed quite a novels where the author had a technical background(mostly web), and it got me wondering if programmers make good creative writers?

Kindle publishing isn't like publishing the usual way, when the author feels his/her work is ready for the public, they can release it. No need to seek an agent and have the agent pitch the book to a publisher. Some of the books do become successful, The Martian(the author being a programmer), was turned into a movie with Matt Damon.

I'll admit, I've had a few ideas, but never really found the motivation to sit and write it out fully. Most of my ideas come after reading a book or watching a movie, and wondering if had gone another way.

I think if you look at it from a gaming perspective it might be more interesting, especially in the early days of gaming, where small teams could produce successful games, so a programmer would also be the writer or contribute to the game in a non technical way.

Just wanted to hear your thoughts.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 11:57 AM   #2
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Personally I like when a fiction author writes about a technical issue and actually knows the subject. This applies to movie scripts as well, I can't stand movies that show computer screens with invalid IP addresses or chess boards with positions that don't make any sense.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 12:12 PM   #3
dugan
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I personally can't think of a single good example.

The ones I can think of who have worked professionally at both (Marc Laidlaw and Jane Jensen) were game designers, not programmers.

Last edited by dugan; 11-24-2017 at 12:18 PM.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 12:42 PM   #4
business_kid
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Somewhat.

A safer way of putting it is that average programmers make average writers. There is also the axiom: "Those who can't write write manuals." Once you insist on 'good,' getting good at one kills your ability to be good at the other.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 01:14 PM   #5
Timothy Miller
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I work with a bunch of programmers, and from reading their instructions on how to do something, I would have to say "no". They make horrible writers.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 01:54 PM   #6
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Most programmers don't even comment their code adequately. They'd possibly make better twitter 'artists' than novelists.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 03:33 PM   #7
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Perhaps not a "programmer" but I like this guy's work:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson
 
Old 11-24-2017, 04:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugan View Post
I personally can't think of a single good example.

The ones I can think of who have worked professionally at both (Marc Laidlaw and Jane Jensen) were game designers, not programmers.
You just brought back a flood of memories of Gabriel Knight series...Would love to see that come back.

and no I do not think it will affect either unless the person is proficient in both to a large degree. Holmes was the scientist/detective/philosopher and Watson was the writer.

Last edited by ChuangTzu; 11-24-2017 at 04:30 PM.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 04:49 PM   #9
svetlanarosemond
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Quote:
Personally I like when a fiction author writes about a technical issue and actually knows the subject. This applies to movie scripts as well, I can't stand movies that show computer screens with invalid IP addresses or chess boards with positions that don't make any sense.
At first they used to show movies with invalid IP addresses to prevent real IPs from being given away, now I think the studio buys legitimate IP addresses to display on screen. I get your overall point though, it was laughable a few years ago when you'd watch a movie and one of the characters would tap a few keys and claimed to hack into a power grid

Quote:
Perhaps not a "programmer" but I like this guy's work:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson
Haven't read his books, but I've heard of him, and the reviews seem pretty good.

Quote:
I personally can't think of a single good example.

The ones I can think of who have worked professionally at both (Marc Laidlaw and Jane Jensen) were game designers, not programmers.
I think this is one of those cases where the programmer became a game designer, which isn't too bad. I think though as a game designer your probably doing several different tasks to build a game, not just programming/writing.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 04:55 PM   #10
dugan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuangTzu View Post
You just brought back a flood of memories of Gabriel Knight series...Would love to see that come back.
I recommend Gray Matter, which I played in WINE. It's an Xbox 360-generation Jane Jensen game.
 
Old 11-24-2017, 07:34 PM   #11
Michael Uplawski
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David Buttenhof did a good job, and Sean Walton's writing will certainly be too “literary” for some, though I like it when technical facts are explained in “plain language” and repetition is not a dirty word, either. Do I have to mention Jeffrey Friedl?

These books have been a great read to me, even in the English language, which can only mean that the authors do not only know their technology. Or maybe I had been lucky to pick them from the pack when I had no idea what I could expect.

Name three miserable authors of technical documentation in the German language. If you cannot, then the answer to the OP's question is “Often enough”.

And for completeness (edit): I do not like Stevens. If he is God, he's dead.

Last edited by Michael Uplawski; 11-24-2017 at 07:39 PM.
 
Old 11-25-2017, 03:43 AM   #12
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A word of warning though, svetlanarosemond, Neal Stephenson's books are long and very, very descriptive. In one more extreme example he devotes a chapter to how somebody prefers to eat Cap'n Crunch cereal. It is possible to skip things like that though, if one wishes, and still follow the story but I now tend to read everything as I enjoy his descriptions.
 
Old 11-25-2017, 12:39 PM   #13
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IMHO, Neal Stephenson had two good books: Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. Everything before and after? Garbage.
 
Old 11-25-2017, 12:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugan View Post
IMHO, Neal Stephenson had two good books: Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. Everything before and after? Garbage.
I enjoyed Reamde and though stark I thought Seveneves was pretty good. He's no William Gibson though.
 
  


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