Authors Need Help: Brainstorming Session

OK, I don’t have much experience coordinating a project this big. My general approach, when confronted with an Enormous Project is to break it down into bite-sized pieces, but! I’m not a project manager and have none of that Foo.

Below, is what I’ve got — comments and advice welcome. I’ll also be looking for volunteers, but that’ll come later.

I’m soliciting ideas on how to implement in order to achieve the goal without loss of life, and without anyone having to bear an enormous burden of work.

The Goal:  A list, for each novel, of all the Liaden-and-other-Weird-Words that appear in that novel, AND a list of Liaden-and-other-Weird-Names that appear in that novel.

What the lists would look like:

1. Title of Book, Edition
a. Word One, Page Number
b. Word Two, Page Number
Lather, rinse, repeat

2. Title of Book, Edition
a. Name One, Page Number
b. Name One, Page Number
Lather, rinse, repeat

I’m guessing that there ought to multiple eyes on each novel, in order to make sure that the maximum number of Weird Words (henceforth WW) are captured. Some of the WW will be English words (we use a smattering of obsolete English words, Just Because), some of the WW will be Terran slang, Delgadan words, and the ever-popular etcetera.

For the names — I’m guessing another buncha eyes for each book, so that the maximum number are captured.

Question: Planet and ship names — Different lists? Or folded into the Names List?

Also needed, someone or someplace to receive, and coordinate, the lists.

Ultimately, the lists will be used by Lee and Miller for Something Really Cool, and will play an important role in the Web Pronunciation Guide Project.

There is some time limitation on getting this together, but at the moment, the deadline is squishy.

So! What’s the best way to set this up?

4 thoughts on “Authors Need Help: Brainstorming Session”

  1. The simplest method is to use a concordance software program – this is what people use to build dictionaries. It will take a corpus (all the novels), and present key words in context (KWIC) with the press of a button. I haven’t used any of these for ages, but here’s what available at a quick glance. They usually use a spreadsheet or plain text list as an export option.

    For PC, Concordance at
    or WordSmith Tools (Oxford) at

    For Mac, DevonThink has a decent one as well.

    There is a free, multiplatform program here:

    The labour intensive part is verifying the page numbers against a paper version. I’d suggest generating the concordance, delete all the English words, and exporting the Liaden list to a spreadsheet. Then ask someone to host it with Google Docs, and get volunteers to insert page numbers, citing editions.

    P.S. I tried to use delm in a word scrabble game, and was quite annoyed when it wasn’t accepted!

  2. This actually sounds like fun!
    I would recommend the following:one coordinator for each list, team leader for each book (that reports to relevant coordinator)- all of the above to be passionate, detail oriented folks. Then you could open up each book to general participants who agree to share their contact information, in case of future queries/verifications.
    Probably the best way to coordinate the actual lists would be with Google Docs, where each invited person can make their contributions but the author/coordinator would have final authority. You could break it down into specific novels, so that any individual who wants to do more than one book would have to be invited to that specific workgroup. That should give you better control over input/editting.

  3. This seems like a job that could be done 90% or more by computer, where each word could be found in an electronic edition and filtered against a list of common words. Whatever remains are uncommon words and the items of interest. The biggest remaining problem is that page numbers are an awful squishy concept in the non-paper world.
    This could either be done by creating a custom program or by converting the novels to text and processing by “software tools” that date to the ’70s. The custom program could give you exactly what you want, while the software tools would give you the list of words for each novel in about a day’s work. Then you’d have to search for each word to determine where it appeared, which is still faster on a computer.
    So this isn’t a monumental task, merely a difficult one.

  4. Depending on what it is that you want the list for I think it would make sense to have the lists available to view to the public at large. That way people can see where there are gaps and where there are words missing that they have found that others have not.

    I would incorporate all names, including ships, planets, places and people, onto one list.

    I would include in the brainstorming a way of checking word placement in ebooks. The page number on my sony ereader varies depending on font size selected.


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