Why didn’t cricket catch on in Canada and the US?

If any of you are interested in the history of cricket, with a tiny hint of self-promotion, you might want to read this. The story of cricket in America is actually very interesting.

Answer by Thomas Foster:

Well, the thing is that it did catch on in both countries for a while.

Canada still has a large community of expats from India, Africa and Australia playing cricket and have a reasonably decent international team that can take it right up to the world's best. It's just that begin more influenced by America,

There are still many cricket clubs and grounds in the USA, either remnants from the heights of the early-mid 19th century or founded by expats coming to work in the major cities. There's certainly a strong cricket community in California, Orange County in particular, as well as in parts of New York City.

The Tale of North American Cricket

An early form of cricket being played at Dartmouth College, late 18th century, before the addition of a third stump (yes, that long ago!).

Cricket in the US is recorded as early as 1709, by William Byrd of Virginia, in his diaries. Over the next few decades, the sport slowly grew as one of the major sports of the growing colony. Canadian cricket took longer to appear in the history books, but it was certainly being played in Montréal by 1785.

Cricket's growth as a amateur sport in the US slipped under the radar until the American Revolution, when prominent people of the day realized how popular it had become. American troops at Valley Forge were played cricket in their spare time. Even George Washington is said to have played a few games.

If leaders of simple cricket clubs could be called "presidents," there was no reason why the leader of the new nation could not be called something more grand.

- approximate words attributed to John Adams, late 18th century.

The first formal cricket club in America was founded in 1833 at Haverford College. Although the club didn't last long, it certainly kindled interest in the game for the more than  5,000 amateur cricketers around Pennsylvania and New York at the time. The first Canadian club was founded in Toronto in 1827.


Following a tour of Canada in 1840 by a cricket club from New York, the first ever international cricket match, if not the world's first international sporting event, was played in Manhattan between a team made up of players from New York and the surrounding area, and a team from Toronto and the surrounding area.

At least 10,000 spectators attended, with some reports claiming that 20,000 people watched on. More than $120,000 of bets were placed on the game, the equivalent of $1.5M today. Canada won in a low scoring game by 23 runs.

Following on from the success of these matches between Canada and the US, many cricket clubs sprung up around Philadephia, which became known as the "Capital of American Cricket". Newspapers continued to devote more space to cricket than baseball right up until the 1860s.

Several English sides even toured during the 1860s and 1870s, including a young W.G. Grace. Although the matches weren't given First Class status, they still managed to pull crowds of 10,000.


Sadly though, cricket managed to contribute to it's own downfall during the late 19th century. American cricketers were encouraged by their own clubs to play the new and emerging game of baseball as well, in the hope that they would learn new skills to bring back to cricket. In fact, the opposite happened. Skills and players went from cricket to baseball and didn't come back.

The defining point of this period of 'poaching' of talented cricketers by baseball teams was when the Cincinnati Reds poached a talented young bowler from the St George's cricket club in New York. The batting, fielding and coaching skills learnt by the young bowler contributed to Cincinnati going undefeated throughout the 1869 season. Other clubs soon followed suit by poaching cricketers and administrators to compete.

Compounding further onto cricket's woes was the American Civil War. Troops found cricket much harder to play as they needed hard ground. Baseball was played instead. Also, at a time when the nation needed a sport that it could be good at, cricket failed because the English usually thrashed the US easily. So baseball emerged from the war as the national sport of America, with cricket having given over the title of "The People's Game".


Following the civil war, cricket was essentially gone as anything more than an amateur game outside Philadelphia. A college cricket competition was set up and ran for several decades, with teams from Harvard University and Princeton University playing, but it eventually disbanded in 1924. Philadelphia maintained a strong team right up until 1913, when a lack of support forced the team to disband. Even though they eventually reached the stage of being competitive with England (England saw Philadelphia as their only true competitor alongside Australia) and Australia (they won against the Australian test team by an innings twice), the damaged had been done.

Canadian cricket continued on throughout the turn of the century, but the lack of support from the US obviously hurt the game there. Australian sides still toured regularly, with Sir Donald Bradman smashing a team from Western Ontario around for an innings of 260*.

The United States of America Cricket Association, backed by a growing population of expats, managed to gain admission into the International Cricket Council in the 1960s. Games between Canada and the US started up again around the same time. The game was also re-established in several colleges by international students.


In more recent times, Canada has managed to build a solid team of expats that can compete on the international stage. They played in the 1979 cricket world cup after finishing runners up to Sri Lanka in the qualifiers. Canada won the right to play full ODIs in the 2000s and one of their players, a former Australian called John Davidson, held the record for the fastest world cup hundred for a few years.

The US cricket team has slowly grown over the last few decades to the point where they played two ODIs against New Zealand and Australia. Unsurprisingly, they got walloped. Over the last couple of years constant infighting within the administration of Cricket in America has led to the game slowly disintegrating, though a strong community has established in California and youth competitions established across the country.

Of particular note, New Zealand Cricket has been in negotiation to play an IPL style tournament in conjunction with the USACA. Unfortunately, the constant bickering within the USACA has meant plan have constantly been delayed. Just imagine what an IPL style tournament could do to cricket in America. It's quite sad that the USACA is in such a bad state.

Oh well. America's playing Bermuda today if you're interested: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/e…


Further reading:

History of United States cricket
Cricket in the USA
Canada Versus United States of America Cricket 1844 St George Cricket Club Ground, Manhattan, New York
Canada cricket

For more of my answers about cricket, check out this Page on Quora.com

For a blog about cricket, check out the Cricket blog on Quora.

View Answer on Quora

Is wrestling fake?

Answer by Anon User:

Things that are predetermined or fake:

The match duration, main moves, finishing moves and outcome are predetermined. The major events of a match are planned and discussed beforehand, and so is the outcome. Some major events are definitely planned — for instance, someone might interfere in a match just as the bad guy, or 'heel', is about to lose. The duration of the match is also predetermined, and the time is kept by the referee. If you time the matches on, say, WWE, you might notice that there are broadly, 5, 15 and 25 minute matches.

The referee is not just a neutral bystander. The referee keeps track of time and tells wrestlers when to wrap up a match. He also helps communicate things between wrestlers, and assists in the overall story by "accidentally" getting bumped into during the course of a match, so that the bad guy or "heel" can cheat. Sometimes, when a wrestler wants things to get a bit bloody, the referee may slip a razor to him to cut himself (and collect it back later). At the same time, the referee needs to keep within the illusion of rulekeeping (disqualifications, count-outs, pinfalls). Lastly, the referee has the full discretion to stop a match if one of the wrestlers is seriously injured, and he has to balance this discretion with the show's need to follow the scripted narrative.

Much (but not all) of a wrestling match is spontaneous. Wrestlers "call spots" to each other, ie, instruct each other about moves they will give or want to receive. Usually this is discreet, though occasionally one might be able to hear or spot it on TV.

Calling spots:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSIaWVGZM2Y

Selling, or exaggerating moves. Some moves, like the "stunner" and the "cutter", are not particularly painful for the receiving wrestler and he is the one who has to 'sell' it to make it look convincing. You might see wrestlers jump a couple of feet away after getting a chop or an uppercut — some 'sell' more than others. The powerhouse wrestlers, of course, deliberately "no sell" moves. If you don't 'sell' right, it looks bad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rdSa2lSajs

Wrestlers protecting each other. You will find that high flying moves almost always hit their target, and in fact it can be quite obvious in a few cases that the receiving wrestlers open their arms and bodies to 'catch' the attacking wrestler. Wrestlers help each other out in potentially dangerous moves by, for instance, tapping the receiving wrestler when he is about to execute the move (the 'DDT'), or by releasing the arms of the receiving wrestler so he can protect his face and head upon impact with the mat (Triple H's 'Pedigree'). Very large, or powerful wrestlers must protect opponents, for instance, by not putting all his weight on the receiving wrestler in high impact moves. 

An example of 'catching' a wrestler trying a high risk move:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1tpPq8LWfA

The DDT 'tap', blink and you will miss it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPZwWWMRrBM

Wrestlers protecting themselves. Wrestlers will brace themselves for impact, for instance, by falling in a certain way or using their hands and knees to cushion an impact so they don't hit their heads. In some potentially dangerous moves, like the Undertaker's tombstone piledriver, you can actually see the receiving wrestler literally hugging  the attacking wrestler tightly as a precaution.

The dangerous part of the tombstone piledriver here is that the attacking wrestler (wearing black) might lose his grip on an opponent (wearing white) who is suspended upside down with no protection to his head. Done correctly, the receiving wrestler actually does not impact the ground at all. His long hair and the speed of the movement disguises the fact that receiving wrestler's head is above the attacking wrestler's knees.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZFYEzH1YeA

Wrestlers assisting each other. Like Brian says, although wrestlers are very strong and able to carry much more than their own body weight, many moves still require the assistance of the receiver. The 'chokeslam', for instance, often requires the receiving wrestler to bend his knees and kick off the ground a bit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEg9KAHJrnQ

Wrestlers hating each other. Of course they (usually) don't hate each other all that much. The strange thing about wrestling is that you have to both hit the opponent and protect him, which compounds the already complex working dynamic between wrestlers who travel with each other 200 days in a year in the WWE's case.

Punching / hitting with hands. Wrestlers don't punch each other like boxers do. They seldom hit each other with the knuckles of their fists, but with the back of the hand, or the wrist, or some part of the hand/arm that is less sharp than the knuckle. They are very restrained in this way, but a good wrestler will know how to disguise this restraint with his body language or with his hitting 'technique'.

Stamping. Punches make little sound. Wrestlers stamp their feet on the ground as they snap into a punch to generate what sounds like an impressive, audible punch. But it's their feet. A good wrestler will know how to make this stamping look natural and look necessary for gaining momentum. 

Things that are real:

Taking a bump (how wrestlers fall). Wrestlers actually take a bit more pain than they have to. When the wrestler takes a "back bump", he is actually slamming himself on the mat with more force than he has to. The mats are rigged with microphones to amplify the sound, but those can only go so far.

Here, a professional wrestler, Triple H, demonstrates the difference between the back bump a rookie takes, and a professional. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4DWg8OHSo0

Chair and table shots. They're not fake props. The steel chairs are really steel chairs. In some cases some props like tables may be pre-cut, but this is so that they break in a predictable fashion and therefore not injure the wrestler with unexpected splinters.

The pain. The mats aren't concrete, but they're not mattresses either. There is some padding, but it doesn't save the wrestlers from feeling sore all week long. It hurts when you slam onto the mat. It hurts when you're whipped into a metal railing, steel steps, hit by a chair, a belt, a ring bell, a 2-by-4.

The soreness. People forget that while the top MMA fighters and boxers only fight a handful of times a year (if that). Those fights are brutal, but leave enough time for the body to recuperate. WWE wrestlers tour 200 days in the year. The biggest WWE stars may wrestle three or four times a week (Raw, Smackdown, and at least one untelevised house show), in addition to media commitments and travelling time (which can amount to 20-40 hours – the WWE travels to almost every continent on the planet). Most wrestlers go through the entire year sore or suffering from a nagging pain that never goes away. A few, like Edge and Shawn Michaels, have suffered well-documented back problems. Edge had to retire in his prime to avoid spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. 

The athleticism. Many people disparage WWE wrestlers as actors, but pro wrestling requires a great deal of athleticism. Many of the WWE's roster, past and present, are athletes in their own right. Kurt Angle was a Olympic gold medalist, and of the current roster, Alberto Del Rio has a background as an MMA fighter and a gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Pan-American games. A  few others have excellent amateur backgrounds – Jack Swagger was a two time All American.

The concussions. Concussions are well documented in wrestling. Many promotions like the WWE no longer allow chair shots on the head due to the very real effects on health. You don't need to be hit on the head to have a concussion. When you are dealing with wrestlers in the 100-200 kg (or 200-400 lbs) range, one can get a concussion from the most innocuous of wrestling moves. The wrestler often continues wrestling through a concussion. Depending on his level of awareness, his opponent(s) often improvise a finish. In this link (http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/n…), Kurt Angle talks about how Triple H and The Rock improvised a finish when he suffered a concussion during a triple threat match involving the three.

Submission moves. Some submission holds are for show. The "sleeper" is usually meant for the wrestlers to rest and 'call spots' for the rest of the match. It is perfect because the wrestlers get to be within whispering distance of each other. They call spots, of course, after hiding or angling their mouths away from the cameras. The common feature of almost all submission moves is that they meant to be adjustable (ie, can be loosened a bit) and have a few exit spots to allow the receiver to counter the move. However, many submission moves genuinely hurt (like Bret Hart's 'sharpshooter'). Many of the submission moves you see on the WWE are borrowed from "real" sports like MMA and jiujitsu – such as the arm trap triangle choke or the gogoplata.

View Answer on Quora

What should everyone know about writing?

Answer by Aman Anand:

As someone who has written extensively about the topic of writing, here are snippets of advice I have given in the past that could be useful to writers of fiction in particular:

Learning to see beauty in the world (or how anyone can become a writer)

One of the great myths surrounding gifted writers is that they are born with superior faculties to interpret their surrounding world, that their heightened senses allow them to see a magnified sense of beauty in each thing.

However, if we think about some of the finest writers of any era, the likes of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare and Joyce, on closer reading we find that they are equally capable of conveying the unrelenting ugliness of certain aspects of the world and human nature as well. 

If you wish to see beauty, you must be prepared to absorb ugliness in all its forms as well; the best writers are capable on drawing on beauty, ugliness and everything in between. Sounds hard? In truth, it is achievable, and here are some ideas to help you:

  • Remember the sheer wonder of being a child - as Alia says, the importance of unlearning many of the things you know so that you can start to see things as they are rather then as how you've come to accept them as being, is of great importance.
  • Read widely and expansively - reading is not just important to help you become a better writer, it is essential in helping you become a better thinker to gain adeeper understanding of the world around you. Expanding both your knowledge base and your vocabulary will enable to see the world in a new light.
  • Become more humble - there is no greater disruptive influence on your ability to see beauty and ugliness in the world than your ego. Thinking you have a better sense of understanding than others will only serve to restrict your world view and narrow your understanding. If you want to see more beauty, only because you wish your name to become synonymous with great writing, you will never achieve that which you desire. Only when you start accepting how minute your position is in this universe, will you be able to start seeing the world in a purer light.

Aman Anand's answer to Creative Writing: How can one learn to see more of the beauty in life and then write about it in a way which makes it come alive for the reader too?

Learning to translate this beauty into writing

Always remember no matter how good your writing is, there will remain a group of readers who will never enjoy what you've written. When I was younger, I was flabbergasted to learn that there are people who've read some of my favourite writers and been unmoved by their skill with words. There is no universal reader. Once you realise that, a big weight will be released off your shoulders and you can start writing with more freedom.

How can any writer develop a voice that will connect with some readers? For the first time on Quora, I must disagree with something Alia has said. Being direct is a worthy piece of advice for some writers, but certainly not all writers. Some of the finest word smiths of the last century (e.g. Joyce, Nabokov & Wallace) were anything but direct. Instead, I would suggest the following:

  • Practice incessantly – as with anything, practice will only improve you as a writer. So long as you have put your ego aside, you will be able to write sentence after sentence and paragraph after paragraph of utter crap. Eventually though, you will start finding a rhythm, finding a way to express yourself in a way that others will want to read.
  • Find your voice – any writer I've ever enjoyed and connected with, whether fiction or non-fiction share one common quality: they write like no other person could. Admire those you came before you, but do not worship them, that has been the downfall of many a writer as it leads to them trying to sound like someone else. Whether is direct or obtuse, hard or soft, or maybe even all of the above, write like only you could write.
  • Write the fiction you would want to read – I have said it elsewhere but it is worth repeating: don't write the book your creative writing teacher wants to read, don't write the book you think the critics at The New York Times want to read, write the book you want to read. That will help you connect with a group readers, whether it is about elephants moonwalking on Mars or the haunting tale of a betrayed lover.

Writers are no more born that politicians are. With enough diligence and creativity, any of us can develop into talented writers.

Aman Anand's answer to Creative Writing: How can one learn to see more of the beauty in life and then write about it in a way which makes it come alive for the reader too?

What makes writers write?

Think of the writer's brain as being akin to a kettle.

As ideas begin to whirl around in our imagination (the boiling chamber), they require an outlet (the chimney), which of course is our writing. The beauty of this analogy is that just as we are unable to perfectly replicate our thoughts when we write, the steam which arises from the kettle has also been transformed by the heating of the water inside the kettle.

Without the escape mechanism of the chimney our ideas start to stagnate and constrict the flow of ideas inside our imagination. The act of writing is essential to ensure that the proverbial cyclical process of transforming ideas into narrative continues unabated.

For me, the most exciting part of being a writer is trying to replicate the thought process when I write. I know it is an uphill and at times impossible struggle, but it is a challenge I relish undertaking.

I've long come to accept that some ideas will never be realised and that some stories will never be finished, but it is the process of writing which most excites me. Some white whales must be chased…

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What is the feeling that makes writers write?

Turning an idea into a book

Trying to harness and reproduce the anarchic, non-linear landscapes of the imagination is a wonderfully terrifying task. It is never quite the same for any given idea, but its the ideas that keep returning to the forefront of your mind that are worth following through on…

Aman Anand's answer to Ideas: What is the process of turning an idea into a script or book like?

Hacks for writing on a daily basis

Some tips:

  • Find a writing project you believe in – you can set aside as many hours in a day as you like, but if there isn't a purpose to your writing, you will run out of ideas and stop writing very quickly. For years, I struggled with writing on a daily basis. But then I came up with an idea for a blog (writing about the great films in chronological order) and I found myself writing on a daily basis for months. After a while, I ventured into fictional writing and have been writing (or researching) ever since.

  • Don't force it – that may sound counter-intuitive if you are trying to write everyday, but if you look at it as homework or an assignment, it will become unattractive and even if you do write daily, it should not feel like a chore as you will then look for excuses not to do it. Instead, it should feel like one of the more pleasant aspects of your life, such as watching the sunrise or making love to your partner. Once you have that sort of connection to it, your urge to write daily will never go away.

  • Write an answer a day on Quora – there will be a time when you hit a wall and run out of ideas; all of us have this problem at some point. When this happens, log on to Quora and answer a question where you feel you can make a positive contribution. I have done this on numerous occasions and have found it gets the creative juices flowing. Last Friday, after writing three answers on Quora, I finally wrote 400 words for my latest fictional project. I don't think it is a coincidence that this came about straight after I had answered those questions.

  • Write anywhere - while technology can disrupt the creative process in numerous ways, it can also help it along too. If you're stuck on a bus or train, jot down a few thoughts on your phone. If you dislike technology, carry a small notebook with you and jot down your thoughts on paper. Make sure that you have somewhere to pen your ideas. I even make notes on my shower window (I then get changed quickly, grab a notebook and jot down what I've written)!

  • Set up a 'mind gym' with someone you trust - find a friend who also has writing aspirations and then set up a timetable where you both aim to write X amount of works everyday, for X amount of weeks. I have done this several times with two friends and each time it has worked brilliantly. There is nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get you writing.

  • Read your writing the next day - this may sound like an obvious point, but there is no point in writing everyday if it is purposeless and directionless. By reading your writing the following day, you can gauge what areas you might need to work on, what ideas need to be followed up and what things are simply not working. Doing this will not only improve your writing, it will also give you added motivation each day that you write.

  • Write out of your comfort zone one day a week - the creative process is all about expanding your consciousness, so writing about the same thing for weeks may not be in your best interests as it encourages the wrong type of thinking. That is why I recommend trying to write in a style of writing or about a subject matter you would normally shy away from. At first, it may prove difficult, but with time it will make you a better writer and allow you to view your work(s) in progress from a different perspective. You will eventually find yourself looking forward to this day each week as it gives you an opportunity to craft a new proverbial writing tool.

  • Writing doesn't just involve writing – As Alia points out, a lot of the leg work for writing can be done in your mind before you ever put pen to paper as Joe states, rewriting is just as important as writing itself. I would add that research can often play a key role in the writing process as well. So remember that there is a lot more to writing than jotting down X amount of words. This should not scare you; instead, it should allow you to realise that there are many different aspects to the writing process, giving you numerous options on days that you are stuck writing the main body of the essay, story or novel.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: How do I get in the habit of writing every day?

The most important lesson

Write the book you would want to read. That may sound easy, but I think it is one of the hardest things to do.

Think about how many preconceptions and prejudices we have about writing, how often we try and appease an imaginary voice or audience.

The more I read about my favourite works of fiction and the work that has gone into them, the more I realise that the common thread that they share is that the author is willing to write the exact book he or she wanted to read. The great thing about this advice is that it can apply to any author, whether they write erotica or spy fiction.

Be brave, write the book you want to read, and you will have authority and authenticity by the bucket load.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What is authenticity in writing?

Factors to consider before writing a novel

Ask yourself the following questions:

Why I am writing a novel? Too many new authors jump straight into the deep end and write a novel without first writing a few short short stories or a short novella. That is the equivalent of trying to driving a car without taking any lessons, it may work out for a while, but once you hit a motorway (highway), you will be in deep trouble. Taking on the burden of writing a novel without writing any shorter fiction can be an almost impossible task. Start out by writing shorter pieces and build your way to sustaining a novel length story. So, for example, you could start out by writing a particular scene from a bigger project you had in mind. Make sure you understand the obligations that come with writing a novel and feel confident working within the form.

What are my reasons for telling this particular story? Why have you chosen to write about the particular world or subject? If it is because, say, vampires are really popular and you want to cash in on their success, you might face an uphill struggle. You might think that you have to write a 'serious' novel about the human condition to be taken seriously as a 'literary author'. If you are planning to write your novel for these or similar reasons, you may find it very difficult to finish the book, because your motives are all wrong. Write about a particular subject that you are genuinely interested and feel you may have something interesting to say about. There is nothing more important than ensuring that you  are deeply engaged with the novel you are producing; trust me, readers can spot cynicism and boredom with ease.

 What style of writing will I employ? An all too often overlooked element of writing a novel is choosing the writing style you adopt; in fact, few things are more important as the way you tell the story, it is just as important as the content of the story. This is aspect of writing novel that allows you to become a writer, as you have total freedom in determining the style of writing (some experimental novels may use more than one style) you employ. So, for example, let's say you are writing a novel about the rise and fall of an American footballer. Do you want to tell the story in the first or third person? If you choose the third person, do you want the narrator's voice to be detached and neutral or colourful and satirical. Do you feel comfortable writing in the style that you have chosen? Which style suits your strengths as a writer best? These are all important points to consider. Cristinacorrectly points out in the comments section below that some authors may develop their voice while they write; this is an equally valid approach. What both approaches require is an understanding that you are trying to craft a unique voice that draws in your reader.

Aman Anand's answer to What are the first things an author should consider before writing a fiction novel?

How to start your story

The most important thing to ensure is that the idea can be 'translated' into the format of storytelling you plan to use. This means you should avoid over developing the back story for a character in a short story while you should ensure that you have a detailed outline of the entire plot summary for a series of novels before you starting writing them. 

Otherwise, the beauty of writing fiction is that you can start anywhere. But always remember that the genesis of an idea is nowhere near as important as its culmination. Writers usually come up with new ideas on a regular basis; it is the ones that they complete that matter most.

Aman Anand's answer to Creative Writing: How do you *start* your story? With a character, plot, scene or something else?

Preventing a saggy middle

  • Don't rely on gimmicks – some of the answers above mention false climaxes and twists for their own sake. My advice that only incorporate twists that fit into the overall plot, do not sacrifice a carefully constructed plot for a few gimmicks that undermine the rest of the story.
  • Don't get the size of your opening and closing act wrong. Too many writers I have read seem to think the opening and closing of a book is akin to being born and dying, while everything that happens in between is the middle. Whether you decide to employ  three act or five act structure, make sure you give your book the right sized opening and closing. If the vast majority of your book is middle, it is bound to sag.
  • Don't get too caught up in structures. While it is essential to get the structure of the book right, over-thinking this area of the book can lead to you overemphasising it and ruining the 'natural flow' of the book. Some of the greatest novels use unconventional structures, don't be afraid of trying something completely different.

Aman Anand's answer to Storytelling: How do you prevent a "saggy" middle?

What a great ending requires

  • Great endings elevate the work to new heights of brilliance – a great ending is not a mere summation of events or the inevitable conclusion of a story. A truly great ending lifts the work in question to previously uncharted heights within that particular work of fiction. Some of the best examples of this can be found in Shakespeare's tragedies. The devastating climaxes of King Lear, Hamlet, Othello and Romeo & Juliet give all four works depth, resonance and pathos. Most of all though, they provide the reader with striking images in their finales that stay with them for years to come.

  • Great endings make you want to reread the rest of the work - the best endings allow the work to either come full circle or complete a circle. Either way, such endings ensure the book has a sense of closure (or in the case of serialised fiction, a perfect cliffhanger ending that still manages to be a satisfactory self-contained work) that breeds a deep curiosity to revisit earlier parts of the story to further our understanding of the overall story. When I finished the likes of Moby Dick and Lolita, their endings made me want to return to earlier parts of those respective books, for this very reason.

  • Great endings are never quite what the reader expects them to be – even if you know the work you are reading is a comedy or tragedy and are therefore that genre conventions will lead to a certain type of ending, the finest conclusions to a work of fiction will still manage to end the story in a way which subtly defies the reader's expectations. So, for example, in Macbeth, Macbeth's haunting, final soliloquy makes the reader sympathise with this tyrant in his final few hours, turning his inevitable death not into a moment of triumph, but instead leaving us with a strange dual sensation of relief and sadness.

Aman Anand's answer to Endings: What characterizes a great ending in fiction?

Making characters believable

Try not to overemphasise characterisation - I would argue that the pacing of the story and careful world building take precedence over authentic characterisation. Over such a short period of text, no-one is expecting you to portray multiple sides of a character's personality; in fact, overemphasis of a character's personality traits can weigh down on the two aforementioned elements of the story and ruin the story's balance.

One of the best approaches to crafting believable characters in short stories is to act as if the story is a chapter in a novel. Too often, short story writers will force their characters into taking overtly dramatic action to try and compensate for the fact that the reader will only see the character for a short period of time.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What are general tips for making characters believable when writing a short story?

Creating a character smarter than yourself

Make yourself smarter – sometimes the most obvious answer is the best one. If you're writing about a super smart brain surgeon, read up bucket loads of textbooks that cover that field of expertise, talk to surgeons and do whatever it takes to increase your understanding of that subject.

There are plenty of shortcuts that you can take, but always remember how smart readers are, they will spot a 'blag' a mile off. Sure, you need to make sure you frame the character in such a way that doesn't require you to actually become a prominent brain surgeon, but if you try to write your character with little or no knowledge of the subject in hand, it could sabotage your entire novel.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What are some writing tips for creating a character who is smarter than you?

Writing isn't easy

That hard work is as important as creativity. Various anecdotes and biopics have created the impression that good writers are able to conjure great novels and poems from pure inspiration, that's why a lot of people assume that writers have an easy life.

The reality is very different as it takes a great deal of hard work to craft a coherent novel, let alone a great one.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What are some things that full time writers know that most people don't?

The myriad of possibilities a writer has when choosing perspective

After plotting, I consider perspective to be the next most important aspect a writer must decide on while they are planning their story.

Let us take an example: I decide I want to write a short story about a man whose briefcase is stolen on a crowded train. After deciding on this brief plot, my next option is to consider what perspective I should tell the story from, and the options are far more varied than choosing between first, second and third person perspectives.

I could tell the story from the following perspectives:

  • An omniscient third person narrator
  • An unreliable third person narrator
  • The man who has his briefcase stolen
  • The person who steals the briefcase
  • The briefcase itself
  • The train
  • One of the many passengers on the train
  • The train conductor
  • A combination of these perspectives

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: How do you choose the perspective for your stories?

The importance of dealing with feedback on your writing

If the writer is both highly sensitive and inexperienced, it can be difficult to accept when a person they respect vehemently dislikes their work. Often, it will lead to the writer questioning their ability to write altogether as self-doubt paralyses their writing process.

The truth is that no matter how good your writing is, there will always be a number of people who will find fault with it and this will include people that you admire. Of course, the writer must make certain they do not delude themselves into having a heightened opinion of their talents, yet they should not allow one or two stinging responses to their work destroy their confidence in their own ability.

So long as they try and improve their work in regards to specific constructive criticism that helps elevate their work while remaining assured about their overall vision for the book in its entirety, they can learn a great deal from such encounters. 

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What is the hardest part about getting feedback for writers?

Learning to speak in metaphors and pictures

Write like you dream. The moment you commit your pen to paper, you are no longer bound by the Newtonian laws of our universe. You are entering what the poet Hart Crane described as 'those gleaming cantos of unvanquished space'. Shape this terrain as only you can.

Too much modern fictional writing is fixated on ideas like authenticity, character development at the expense of everything else and mirroring reality. Yet some of the writer's finest tools are those which stretch the reader's imagination; similes and metaphors can momentarily transport the reader to another space, drawing a comparison that enriches their reading experience.

Aman Anand's answer to Life Advice: How can one learn to speak in metaphors or pictures?

Writing metaphors today

Writing metaphors today though, is very different to pre 20th Century literature. First of all, such raw sincerity as demonstrated above would not work as well in our postmodern world. However, we now have a wealth of imagery that has arisen from our 'industrial' surroundings. What makes a metaphor 'great' today can be very different to the criteria for the Shakespeares and Wordsworths of yesterday. Some of the worst metaphors I have encountered in recent years are when writers try to imitate the greats and fail miserably.

This may come down to personal taste, but I would much rather see a writer overreach with their metaphors by using strange and timely metaphors than ones which try to mirror what has come before. So instead of using the metaphor I use at the very start of this answer, I think it would be far more interesting to say,

A great metaphor is like a sharp electric current passing through a switch, it jolts the reader into experiencing something unexpected and removes them from their comfort zone.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What makes certain metaphors so good?

How to insert humour into a literary work

Here is how:
  • Give your narrative voice a sharp sense of humour – this will not work in all instances, but if you can give your narrator a voice that is both authoritative and humorous, you will go a long way to incorporating a wide expanse of emotions and ideas within your work. Develop an inimitable voice that has a broad range and will succeed in incorporating an air of joviality in your work.
  • Don't take yourself or your writing too seriously – the problem with a great deal of contemporary literary fiction is its singular earnestness. Writing devoid of any element of humour is like rain falling every single day of the year, it is as annoying as it is predictable.
  • Humour comes in many shapes and forms – Cristina provides some specific examples of humour that can be utilised; I cannot emphasise the importance of trying to incorporate a wide range of devices when portraying humour. A good way to work out how to pull this off is to make a list of all the different types of humour you can think of and then try and write a short story that features them all. Keeping writing stories until the appearance of each brand of humour fits in naturally within the narrative.
  • There is no such thing as too dark – some of the finest examples of humour I have read in major literary works are almost too offensive to post here. In most writers hands, these episodes would be vile, but the most skilful writers manage to make such moments resound in your mind long after you finish reading that particular book. Do not try and conjure such humour for the sake of it, but if it does fit within the framework of your writing, do not be afraid to include it.
  • Create a fictional world where characters are free to experience the full range of human emotions – others rightfully point to the fact that you shouldn't make your characters too bland, but I would argue that it is perhaps more important to ensure that the fictional world you create is a place where its inhabitants can express themselves in a variety of ways. If humour turns out to be just one of many strings in their bow, then it will come off as both natural and enjoyable.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What are some tips for including an element of humor in a serious literary work?

How to research period specific dialogue

  1. Read numerous primary documents from that period – if you are lucky enough that the period in question has video footage, that can be equally helpful in allowing you to immerse yourself in the language of that period. Primary sources are extremely helpful, in that they allow you to pick up slang and the specific phrasing of words from that particular period. This will allow you to layer your dialogue with far greater authenticity.
  2. Read as much fiction from that period - if you are setting your fictional work in a particular year – look up that year on Wikipedia and you will find a comprehensive list of fiction from that period. Read as much of it as you can; this will allow you an invaluable insight into how writers were using language during that period; you can make subtle references to their 'phraseology' or a character may end up reading one of their books. However you choose to use this knowledge, it will show when you write dialogue as you will have a far greater understanding of how writers of the time wrote dialogue sequences.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What are good ways to research and write authentic period dialogue?

Dealing with writer's block

Realise that there is no such things as writer's block. Is this necessarily true? No, there is still considerable debate as to whether writer's block 'exists'. Given its unverifiable nature, the best way to deal with it is to reject its very existence.

How, you ask?

Realise that this condition has few parallels in other walks of life. Another slightly more controversial option is to have a few drinks and see how quickly you loosen the tightness of your writing muscle.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: How do writers deal with writer's block?

Pros and Cons of using a pen name

Pros

  • Allows you to write from a completely different perspective from any writing you have published under your own name.
  • Provides you with an opportunity to write about sensitive information that you may not have been comfortable with publishing under your real name.
  • There is no limit to the number of pen names you can have. Many of the great pulp writers had a dozen and produced a wonderfully varied and eclectic range of writing under all of their pen names.
  • Challenges you to write about genres and topics you wouldn't have been comfortable approaching while writing under your real name.

Cons

  • You lose any readership you may have under your real name and have to start from scratch.
  • Some writers use pen names as an excuse to indulge their excesses and do not treat with the same respect they treat writing under their real name. This results in them writing novels of an inferior standard to what they would have produced if they were writing under their real name.

Aman Anand's answer to Writing: What are the pros and cons of using a pen name for writing novels?

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Originally posted on Digital Caveman:

There is nothing cooler than having a map fully powered by data. D3.js does a great job at this by accepting geoJSON data and converting that into SVG. The thing is how the hell do we acquire a map that is not the one of the USA (which is the most typical example). There are many tools out there that do svg maps and they are quite good at it, but this tutorial is going to focus on D3.js, .shp files and geoJSON.

Two of my favorite resources to obtain maps are Natural Earth Data and Diva. From what I’ve seen Natural Earth Data does a good job for country layouts (just the outer border) and Diva for details within a country (regions, lakes, rivers, train tracks etc). For this example we are going to use Natural Earth Data because it already provides us with a map of the…

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Originally posted on Tech:

Imagine if, in an instant, all the files on your computer vanished, along with all your e-mails and online backups, and therefore any chance of getting those files back. That’s what happened to tech writer Mat Honan, after a hacker broke into his Google and Apple accounts and wiped them clean.

Honan walks through his hacking horror story in painful detail at Wired.com. He describes how his attacker tricked Amazon into revealing the last four digits of his credit card–a key bit of info the hacker needed to gain entry to Honan’s Apple account. Because his Apple e-mail address was on file with Google as a backup, the hacker used it to reset Honan’s Gmail password, which finally let the hacker reset Honan’s Twitter account and achieve the end-goal of taking it over.

In many ways, the hack was preventable. Amazon could have better safeguarded Honan’s credit card details…

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Apple’s Q4 2012 results were mixed. As usual, reading Twitter, you’d think this was the end of the world. Nevermind that Amazon managed to post a loss on $13.8 billion in sales today — Apple only made $8.2 billion in profit. “Ahhhh!!!!! What is wrong with Apple?!!!” “This would have never have happened under Steve!”

That’s right, such a profit wouldn’t have happened under Steve. In fact, it never did. Jobs’ best quarter in terms of profit was just over $7 billion — and actually, that’s when Tim Cook was interim CEO last year.

But had you read TechCrunch in July, after Apple’s last “miss”, you would have been prepared. As we noted at the time:

Apple missed this past quarter, but the true shock could come if they miss next quarter as well. The guidance Apple gave indicates they’re thinking small (well, for them — it’s all relative…

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How do I get in the habit of writing every day?

It hasn't been collapsed, but this great answer has been given atleast 10 downvotes. A bit harsh, seeing as it does come from a writer?

Answer by Aman Anand:

  • Find a writing project you believe in – you can set aside as many hours in a day as you like, but if there isn't a purpose to your writing, you will run out of ideas and stop writing very quickly. For years, I struggled with writing on a daily basis. But then I came up with an idea for a blog (writing about the great films in chronological order) and I found myself writing on a daily basis for months. After a while, I ventured into fictional writing and have been writing (or researching) ever since.

  • Don't force it – that may sound counter-intuitive if you are trying to write everyday, but if you look at it as homework or an assignment, it will become unattractive and even if you do write daily, it should not feel like a chore as you will then look for excuses not to do it. Instead, it should feel like one of the more pleasant aspects of your life, such as watching the sunrise or making love to your partner. Once you have that sort of connection to it, your urge to write daily will never go away.

  • Write an answer a day on Quora – there will be a time when you hit a wall and run out of ideas; all of us have this problem at some point. When this happens, log on to Quora and answer a question where you feel you can make a positive contribution. I have done this on numerous occasions and have found it gets the creative juices flowing. Last Friday, after writing three answers on Quora, I finally wrote 400 words for my latest fictional project. I don't think it is a coincidence that this came about straight after I had answered those questions.

  • Write anywhere - while technology can disrupt the creative process in numerous ways, it can also help it along too. If you're stuck on a bus or train, jot down a few thoughts on your phone. If you dislike technology, carry a small notebook with you and jot down your thoughts on paper. Make sure that you have somewhere to pen your ideas. I even make notes on my shower window (I then get changed quickly, grab a notebook and jot down what I've written)!

  • Set up a 'mind gym' with someone you trust - find a friend who also has writing aspirations and then set up a timetable where you both aim to write X amount of works everyday, for X amount of weeks. I have done this several times with two friends and each time it has worked brilliantly. There is nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get you writing.

  • Read your writing the next day - this may sound like an obvious point, but there is no point in writing everyday if it is purposeless and directionless. By reading your writing the following day, you can gauge what areas you might need to work on, what ideas need to be followed up and what things are simply not working. Doing this will not only improve your writing, it will also give you added motivation each day that you write. 

  • Write out of your comfort zone one day a week - the creative process is all about expanding your consciousness, so writing about the same thing for weeks may not be in your best interests as it encourages the wrong type of thinking. That is why I recommend trying to write in a style of writing or about a subject matter you would normally shy away from. At first, it may prove difficult, but with time it will make you a better writer and allow you to view your work(s) in progress from a different perspective. You will eventually find yourself looking forward to this day each week as it gives you an opportunity to craft a new proverbial writing tool.

  • Writing doesn't just involve writing – As Alia points out, a lot of the leg work for writing can be done in your mind before you ever put pen to paper as Joe states, rewriting is just as important as writing itself. I would add that research can often play a key role in the writing process as well. So remember that there is a lot more to writing than jotting down X amount of words. This should not scare you; instead, it should allow you to realise that there are many different aspects to the writing process, giving you numerous options on days that you are stuck writing the main body of the essay, story or novel.

View Answer on Quora