Have you ever watched a movie and been amazed at the computer graphics (CGI) and special effects? The advancement in computer hardware and graphics technology has been significant in the last few decades. These machines can take us to places only ever dreamed of. Yet, In that statement is a comparison, one made so often that we don’t realize we have made a comparison.
The most amazing hardware for image, sound, emotion, and interactive experience is the human brain. The things we can imagine are unlimited. Our being able to express those things is what is limited. So we have invented writing, movies, and music to express those inner imaginings.
How do you set about writing code for this amazing hardware we carry with us? As writers, we do it every day. Whether it’s a novel, a story, a screenplay, lyrics, or a musical score, we are using this code to program the ultimate processor. Like a computer program’s syntax, there are rules that must be followed with grammar, meter, punctuation, etc. If you fail to follow these rules your program will crash, your story will not work.
Perhaps something you wrote sends the reader off on a tangent that is not part of the main program, the reader gets stuck in an obscure subroutine and misses the important part of the story. Or maybe you wrote a loop in your story, the reader keeps going back over a part of the story in his or her mind that just bothered them. They can’t let it go and it ruins the experience. Maybe you haven’t defined all the variables and the reader doesn’t buy your setting, plot, or narrative. You need to be thorough in your setup and execution.
I was once told by a code writer that computer programming is like giving instructions to a 2 year old, you must tell them everything. Learning good code practice is vital for a programmer. Read the advice pointers to computer programmers below, and think about how it relates to your job of writing
1. Write for an audience, 2. Establish a clean framework for future changes, 3. Be brief, self-descriptive, and avoid inline comments, 4. Follow language standards and community conventions. 5. Really learn the language and the framework, (http://yanpritzker.com/2009/09/29/five-rules-for-writing-good-code/)
Rule 1: Follow the Style Guide, Rule 2: Create Descriptive Names, Rule 3: Comment and Document, Rule 4: Don't Repeat Yourself, Rule 5: Check for Errors and Respond to Them, Rule 6: Split Your Code into Short, Focused Units, Rule 7: Use Framework APIs and Third-Party Libraries, Rule 8: Don't Overdesign, Rule 9: Be Consistent, … (http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2223710)
So next time you pick up a pen or open your word processor to write, remember that your story is the programming for an imagination. If you want them to see your story clearly, you have to follow the rules, obey the syntax and don’t let these get in the way of your story. So go out there and get coding!