What is a Kluge?

“Kluge” is a word common around computer and hardware systems and is an unfortunate appropriation of a German family name. The term kluge (often misspelled “kludge”) refers to a “clunky, unpolished, quickly thrown together,” workaround or patch that results in a difficult to maintain or repair system.

klugeI knew that the term likely came from the Kluge paper feeder and offset printing systems from the early 1900s. It surprised me to find in Missoula a near-working Kluge offset in a custom print business. They were in the process of repairing the Kluge to get it to print foil embossing. A quick study of the Kluge and comparison to other offset printing devices gives you an idea of how the unit earned the reputation–and why the term became common. When they work, they work beautifully. Maintenance and repair is difficult.

Here’s a link in Wikipedia to give you a more or less complete rundown on the term.


One of the scheduled events at the Montana Book Festival was a printing demonstration using a Golding offset printing press. Probably circa 1890, the device weighed about 350-400 pounds. The frame is cast iron and the mechanism works smooth as butter. The owners of this letterpress adapted it in the “make-ready” process to use more modern materials, including polymer plates. That disk in the picture is the ink plate. The rollers smear the ink around on it and apply it to the image plate, which then presses the ink on the paper. It is an amazing process to watch.

Yes, I found all this pretty interesting and exciting. I started working in newspapers when some were still printed using offset and moveable type. I was witness to the transition from hot lead to digital typesetting. Seeing this old stuff and watching it work was very nostalgic. The smell of the ink and oil, the sound of the mechanism as it worked, brought back a lot of memories.

The Kluge and some other devices were at Noteworthy Paper & Press in Missoula.  If you visit, you’ll find a lot of custom printed things.

I visited Valley Christian School for my part of the Youth Festival and got to talk to the high school senior AP english class. After a short read from Sudden Mission, I lead them through an exercise in creating a fictional character using a character sketch. I had fun and I hope the students did, as well.

Saturday was the book fair at the Holiday Inn, and everyone had their books available. Here’s a pic of my books among the others on one table.


I had a great time at the festival and I hope they can keep it going.

Keep writing.







Character Sketches

Character Sketches

Character sketches are outlines that offer huge insight into a fictional personality used in a story. In my case, my sketches grow and refine as I go along. When a character first comes along, I set up a sketch that provides some background and back story that helps round out who that person is and what might be expected of him or her.

Character Sketches | Guy L. PaceThe more I use a character, the more detailed the sketch becomes. Of course, he or she needs to stay true to that sketch. Motivations, actions, and relationships  remain consistent for the fictional personality to stay true and believable. Sometimes, I go back to the sketch and flesh out some details that help refine the personality and bring actions and motivations in line.

The reader, though, doesn’t see all that. The sketch is the well on which I draw as the character moves through a story. What he or she says or does, how he or she responds to people and events, and why is there in the sketch. When the reader sees some action, dialog, or event, it should seem logical and right for that individual. That’s because the character is behaving consistently with the background information in the sketch.

The reader gets some information each time the character speaks or acts in the story. While there is no “info dump” on the reader based on the sketch, there are sneak peaks into the character. These provide insight and allow the reader to grow in understanding of the character as the story progresses and the fictional personality advances through his or her story arc.

But, the reader doesn’t see all the nitty, gritty details of the character sketch because they don’t need to. They see the characters as they develop and form by the story. Readers encounter the character much as they would in life, learning about someone as they go.

Keep writing.