Tag: The Project (page 1 of 3)

You Are Your Work’s Super-User

Unix code

guest@blueinkalchemy:/$ make me a sandwich
What? No! Make it yourself!
guest@blueinkalchemy:/$ sudo make me a sandwich

Eagle-eyed readers will see right away that I pretty blatantly stole that gag from xkcd, specifically from the unixkcd portion introduced on April Fool’s Day. I’ve done this for two reasons. One, I have sudo command lines on the brain since I was wrestling with Ubuntu and Wine last night to get World of Warcraft working on my jalopy of a laptop. Two, I do in fact have a point to make about writing that this little joke illustrates.

The existence of writer’s block is somewhat dubious. Sometimes it’s easy for writers to say, “stop whining about being blocked up and just write something” when the subject comes up, and sometimes those same writers stare blankly at an empty document wondering what the hell they’re supposed to type next. Sometimes this stare goes on for hours. Sometimes they just type “tits” over and over again. …Wait, maybe that’s just me. Let’s move on.

The point is, when the well of words seems to dry up, “sudo” yourself in some way. Do something you normally wouldn’t. If you feel your weak point is dialog, write out a new conversation between the characters in the scene, even if they’re arch-nemeses. Sure, Doctor Mercury has got Codpiece Johnson tied to a Table of Doom, but having them chat about drywall while she sets up the vivisection lasers will help you structure the verbal back-and-forth of two characters. Not normally into action choreography? Have ninjas burst into a room where the housewife is making breakfast for her kids. Those are her kids, man, and she has to protect them. That’s a great time for her to re-discover her ancient and as-yet-unrealized potential as a mistress of kung fu.

You don’t have to keep it after you write it. But it shakes off the cobwebs. Shifts you out of your comfort zone. Makes you think. It gets the creative wheels turning in your head again, and maybe a line of that drywall conversation or a bit from the epic ninja showdown in the kitchen will inspire you to go back to your original thought and carry you through another few thousand words.

I realize this isn’t a perfect metaphor, but I’m trying to keep this blog at least tangentially about writing. I’m not done with Mega Man 10 yet, I haven’t even imported my character for Dragon Age: Origins: Awakenings: Return Of The Son Of The Colons: This Time It’s Personal and now Ye Olde Laptope is giving me guff about video compatibility. Hopefully I can keep the theme of writing advice going before my comments become completely inane.

guest@blueinkalchemy:/$ cat
You're a kitty!


Cycles, Trilogies & Other Fancy Words For ‘Series’

Good Luck

While I’m busy moving myself and my Canadian half into our swank new Lansdale pad, here are some thoughts I’ve had recently concerning what was lately called “The Project”. I’d originally planned this out as a trilogy of stories to introduce the world, build up some of its history and cultures, and do my utmost to tell a few damn good stories while I’m doing that boring stuff at the same time.

The first novel in the arc will introduce the Cities of Light, the different systems of & viewpoints on magic, and how some of the other races have gotten on since the major catastrophe that happened in that part of the world. The next major story entry would take readers across the ocean to other settlements of humans, bring out some of the religions of the world and set up the dire circumstances that cause the events of the third novel. The initial story arc concludes with a globe-trotting world-threatening race-against-time sort of deal.

Now, this may seem like a typical trilogy, but I don’t think the stories need to end with the conclusion of the third novel. Descendants may run into future problems and allegiances or outlooks may shift over time. It’ll depend mostly on how much interest is actually garnered in my writings, if any at all comes my way, but I don’t want to necessarily limit myself to just three books in this world after investing a great deal of time & energy into its creation. So it may go transmedia, more books may get written, maybe there’ll be puppet shows or something. I can’t say.

Anyway, since the first three books will have a guy named Asherian as the protagonist, I figured the titles should reflect his central role. “Citizen in the Wilds” follows Asherian as the ‘spell’ of the Cities is broken and he struggles to survive in the inhospitable world beyond the battlements that surround them. “Alchemist at Sea” will have him going over oceans for a variety of reasons. And “Ambassador at War” should be pretty self-explanatory.

This is how things will get started, if I can get the first novel off the ground. Which, considering the epiphany I had Thursday night, is actually looking more likely.

“God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character.” – Robert McKee (Brian Cox), Adaptation.

Originally the first novel was going to be named “Asherian’s Journal,” with subsequent titles starting with “Asherian’s” in ending in another capitalized noun. “Hey, it works for Jacqueline Carey, right?” was my thought. Then, hearing Brian Cox bellow out the preceding, it hit me like a half-brick to the face. Asherian writing in his journal between most chapters is the prose equivalent of a voice-over. Now, the character in the film is kind of taking the piss out of the film he’s in, since there’s a lot of voice-over narration that actually works, but I took his words to heart and cut some of mine out of the novel. We should be focused on Asherian, not necessarily shifting from an observer’s perspective to lengthy bits of his internal monologue and back again. It’s flow-breaking, shoddy and shallow, bordering on self-insertion.

And it was a darling.

Papa Wendig taught us how to deal with darlings.

Courtesy Terribleminds

It was a hold-over idea from when I first started this with Asherian as my protagonist, as a way to tell the reader more about his mentality and his view of the Cities of Light. But that’s what his communication with his sister is for. She talks with him through dreams and visions, and she shapes the forum in which they speak. Right there is all the in-world excuse I need to show the Cities of Light and how these twins see them, not to mention how that view shifts as the story goes on.

So down went the journal entries with a boot in the ass, followed by the Mozambique Drill. Pop, pop. BLAM.

Hopefully with that out of the way, I can get back on track with a daily word count of a thousand or more, since I dropped my projected total words for Citizen in the Wilds to 100k. Here’s why.

Anyway, there’ll be writing happening this weekend. Maybe after we unpack a bit.

Twelve Fifty


1250 was rough.

I’m not referring to the year, although the Naple’s Plague certainly wasn’t a picnic for everybody. Instead, last night I sat down and raised my per-day goal from 1000 words to 1250. Now, maybe it was because I spent the first hour or so after getting home installing Oblivion on the main PC so my wife can play it eventually, or maybe it was due to the lingering lethargy of a dreary Monday full of mundanity and blandness, but for some reason, hitting that 1250 mark last night was a lot more difficult than any of the 1000-word goals I made and exceeded last week.

The reason I chose 1250 as a better per-day goal is simple. I’ve projected this little novel of mine to top out at around 125,000 words, and 1250 is 1% of that total. I’d like to try and estimate when I’m going to finish this thing, and tracking my progress as I pursue this daily goal should help me do that.

I’ve also got a review of Portal to put together, as well as Assassin’s Creed II now that I’ve finished it, and I need to find time to watch either Adaptation. or The Taking of Pelham 123 before Friday unless I want to toss together a ICFN post about Predator focusing on things other than the gratuitous gun porn and how impressive Clicky McCrabface still looks.

And I have an apartment to pack.

But I’ll get at least 1250 a day, by God. I was thinking last night, at one point, “Oh, maybe I can stop at a grand.” But I saw that idea for the slippery slope that it was and curbstomped it. Because tomorrow it’d be “Oh, 750 is enough for tonight, time for more Mass Effect.” The next day would have me thinking “I’ll stop at 500, the cat needs some attention.” So on and so forth until I’m wondering why I’ve spent decades suffering from ignominy and a lack of respectability among my published friends and why those damn kids won’t get the hell off of my lawn.

So just because it was difficult does not mean I’m giving up, dammit. Tonight will see me writing another 1250, at least. The more I can do, the better.

Of course, there’s the fact hanging over me that finishing this word count is just the beginning. There’s the revising, getting proofreads done by willing subjects friends, and begging an agent for attention.

But one step at a time. One word at a time. Until I hit twelve fifty tonight, then it’s game time.

Thoughts on Blogging

The Thinker

Today’s one of those days where I just have to admit: “Yeah, I got nothin’.”

I know there are some out there who believe that there’s no point in putting up a blog post if it’s not going to be about anything significant. I try to post every day, but I don’t operate under the impression that everything I say is going to carry deep meaning. Not every brick that drops out of the sphincter of my mind is going to be a golden one. Mostly I do it to maintain some sort of readership/following. So if you’re still here, thanks for putting up with me. I know I can be a pain.

The only thing of true significance concerning this rather dreary Monday is the fact that I’m going to be increasing my daily word goal in the Project to 1250. If I can get at least that many in per day, with that amount being 1% of my total projected word count, I can reasonably predict when I might finish, set a deadline and adjust my pace accordingly. Thankfully, I don’t think this general miasma under which I’m operating today will extend to how things will be this evening. I’ll change into comfortable clothes, pour myself a drink and try to get a bit further in the current scene. I want to make sure things gel properly.

Open forum time, folks. Those of you who are bloggers – what do you do when you feel you’ve nothing to blog about? Do you mine your site stats for search terms? Do you put down a stream of consciousness exercise? Do you just not bother?

Your thoughts, give them to me.

What’s In A Gun’s Name?

Courtesy Terribleminds

So {insert title here}, Book 1 of the Acradea Cycle, is proceeding. It’s in fits and starts a bit, but a little kick in the pants from Ye Olde Magickal Speaking Beardface should keep things chugging along. At least a thousand words a day is a decent goal. As my northern better half points out, I do that in my blog every day without breaking a sweat. But I’m coming to a point in the novel where I need to name something of relatively large importance.

When I last discussed The Project at length, I mentioned “magical mass acceleration rifles.” They’re a weapon being developed by the magocracy in the Cities of Light for a few reasons that will come to light over the course of the story. But the new-fangled dealers of death need a shorthand name. Mass acceleration isn’t a scientific theory as such in Acradea, and calling them “metal tubes with wooden stocks etched with runes and Wards to conjure the ammunition and move it down the barrel at lethal velocity” neither rolls off of the tongue nor abbreviates well.

Considering these are the first “firearms” of this world, I’m inspired to look towards our own history of boomsticks. The weapons in Acradea do have a method of arming similar to those used back when matches or flint were used to strike the gunpowder. By pulling back on the hammer of one of these new-fangled weapons, the shot is conjured into the breach and arcane energy is passed from the storage runes to the hammer, acting as the weapon’s primer. Then, pulling the trigger closes the circuit between the hammer and the Wards on the barrel, starting a very rapid sequence of off/on toggles on those Wards which accelerates the shot. While not magical in and of themselves, shots from these weapons are accelerated by magic to speeds exceeding that of sound, and are likely to have decent range and accuracy if used properly.

When firearms began evolving as small arms, they were known by their firing mechanisms – matchlocks, wheellocks, flintlocks, etc. “Magelock” is an interesting choice but Privateer Press called dibs on that one. “Arcanelock” or “arcanolock” might work, or perhaps “wardlock.” I’d like to try and settle on a name for them before I proceed with the current scene, as it’s about to become very important to the plot.

So, if you’ve any ideas or just want to kibitz about what I’ve mentioned, leave me a comment, won’t you?

As an aside, if you’re hungry for inspiration, take a look at Chuck’s photostream sometime. The man has got a great eye.

Courtesy Terribleminds

Seriously. That’s what I’m talking about.

EDIT: Some GREAT suggestions and background info in the comments. Thanks, everyone.

Considering these weapons were originally designed to provide long-range protection to Guardians, who don’t have many options in terms of doing damage at long distance compared to evokers who can shoot lightning and alchemists who can transmute air to fire, I’m thinking… “longpro” or some other portmanteau of those terms. Thoughts?

EDIT 2: My Canadian better half said something surprisingly smart, to the effect that I’m over-complicating matters. The term ‘firearm’ might still work, especially if the look of the weapon when being shot has a resemblance to fire and it acts as an extension of the shooter’s arm. I just want to avoid pissing of intelligent people who make arguments like the following:

Prior to the age of gunpowder, there’s no such thing as “firing” a weapon, but there are all sorts of “historical” books and films that will have commanders instructing crossbowmen or longbowmen to “fire” at a target. It’s a habit that’s hard to avoid, but it always sets off a “this-guy-didn’t-do-the-research” neuron in my brain.

EDIT 3: “Executor.” It carries out the protection, or judgement, or execution of the mage holding it.

And since it’ll play a pivotal role in how the story unfolds, and the major complication that sets off the main story, perhaps I’ve finally come to my title – “Executor’s Wound”…

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