Wednesday, March 5, 2014

100 Theme Challenge - 1: Introduction

Welcome to my new writing venture, the 100 Theme Challenge.  This was originally a drawing prompt that appeared on deviantART but it's taken on a bit of a life of its own, especially since it can be applied to pretty much any creative work.  In my case, obviously it's writing.

Part of the reason I'm doing this is to continue building daily writing as a habit, but unlike the course I was doing that's not the only reason.  I also need more experience in dealing with characters rather than plots, since I really need to make my characters stand out more as people.  So I'm combining the 100 Themes with Tracy Culleton's List of Character Traits and giving each character in the scene three random traits that I need to show through their interactions.

Don't expect any of this to be great literature or anything, it's mostly going to be 1000 word or so drabbles.  I think of it as something like a sketchbook, where I doodle around with ideas and see what comes up.  Maybe eventually I'll pop out some decent ideas that are worth putting in longer stories, who knows?  Even if I don't, it's worth the effort.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Walls and Character

I've gotten to the point in building a habit where I'm resisting the daily prompt to keep going, and beginning to look for excuses.  It's the weekend, I'm tired, I have no inspiration, etc.  This is the inevitable monster I must slay, to use a horribly overused metaphor that I frankly hate but is appropriate in this case.

But onwards, the best way to be inspired to write is to actually write stuff.  I originally wrote "crap" there because I expect that's how it'll turn out, but I don't exactly go into it intending it to be crap.  "Adequate" would be quite nice at this stage, although the course prompt today tells me not to just settle.  We'll see how that goes.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Shall We Play A Game?

It's one of those really blah days out there, the kind where it's raining all the time and generally bleak and you really can't get up the energy to do much of anything.  Not that I haven't done a few things. My daily exercises, my daily drawing practice (one page of Bridgeman every day - why did that bastard put the stuff about hands at the FRONT?), unloaded the dishwasher/cleaned out the sink, started supper (BBQ ribs, thanks for asking) and did my daily meditation.  But I can't seem to focus enough to really get writing.

Besides which, I haven't been able to think of a topic for today, so let's go with what video games I'm playing right now.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Worldbuilding Thursdays: Land Beast III

It's Thursday again, so that means it's worldbuilding time.  I seem to have this weird blind spot about remembering to do this on Wednesdays for some reason, so why not move it.  What I lose in cute, alliterative names I gain in actually getting the damn thing written on a consistent basis, and given that my big focus is "write every day" right now, that'll do nicely.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Today's writing course lesson is to do something I've been doing since the start, using a timer.  Given how early on it suggested having a minimum unit of time, it seems a bit redundant to talk about it again more than two weeks later.  Which leaves me at a bit of a loose end, given I don't have anything today that really grabs my attention.

Let's see what I can come up with using a random writing prompt online.  "Language Is a Virus", I like it already.  Lessee...."Describe ways in which your character does or doesn't show readiness."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Exercise and Me

Today I'm going to talk about one of the dominant features of my life lately, pain.

No, that's wrong.  I'm going to talk about exercise.  Pain is just the primary by-product so far.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Study In Studies

It's a bit funny, whenever we see studies mentioned in the media, even small media like blogs, almost 100% of the time those studies are going to be misinterpreted or misrepresented.  The problem, usually, is that the writer really doesn't know the field very well and either reads it not very carefully or assumes there is some implication to the study that the author didn't actually write, then runs with that as the point.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ignore This Space

Today's entry is probably going to be a bit rambling, more like a diary entry or something than anything worth reading.  So skip it if you like, this is mainly my effort to maintain the habit I'm trying to build.  I'm not quite two weeks in, and I don't want to break the chain this early.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Waiting In the Hall Of the Coliseum

As I write this, I'm sitting in the Theatre of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, affectionately known as the NAC.  For all my life I'd heard about the NAC, and maybe it was just the kid I was when I first saw specials on the CBC that were filmed here, or concerts that were recorded here, or whatever, but this place always seemed to have a significant place in the cultural life of Canada.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Habit RPG

Today's writing habit course prompt is to ask if I've "broken the chain" by which it means have I missed a day of writing so far.  The answer is no, so let's move on.

This time, instead of writing more about writing, I'd like to focus on my other productivity/habit forming tool.  I'd already mentioned Lift, so it's time to talk a bit about Habit RPG.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Worldbuilding, uh, Thursdays: Land Beast II

I'm off to a good start with this regular writing thing.  So good, in fact, that I totally forgot that it was Wednesday yesterday.  So I'm going to have to make up for that today.  Not a great sign when you muck up your only regular feature in the second installment, but whatevs.

So let's recap what we have so far:

  • World with a large supercontinent, possibly other land aside from that but irrelevant to our purposes.
  • Hostile conditions on the ground, poisonous elements that do not support animal life, but plants have adapted to some degree. Still poisonous though.
  • Roughly a dozen gigantic creatures roam this continent, continually moving over the landscape.
  • Each creature is roughly the size of France.
  • What animal life exists is on the bodies of these gigantic creatures.
  • This included human(oid) life.  At least close enough to human that we can write human stories about them.
  • Animals and plants on creature are symbiotic with it.  Creature filters out harmful elements, returns them to soil in waste. Supported life makes use of creature's byproducts, plus fertilize/aerate/etc. in return.  This includes humans.

That seems to be the bulk of it so far.  A couple of things come to mind.  What is the structure of the Beasts, are they quadrupeds?   Where did they come from?  Were they created or did they develop that way?  How did the surface come to be poisoned?  

All valid questions, so let's cover them one by one.

I see the beasts as being sort of like semi-warm blooded lizards, thinking of the texture of the skin on things like iguanas or chameleons.  The light of the sun, which vegetation growing on them helps capture, is beneficial to them, and they have a sturdy, broad-backed (if a bit hilly on the "micro" or human level).  They have a geography, so their backs are not uniform.  The spinal ridges are like a mountain chain, think of Ayers' Rock in Australia but with more of an angled slope, and leading in a line down the length of the creature.  Climbable, and with more or less regular passes over which animals and people might cross from one side to another.  

Given the size of the creatures, they would have multiple legs.  So the quadruped notion really doesn't work.  So it wouldn't simply be a scaled-up lizard, but something a bit different than we're used to, with 10 or 20 legs total.  I'm personally inclined to go with 10 for simplicity's sake, and have a sort of Slepnir-on-steroids or chunky centipede sort of thing, but without the gross ooky aspect centipedes have.  So getting back to the concept, each leg would have a shoulderblade of sorts, which would create a significant hill that slowly moves as the beast takes a step.  

I see the beast as being relatively slow and deliberate in its walking, at least from a human perspective.  It still covers a lot of ground since while one step might take a while, it also goes a long way in human terms.  Think if France moved down to where Egypt is in the course of a year.  That's what I envision for speed.

And with that in mind, I will arbitrarily decide that the Land Beast not only doesn't stop, but can't stop.  To stop is to die for these creatures.  Perhaps the plant life is aggressive and will move up and threaten the ecosystem it carries.  Perhaps the poisons in the land are absorbed too much if it stops.  Possibly it isn't an external concern, but part of the physiology of the beast that requires constant motion to maintain homeostasis and to produce the byproducts the life on its surface relies on.

Thinking about it, I'd be inclined to go with a combination of the first and third of those ideas, with an emphasis on the third.  I like the idea of mobile, aggressive, innately poisonous plant life, occasionally managing to get up a leg and threatening the nearby creatures.  Almost animal-like plants in that sense.  It opens the door to conflict, and would probably have an effect on how human culture works in this context.

Anyhow, back to the beast and the question I'd been dreading. Where did it come from?  

This is a really hard question for me, and my brain wants to take the easy way out and not make a decision here.  But as I said last week, you really shouldn't gloss over stuff like that or you end up with "spaceships, lasers, FTL, blah blah" type stories that have window dressing but no real structure.  So I've gotta suck it up and make a choice.

First, let's see what the main choices are, as I see them.

  1. The Beast evolved to become like that.
  2. The Beast was bioengineered.
  3. The Beast was created by Gods.

All of which are valid choices, and all of them carry their own implications and further questions.

If I choose the first, then I can proceed without worrying about purpose or external influences, but I'm stuck with the responsibility of figuring out how this evolution happened, especially given the poison ground. I have to ask was it always poison/hostile?  Was this a reaction to that change in environment? If so, how did the change happen and why did it cover the whole continent?

The second choice avoids those questions, but introduces a new factor.  Who did the bioengineering?  Why?  Where did they go afterwards?  Are they still monitoring things, or did they do this and leave/die?  Are they what became the current humans?  In some ways, I'm reminded of Larry Niven's novel The Integral Trees which involves adapted descendents of a lost space colony.  Not sure I'd want to go that way.

The last is equally thorny.  Again, it saves scientific explanations, but opens up a slightly different line of questioning from the idea that aliens did it.  What God(s)?  One God or a pantheon?  Are they present and intercede in the world?  Did they turn the land poison as well?  Are they omnipotent, or are they limited (i.e., can they just fix the land if they choose)?  If Gods are real, is magic derived from them real as well?

It's a tough choice, and there may be other directions to go as well.  But I'll limit myself to these three for the purposes of this exercise.  In any case, we're worldbuilding for a purpose here, so the decision shouldn't be based on which one's easiest, or makes most sense in the real world.  It should be based on the story ideas that derive from the decision.

And with that in mind, I pick Door Number Three: God(s) Did It

Part of that is my own inclination.  I really like folklore and myth, and reading those potential choices makes the potential of a mythic origin of the poison land, the beast itself, and so forth pop up immediately.  And, by extensions, stories about the people and Gods involved in those myths.  

So the die is cast, and the creature defined.  Next week, I'll leave the overall world of the beast and start looking at the smaller world it carries on its back, and maybe touch on those mythic origins as well.  It promises to be a fun time had by all.

2 time segments

1229 words

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Geek Out!

Today's little lesson is to consider taking my writing goal public.  For anyone reading along so far, it's pretty obvious that I've been doing that all alone, so that's not really much to get excited over.  So let's talk about something else.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Where Do We Go Now?

So today, the little blurb on my Develop a Writing Habit course is to be flexible in my expectations.  That is, whatever my dreams may be, whatever I want to create in the long run, to not toss in all-or-nothing on that and be devastated if it doesn't work out or devalue the other things that need to get done on the way there.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fanfiction Sucks and That's a Good Thing

Today's writing habit course topic is "Just show up".  It's all about the deceptive simplicity of simply doing writing on a daily basis.  It sounds really easy, but that's the deceptive bit.  Simple doesn't mean easy.  It means not complicated.  Like the old joke about Michelangelo, where he starts with a big block of marble and chips away anything that doesn't look like David.  Simple, but difficult.

I'm not here today to write about that.  I'm here to do it, but I'd like to chat about something else for a bit.

How about...fanfic?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Character Design

And now we get to the crisis point.  Today, I celebrate one solid week of daily writing, which is a great feeling.  I've accomplished something, yay!

On the other hand it's going on lunchtime on a lazy Saturday and I really want to chuck this work stuff and go play Skyrim and drink tea.  What to do, what to do...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

So Time, Much Words

Moving forward with the writing habit course, today's focus is on productivity.  Or more appropriately, measuring productivity.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Need a Lift?

And so I arrive at day five of my attempt to build a writing habit, and already I've arrived at an important point.  A day when I really have no idea what to write about.  I have no outside direction for today, the course I'm following simply tells me that what I should be focusing on right now is momentum.  Not quality, not craft.  Just building that forward motion, getting used to producing every day.

So this may be a bit of a ramble.  I'm thinking of maybe doing some fiction over the weekend, a bit of a longer version of my earlier short story.  But for today, I thought I might talk a bit about the source of my writing habit course.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Oral Fixation

Honestly, I really don't feel like writing today, but the whole point to building a habit is doing it even when you're trying to find excuses not to.  Besides, it's good for me.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Land Beast I

One thing I really admire in fiction is good worldbuilding.  So before I go further, let's define that for those who might not know the term.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Deliverance Klondike ninja

I realized earlier today that although I've started working on developing a writing habit, I hadn't actually tried working on any fiction in that time (granted only two days, but still).  So here's my first attempt.

This is the first work of fiction I've made public in more than a decade, so it's rather a landmark for me.  It's also a completely unplanned first draft, created from a three-item prompt (the words in the title) from the Brainstormer app.  So while comments are definitely welcome, keep in mind that I warned you.

3,625 words, approx. 2 1/2 hours

Time Management

This will be part 2 of my Developing A Writing Habit course, so bear that in mind if you decide to go past the cut. In any case, here goes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Why

I decided to start doing a course on the Lift app to start developing a writing habit, and the first day’s project was to talk about why I want to develop this habit. And to be honest it’s a pretty good question, so here goes.