Working on a new novel by expanding an old idea I had. That's all I'll say about it.
I'm also trying to focus and get some of my Writing forum responsibilities done. On top of that, I'm going to judge and enter the MWC for May. Try my hand at a short story: non-fiction romantic drama.
You know, I'm not a blogger... I've come to realize this.
Back to work.
[Update] My submission for the MWC is up. Check it out here: http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1302894
I'm a flake.
I'm going to take a moment to apologize to AdamCook and Ekublai for my flakiness. Do I think my entry will make a difference in the success of the NG Anthology? No. But I do feel bad for leaving them hanging, as I know one more entry would have increased its value. I know an additional editor would have been a great asset. An additional financier, a further advantageous asset. But what I feel the worst about is snubbing them, and disrespecting their project. So worse than a flake...
I'm a snubber.
With the possibly imminent release of the literature portal, I realize that Newgrounds could play a great role in encouraging my building of a literary dossier. This serves as my incentive to re-integrate myself into the Writing forum. I'm going to take my time this round, however, and get back to what made me useful there, and that is my oft scathing, oft exacting, critical literary review. Maybe not necessarily that. I think this time around I'll focus on cooperation, encouragement, and development. I've invested my time since 2003 to this website, and I want to ensure my exit is with as much grace as possible. I refuse to leave on such uncomfortable terms, and I'm anxious to see how the once budding group I used to share the Writing forum with, flowers into a vivacious and adroit community. Because in addition to whatever else I am...
I'm a Newgrounder.
Weekly Writing Prompt & Exercises
Theme -- Dialogue
Prompt -- Write a conversation between two characters from distinct backgrounds, be it social class (rich/poor), life station (young/old), or vocation (blacksmith/fisherman), and reflect this in their speech.
o Iambic Pentameter: write only dialogue, and in Iambic Pentameter.
o Prejudice: have their different backgrounds create misconceptions which affect how they treat each other.
o Body Language: in the narrative, use body language to add nuance to the dialogue.
The man's breath reeked of the sea as it wafted towards Gastaun. The pungent odor, far from mild and so far from pleasant, would have elicited retching did he not find himself in genteel company. How the boor found it was unimportant; it was not going to be long given. "What is your reason for being here?"
The man palmed at his greasy hair. "You see it was Him that set me on this guppy's errand. Set me on a heading and I ended up here. I'm not sure how long I'll be shored, but the wind won't be hitting my back until He comes to get me."
Gastaun shared a glance with the other men surrounding. "Can you repeat that in such a way we would actually understand?"
The oaf roughly palmed his wool cap. "Scales, man! He sent me. I'm here because of Him and if you have a problem with it then guts to you. With him, its plank or deck; ain't no in-between."
"Your maritime messiahs mean nothing to me or any other House. If you plan to stay in this city, you'll remain with the bilge."
The man's fingers suddenly ceased their knuckling and dropped the wool cap. His face flushed and for a moment Gastaun regretted his words. But just as suddenly as the man's hands balled, they relaxed and his blush faded. He bent over and picked up the cap. "'Blessed in death are the men who care, blessed in life are the men who don't.'" Without further word he retreated.
When the man was out of earshot, Gastaun placed an arm around one of his companions and guided him back to their booth. "As I was saying, they do occasionally wander in here. I fear dissuading them too strongly would all but eliminate sport. It's as His Highness explained to me during our dinner two evenings ago: 'know your place and know theirs; but always ensure they know too.' Vedrick-His Highness-is a man of infinite understanding. Advanced in age as he is, however, perhaps talk of the future does border on disrespect. I for one prefer placing the well-being of the people before propriety." He smiled, more than the men deserved, as they took their seats. His bait set, he simply reclined as the others emphatically discussed his merits as ruler.
The four coats, their oiled heads pressed together, returned to their booth. Pontis ignored them, however. They cast their bait, but he broke the line. He was here for a reason, and getting exiled from the city for chumming up a nobleman would only keep him from completing his task. Besides, he wasn't going to be that easy a catch. He was warned the nobles would act this way; like sharks in shallow water. "To buckets with the lot of you and cast over board. Forget drinking, I'm sick to the stomach just by standing near," he grumbled and, without further incidence, left the inn. Perhaps he had been addled to think such a fancy place-The Warbler's Beard- would keep him. Looking towards the city walls, Pontis ducked his head and kicked up dirt in his wake. The inner-city was no where for an angler. Land was no where for an angler.
Something that should be noted is, even in narrative a character's "voice" must be maintained. This doesn't become quite as important as you remove the character's connection to the narrator (say, perhaps, 3rd person omniscient), but is necessary when they're one and the same. Also, be sure to use their voice as a tool for characterization.
The nobleman, even in his speech, is characterized as callous and domineering; you can see that in the way he handles Pontis, as well as his companions. Pontis, on the other hand, is not easily cowed, and is very level headed. He's not smart, but then again those aren't qualities that require intelligence. Dialogue is one of your most powrful tools when establishing voice. Don't overlook it.
Weekly Writing Prompt & Exercises
Theme -- Character
Prompt -- Write a situation where your character has to make a choice: do what's right in their opinion and face the dire consequences, or capitulate, go against the values they hold, for the sake of self-preservation.
o Flip the dilemma: make your character a villain.
o Stack the odds: make the character's need to capitulate overwhelming.
o Underwhelming gimmick: make the dilemma over something seemingly inconsequential.
Tak could feel the thinness in his connection. It'll be okay, he thought to himself, but the voice inside his head lacked conviction. He couldn't lie to himself, not about this. He shouldn't have been so reckless when choosing an anchor. Not when so much was at risk.
He swung his staff around him in warning causing the encroaching four-legged beasts to skitter back. He swung again, with a snarl, driving them further away, but they weren't discouraged; only cautious.
For a moment he considered fleeing. Panicked as he was, white-knuckled grip on his staff, feeble connection with the Oongung, fleeing seemed the only reasonable course of action. If he fled the beasts would be distracted by his catch long enough to let him find safety.
Shifting his stance, his foot made contact with the bundle he was protecting. It toppled over, flopping heavily onto the ground. He could let them have it and flee, they wouldn't give chase over an easy meal.
But she needed it. And he needed her.
He could feel the Oongi at the other end of his connection. In his mind he could feel the discomfort of the being. It came across as a sudden, intense flash of heat. Unable to contain the power, it spurted forth from his eyes, melting into the pelt of the beast he had been watching. The creature cried out, its howl turning to gurgling as the blood in its throat trapped its wail. It fell to the ground, burgundy stains across its white fur deepening as it died.
The connection suddenly seemed weaker. He cursed to himself, damning these selfish creatures, and damning his own foolish haste. Had he not jumped to make the connection as soon as he realized he was surrounded, perhaps he could have fought his way out with his staff alone. Now, filled with power as he was, he was rooted in place; afraid despite the energy that boiled inside him. He couldn't kill the Oongi, he couldn't bring himself to do it, but the beasts were closing in.
Their emissive eyes, like small balls of blue smoke, all seemed focused on him. As they began to close in, they looped around the verdant trunks of the trees, their snarls scorning him, their lips lusting for his catch, their teeth tipped sharply to rip at his skin.
The Oongi seemed to sense his embroilment; the connection trembled with fear. Even as his mind raced to make a decision, the creatures continued their careful approach. They were close enough now he could almost smell the death on their breath, feel their teeth ripping at his skin.
Turning in place he counted them. Seven kreshels remained. One would have given him a fair fight, seven impossible. Powerful as he was now, however-- as he turned his attention inward, the Oongi lashed out. In a flash of power it destroyed itself, taking its own life before Tak could master the power of its life force.
Sunlight sprinkled through the leaves of the tall trees and dripped onto his face. Pain filled Tak as he awoke, and wracked him as he got to his feet. His hands were blistered from where his staff must have splintered and buckled under the force of his power. Emanating from his feet, blackened and scorched grass raced away from him as if reeling back in horror. The bodies of the kreshels were scattered, their fur singed and their skin stinking as it burned in patches. Tiny puffs of blue smoke danced into the air as the poisons it secreted boiled away.
But they were soon forgotten as his attention caught on something else; a small, smoldering pile not a foot away. He fell to his knees and frantically shifted through the ashes trying to gather what meat he could, but even as he scattered the ashes, he only revealed more, until eventually the ashes gave way to grass and dirt. Furious, he ripped at the surviving blades even as tears ripped away from his eyes.
He was alive, he thought, irony shouted within the silence of his mind. But with the last of the edible creatures scattered to the winds, it would be impossible to find real meat before it was too late. He was alive, but she would soon be dead.
How is someone expected to write a story when all that infects the mind are the virtues of Bohemia?
How can I bring Newgrounds to its knees-- neigh, its feet?! How can I excite my audience with such idealized notions?
Can one encapsulate any of these ideas in a single story? To such effect that anyone who reads it will be profoundly affected by such bohemian notions?
These are questions I can only attribute to self-doubt. I've reached a point in my story where I'm beginning to doubt the plot, direction, narrative, characters; perseverance is the answer. Not Bohemia. At least not in this case. Ideals can be tempting because we can so easily project all the things we consider good. The reality of the matter is that force, presence, consistency, continuity, excitement, flare; these are the notions that drive a powerful story. As bohemian as my heart may be, my fingers must remain utilitarian. If only to ensure that one day I truly express my inner bohemian. And in the meantime deliver all ideas to paper.
For now, the only choice is to put creativity to purpose and complete this yarn. I think NG will like it, in the end. Regardless if its absent freedom, beauty, truth, or love.
They say don't eat sweets before bed or you'll have nightmares. The same can be said about writing, apparently. Don't write before bed or you'll have the most amazing compilation of dreams.
Last night I fell asleep working on my NG Writing Anthology (NWA) submission. It's coming along slowly, but my mind has been working relentlessly planning the rest of the story. So I fall asleep and have the most amazing orgasm of creative dreams.
We start with Californication. I'm Hank, and I'm arguing with his baby's mama, and we're at a pool (ironically enough it's empty). So she gets turned into a dragon someone, but also a statue. Now, we also had 2 kids, one a young boy eerily similar to Aang, but indoctrinated by the Seanchan. My daughter, however, is a perpetually believer and fights for their mothers revival (she believes she's still alive under the stone.
Just as suddenly I'm a treasure hunter free-running through this spaceship. I bump into an elementary school field trip as they're walking on this catwalk, headed towards an elevator. So one kid happens to get left behind and wants to show me a neat trick. Using an ability from one of my stories, he makes the elevator free fall. But, and I won't go into details here so as to protect my IP, the whole ship goes crashing down. We have to escape now. This whole escape scene ensues, where I'm trying to save my mother, but alas, I can't.
Then I'm an alchemist, and I'm investigating this apartment building. Turns out its full of vampires. So just as we get in there, we find two vampires asleep. I use Alchemy to trap them in place, but then as I step back into the hall, two more are hurdling my way. I use a barrage of alchemy to try to stop them and eventually trap them with hundreds of spikes, piercing their bodies, suspending them in the air. Let me just say this: using alchemy was as cool as it looks!
The vampires defeated, I am now Rand a'Thor. And I'm pissed. There's nothing like a pissed of Dragon Reborn. I get home and find Berelain there. She tries to seduce me when I realized she's enthralled by some creature whom I believe is part of the Seanchan invasion. We then switch back to my loving children who are in the middle of a Seanchan attack, the hotel where my wife (when I was Hank) is under attack and my daughter is by her Mother's side. Suddenly, the stone cracks and her giant paw twitches.
We're back to me as al'Thor completely obliterating this creature with Saidin. Now, I need to save Elayne, who is somehow being held captive. I apparrate, grab her, and we jump out a window. I'm using the One Power to guide our fall and eventually we land and appear back at my loft (which looks like a giant, magnificent cabin).
By this point, things are starting to get really fuzzy. There's a lot of stuff I can't remember clearly, or is starting to get jumbled together, but I do know at the very end it turns out I'm watching a TV show with my two kids on the floor. The story goes to commercial break just as my Daughter gets proof her mother is still alive. I drop to the floor and I taunt Aang who eventually admits his mother is alive, much to my daughters satisfaction. Then, cryptically, I tell him, "If you believed in what Arthur Hawkwing said, then believe just as much in what I say." Then I wake up.
As you can see, there are so many unrelated, but generally awesome, influences in this dream. It was a night full of fun and exciting events. This has redoubled my resolve to move forward with my NWA submission. I've got the story arc plotted out, I just need to write in the details. I'm aiming for a 25k - 35k action thriller with a bit of Sci-FI. It's going to be sexy, edgy, and best of all, exciting. Stay tuned.
It has been a personal point of contention that, in the seven years I've spent on Newgrounds, I lacked any equitable results. This month began with the seven year anniversary of my officially joining the Newgrounds community. While it's been a veritable adventure, there has always been something missing. At first it was my lack of posts; I'm at a comfortable 6k+ so that's no longer an issue. Then it was a matter of batting average. I worked at programming and design but in the end I never got beyond a terrible mouse-avoider game, and a mediocre contribution to a collab. Eventually I lost interest in programming and moved on to writing. After that, my focus was to get work submitted and get involved in the writing community.
And now, finally, after seven years on this site, I feel like I've accomplished a goal I've been striving for this whole time: equitable results. It turns out that for the month of June, the time I spent planning, writing, and nursing a knee injury resulted in the best submission for that month's writing contest. More than the $30 store credit, I'm thankful for the recognition and appreciation. Moving forward, I can continue to enjoy the site without reserve.
But I am excited for the $30!
I'm currently working within a world known as the Southern Sands. It's a semi-futuristic, arabian nights inspired setting. The story takes place mostly in and around the southern city of Abralah, a typical Arabian city with a few twists. The main theme of the stories is: Not everything is as it seems.
Currently, one of the stories has been completed and submitted to June's MWC (with a theme of cinematic combat). I have two more planned, one of which is partially complete.
The story which is partially completed is the Robot day story which will further explore the mysterious origins of the mechanical wonders found in this seemingly archaic world.
The third story, which still requires further planning, is intended for the Anthology. It ties in a few plot lines from the previous two stories, and further expands on the inhabitants and inter-workings of the great city of Abralah.
My master plan is to create many more stories and form a meta plot. Then get a willing artist to illustrate the full collection for me. Would be a cool collection when all is said. Anyway, if you're interested, the first story is located in June's MWC Thread. The robot day story is to come. And the anthology story will need to be purchased. I'll also update my blog as I can with progress reports.
My time as a programmer was far expired by the time I realized it was no longer a hobby I enjoyed. Forced with the pressures of becoming a career programmer, I pushed myself in a direction I deemed the most practical. After a long struggle, I've come to the conclusion that in my heart, while I may have a modicum of programming ability, it is neither my calling nor pastime.
Thus, with this conclusion, I've resolved my self to a passion long suppressed; a passion riddled with insecurities. It is an activity far from practical in the career sense, but an ability I possess which I enjoy more thoroughly than I've ever enjoyed programming. I've consigned my self, openly and with conviction, to pursue a career as a novelist.
I've reconfigured my major to English, and I plan on teaching creative writing at the university level. All the while, I'll be working on my career as a novelist, writing what I can between grading papers. With that in mind, I've committed myself heavily into the Writing scene here at Newgrounds.
Curently, I'm enrolled in three competitions of varying reward; MWC 10, Robot Day 2010 Writing Competition, and the Newgrounds Writers Anthology. I hope to make a good impression across the board and hopefully become a pivotal figure in NG's Writing scene.
DOJO is a flash based engine/api that I'm currently developing to allow developers to use minimal effort yet create a solid fighting game. DOJO means Duel or Journey Oriented. This means the API will be able to create arcade fighting games, or journey-based adventure fighting game, with a light RPG aspects. This can easily lend itself to Mortal Kombat style game-play, or Soul Caliber styled questing.
Dojo is currently in its infancy. Most of the features have been designed and currently being transferred to ActionScript. Once I'm confident in its capabilities, I'll post the sample game that will be included with the Engine. I'll take that feedback and make adjustments accordingly.
Something I want to dispel right away however, is that this by no means precludes any knowledge in Actionscript. DOJO simply provides a lot of the functions and features expected from a video game. I hope that DOJO in fact helps to stimulate the fighting game genre by removing basic development, allowing the programmer more room or time to create additional features, and customize the engine to work for them.
The engine is expected to hit the Internet sometime during May, in anticipation of Summer vacation. Hopefully that'll broaden the audience available to use the engine, and turn out some good results by 2011.