Archive for October, 2009

Nostalgia

Posted: October 26, 2009 in General
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I’ve been poking around the Wheel of Time books of late – not reading them as such, more studying how they – and a few other books – are written and put together. I first stumbled upon WoT sometime in the very early 90s – around the time of the third book, The Dragon Reborn I think. Hard to believe it still isn’t finished and apparently isn’t due to be until late 2011, some 21 years after it first started.

Looking through them got me a bit nostalgic – not for the books themselves, but for something. Back around 1994 I first started using the internet. Yeah, that long ago. It was very different back then – web browsers didn’t exist for starters and it was much, much smaller. Most things were text based, using such programs as Gopher, IRC and Telnet. Even back then there were games on the internet, the forerunners of today’s MMOs. They were known as MUDs, MUCKs, MUSHes, MOOs and the like, entirely text based worlds where people got together to do things. Some were pure hack and slash games, others were pure RPGs.

The first one I ran into was Discworld MUD, a game that still runs to this day. It was a hack and slash game based on the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, and as such full of weird humour and the like.

I moved on when I found other, pure roleplaying ones and I wasted a number of years on them.

One was a Wheel of Time based MOO called Angreal. I played it from its start until its sad demise, made a lot of friends from all over the world who I have sadly lost touch with and played a number of great characters.

There was Breac, a wolfbrother early on but he disappeared when a new rule limiting the number of alts we could have came into play. Likewise there was Nessan the gleeman – really the Forsaken Asmodean in disguise. Bedwyr was a Domani Lord and General of the Queen’s Army. He was an odd but fun character – utterly loathed all nobility in general but totally loyal to the queen. He ended up dying in battle, when, already mortally wounded, he leapt from a tall cliff taking a Myrddraal with him to his death.

The two main ones were Tal, First Spear of the Rahien Sorei, Tal of the Jagges Spires Sept of the Taardad Aiel.

The second, and my main alt, was Heric Jennet, a common born Mayener. He went to the White Tower for training, ended up bonding as Warder to Eris Sedai of the Brown Ajah and rose to become one of the pre-eminent Blademasters of the game with students of his own. He wasn’t your normal Warder as he had a terrible anti-authoritarian streak and became something of a big brother to a lot of the Novices and Accepted. On the other hand he was an extreme disciplinarian for the young men in training who might one day become Warders of those young woman training to be Aes Sedai.

I did play other games – notably Pern based ones. My main characters on them were T’lis, a bronzerider on Harper’s Tale MOO and G’kar, a bronzerider on Star Stones MOO.

Looking back, I certainly miss playing them – it certainly helped my writing, sparked my imagination and met a lot of interesting people. I may even have a look around to see what is still out there and trying to get back into it one of these days, if I have the time.

When it comes to the Napoleonic Era, I’m fairly intrigued. So it was with great interest I recently found out that not one by two fairly significant artefacts of the period are up for auction.

The first is the chair Napoleon Bonaparte sat on before his army was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. I’d rather have the chair Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington sat on, given he was the one that defeated Napoleon, but he probably didn’t sit in a chair.

The second is the only know remaining Union Jack that flew at the Battle of Trafalgar. Battle-scarred, it flew over HMS Spartiate during the battle which saw Lord Nelson soundly defeat the larger French-Spanish fleet.

Both are expected to go for around £15,000. If I had the money to spare, I’d like to have them – especially the flag – but alas such things are well beyond me.

Before any Firefly fans – and I count myself as one – get too excited, Firefly isn’t returning.

I am instead referring to Castle, which stars Nathan Fillion, and specifically to the promo for next weeks new episode.

Yes, that is right – Castle (as played by Nathan Fillion) dresses up as Mal Reynolds (as played by Nathan Fillion). Its bizaare, its surreal and its what I love about the show – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is also not the first Firefly reference that has been seen in the show, and there has also been a reference to Dr Horrible’s Sing-along-blog which Nathan Fillion was also in.

Looking forward to watching the episode and seeing how it plays out.

This last week has been wild.

Seven straight days of hitting the 4K+ mark of words. 30,403 words written in total. All new. That is almost as much as I managed for the whole of last month.

I had hopped after the first couple of days I could keep the progress up and have been both pleased and surprised when I was able to. It was a bit tiring at times and I wasn’t certain I’d do it, but I got there in the end. As much as anything it has proved to me that I can do it, I can write consistent output.

The one thing that has failed so far is the names – normally I have no problem with names, but for whatever reason so far it has failed me. Apart from a couple of them, none are going to last – what are being used so far are place holders. Unless I can think up some of my own, I may have to ask for ideas..

What I’m Reading

Posted: October 15, 2009 in What Im Reading, writing update
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Been a few months since I had a look at what books were cluttering on the bedside table, so it is time for another look. Some are new, and some are still there from last time.

Oddly, most aren’t there to simply be read. Some are for inspiration and ideas, and others I’m trying to critically analyse – the first time I’ve ever looked at books in that way – to see how they are written. Specifically I’m looking at how conversations are handled and descriptions done. Sometimes the conversations I write seem to bog down into two people just starting blankly across at each other stating their lines, which needs fixing. They need to be alive, carrying out tasks, with facial expressions and tones of voice. Likewise for descriptions, what takes a couple of lines for me can be a couple of paragraphs for others. I need to learn to pad a bit better.

The SilmarillionJ.R.R.Tolkien. As my favourite book, its pretty much a permanent fixture beside the bed.

Hornblower and the HotspurC.S.Forester. I read this first in my first year of high school and it was my introduction to the world of Hornblower and the wider world of the Napoleonic War era. Currently there for clues to making a couple of scenes at sea for Tears of the Mountain more realistic.

Sharpe’s Honour and Sharpe’s TrafalgarBernard Cornwell. More Napoleonic War era fun, and being read for the same reason as Hornblower, for scenes of the sea and the land.

Just So StoriesRudyard Kipling.. A collection of short stories about things like how the elephant got its trunk and the leopard got its spots. Read it to spark ideas for the writing of more Cahuac myths.

Queen of SorceryDavid Eddings. The fantasy equivalent of a hamburger and coke – sometimes you just crave fast food and this series fulfils that.

The Summer TreeGuy Gavriel Kay. It has been a long, long time since I read this series. At the time of reading I was going through a bit of a bad time and this series was emotionally draining enough without that on top of it. Great read otherwise.

The Eye of the WorldRobert Jordan. Book one of the Whale of Time. Er Wheel of Time. Pulled this one out just the other day to flick through after I started churning out the new stories, to see how he did it padding out the book so much.

Gardens of the MoonStephen Erikson. Ditto for The Eye of the World. More critical research than reading.

Toll the HoundsStephen Erikson. Its been sitting there so long I’ve forgotten where I was up to and what half the series is about. That is the problem with these door-stopper series – you need to reread them all first before starting on the latest one just so you can remember what was going on 5000 pages earlier.

The Complete Chronicles of Conan the BarbarianRobert E. Howard. That one is still there because I simply haven’t gotten around to putting it away

As I mentioned on Monday, I had started working on something new, something with no plot and no clue to where it was leading.

As of today it has continued to explode into life. From 5pm Saturday to 5pm today (Wednesday), I have managed 4k+ a day and in those 96 hours have written 20,000 words – and I’ve got a couple more hours of writing left in me today. I have been trying to have this kind of progress all year, so am mystified why it has happened all of a sudden now – and on a project I have no idea where is going.

I am also stoked, to say the least, by the progress. In an odd way – with no plot to follow, no characters planned, no guidelines – it has been oddly liberating. I can smash up things as I see fit with no thought to consequences, kill off who I want when I want and generally go to town. The other stories I couldn’t really do that with – too much planning about events that transpire later on that prevents such total disregard for everything.

I guess a little about what it is about – it is turning out to be Big Epic Fantasy, much like the Wheel of Time or Malazan Book of the Fallen, at least in scale. The vast power magic has, the larger than life characters – and plenty of them – death, destruction and mayhem. The first 20K words has a city completely destroyed and a fleet smashed by powerful elemental creatures that escape the control of their summoners and two fairly major deaths – with at least two more I know of whom I plan to kill – a few plot points have developed as I surge on, but not many. There are knights and wizards, kings and princesses and monsters.

Currently one thing I am not happy with is the names – most aren’t going to survive and are just placeholders until I get a chance to sit down and figure out something better Which won’t be hard. Most are awful.

Hopefully I can keep this pace up – if I can, then be the end of the month I’ll be pushing 90K done and hopefully be finished with the first run through. I may even have a sit down and read through it then – I’m dreading to discover just how bad it is and how much polishing it will require.

And because it requires a name, it has very, very tentatively been given the code name He Stands Between

The last couple of days have been unusual to say the least.

Saturday morning started fairly normally. I scratched out around 1000 words of the rewrite of Tears of the Mountain, but I was, as normal, not putting a lot of effort into it. Come afternoon I was trawling the ‘net wasting time. Along the way I was reading through various pages on TvTropes and also some World of Warcraft forums, including a debate on most powerful characters in lore.

All of a sudden I get the briefest hint of an idea, normally not enough of one to do anything much with yet, not without more barnstorming at least.

Yet I sat down at 5pm and started writing, and by the time I was done for the night I had cranked out 3000 words.

Sunday, despite half the day being taken out with other things, saw another 4500 words written.

Somehow, in less than two days, I’d written 7500 words. What made it more unusual is that when I started I had no plot to work on, no characters, nothing. Yet somehow I’d managed to write all that, and am likely to hit the 10K mark today easily.

Its turning out to be looking like one of those big epic fantasy’s, completely unlike the world of Sharael. We’ll have to see where it ends up and how long it turns out to be.