Archive for the ‘Novel’ Tag

I Should Be A Game Designer… So I’ll Be A Writer.   Leave a comment

In an earlier blog post, I talked about how I might try being the Albert Einstein of blogging. I posted a piece of advice Teller gave Brian Brushwood that changed his life. I talked about one part of the advice, and I’d like to cover another part of it.

To quote the book:

“I should be a film editor. I’m a magician. And if I’m good, it’s because I should be a film editor. Bach should have written opera or plays. But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint. That’s why his counterpoints have so much more point that others. They have passion and plot. Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint. That’s why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music.”

I love games. Video games, board games, role-playing games, card games, games, games, games. My favorite kinds are turn based strategy games and role-playing type games. I love the interplay of the rules, and the rich and deep stories. I will dig into the lore of a great fantasy world like Dark Souls, or a Sci-Fi  universe like Mass Effect. I love creating a character with desires, drives, quirks and questions, that pull a game along.

I also, much to other people’s chagrin, love to poke holes, abuse rules, and optimize my characters and games as much as I can. I will find the interplay of skills, ask the annoying questions, and overall try to take your plans and throw them out the window.

I’m not a munchkin by any means, but I will play around with the rules a lot. My favorite character I mad was in a wild west setting. I made a bounty hunter who fought with a lasso and took people in alive. The other smallish detail… he was bullet proof. It was legal by the rules, and made for one hell of a game.

But I am getting off topic. Why do I bring all this up?

Because as I was trying to figure out the plot and world for the book I’m writing, I noticed I had an easier time when I created characters via a character sheet, the magic as a magic system, and scenes as campaign events. If I start to picture my novel as a game and write it that way, the plot flows easier. It also stays much more consistent. I no longer have to wonder what my character can do with his magic. I already know what his powers do, what he would need to do to learn more, and how the laws of the world works. That way if I get to a moment and think,”How will he get out of this one?” I can do it without any trouble.

I get to design my own universe, with its own rules and own logic. At another level, since I want to write something more urban fantasy style, I get to change and redesign this one. I don’t have a god complex, but it is fun.

I get to create my own game system via my writing. I get to live out one of my dreams of designing games. Maybe not in the way i wanted. But I’ll take it. 🙂


Trying Not To Be Jim Butcher   Leave a comment

We tend to copy the things we like. Imitation is a sincere form of flattery, and many great writers have made a career out of paying homage to the things they love.

But you have to be extremely careful not to cross the line into plagiarism.

Now, I’ve been trying to work on my novel. I was making a decent amount of progress, but I have had to take everything back to the beginning. Here is why:

While I was working on it, I started with my main character. The basic idea I started with was that he was a writer who uses magic based on the written and spoken word. Slowly I started to add personality: smart, not too subtle, stubborn, clever, snarky, very intuitive, wants to help people, etc…

If you know the Dresden files, you might notice I could very well be describing Harry Dresden. The only difference being my guy is a writer, and not a private investigator.

So I took a step back, and decided I would just work on the magic system.

If that was unique, then he wouldn’t be like Dresden, right? The original idea was magic that is drawn from creativity and imagination. Power would come from how clever and creative you are, and less to do with raw power and will. I started thinking how one would use it, power level of it, how to weaponize/utilize it in combat, etc.

Do you want to guess how this went too?

In short, I took the above and slowly started to add rules after rules to pin down the system. When I got done, my character would be limited to imagining fire, force, wind, ice and the like for combat, leaving more complex effects for sitting down rituals. So basically, I made Dresden’s magic.

That kept happening with most things. Supporting characters, back story, governmental entities, and other stuff like that. I took a break from it for a bit, and when I finally turned around and looked at it, it was just a poor writer’s Dresden files.

Now, I don’t really lose much sleep over that. I see it as a testament to Jim Butcher’s writing and the world he created. His characters are deep, his system is consistent and logical, and his writing is exciting. I am holding of on writing my novel for a bit specifically because I finished (and I am also rereading) his current release. (By the way, it is extremely good, and if you couldn’t tell, I think people should read the whole series.)

I probably wasn’t even copying his work as bad I thought. But the reason I wanted to write about it, is because I think this is a pitfall that newer writer’s like me fall into all the time.

There is no shame in loving an author’s work, and having them inspire you on some level. But if you imitate too closely, you are a best writing fan fiction, and at worse you are stealing.

Therefore it’s back to the drawing board for me. But I think my story will be better for it.


P.S: With all I like about Jim Butcher, I just thought I’d share his LiveJournal link here. He gives a lot of good advice for aspiring writer’s, and it would be very good to check out. 🙂

I Might Be Writing A Novel   1 comment

(My posts have been a little lackluster lately, but I have been writing, just not things that would be good for blog posts. I still want to keep my posting goal, but I don’t want to beat myself up too bad about it. The whole point is to keep writing, and as long as I”m doing that, I think its a positive. I’ll get back into the groove of blogging and poetry soon, so bear with me until then.)

I’ve always felt I wasn’t good at writing fiction.

I don’t feel like I’m very good at coming up with ideas. Many of my friends who are writers can pull ideas seemingly out of no where, with little to no effort at all. It takes me hours of working and retooling to get to where I’ve got a workable idea.

However, I did get a positive response to my 50 word story for the weekly challenge. So I think I will give writing it a shot. I only have a basic shell of a character right now, but I have a lot of world and universe info for it.

The basic idea would be this: A word-mage would use the magic contained in creativity to fight the forces of evil or… something. As I said, it isn’t a very detailed idea. I’m thinking it’ll be modern-day fantasy, maybe urban, but I am trying not to copy certain books in that genre.

I will probably be posting updates and parts on this blog as I work on it, but mostly I will be doing it in the background.

Thanks for reading,