Archive | February 2012

Writing from the Gamerverse: Plot

Plot. For me, this is the hardest part of writing. Yup, I can come up with plot points, but mostly what I do is design interesting characters and artfully drape them around the room, letting them spout elgiac stanzas. Or crack jokes. Whichever.

Yet, when I run a role playing game, I am expected to plot. I come up with a great many points to throw toward my players. I am particularly good at the SUBPLOT, which isn't the main action, but usually involves interaction with characters played particularly by the GM, and I throw them into quests and battles from time to time. However, with a random element known as dice, sometimes the outcomes of those encounters are beyond my control (ie, it's not the way I would write it.)

Yet, I do get bonus plotting points from my players. I will throw two of them a problem to solve, and their interaction is like really good improv theater. And sometimes, they will solve a plot point with a much more clever thing than I would have thought of, or that random element of the dice will make something truly interesting happen (as Bryon put it in a game we were playing a couple of weekends back, something went "horribly right.") So, I am also in debt to the players for making my gming look stronger than it is.

Here, I have to reiterate that it's not appropriate to write fiction based in gaming as a transcript. If something clever happen and you can use it, you should. But you should also feel free to rewrite. After all, you are using your game for inspiration, not letting the game dictate your content.

In closing, then, I guess what I appreciate the most about writing from the gamerverse is that I have a lot of improve partners who help me look at a story from a variety of angles, which help me get a different perspective on story, and help me make a story stronger than I could, revising on my own.

Catherine

Writer with a Day Job

Being a writer with a day job, I am currently at an English department retreat, learning how to do oral interviews for incoming English Language Learners. This post is coming to you through Internet magic!

I thought that I would do a quick review of a writing book that I just finished, Writer with a Day Job: Inspiration and Exercises to Help You Craft a Writing Life Alongside Your Career by Aine Greaney. You can see why I might pick this book up.

How was it?

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In for a Penny

Back after a minute, my eye. I had a couple of teachers in, and a student. Yup. My glamorous professorial life.

***

Do you have a minute?

I wanted to write this post separately from the post that contained my Nebula congratulations. I am sincerely happy for the nominees, and as I indicated at the end of today's other post, I really think it's great that all those writers got nominated for the Neb.

But I want to talk to you for a minute. Yes, you.

You might be...

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What Goes On–Nebula Congrats

It's been just about a week since I've been online, and what happens while I'm gone?

Nebulas. That's what. Again, there are people I know, whose work I've read and respected. There are former VP'ers, and there are even some friends. You guys, as the saying goes, rock. I wish you all luck, although quite frankly, there are a lot of good writers all in the same category. You can't all win, except on Writer Tamago, where each and every one of the candidates has already won the Nebula. I'm just sayin'.

***

What else? Well, ladies and gents, I'm going to have to continue to make some hard choices. I guess when you're managing classes for 336 students and supervising some 35 people, your life is pretty busy. All the teacher work is now going home. I've also decided to really ramp up my exercise and my nutrition planning, because that's not where it should be. And I'm teaching a writing class, which basically means I've resumed the English teacher vow of taking a stack of papers every where you go.

You may have noticed that I've been on line less. That's why. It's not lack of interest, but as it is, I am really having to carve out writing time, and that's gotta take priority, else I'm just hanging 'round and posing.

I know. Your lives will go on. I miss you and the journal just the same.

***

I've gone back to being my own personal chef and trainer, and I'm paying a great deal of attention to my water intake and my fruit and vegetable intake. I schedule a whole week of menus and exercise at a time. And that also takes time.

***

But, in a fit of contrariness to the get in shape thing, I just bought Bakerella's cake pop book. Because a cake pop is tiny and creative. I look forward to making them for you.

***

I have to finish my series on writing from the gamerverse, as well as uploading blasts from the pasts from my old journal. And coming up RIGHT NOW, right after this post, is a post for novelists, and some of you who might be feeling Nebula envy.

I'm not, by the way. The universe has enough delights for all of us. And we do not get to choose. We can only receive what comes our way with gratitude, and show our friends the generosity of genuine happiness when their delights come to them.

Woah. Zen powers, activate! Back in a minute.

Catherine

Unextreme Make-Over: Audrey Hepburn’s Hair

All this effort of growing out my hair for the last year is beginning to pay off. Margot Redlinger, my stylist at City Looks, has been helping me learn about sets and dos. Of course, I am still very much the amateur, but Aveda-trained Margot does amazing things with color, and really knows her vintage.

Last night, I suggested we do something from the sixties. Margot came up with this design on her own, but it's almost exactly like the Audrey Hepburn hair outlined in Vintage Hairstyling by Laura Runnells (see my Vintage links page for more information). How did we do this?

First of all, Margot blow dried my hair with a large round brush. We brushed the hair in segments and then once the hair was dry, we moved onto the curling.

If you were setting your hair wet, you'd want a medium roller. Make sure to brush out a small piece of hair to leave straight. If you curl the hair, use a large roll curling iron and thermal spray (which is really important to protect your hair.)

Hair at the top of the head is curled away from your forehead, teased, and sprayed. Hair on the sides and back of your head is curled toward the center of your hair.

Margot used a setting powder at the base of each of the top curls for extra hold. The teased curl mass was smoothed together, pinned into place, and sprayed with a soft but firm holding hair spray. The side curls are manipulated into a French twist.

To make the French twist, secure the hair on the left side of your hair with bobby pins off center, so they can be covered with the right twist of hair, that is tucked under and pinned.

Here's a video that might help you with the teasing. And here's a tutorial on the French Twist.

Happy hairstyling. I'm hoping to repeat this style for a new set of author photos, eventually.

Catherine

Disclaimer about Live Journal

Live Journal Disclaimer: That article turned out to be from 2009. My bad. My headache and the usual reliability of where I got the information from led to a lack of reliability on my part. God bless the Internet.

Still, I should do this. I've been debating keeping the old awelkin journal open, and maybe it's time to let that go. But I do want to retrieve what I like from over there. So, yes, I will still probably do that.

Have I mentioned how much I like life without headaches?

Catherine

Live Journal and Its Fifty Percent Staff Reduction

Just fair warning. The fifty percent staff reduction at Live Journal I take as a bad sign. Of course, I write the majority of my work over here at Word Press, and it's mirrored at Live Journal, but that said, there was a time before the writing journal that Live Journal was my mainstay for talking to the world.

With that in mind, then, I am going to move some of my old Live Journal writing over here in a kind of reprint effort. I have toyed with the idea of putting together a small collection of my journal essays into a non-fiction book (mostly for me, although I could make it available to others that might want it), but I can't do that if I wake up one morning and all my essays are gone. So I'd best get rolling on that. I'll try to offer some contextualization for you, the reader.

That said, most of what I have in my old journals is crap, and you don't want to see it, and I don't want to share it with you. So, this should be a manageable effort.

It'll be too bad in the end. I have fond memories, but yup, the only permanent thing is change. And other cliches that I hope to get away with.

By the way, as you can tell, headache is biting the dust. I loves me some pain free evening!

Catherine

Writing from the Gamerverse: Setting

For me, setting may be the most difficult aspect of writing from the gamerverse.

Most role playing games come with their own broad strokes of genre. For example, we all know Dungeons and Dragons takes it cue from European high fantasy. Call of Cthullu is set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction (don't play games where you lose sanity points!). Champions: The Super Hero Role Playing Game is set in the bright 4-color comics universe, as opposed to Unknown Armies, which is more of a Vertigo kind of thing. There are role playing games out there emulating Hong Kong action cinema, film noir, horror, and well, loads of other things.

The problem with using the setting in these games comes from when some sort of mechanic from the game's atmospherics interferes with the story you want to tell. One of the biggest issues I have with White Wolf is that while their games give game masters a great deal of atmosphere and plot, those of us who don't need as much direction are hemmed in by their post-apocalyptic vibe. Or something rather like.

However, like any good robber baron writer, you can pick or choose what you want. With that in mind, as with characters and games, discard what you don't like. My Changeling game isn't as depressing as a White Wolf manual.

Games that paint genre in broader strokes can be excellent tests of your ability to create mood and setting. You'll need to do it for your players. They'll appreciate it.

Next up in the Gamerverse series: Plot. Yes, plot.