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Happy Egg Day

March 31, 2013 Leave a comment

The Easter weekend is always a good one, not only is there the promise of chocolate, but there is also the ultimate long weekend.

The addition of the Friday means its two short weeks with the best part of a whole one off in the middle.

Rather than our usual Sunday comedown with Monday’s stress peeking over the horizon, today can be spent in glorious abandon, staying up late, eating copious amounts of chocolate and having those extra few beers that are normally reserved for Friday and Saturday, safe in the knowledge that you can lay in tomorrow and recover.

So despite an hour of it being stolen in the night, make sure you make the most of your extra day and have a happy Easter.

Writting Tools

March 30, 2013 7 comments

As part of my goal for World Creation and general forward movement with SFU I started researching what tools are available for us writers, world builders, Gods if you will, to use when starting our very own Genesis.

I have touched on Maps in a previous post, although I shall revisit them in more detail over the month, today I thought I would focus on Writing Tools.

Like a many of you I’m sure I use Microsoft Word for pretty much all my writing needs, whilst it’s great for letters and documents, I feel it perhaps leaves something lacking as a creative writing tool.

So I set about finding what could replace it.

  win-3screensThe first piece of software that I can across was Scrivener, this is once nifty piece of software, it’s a little daunting when you first open it up, it is not your average Word processing program.

With this program you can map out you entire story, colour code until your heart’s content, split your novel by character, location, whatever you want. You can have all the research associated with your novel, pictures, YouTube clip, documents you name it they call all be on hand at the click of a button, all in one place.

I’ve Downloaded the trial and started messing around with it a little, its only downside that I can see so far is the £29 ($40) price point, but I can see this being wort01_chrono_viewh it!

SCRIVENER TRIAL

The next stop was Storybook. Essentially this is an Open source version of Scrivener, some of the features are different, and it doesn’t have the cool corkboard effect that I found pretty exciting in Scriviner, and overall it feels a little like Scriviner Lite. It is however FREE, and if you want all the bells and whistles there is a Storybook Pro option however this is a similar price to Scrivener and if I was paying I think I stick with that.

STORYBOOK FULL

Preview1The third option I found was Liquid Story Binder XE, it’s more of the same idea which isn’t surprising if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. What does appeal to me about Liquid is that it does seem to have been designed specifically with Fiction writing in mind

LIQUID STORY BINDER XE TRIAL

I don’t know if any of these will help me (or you) with your writing but i’m going to give them a go and see what happens, let me know if you use this or any other software to help with your writing and what your opinions on them are!

Wedding Bells

March 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Today is my Sisters wedding, this means I’m out for the day and wont have time to come up with one of my usual funny, exciting and life changing posts.

You will just have to wait until tomorrow.

Categories: Uncategorized

Icy Minipulator

March 27, 2013 2 comments

icyAs well as my youthfull enthusiasm for Fantasy books, computer games and Games Workshop, another dose of fantasy inspiration came from playing Magic the Gathering.

I first started playing whilst perusing another hobby, Laser quest. Many of the regulars also played Magic the Gathering and many a Saturday where spent rotating between shooting lasers and summoning Dragons.

I was so into the game that I used to buy new sets by the case not the packet, which admittedly did mean that I had full sets of

Fallen Empires

Homelands

Tempest

Stronghold

Exodus

And a majority of all 3 Urza’s sets. I even had a few of Alpha,Beta and Unlimited Edition Cards.

This extensive collection including some significantly rare cards meant that when it came time to sell net me a tidy sum, although I’m sure even then I didn’t break even.

M:TG is now available as an online Game on your PC, which I think could be really unhealthy for your bank balance, as well as for various console devices and soon tablets, but whilst intriguing as these are this takes the collecting aspect take away which for me was one of the most fundamental parts of the hobby.jesters

Whilst I have out grown M:TG and mostly retired from Laser quest, I do still have a folder or two of the cards kicking about the house, and when working in store was often tempted to buy myself a new starter pack “just see if they were the same”

Exam Question

March 26, 2013 13 comments

Whilst doing my usual internet trawling I came across the Fantasy Novelists Exam by David J Parker.

It starts with the quote below.

“Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this “great, original fantasy” is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we’re sick of it, so we’ve compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering “yes” to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.”

Now it’s meant to poke fun at the clichés that haunt the fantasy genre, but just imagine the Films, TV shows and Books that wouldn’t exist if every writer had taken this exam in the last 10 years, and lets be honest if you CANT answer yes to one of these questions, your not writing a Fantasy Novel.

A brief Google search has not bought up a similar exam for Crime writers, Vampire writers, or Erotic Fiction writers but I’m sure there are as many clichés within their chosen  genre.

It’s funny that the Fantasy Genre above all others is viewed as the most clichéd, there are after all only Seven  stories to be told, which would suggest there are only a finite number of character types, and there is a damn good chance at least one of yours is going to be the heir to the lost throne of wonderunderland.

The Exam

  1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn’t know it?
  4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  6. How about one that will destroy it?
  7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about “The One” who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
  8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?
  9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?
  10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
  11. Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?
  12. Does “a forgetful wizard” describe any of the characters in your novel?
  13. How about “a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior”?
  14. How about “a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons”?
  15. Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?
  16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
  17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
  18. Would “a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword” aptly describe any of your female characters?
  19. Would “a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan” aptly describe any of your female characters?
  20. Is any character in your novel best described as “a dour dwarf”?
  21. How about “a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage”?
  22. Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?
  23. Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?
  24. Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?
  25. Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?
  26. Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like “The Blasted Lands” or “The Forest of Fear” or “The Desert of Desolation” or absolutely anything “of Doom”?
  27. Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you’ve read the entire book, if even then?
  28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
  29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
  30. Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?
  31. Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you’re still many sequels away from finishing your “story”?
  32. Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?
  33. Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?
  34. Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?
  35. Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?
  36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
  37. Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?
  38. Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named “Tim Umber” and “Belthusalanthalus al’Grinsok”?
  39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?
  40. How about “orken” or “dwerrows”?
  41. Do you have a race prefixed by “half-“?
  42. At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?
  43. Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?
  44. Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?
  45. Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?
  46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?
  47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don’t?
  48. Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?
  49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won’t break the plot?
  50. Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as “fireball” or “lightning bolt”?
  51. Do you ever use the term “mana” in your novel?
  52. Do you ever use the term “plate mail” in your novel?
  53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term “hit points” in your novel?
  54. Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?
  55. Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?
  56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
  57. Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?
  58. Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?
  59. Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?
  60. Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more? [info]
  61. Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?
  62. Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?
  63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
  64. Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?
  65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an “on the road” meal?
  66. Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?
  67. Do you think that “mead” is just a fancy name for “beer”?
  68. Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
  69. Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves’ guild?
  70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?
  71. Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?
  72. Is “common” the official language of your world?
  73. Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?
  74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?
  75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.

If you have the Kai Discipline of Camouflage, turn to 237. If you do not, turn to 72.

March 25, 2013 4 comments

Mycyoa022 new found enthusiasm for SFU, the characters in it and the world that they live in got me thinking back on what exactly it was that drew me to the fantasy genre.

Whilst now day’s Fantasy has become a lot more mainstream, with the blockbuster movies, TV shows and computer games, when I was younger we were limited more interactive and significantly less “cool” ways of enjoying our chosen genre.

I started with the staple book of the young boy during the 80’s, the “choose your own adventure” I distinctly remember owning a copy of “Space Patrol” and know I had others but couldn’t tell you the names, as I grew more advanced I moved onto the “Lone Wolf” series, again I specifically remember reading “Fire on the Water” and bizarrely (at least I think it is) borrowing them from my local library. Considering the Lone Wolf ones required you actually writing in them for your hit points etc I can’t Imagine they lasted long.DiffLW02a

At this point I started reading the Mossflower and Duncton Wood series, books that I genuinely look forward to introducing my own children to one day.

From here I moved onto the obvious, the Hobbit and LOTR’s entered my life, they were a bit harder to read but damn they where epic!

But the series that really captivated me and hooked me firmly in the Fantasy genre has to be Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. I distinctly remember a visit to the Natural History museum of all places and picking “The White Dragon” of the shelf in the gift store, Jaxom and Ruth Are still two of my favourite characters ever. 

Along with all this reading was the Games Workshop Hobby, I started by playing Heroquest and later Warhammer Quest and then moving on into the full blown Warhammer universe. Many a Saturday and Sunday where spent over a dining room table covered with a green sheet and some polystyrene hills.

As time went on the internet came calling and I remember the jealousy I felt that my friend got his broadband through AOL and was able to play “Legends of Terris”, which to me at the time was the epitome of gaming, I found a substitute in “Divine Blood” but it was never quite as good.

Eventually my reading took me to Jordan, Goodkind and Erikson, my gaming to Azeroth, Tamriel  and Runeterra.

Its kinda of funny but it seems I’ve gone circle and now it really is time to “Choose my Own Adventure”  but this time I get to make my own rules.

Here be Dragons

March 24, 2013 5 comments

Here_Be_Dragons_by_Lord_Psymon

Following on from yesterdays post I thought I should begin my world building with, well building the world.

A map is the staple of the Fantasy Genre, you want, no, expect a map of the hero’s world to be included in the first few pages, along with the appendix this helps reinforce the realism of this imaginary world.

I’m pretty sure the moment you write “Here be Dragons” in a cursive script is the moment you know you’ve made it.

 In fact it’s not just within books that as fans we require this extra information, anyone who has ever Skyrim will have pawed over the strategy guide for every last shred of insight into Tamriel, and if you have been involved in Table Top gaming the level of detail the likes of Games Workshop’s and Dungeons & Dragons put into their worlds can excide many of the most epic fantasy series.

Considering how often I would refer to these when reading a Fantasy novel or playing a game set in a fantasy world, it seems bizarre that I have not started to create any such things for my own world.

I decided the best place to start was the Map, I figured that it will be much easier to establish Jezzrael’s next move once I know where Tendril is in relation to the rest of the world and to have Tairn gone for the appropriate amount of time based on their distance from the ChoSi border once I can picture the world they live.

I’m not an artistic person; I’ve never been good at drawing so a hand drawn effort was out. I looked to the Internet for some inspiration and was pretty surprised at the wealth of tutorials on the subject and the quality of the creations.

 

Below is the 1st draft at the global map for SFU.

 

JAmes

It’s pretty rough, still needs a lot of work, its currently just an outline, it is however the map making equivalent of writing the opening sentence in SFU.

It’s setting me on the right path, over April I can refine it, change it, rework it and most likely end up with something that looks nothing at all like this (there is to much land and not enough water for example), but once I have done that I can then delve down into each continent, island and atoll, giving them the same treatment until I can tell you every path, every signpost and every landmark from Oxfort to Tetherns Gate.

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