Purity

Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:21
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
The more I write (and I've been writing for more than fifteen years, half my life or longer), the harder it is to ignore the murkiness of the writing endeavor. I write original fiction and fanfiction, and I also write reviews. The things I look at when I write reviews are sometimes the same as what I examine when I'm writing, but just as often totally different. That can create an absurd type scenario where I criticize a series of books or games for repeating variations on a certain trope, but still be writing that trope into my own original fiction. Not even (necessarily) to subvert it, and on the whole as a media consumer I prefer aversions to self-conscious subversions.

The most obvious case that comes to mind for me right now is a multi-chapter fanfic from years ago that I never finished. This included both a love triangle and an antagonistic, hate-to-love type romance, all wrapped up together. And this was at a time when I had an even stronger aversion to both than I do now. And these were the central threads of the plot, not some supporting B-plot. More recently -- I even wrote a DW post about it -- I was writing a nation of inhuman people as analogues of a real cultural group (my own, but still), which is a thing I've strenuously objected to in the past.

And now there's my Yuri Jam game, if it gets off its feet. When I was coming up with the concept, I was mainly thinking about a cutesy idea of "mad scientists", a kind of character trope that has lost all credibility to the point where it's automatically camp and humorous, in a self-aware way. At least in theory. It's impossible, however, for me to ignore the underlying creepiness of the story, even if I'm trying to tell it from a point of view that places value judgments on the protagonist's choices, and even f the game is built in such a way that it locks the player out of making any truly outrageous character choices. I have to find a way to write around and through it, and address it head-on while still allowing the game to be a little funny.

And I find myself wondering how it is that I keep finding so many corners to paint myself into.
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
This week so far has been a chain of irritants that have put me disproportionately out of shape, more so with each one that came at me. I don't even wanna get into it because I don't want to enshrine that petty shit, which is one major way that I have changed for the better in the last decade. So, go me, I guess.

In better news: if you're at all interested in my game-writing effort check out my idea thread for a Yuri Game Jam entry I am hoping to gear up to this summer/fall.

Name Generators

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 12:51
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
As a writer, RPer, and all around nerd, I have a whole bunch of name generator websites bookmarked, and am always on the lookout for new and exciting ones. Of course I have also tried my hand at creating some small, primitive generators myself, like this one.

But one of the best qualities of worldbuilding, whether in games or in books, is the ability to simulate greater depth than you actually have. No one can build a world as rich as the real one, and if you tried to do it you would never have time for writing the actual stories taking place in this world. The trick is to make it look like the gaps in your knowledge are full of something that you just happen not to have mentioned. Part of it is investing more work into the things your characters have knowledge and interest in, or rather the reverse: make your characters proficient in something you're interested in developing.

What all that means is that most SFF writers aren't conlangers, and they don't need to be. You can simulate the richness of a unique language to the satisfaction of most, usually just by creating a quick-and-dirty phonology guide, and then staying out of your own way by being careful about idioms, puns and wordplay. The reader's (or player's) imagination provides the rest.

Part of my process is that I find it terribly difficult to write about characters if I haven't named them. This means I'll usually have a string of names before I have any kind of set phonological rules to follow. It also means I find it very hard to change those names, even if they were only meant to be working products. What I would like to be able to do is design a naming tool that you could input a string of names into, and it would break them down into an approximation of individual syllables, and then use those units to construct a series of new names.

I'm pretty sure I have the skills to do this, but it would take time and a fair amount of thought going into designing it, instead of just jumping into tinkering with code like I'm used to.

I'm open to feedback on the technical aspects of this project. I'm also interested in discussing the meta theory behind it, but based on the premise that I laid out. I'm not here for "everything you said is wrong, you're not a real fantasy writer unless you build your own language from scratch". Or anything along those lines. Comment at will, if you cross a line I promise I'll let you know.

Life Update

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:50
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
I was so productive yesterday despite waking up pretty late and having trouble getting the morning going. And a random nap at 5:30 in the afternoon. But today I slept even later? And that leaves me in an awkward place where I'm not really sure how to get the day started. Plus I have an important thing this afternoon which I just realized is in only about four hours. Routine is hard. I only got to sleep at about two thirty last night, for no good reason whatsoever, and didn't even have the good sense to feel guilty about it. And I am beyond behind on my schoolwork.

I have a doctor's appointment, both for general checkup and to try and deal with my assorted medication-related issues. Doctor's business is getting complicated again the past few months and it's been seriously messing with the routine I had so carefully cultivated, it's a mess. At least I'm writing and editing and refining ideas, and I have a pretty good idea of how I want to move forward with my creative stuff even if it requires a level of patience that's preternatural for me. I've had a good long think and I'm considering the idea that I might need to narrow my sights creatively, instead of chasing after everything at once. Basically decide whether to focus on pure prose, text games or visual novels.

And ICYMI I finally wrote up my response to a discussion on last year's NaNoWriMo boards, on nonbinary gender representation in fiction and associated tropes. This blog post took a good long while to complete, and I'm really pretty proud of it.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Basic: Science)
Lately a lot of writers whose blogs or social media I follow have gotten messages from readers saying that they should "stay out of politics" and stick to writing. Every time see a message like that I think back to all the reviews I've read that have described a book as political or politically-themed. I wonder where all these authors are whose work isn't political. How do you write without writing about politics? It is the thing that structures the very reality around us. Perhaps this seems obvious to me because opting out of political thought hasn't ever been an option for me.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
It helps me think. But there always seems to be too damn much going on, and I always seem to be criminally behind on something.

I took my one and only exam for the semester and it went remarkably well. I am cautiously optimistic about my grade, which I won't find out for a while yet. My next semester starts in late March, a little more than two weeks from now. Much more intimidating, because it's one of the more notorious branches of mathematics. It's a CS requirement, though, and I think a face-to-face class will force me to pay more attention to the lectures, compared to sitting on my sofa and watching the lecture through the computer. Still, it's another shot for my "get ahead of the material in case you fall behind later" plan, which has never yet quite succeeded as intended.

Work-wise I have deadlines and more responsibilities and I'm sitting with the rest of my team instead of in a separate cubicle, so there's progress there. I work hard to get in enough hours a month, not only to stay on top of my workload but also because I get paid by the hour. Working in an office is still a struggle because at a certain point the fluorescent lights and over-exposure to smells etc. starts to wear me down. Bug generally I'm keeping up and getting good feedback.

Writing is exciting. I submitted a short story today. I've been trying to put it together from an idea that surfaced unexpectedly, part-way into outlining a totally different piece for the same deadline. That other piece is partly drafted but still languishing. I also have a rejected piece that I need to decide whether/to whom to submit next. In game writing I did FFS Jam and it was pretty great, but ow I'm losing momentum in the journey to polish the alpha to perfection. And now March is starting and I'm on a team doing NaNoRenO.

More on that last part, probably tomorrow.

I have to remember that writing down everything I'm doing not only reminds me of everything I'm behind on, but also everything I've accomplished. When I describe my life to other people, it sounds a lot better than it does in my head.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I have the possibility of a new project in the works for probably March, and it's making me nauseatingly excited right now.

(no subject)

Thursday, 19 January 2017 16:25
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
Yesterday I had such a productive day, but today my head hurts and I don't want to do anything. D:
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I am very glad that I managed, somewhere along the way, to master the skill of not jumping down the throat of a new creative idea as soon as it occurs to me. Instead, I let it sit for a while and try to figure out if it's really as shiny and exciting as it first seemed, especially in relation to how much of an effort it's going to require.

So I sat on the portal fantasy idea for a while. I'm glad I did. It seemed at first to be a wonderfully flexible idea that would allow me to combine concept from secondary world fantasy with some of what you get when you write urban/contemporary/masquerade fantasy. With the benefit of a little breathing space, though, I'm not sure that I could maintain interest in it for long enough to make the project worthwhile.

Right now my writing goals plate is pretty full, and I have work and school on top of that, plus all the ordinary stuff of living. And I have a list of deadlines to which I can aspire, which will push me to create new original material. I'm on track. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
lea_hazel: I am surrounded by tiny red hearts (Feel: Love)
Checking my blog, I realize it's not simple to immediately catalog how many blog posts I wrote in 2016. With a little more effort, I can say that 2016 brought twelve review posts, nine writing posts, four general meta posts, and four admin posts. More specifically, two "con report" posts, one each for Olamot and Icon, and two posts marking NaNoWriMo.

Cut for a whole lot of blather. )
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
Wreath of Roses is a 16,000 word text game written in the Twine engine and playable through any JavaScript-supporting web browser.

wor_banner
Wreath of Roses is a project from Zinc Alloy Games.

It is the story of Thalia, a princess on her way to an arranged marriage. The story follows Thalia as she arrives at the kingdom meant to be her future home and gets to know her future husband, tracking her responses to her environment, positive and negative. As the wedding nears Thalia can choose to explore the castle and get to know some of its inhabitants, and at the end of the game the player makes a decision based on Thalia's overall impressions: to go through with the wedding, or cancel it.

This early version of the game is fully playable and features character customization and four different endings.

An excerpt from the game's opening will be available on my Patreon later this month.

Crossposted to hazelgold.net and Patreon.

lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
When I put together my Patreon support tiers, I promised some backer-exclusive content. Since then I've been working on putting these things together. There are some updates about my games in progress, and some fresh short fiction. This takes a while because I want to make sure that you're receiving quality content that's worth the price of admission.

Over the next couple of months I'll be posting snippets from a political fantasy text adventure that I've been working on. Later in the year I hope to share something from my next Twine project, which will be much more game-like in structure. I also have some new flash fiction that needs to go through the editing wringer before it's ready for consumption.

Anyway, that's it. I have some exciting stuff in the works and I hope you'll be excited about it, too.

Crossposted to hazelgold.net and Patreon.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
It's been a little over two years since I first signed up for 750words.com, a site based around the idea of morning writing exercises. One of the classic pieces of advice that professional writers give, is to start every morning by writing three pages, stream-of-consciousness style. This helps unclutter the mind and gets the writing brain into high gear. For people poor at planning it helps set an agenda for the day. For people prone to anxiety or rumination, it sets worries on paper and out of the mind. This exercise has many different uses. One page fits on average 250 words, hence the URL as given. 750Words.com.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.

Life, in short

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 11:52
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
Last week: first half of the week (and the second half of the previous) was dominated by the exam I had to take for the OU, fortunately my only one of the season (since I tanked badly on linear algebra). I didn't study quite well enough, but the exam went decently and I came out of it after an hour and a half feeling okay. And was able to put the matter out of mind and spend the evening and the following day decompressing in the extreme.

Then I went back to work and readjusted to routine, after a week of feeling weirdly detached from my own life and the schedule I built for myself. This is still a work in progress, I suppose. On Thursday they held a kind of team event which took us out of the office. I enjoyed it, but it was hot and I came home exhausted. On Friday my sister pointed out that I had been sunburned, a little bit, around the collar and on the back of my neck. Dedicated nerd, vampire jokes etc. etc. My doctor also says that my vitamin D is critically low again.

This week: work. On Sunday night I went to see the new Ghostbusters with my brother and found it delightful. Laughed out loud more than once, a rarity for me with comedies. Today is my first dedicated writing day in a while and I'm finding it hard to get back in the rhythm. Probably because sometime in the last week or so I sank back into The Sims 2 of all things, and last night I stayed up much later than I had intended.

I actually realized several times that I forgot to cross-post my review of Martha Wells' dragon shapeshifter books, but I kept forgetting to do something about it. I'm posting it now, back-dated. And I need to think on what my next blog post should be. I mean, I could review Ghostbusters, but I really don't have anything intelligent to say that hasn't been said a billion times already.

I made some writing-related business decisions re: Patreon and itch.io, but since I haven't properly implemented anything, it's soon to concern with that. I am making inroads with Ren'py, though, I can say that much. And with the script of my in-progress game taking on a distinct shape, I think I could make a decent visual novel out of it, if I can find the right assets. And then I would have something to put on my itch.io, and to link to when I say grandiose things like "I am a game writer".
lea_hazel: Pride flag (Politics: GLBTQ)
On Monday evening I returned home from a grueling evening class, intending to "just quickly" check my social media before turning in. Now, normally I am a lot less active on Twitter than I am on Tumblr, but I like to check in and make sure that my account has something on it other than links to my blog posts. It was on this occasion that I discovered the hashtag #OwnYourOwn.

Own Your Own was started by the YA lit blog Interrobang and championed by Kaye M., a Muslim American YA writer and intersectional feminist activist. Read more... )
lea_hazel: Pride flag (Politics: GLBTQ)
This week was the one year anniversary of my becoming a full-time writer (in mentality if not in paycheck). Looking back on the good and the bad is sobering. On the one hand, I did not produce as many stories as I would have liked, or expected. My quality of end product is lacking. On the other hand, I can look back on a work of original fiction that I posted a year ago (Hail the Hunter) and think, "wow! that was a long time ago."

I consider that last one to be a pro. Read more... )

This subject is emotional to me, so most of the above is probably a meaningless mess of words. I will look back at it late rand be probably horrified. I just need to get it out right now, because it's been gnawing on my mind.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
As part of an ongoing effort to assess the strength of my self-promotion, I decided that the only way to keep track of the enduring popularity of my text games is to document it, probably on a roughly weekly basis.

Lots of dull numbers behind the cut )

Next time I will do this is the form of a table for convenience's sake.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
A few weeks ago, I posted to Tumblr a link to a game I wrote in Twine. Well, not exactly a game. This Twine story contains images of the Minor Arcana, the lesser-known component of the Tarot deck. The code allows you to select random cards and arrange them in one of three different ways, the better to exploit Tarot's rich history of symbolism as an aid to characterization.

Normally when I use Tarot cards, they serve primarily as a handy go-to source of writing prompts, perfect for little warm-up exercises when I'm having difficulty revving up the writer's engine. Read more... )

(no subject)

Thursday, 12 May 2016 15:11
lea_hazel: A frowning white theater mask (Feel: Sad Face :()
I am not actually happy with that review but today has been one of those days and something needed to happen.

My Level Best

Sunday, 8 May 2016 16:05
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
In two hours I have class. Tomorrow night I also have class, and it's a prep session for the hand-on lab next week. which means I need to have my pre-lab report (and one other piece of homework) ready and printed to put in the instructor's hand. And I need to be early. It will be a fun day. And next week will be a fun week.

Meanwhile: on the advice of my wiritng workshop's coach, I started listening to the "Writing Excuses" podcast on my commute. Today I was listening to an episode about polytheism in fantasy from last year (transcript) and it struck something. Some of the issues around religion and fantasy have been niggling on me for a while, now. The cast links to a tool called the belief system generator. I think I will use today's writing time (or a portion of it, anyway) to test it out.

Right now.

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