The Power of Story

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What makes a video game work for you?

I have spent the last six days playing Dragon Age: Origins. When I first started the game a few weeks ago, I was a little skeptical. The graphics look old, and high fantasy in games have never been my thing, my preference being Sci-Fi. But friends and my daughter encouraged me to keep playing, to give it a chance, to allow myself to be immersed in the story.

Guess what? I’m hooked.

I still think the graphics are eye cancer and I find that some of the missions feel downright padded. I mean, is it really necessary for me to travel through miles of underground tunnels for an hour just to reach the werewolf den? It’s enough to make a novice like myself scream and throw the controller out of the window. The game isn’t terribly diverse with regard to the humans, but there is character creation, so…well, there’s that. And do not even get me started on the system of combat. Boring. Or the complicated controls. Argh.

Obviously these aren’t the aspects that keep me coming back. And for the record, that is my unofficial gauge to determine if a game is good. It’s the, Do I want to go back and finish this?, test.

I do want to finish DA: O, because of the story. Admittedly the whole “You are charged with saving the world/universe.” is incredibly overdone, yet there is still something compelling about knowing that the fate of everything rests on your shoulders. Even better though, is playing a game where the relationships you create and cultivate with other characters have a direct impact on if and how well you meet  your goals.

Stories like this force you to care. This is where all of my unfinished games have failed. Weak stories. Beautiful graphics and great fighting mechanics can not carry a game, at least not for me, longer than a couple of hours. They won’t make me care. They won’t compel me to return.

So, I’m going to finish DA: O, and I never thought I would say this but, I might even do a second play through so that I can really catch all the nuances and side missions and explore all the nooks and crannies I’ve missed this go around.

In A Year

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Last year about this time my writing started to drag.

It was a lot of things. The weather. Loss of confidence. Lack of direction. Perfectionism that managed to freeze me to the spot. The result was half a dozen incomplete projects and ideas for projects that I never started.

In about March or April I decided to take a class, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I also decided to dedicate the next year (at least) to perfecting short story writing. About seven months have passed and I am nowhere near perfect. Heck, I am nowhere near having a clue about what I am doing, in my estimation, but I am working hard on my writing and I have had some successes.

I have had a few rewrite requests. They’re not exactly sales but they are hopeful and proof that I am on the right track.

I have started reading slush for Escape Pod. I am particularly giddy about this as I’ve been listening to EP for 2-3 years now and never in a million years did I think I would be on the inside.

I’ve managed to complete 5 short stories.

I’ve made my first pro sale to An Alphabet of Embers anthology which should be released in May 2015.

I’ve met several wonderful writers that I now consider friends. They offer support, grease for my ego, and guidance when I need it.

I am in a new class now, with Daniel Jose Older. This is has been a blast so far. And I am learning lots. I am sopping up his writing genius with my biscuit brain. 🙂

And I’ve got plans for next year. I want to double my count of completed short stories. That means at least 10 complete stories by the end of the year. And I want to sell at least two more stories in the coming year. Come on friends, cheer me on.

As for writing, this has been a very good year.

 

 

It’s Been A While

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It has been a while since  have posted. I have my reasons, I just can’t think what they are right now. Nevertheless I figured that today would be a great day to catch up.

Back around the beginning of the year I had a little bit of a creative depression. I wanted to write, but between having so little time, and moaning about having so little time, and the pressures of work, I got close to nothing done. Then follows the sense of failure. Introvert though I may be, I am still, by nature of my humanity a social creature and I realized that what I needed was to be able to commiserate and share with other people like myself. Writers who had yet to meet with much success, who like me needed support, guidance and a chance to help and guide, and most importantly, something or someone who would hold me accountable for creating something on a regular basis. So, on the fly, I signed up for a writing class with Cat Rambo with the hopes that I would find that thing I was looking for.

That was the best thing I could have done. It was perfect in all ways.

Cat was great and I learned a lot from her in the six weeks that our class met up. But the group of ladies and one guy, sincere, wonderful, supportive, friendly, funny, interested and interesting, diverse writers that I met in class are worth more than the $200 I put down for that class. No amount of money could have paid for what I’ve gained in them.

We call ourselves Nebula Bound, because, well, isn’t it obvious?

Since the end of that class, I have completed a new short story (actually a much expanded rewrite) and have submitted it to Clarkesworld. Don’t start clapping yet. I received my official Clarkesworld rejection within two days. Ha! But, its all good. I’ve already sent it off to another magazine and I’m working on another story.

Actually, I’ve got a few stories planned, one of which will be a novella, and I’m feeling very hopeful about bringing them all to completion.

AUW has received two 5 star ratings on GR in the last week or so. That’s terrific considering it seems to have been at a standstill for the last several months. That’s something, isn’t it?

I’ve also joined another group of terrific writers in a private online crit group. There are some great folks in that group as well with great talent and burgeoning name recognition. Not my name, but hey, I get to say, “I’ve got connections.” Right?

Back to the topic of the Nebulas, I’d like send my own small unknown yet warm congratulations out to everyone who was nominated and/or who won a Nebula this year. It is great to see so many women! I’ve made a personal goal, as one who is Nebula Bound (stop laughing at me!) that I will read the winning works and at least half of the nominated works this year. I enjoy a good story like anyone else, but also I hope to learn something about good story telling, development and theme.

I’ve already started reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and I’ll be updating as I go on GR. I plan to post my reviews on GR and here. Anyone wish to read along with me? I’d love the company.

Well, I think I’ve said enough for now. I’m out.