After saying in the last post that I was hoping to discourage people from self-inserting I had to struggle to not include the suggester in this piece! I wasn’t aiming for any particular exercise or experiment here, just to grease my mental wheels a little bit. People local to me may think they recognise some of the locations and people mentioned in the piece, so just to be clear:
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
This story was suggested by my friend Richard, who probably now regrets it. For everyone else, I’m sorry.
“he may have just been a study environment officer, but the moment she laid eyes on him, she knew she just had to have him.”
This piece, like the last one, is shorter than what I’ve been aiming for with these prompts. I did spend some time trying to cram more into it to bring it up to size but came to the conclusion that if something’s reached and end that feels right there’s no point padding it with fluff to hit a self-imposed word count. In retrospect this is pretty obvious, but it’s interesting how quickly I lost sight of it when working on this.
This prompt was suggested by my friend Glenn, and will hopefully serve to discourage others from inserting themselves into their prompts!
“When she realised that like Glenn she’d missed the boat, it was the last straw. Knife in hand she stalked out, someone would pay.”
A while ago a friend pointed me towards the Hemingway Editor, an online tool designed to help you produce more readable text. I ended up putting some of my older posts into it to see what it thought of them, and the result was a solid “You write difficult to read <i.e. long> sentences”. Whilst the actual merit of the tool is debatable (and we did debate them at great length) it did make me consider the length of sentences and how varying them can affect the flow of a piece.
This prompt was suggested by my friend Rob. I used it to play with shorter sentences (scoring a 3 on Hemingway, as opposed to my normal 8-12 range), finding that what felt to me like I was being too concise whilst writing actually seems to read ok. Let me know what you think, dear readers, I’m genuinely interested.
“The last thing I remember was the look in her eyes as she hurled the cast iron pan against me.”
I have been published!
Other than the normal distractions that keep me from posting here, I have been spending time recently working with Mark Diaz Truman, creator of The Fate Codex, on a quick-start roleplaying game called Family Matters. I sent the pitch for the game to Mark late last year then largely forgot about it until he got in touch with me in the spring and asked me to follow it up. After a few months work it has now been released in Volume 2, Issue 4 of Mark’s magazine.
In Family Matters you play a deceased ancestor of a noble family who has stuck around after death to look after your descendants. The current Lady of the house is growing old and looking to pick a successor and you, and your ghostly contemporaries, are ready and waiting to get involved and make sure the right person is selected for the job. Haunting family events together you must help your chosen candidate for succession shine, embarrass their rivals, and protect them from the machinations of your rival ghosts.
As I didn’t have the word count in the piece itself I’d like to give a few thanks here. First up, to Mark Diaz Truman himself: thank you for giving me a chance and giving me the opportunity to work on this piece with you. You provided excellent encouragement and provided useful suggestions and direction throughout; it was a pleasure working with you. I’d also like to say thanks to Sally Chrisensen for her editing and input into the piece, Richard Bellingham for being my alpha reader and chief playtester, and Blake, Rod and Guy for allowing me to disrupt our regular game to force them to playtest mine. Finally, thanks to my partner Laura for her encouragement as I wrote, even if she didn’t understand half of what I was writing.
If you want to pick up a copy of The Fate Codex you can do so at DriveThruRPG. If you like it I encourage you to back Mark’s Patreon campaign to help him keep the magazine going.
This prompt comes from my friend Paul. Thanks to him, and everyone else still waiting, for their patience!
I found this prompt very hard to deal with. In general I don’t find convincing fight scenes easy to write, and in this case coming into it “dry” made it even tougher. A fight is ultimately a conflict of desires where diplomacy has failed and those involved have been forced to resort to overpowering their opponent to allow their view to prevail, if only through lack of opposition. To have to describe a fight without any clear idea why those involved are fighting, and what they are fighting to achieve, was tricky for me.
After a few false starts on this piece I dropped it for a while to work on other things (more on this in a later post), and coming back to it fresh took a different approach. Rather than trying to create and put across a complicated motivation in a short amount of words I stripped it back to the most basic motivation I could think of: money.
A massive hat-tip is due to this great scene from Ong Bak, from which I drew a lot of inspiration. The Spanish is thanks to Google Translate, corrections welcome.
EDIT: Minor updates for clarity.
“The room was packed, the noise of the crowd was almost painful and the 7ft giant she was dancing around was throwing punches wildly.”
Prompt 10 comes from my friend Chris, thanks to both him and my partner Laura who took my original concept and helped me make it a lot more interesting.
“No matter the establishment, no matter the outfit, wherever he/she went everyone around would mistake him/her for an employee.”
During the writing of which I discovered how much more fiddly it is to research and write on an iPad compared to a PC.
This prompt was suggested by my friend Andrew:
“Were they customers or fellow spies? No-one must know that the gas station had a secret government basement.”