A Six Cities pacing exercise

The piece below is the result of some experimentation with the pacing of my work.

A lot of my older pieces are very descriptive, I tend to get carried away trying to get a lot of detail about a scene down on paper when a lot of it isn’t necessary to the audience’s understanding of what’s going on and I frequently get feedback that this causes the pace of the piece to drag. A picture paints a thousand words, so I suppose this is an outcome of my latent desire to be a landscape and character artist – something I’ve not pursued since I was around 16 after realising I was about as good at drawing as I was at flying.

Before starting the piece below I thought about what I’d been reading recently that moved at a very fast pace. Focusing on the Tales of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding I went back to look at the level of description vs dialogue and action that made up the book, and made an effort to shift the tone of this piece away from the description-heavy style that I normally use and more towards Chris’s style. I deliberately didn’t push it to his extreme, the snippet I had in mind didn’t contain enough action to get away with his frugal use of description, but it was certainly a different experience to write whilst watching the descriptive word-count.

I should say a little about Six Cities. People paying attention may have noticed the tag appended to a number of older posts here without there being much explanation as to what it is. In my head I have two settings bouncing around and swapping ideas between them. Neither has a proper name, but as “Project Two” took over more and more time in my imagination and started spilling out onto paper I thought it needed some form of identity. I doubt it’ll stick in the long run, but for now everything written in the second of my two settings will have this tag. I hope one day to get “Project One” out to the world a little more, but “Project Two” has done the mental equivalent of stealing it’s lunch money and taken a lot of it’s good ideas so there’s more work to be done to get that one ready for prime-time.

This piece was originally written in late November 2014, over a long weekend at my partner’s parents house away from my normal distractions.

Continue reading


Fate Search entry

A few posts back I mentioned that I’d submitted an application to write for Evil Hat Productions, who produce the Fate Core line of roleplaying books (amongst other things). I’ve finally heard back and unfortunately wasn’t successful, but I thought I’d put my application and the response up for people to see. For what it’s worth, this post probably won’t mean much to you if you don’t know the Fate Core rules, you have been warned! Continue reading

Character Writeup: Sasuvara Reika

Well, it’s been a while.

I had been putting off updating this blog in the hopes the next thing I would post would be a completed first draft of a slightly longer teaser piece I’ve been working on but, due to some distractions (Geralt and Eli, I’m looking at you) I still haven’t finished it. Instead, here’s another character writeup from the same world to keep things ticking over.

This exercise was harder with Reika than it was for Tamina as her role in the overall plot was less well defined when I started. She eventually became a meld of her original character and another who didn’t really have enough to do to justify their existence but I’m now concerned she’s become too useful; I’ll just have to think up some interesting and crippling problems in addition to those below to stop her running the show.

In reading over the text below before posting it I’m not really happy with it, so as usual everything remains subject to change!

Continue reading

Character Writeup: Tamina

This is a writeup of a character I’m playing with for inclusion in a project, created using the character creation exercise mentioned in the previous post. Whilst the character concept didn’t change a huge amount during the writing of this (the biggest changes happened when I redid her mother’s concept and had to adjust their relationship, but this will be talked about in a later post), but I did end up doing two ‘test drives’ for her as I found the first one to be a bit boring after completing it.

Tamina’s plotline is a largely personal one so her problems and solutions are very inward looking. This made her quite an easy character to start this exercise with as I didn’t have to make any concrete decisions about a lot of the rest of the setting, though all details should still be considered subject to change. Be warned, there be minor spoilers within.

EDIT: Let this be a lesson in why you shouldn’t write something on a tablet whilst on a train then proof-read it whilst pretty sleepy, stories below edited to remove bloopers.

Continue reading

On Characters #1

One of my favourite parts of writing anything is the planning that goes into the piece beforehand. This mainly takes the form of me imagining a world and characters and a load of exciting set pieces for them to be in before coming across my normal stumbling block of how to link the set pieces together without being boring, but that’s something I’ll deal with another time.

As part of trying to kick-start myself into producing something I’ve been dreaming up different settings and new characters (well, some rehashed old characters as well) to put in them. One of the exercises I’ve been using to do this is Chuck Wendig’s The Zero-Fuckery Quick-Create Guide To Kick-Ass Characters, the author’s quick-start method of getting inside the characters’ heads. Aside from answering a number of questions about a character’s personality (ignoring the normal height, weight, hair colour etc.) it also prompts you to write a 500 word flash piece about the character to ‘test drive’ them, and I’ve been busy doing this for a number of mine.

I highly recommend you read his article in full as the explanations he gives are far better than my summary below, but if you just want the basics here’s something you can copy into Dark Room (other text editors are available) and get started with:

Name: <the character’s name, duh>
Logline (v1):  <a one-sentence description of the character>
Problem: <what the character wants to achieve, what drives them to act>
Solution: <what the character believes the solution to their problem is>
Conflict: <why the character’s solution hasn’t worked yet>
Limitations: <personality traits the character has that make their life more difficult>
Complications: <external factors that affect the character and make their life more difficult>
Greatest Fear: <…their greatest fear>
Description: <a description of the character, max. 100 words>
Test Drive: <a 500 word flash piece to test out the character>
Logline (v2): <a one-sentence description of the character now you’ve thought them through to see how they’ve changed>

I will post some of the write-ups I’ve done for my characters soon.