• Cooking
  • EVE Rocks 2
  • EVE Rocks 1
  • Gears of War
  • Just Cause
  • Iron Wolf Planet
  • Batman
  • Books

Category: Journal

What lies behind the next tree

I live in a little slice of built up urban hell in South Yorkshire. OK maybe I am overstating this a tad, it is not quite a hell as such. It is, as I have described to friends who live in countries with wider open spaces between towns, quite built up none the less. There is not a direction I can drive here where it would not be one village and town blending into the next with barely a few moments of open countryside to admire from the window. And yet, as I drive around I do see countryside none the less. It sits out there between one housing estate after the other and sometimes I have thought to myself how my opening statement here is perhaps a little hyperbolic. Still, knowing that picturesque scenery is just a stones throw away and actually availing myself of it up close are not one and the same thing.



So, I started streaming video games.

It’s been way too quiet here lately and I should blog a lot more so here is a little update on what I have been up to outside of the writing front. I have another half-finished blog about writing from a month ago I owe some time to, and will get round to finishing it. Meanwhile, I have been a little preoccupied with a new activity: streaming video games on Twitch.

Streaming games has been something on my mind for the last two years. I have been watching lets-plays on YouTube for around a decade, ever since I got bit by the Minecraft bug and played it non-stop when I was not at work. In the last three years, I have added watching live streams to my list of chosen entertainment and have found a batch of streamers who play games that I enjoy watching on a regular basis.



Working on my Methods

Over the many years I have been writing short stories, back before I even began writing fan fiction for EVE Online – though that was a starting point for more regular writing activity itself – I found I would always stick to a specific method of planning and fleshing out my works. I was not aware at the time, though I had a strange kind of determination to make the system work even when I should have seen it was clearly not. Well OK, to tell the truth, I suppose it was not all that bad. I do remember, a long way back, being able to rattle off large sections of a story at a time before the weight of the system pushed my productivity way down. Maybe having an eager mind full to bursting with ideas had much to do with breaking through the wall. But I am getting ahead of myself and should talk more about the system I stuck to for so long. The system that eventually burned me out for several years.



World Building

Sometime last year I began working on the setting for my Ferum Republic story and quickly saw a lot of potential for an expansive setting. As a result, my mind turned more to the subject of world building theory than it has done before for any writing project. When I wrote character stories for EVE Online I was working within someone else’s setting. It was pre-built and ready to use. All I needed to do was to shape a character to fit into it, and come up with a story that uses those pre-existing elements in the world. I am not going to say this was an easy thing to do, because it presents it own challenges none the less. But there is nothing quite like building your own world from scratch. I find something deeply satisfying to come up with a basic idea and then start fleshing it out. You find yourself collecting little ideas as you work on the bigger ones, putting them to one side thinking they will go nowhere, only to have an idea at night while lying in bed that blows that small scrap of an idea up into something large and awesome.



Ferum Republic and Site Reshuffle

In November I published the first part of The Skid Journal’s first chapter. Needless to say, given the length of time it took to complete, I had a little trouble with this part. It is difficult to put my finger on why, though one thing I was conscious of was a need to work on something new and interesting while the idea was fresh in my brain.

In my last blog I spoke about a new project called Ferum Republic. I started making notes for this story earlier in 2016 and found it turned into a larger than expected world building project which has given me more story to work with as a result. Besides being a different kind of story to The Skid, I am also exploring a different style of writing. More off the cuff, with less actual planning ahead. This is new to me as I have always plotted out the script ahead of time and tried to write to that. I found with the last part of The Skid Journal that this sometimes creates problems. Maybe because my creative impulse is spent on the planning phase, leaving little else to offer when I was fleshing out my skeleton of a story.



Progress, progress bars and project updates

It has been a while since I blogged anything so here is a quick update on the ongoing projects I have as well as a little tweak to the site here and there.

Let’s start with that last one first. Up until recently, I have only been working on one thing at a time, first with The Skid Journals parts 1-1 and 1-2, then re-editing 1-1 and republishing as per my previous blog entry. However, I recently began writing a second short story along with part 1-3 of The Skid Journals. More on this below. So, with this dual project on the go, I felt it was time to start tracking them on the site. And going forward for any future works I have on my table. I have added a progress bar plugin to the sidebar to track ongoing projects and started with the first two and their current states. I was not really able to find any that fully matched what I am looking for, given that my writing is not set to any specific goal in terms of length or content other than getting it done. I was not sure how exactly I would gauge the level of completion of any of my stories and represent them in one single bar. Overall I view my writing to be a three stage process. First is the outline, where I scribble down a note form of the flow of the story. Second, I begin working on the draft for the story, essentially padding out the outline, and usually changing stuff along the way on a small scale as the narrative takes shape more naturally. Finally, I proofread the story giving it two passes of editing. The first focusing mostly on grammar and punctuation and the second pass being a readability check making adjustments to wording and such. With the single progress bar, it is difficult to track this other than estimating the volume of workload represented by each section. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, though, and I feel I know my own writing well enough to quantify my own progress.



And the words will… re-flow?

Something I am very much aware of as a budding writer is, you must always be ready to learn new things. Another thing I believe is that you can never have too much critique, and should never take it badly when it comes your way. Recently I published the first and second parts of The Skid Journals story series, feeling rather proud of my efforts. This is not saying much, however, given that when writing in the past I would feel ‘good’ about what I was doing. And if checking over my old EVE Online character story backlog has taught me anything, it is that my writing had a long way to go back then. Either way, that does not mean I took a look at my new works here and realized I had written a mess. Far from it, in fact. Though who knows how I might feel in 10 years time, looking back at this site. Only time can tell.

Back to the present, however, a good friend of mine offered to provide me with some feedback on the first journal. I had mentioned in my previous blog that I have a friend who used to edit professionally. By way of a quick plug, her name is Sakaane and you can find her own writings and assorted art on her site, Incyanity. Sakaane is also the friend who prompted me to begin this site, as well as setting me up with discounted hosting, and provided me with support setting up the site. She approached me soon after the second part was published in the beginning of March and offered to spend some time going over the first part to give me some pointers. I had expressed to her a couple of times in the writing that I had struggled with some of the technical details, again as mentioned in my previous blog about my experiences writing the first two parts.



And the words will flow.

Hello, everyone.

I figured a little blog would do right about now, and I can share some experiences with the site so far. Not to mention getting some content out at last. Since I want to blog about the whole writing thing to begin with I will start with the shameless plugging.

Around a month back I made a decision to begin releasing the story I had been working on in smaller sections, instead of one huge block of text. On the subject, here is a link to the first part. After making this decision I split what I had currently into separate parts and began the editing and re-write process. This is the first of a new series of stories based on a roleplay session for a game called Apocalypse World, as I detailed in this previous blog.



Works in progress

It has been a while since my last, and first post here. A little update is in order on what is currently in the works. So, straight into it!

Site design updates

The theme I have used here since launch has been more of a place holder and the more I looked at it the less happy I was. I did not imagine I would keep it long anyway, so I have spent a little time checking out other themes after it became clear I could not tweak this one very much. I could also not settle on an overall theme for the site, though as a good friend of mine said, it is a difficult thing work out. I think I may have settled on a theme now, and need to research what the paid version will let me do before I commit fully. The biggest issue I have had with the current theme has been text layout. As a best practice, the font for a website should always be clean and of a good size with good spacing to avoid eye strain. However I felt like the old initial theme had the text set too big, with a narrow area assigned for the main content making each s paragraph seem to flood the available space. When writing short blogs such as this, that may be fine. However, publishing longer stories was different and the previews of some current works always looked wrong to me.



Shakor Saga Release

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start.
– Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music

And a good place it is, too. In 2003 I started playing EVE Online as Darius Shakor. I spent weeks plotting my character back-story before I even had the game. The lore had me hooked, and I found my place among the Minmatar.

I had an old website, which fell into disrepair sometime between the last update in 2007, and about 2 years ago when I noticed it was pretty broken. It was hosted by a friend, and my skills were limited. They still are, but another friend of mine encouraged me to revise my efforts, get proper hosting and become familiar with a content management system such as WordPress.