Header Image - Getting the words out by any means possible.

Back from Gen Con

by Jonathan 0 Comments
On My Wishlist for 2009

On My Wishlist for 2009

When I was 13, I had a subscription to Dragon magazine (now available only with an online subscription). I would pore over the pages endlessly, wondering about all the cool stuff I saw in there from ads for Bandersnatch Leathers dice bag to gaming conventions. Gen Con was the mack daddy of gaming cons (and still is). So, 26 years later, I finally went.

It was awesome.

I mean that in so many respects – the amount of people, the number of people who liked to dress in costume, the amount of gaming opportunities, the myriad ways to dump cash.

My goal was simple – game as much as possible. I had hoped to play some regular Dungeons and Dragons, but I did not sign up in advance and they were pretty well filled up. I changed my approach and made every effort to play games that I hadn’t played before. I wound up playing Aerodrome 1.1, Game of Thrones Card Game, Chaos Marauders, Last Night on Earth, Call of Cthulhu 6th edition and Age of Conan. I also got an overview of Android from Fantasy Flight Games.

I spent most of my time at the Aerodrome table because I could get in pretty easily (the guys running the show were very nice and enthusiastic about newcomers) and the people playing were fun to be around.

I also spent a good bit of time hovering around the Fantasy Flight Games exhibitions because I think they do such a good job from great production values to game mechanics. Although I did not get to play Android, it looks pretty cool. They had a couple of games of Android going during the convention with a running time of about 5 hours. It looked complex, but in a good, conspiracy theory layered over murder mystery kind of way.

If nothing else, Gen Con was great for getting my gaming fix. I’ve already marked it on my calendar for next year. I didn’t write nearly as much as I thought I would, but I have no regrets about taking a little break to explore fantasy settings in a different way.

Morass

by Jonathan 6 Comments
My head - right now.

My head - right now.

Just a quick question to all three of you who occasionally read this thing. I’m closing in on the end of my first draft and there are definitely elements where I feel like I’m swimming in a whole bunch of concepts, many of which seem disparate. At one point in my mind they seemed coherent, especially conceptually. But now, I ain’t fer sure. I’ll probably let it go and revisit the whole thing during revisions, but I was just hoping for a little lifeline from anyone out there who has enjoyed a similar experience.

Almost There

by Jonathan 1 Comment
Finish Line at Ancient Olympia

Finish Line at Ancient Olympia

I hit 90k words yesterday. Things are coming along well enough for the first draft. The story lines are coming to a head and the ending is in site. I figure I’ll have about 110k first draft words after the dust settles.

With a little luck, some of it will be good and worth keeping. With a lot of hard work, I hope to fine tune the ms. and circulate it to a handful of trusty readers (those I trust to call a spade a spade and tell me how the book affects them, for better or worse).

As I’ve written these pages, I find myself wondering what I hope most writers wonder – am I doing it right? Only time and readers will tell, but I have to say that this has been a joy to experience. So far I’ve come away with the perception that dedication and determination will be the keys to succeeding. Yes, talent must be in there, too, but without the commitment, talent doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Getting ready for Gen Con

by Jonathan 0 Comments
The Best Four Days in Gaming!

The Best Four Days in Gaming!

I’m getting ready to head to Gen Con for the first time ever on Wednesday. I’ve got some friends out in Indy who are avid Magic the Gathering players and a friend from here in WV with whom I game. It should be good, although I don’t know exactly what to expect. I haven’t signed up for any games in hopes of being able to get in on some pick up stuff. I look forward to checking out the retail hall and the Authors’ Avenue. It should be rollicking good time, a laugh a minute thrill ride. Of course I’ll be bringing my trusty new laptop (should be rolling in tomorrow) so that I may get some words down while there (we’ll see).

What Makes a Good Story?

Amazing freehand art by Gao Guangyan

Amazing freehand art by Gao Guangyan

Drifting through the ether of the interwebs, I’ve come across numerous accounts of what makes a good story. Here. Here. And here, for example. Commentors weave common answers related to plot, characterization, diction and so forth into the ongoing discussion. Along with techniques, style and the story itself, the reader’s predilections also determine what makes a good story. Those who devour mysteries have different criteria than consumers of inspirational writing whose criteria differ from fans of pulp fiction. And that’s okay. In fact, it is better than okay. I think that’s the part I love about reading. I have a pretty good handle on what I like – characters that surprise, world building with depth of time and geography, action, to name a few – but I also find that my willingness to try new works in different genres is exciting in its own right.

I commented earlier in Writing Standards, my post about my perception that it can be difficult to feel like your writing, your story, is different from others when you start using the conventional wisdoms of writing as your guide more than the story itself. I’ve read thrillers by many different authors and, after a while, they do start to run together. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading those, it just means I just don’t hunger for those kinds of books like I do for books such as Blade of Tyshalle, or Game of Thrones, or The Darkness that Comes Before. And there it is: I like fantasy of the epic sort. So not only do I need a good story, but also I need a certain elements that resonate long after I’ve finished the book. What makes a good story for you, the reader?

Though I’ve run off on a bit of a tangent here, my takeaway as a writer is to keep the audience in mind (in this case, it’s me). If I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, then my ideal reader probably won’t either.