Tag Archives: Replay

The day we wed.

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Our wedding date was a coincidence; we wanted to ensure Megan’s maid of honor could (legally) drink. We had originally selected a date in late May. Our venue wasn’t available. The first Saturday they were available was June 7th.

What’s so special about June 7th?

Not much…usually. But June 7th, 2008? In American notation, that’s 06/07/’08. Your last chance to have a “sequential” date this millennium is 11/12/’13.

The date was a bonus I didn’t care much about. Even as a kid, I’d fantasized marrying the woman of my dreams.

Megan literally was. In every sense of the word. The Beatles must have had her in mind when they wrote Because: She turns me on, she makes me high, she makes me cry, more than the world, wind and sky.

It was the happiest day of my life…but so have many days spent together since. It’s a delicious paradox. Read More →

Writing is rewriting

justice_scaleSo, more people have read Perfect Justice now. Feedback is still rolling in.

The cool thing about hearing from multiple people, and why I push so hard to distribute my work, is that although everybody has one or two ideas unique to their personalities, there’s some advice which is the same from person to person.

That is the advice I latch onto, because it most likely represents a common element lacking in a story. And that’s why it’s important that as many people read and respond as possible.

Although I haven’t acted on most of his comments (as is my prerogative given that this is still ultimately my work), my co-worker Ted had possibly the single most brilliant insight about the opening of Perfect Justice. He pointed out that although I mention, briefly, that Replay technology is available commercially, I don’t expand on any of the possibilities. That’s a missed opportunity to draw the reader in to what a wonderful invention such a program might be. My shout-out to Ted is including baseball as one of the examples, even though I was tempted (from personal preference alone) to use an example from football instead.

As you know, I’ve been devouring podcasts about writing — more on my favorite podcast and the massive injustice to me in it in a future post. But for now, I’ll say that one episode about writing openings really opened my eyes to a simple but effective technique: mentioning objects as a form of quick and dirty, but very tangible description.

Perfect Justice has very little in the way of “here’s what things look like”, so that of course made me consider adding a little here and there.

The advice from the podcast is to use little lists of objects; especially adding one at the end that doesn’t fit with the others quite right to generate suspense. I’ll try an original example and see if I can convey how it works:

Mugs half filled with beer. A stain on the floor. A washcloth left on one table. And a flawlessly folded white kimono.

Did I succeed? You tell me. But the intent is obvious; I’m describing a bar. The kimono at the end is supposed to pull the reader in with a: What, what? Kimono? One of these things is not like the others… What’s going on? Who left a kimono in a bar scene? Why is it neatly folded in a place that’s still really messy?
Even though I may not have executed it correctly (it’s late and as always, I’m too close to the work anyway), it certainly was an effective technique when demonstrated in the podcast. The simplest of objects has a way of grabbing your attention when it’s mentally out of place.

The feedback on Perfect Justice which coincided with this is that a couple/three people have told me already (in their own various terminologies) that the story lacks imagery. And as a result, it’s hard to picture. So while it’s intellectually engaging (so I hope), it doesn’t hijack the reader’s imagination the way a truly well-crafted tale ought.

So I have been tinkering away at a new version. It follows here.

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Aiden struggled against the urge to speak out as they strapped him down. The bench was cold, even through his orange jumpsuit. He was self-conscious, almost shameful, of the touch of handcuffs and leg irons. The light from dozens of computers cast a pale glow across the lab. He ached to tell them how so very wrong they were, but it would have been futile; his protests would be ignored. What could he say that other prisoners hadn’t said?

The System was perfect. The System didn’t make mistakes.

Inevitably, they would discover their error, but this was little consolation. By then it would be too late. Still, Aiden had to try one more time. He couldn’t simply give up and let them win.

“I’m innocent,” he said flatly.

Nobody cared. In the background, someone even chuckled. Jackass, Aiden thought. But that was all the acknowledgment he got; no one else even glanced at him.

Aiden wondered what his lawyer was doing right now. Sipping sherry in a luxury condo? Providing legal advice to a gang leader who would probably walk?

The most worthless people on earth are the ones who bill for hundreds of dollars an hour, he thought, savoring the irony.

Aiden’s handlers plugged him into the latest hardware, the victim’s record already queued.

Full of nervous energy, Aiden’s mind began to play word games: Victim’s vision! Vicious vision! Vive la vision! Recognizing this might border hysteria, Aiden forced himself to breathe calmly. Beneath his apprehension lay an undercurrent of curiosity. Whatever horrors awaited, this would be his first experience with Replay, also available for commercial and entertainment use.

For normal people, Replay was a miracle come to life. The average Joe could feel – for a reasonable price – what it was like to throw the last pitch of a seven-game World Series. Or to ponder the first move against a grand master at a chess tournament. There were even rumors of black market recordings of sex with delicious Hollywood starlets.

Under other circumstances, this would be downright adventurous.

“Is he ready?” someone asked.

“Who cares? Do it,” one technician replied.

“Sweet dreams,” the first added cruelly.

Someone across the room typed a command, and the keyboard’s clacking was the last sound Aiden heard. His world vanished as abruptly as an extinguished light.

It worked…

addictedRather than quitting World of Warcraft cold turkey (which I have done before, but it didn’t stick in the long run), I have instead tried the the route of discipline:

Simply playing less.

It worked. When I feel the urge to game, I will attempt to scratch the itch by playing much more cyclical one-player games instead. I don’t know how others feel, but for me single player games don’t cut it anymore; I just get bored with seeing the same content over and over. Cheats, mods, savefile editors and such can add a certain additional replay value, but those grow stale even more quickly than the original game.

So then I pace the apartment. I check chess.com compulsively every five minutes. I watch *gasp* television. (Streaming with no commercials, still, though.)

And then eventually…I get bored enough to write.

Success!

I wrote for some 7 or 8 hours Saturday and another 4 on Sunday. Furthermore, I managed a personal first: Diving directly into another story while the ink from my last project is still drying.

I considered putting up another poll to ask what you want to read next, having now (re)finished Perfect Justice. But then I’d want to give the poll time to gather enough info — the last one took about ten days before all votes were in, and even then I only garnered nine votes in total.

Instead, I decided merely to write the next story.

For those who are keeping up with me, I’ll go ahead and tell you the next one is going to be Second Chances; you can read the synopsis over on the sidebar.

I will also introduce you to a new project on my idea board:

Road Rage is about a guy so frustrated and angered by the idiotic and dangerous ways of rude drivers that he finally decides to do something about it. But he isn’t content with merely taking your license. Violate his rules, and he’ll be taking your life.

This was unexpected…

spore_galaxy_wallpaper_1680px_by_weejewelI ventured back into Spore the other day for the simple reason of refreshing myself for the review of it (below).

Now I’m hooked on it all over again, even after I raked it over the coals for lack of replay value. I expect my enthusiasm to fade again with repetition, at least until the xpac release, but for the time being I’m fully immersed again, and recently uploaded both my 50th vehicle and 50th building designs.

What does this have to do with writing science fiction? Spore lets me design, evolve, animate, and control my own aliens! What the gameplay lacks, imagination supplies.

(Somewhat.)