Tag Archives: writing

More play time for writers :)

My thanks to Dancingpalmtrees for introducing me to this fun app:

https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/m1bt/curse-of-surreal-pipe.html

The example you see there was created by Dancingpalmtrees, and she kindly gave me permission to use it to show you what the app does. 😀

To give it a try yourselves, just scroll down a little until you reach a big green button that says ‘Write a horror plot like this’.

That button will take you to a kind of form where you simply fill in the blanks with whatever takes your fancy. When you’re finished, the app. will scramble it all up and create a ‘story’ out of the elements you’ve provided.

Alternatively, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen to a button that says ‘Create New’. Clicking this button takes you to a screen where you can choose to create something in sci-fi, romance, like the Bronte sisters etc, etc. Select whichever options appeals to you, click it and you’ll get the same form. Just fill it in and sit back to have a good giggle.

Go on, give it a go! You’re welcome. 😀

cheers
Meeks


I write like H.G.Wells?

I’m normally a skeptic when it comes to apps that purport to analyse this, that or the other but…this tool is spot on. It’s spooky how accurate it is…

Okay so ‘what’ is it?

‘It’ is an online app that analyses your writing based on a sample that you cut and paste onto the webiste. This is the sample I used from the Prologue of Vokhtah [and yes, I rewrote it some time ago to make it less drawn-out-prologue and more succinct intro.].

‘Tohoh was always a desperate time of year. The shimmering heat of the dry season tested every living thing on the planet, but with the red sun drawing ever closer, the winnowing of the weakest was accelerating.

Out on the plains, the scorched grass trembled in the heat haze, and the heavy seed heads hung limp on brittle stalks. Nothing moved, not even the herds of hungry akaht. They, like all the other beasts, knew when to shelter from the suns’ ill-temper.

Only on the very fringes of the grassland, where rock met soil, was there any movement. There, the black shapes of iVokh foragers trudged slowly through the waist-high grass, their long, leathery wings tucked into their sides as they harvested the seeds the akaht had missed.

As the day wore on, and the heat intensified, the eyes of the Foragers lingered ever longer on the patches of deep shade. They longed for the day to end so they could return to the cool of the Settlement, but the approach of true dark brought its own dangers, for that was when the to’pak awoke, and they were always hungry.’

In less that half a second, the app. came back with this:

‘About H. G. Wells

Picture of H. G. Wells

Herbert George “H.G.” Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was a British author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as “The Father of Science Fiction”.

Wells’s earliest specialized training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context. He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as the beginning of the First World War) sympathizing with pacifist views.

Whilst I did read H.G.Wells in my late teens, I swear on a stack of bibles that I knew nothing about his background, especially the bits highlighted in blue. More importantly, I’ve never seen him as a major influence in my work. Ursula K. LeGuin, yes. Frank Herbert, yes. H.G.Wells? Um…

I have absolutely no idea how the app. does what it does but I’m about to try it on Miira. And then, just for giggles, I’ll try it on one of the How-to books.

If you’re a writer and you want to see what your own writing style is like, go here:

https://iwl.me/s/a85d5606

cheers

Meeks

 


Neural network needs help with novel writing

I couldn’t resist this one. A neural network [human brain-like computer] needs thousands of ‘first sentences’ from novels to learn how to write a first sentence of its own. Think of this as teaching baby to become Shakespeare. 🙂

In order to feed baby with enough first sentences, Janelle Shane of ‘Ai Weirdness’ is asking netizens to donate first sentences from their own novels, their favourite novels, or any novels on their bookshelves [or Kindles]. These first sentences will be fed to baby to improve its current, um, not-so-creative efforts. Some of its first sentences are hilarious.

I’ve donated first sentences from my books so why not jump in and donate some from yours? No need to register or even leave an email address so it’s super quick and easy. You can read the article and find the form here:

http://aiweirdness.com/post/167049313837/a-neural-network-tries-writing-the-first-sentence

Go on, do it!

Meeks


Sometimes I surprise even myself…

Apologies if I’ve been less visible of late, but I’ve started writing again, and that tends to give me tunnel vision. The story I’m writing is the long delayed, next chapter of the Vokhtah saga.

The story of my psychopathic hermaphrodites languished for four years while I wrote Innerscape, but now they’re back, and I’ve had to re-acquaint myself with their world all over again. Part of that process was to do a backwards outline of the original story, and that’s where this post comes in. I’d actually forgotten that I wrote this preface to the Vokhtan to English dictionary:

Due to the radical differences between Vokh and human physiology, this sound guide is an approximation only. Where humans speak by forcing air past their vocal chords and then shape the resultant sound in the mouth, the Vokh and iVokh use their mouths for eating only. Their lungs are located in their wings, and they inhale and exhale through hundreds of small cilia on the leading edges of their wings, by-passing the mouth entirely. Thus the sounds they produce are akin to the multiple sounds produced by a pipe organ. Even pure sounds have a resonance human speakers cannot match.

Adding to the difficulty of accurately representing the Vokhtan language is the native speakers’ habit of deliberately distorting their speech with ‘chords’, in order to convey tone and inflection. Harmonious ‘chords’ – like the major 5th in human music – denote agreement, pleasure, delight etc. Discords, on the other hand, can imply a range of emotions from disbelief to contempt. Yet despite the musical quality of Vokhtan, neither the Vokh nor the iVokh have ever developed the concept of music.

Vokhtan for human speakers is further complicated by the fact that the spoken language also includes an array of scent cues produced in glands at the base of each cilia. These scent cues are aspirated with certain audible sounds to form a combined sound/scent amalgam. For example, in the word ‘Vokh’ the ‘h’ at the end represents both the sound of the aspiration, and the scent denoting respect or admiration, something humans are incapable of reproducing.

Please keep these difficulties in mind when attempting to speak Vokhtan.

lol – I really did spend a lot of time thinking about the Vokh and the iVokh. From 2004 to 2012 to be exact. There was so much to discover about them. I mean, they all have sharp claws, right, even the much smaller, less aggressive iVokh. But sharp, pointed claws tend to get in the way when you’re not killing something, so how were the iVokh supposed to craft anything?

The ladies reading this post will immediately recognize the problem of nails that stick out half an inch past the end of your fingers. So how did the iVokh manage? By doing what we do, of course. They squared off the tips of their claws. But wait…how would they have cut their claws? Clearly they would need tools of some kind. Not scissors, no, but something like a small nail file perhaps. Except that nail files don’t grow on bushes. The iVokh would need Smiths to make the nail files, and the Smiths would need metal of some sort…

And so it went. Every idea came with its own baggage of pre-requisites, and each day of writing revealed some new discovery. It was an exciting time, but that was then. Now, I have to relearn all these tiny, yet important details so I don’t make any horrible mistakes, like saying that one iVokh punched another.

The iVokh certainly fight, but not with a clenched fist. Why? Two physiological reasons:

  1. Even with their claws blunted, striking with a clenched fist would drive the claws into their own palms, and
  2. Both iVokh and Vokh hands are quite weak in comparison to the rest of their bodies. They do have opposable thumbs, but they only have two fingers, and those fingers are long and spindly. A punch would probably break the whole hand.

And these are the little things that I have to learn all over again. If anyone’s interested, I’ve been trying to do a graphic of the hand. Still very much a work-in-progress, but here it is:

cheers

Meeks

 


#Innerscape and the joy of negative wordcounts

The title is a little misleading – I don’t actually have a negative wordcount, I have a positive wordcount of 137 for the day – but I am very, very happy.

Why? Because I know I’ve written much, much more than that today.

How much more?

I don’t know. I didn’t check my total wordcount in StoryBox before I deleted a huge chunk of verbiage this morning. That meant I started the day with a negative wordcount, and it’s taken me all day to fill up the gap. So the fact that I do have a positive wordcount is great news, especially as they are all good words, the kind of words I won’t want to delete when I start work on the story again tomorrow.

I know everyone says to ‘just write’ [and edit later], but that’s never been how I work. The story comes to me in fits and starts, and it’s often the nuances that point the way to the next scene. That’s why I write and delete and write again, groping for the story like a mole in a coal mine.

Writing isn’t always painful though. Sometimes I hit patches where everything is crystal clear in my mind, and the writing flows like a river in flood. Those are the times that keep me going because they produce a high that surely rivals the best drug on the market. And it’s free. 🙂

Sadly, the highs have been few and far between the last few months, but yesterday and today I began to see how Innerscape must end. I’m not quite there yet, but I know that when I eventually type the last word, it will be true to my two main characters – Miira and Kenneth.They’ve taken me on a very long journey, but I think I’ve finally done justice to their story. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

p.s. I’ve turned comments off because this is just me, high fiving myself at the end of a great day. -hugs-


I’ve just written the Epilogue to Innerscape…and the story isn’t even finished yet!

meeka thumbs up

As a pantster, I rarely outline, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, StoryBox has changed the way I write. Instead of writing every story as a long, linear progression, as I used to do in Word, I now write in chapters and scenes. What this means is that when I get a flash of inspiration, I can bung it in a new chapter without worrying about all the bits in between that still have to be written.

In the case of the Epilogue, I still have about 3 critical chapters to write before the story actually reaches ‘the end’, but the ideas I had this morning were too good to just note down for future reference.  Dot points really don’t allow the nuanced feelings of a scene to come through, so I thought ‘why not’ and went for it.

Whether this out-of-sequence writing turns out to be useful in the end, I don’t know, but I have a funny feeling the 1600+ words I wrote today will not end up on the cutting room floor. 🙂

-happy dance-

Meeks


#Innerscape part 10 – the thriller I had no intention of writing

I’m in way over my head! I write sci-fi, not thrillers or mysteries…so how did I get to a point where I’m having to work out time differentials for the plot?

Before I try to explain what’s been driving me crazy, I need to say that all of my favourite sci-fi books weave together a mix of history, culture, psychology, politics, technology, conflict and an element of mystery. Think Dune, and working out the relationship of the great worms to the planet’s ecology. All of that is normal because good sci-fi creates worlds, and worlds are full of people, and people do ‘stuff’.

I understand all that, especially the bit about people doing ‘stuff’. My problem is that I never expected the characters in Innerscape to finish up doing mystery thriller type stuff.

I’ve read mystery thriller type books by the boat load, but there is a world of difference between reading in a genre and trying to write in that genre. I feel as if I’m groping for the ‘rules’ on the fly, and it’s hard. Integrating the requirements of mystery/thrillers into a sci-fi environment is even harder, and at the moment I’m stuck on ‘time’.

To make the plot work, various people have to do various things, together and in sequence, so I have to know when things happen, right down to the last minute. But…in order to make the Residents of Innerscape feel as if they are living for longer, time in Innerscape runs faster than time on the outside. About twenty minutes faster.

As an aspect of science fiction, this time differential between Innerscape and the outside world is not a big deal. I do some hand waving and a bit of arithmetic and the time flows make sense. Easy peasey…until I introduce the twin elements of mystery and thriller to the mix. Suddenly the difference between Innerscape time and real world time matters, a lot. So does how I present this conflict between internal and external time.

Right from the beginning of Innerscape, I’ve worked hard to make the reader feel as if time really is passing, hopefully without hitting them over the head with dates and durations and elapsed blah blah. Now, though, I’ve reached a point where I really am going to have to elevate time to the position of Very Important Plot Element, and I’m struggling.

The pic below is a screenshot of the StoryBox navigation pane for Part 10. It’s one of the reasons I love StoryBox as it allows me to outline, more or less on the fly:

innerscape navigation time

 

As an outline, the pic only makes sense to me [just as well or I’d have to post a Spoiler Alert!]. But it does show how I’m trying to work out what happens when.

Sadly, the reason I’m writing this post is that I’m sort of stumped…and procrastinating. Once I finish the post, I’m going to have to resort to pen and paper to storyboard the exact sequence of events because at the moment, I feel horribly muddled. -sigh-

If there are any thriller/mystery writers out there with tips, I’d love to hear them.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


Empire of Angels [from Two Steps From Hell]

I have loved the music of Two Steps from Hell for a few years now, and it was perfect for the soundtrack to Vokhtah, but for Innerscape I needed something softer and more romantic. Enter Jo Blankenburg and the start of another love affair with music.

Unfortunately, as the mood of a story changes, so must the music that underscores it. That is why this latest phase of the Innerscape story [yes, I’m at it again] sent me hunting for new music, and I found it right here:

The composer, Thomas Bergersen, is actually one half of the music writing superteam of Two Steps From Hell, but in this solo album he lets his softer, more romantic side loose, and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, there is even a track in 3/4 time [waltz time]. As soon as I heard that track I knew this new album was for me.

I hope you like it as much as I do. 🙂

Meeks


Cures for the not-so-common Blah

I thought I’d be happy when I finished writing Innerscape. Hell, I thought I’d be ecstatic!

– No more getting up at dawn to squeeze in a few hours of writing before the working day began.

– No more dreaming of storylines – and yes, most mornings I wake feeling as if I’ve spent the whole night writing because that’s what my brain has been doing while the rest of me slept.

– No more hitting myself over the head when I can’t get the plot to work.

– No more worrying about not being able to write/finish – and yes, that is the counterpoint to this. 😦

In short, I really believed that once I wrote ‘The End’, I’d leap into real life again with gusto. Not so. In one of those feats of human contrariness, I’m facing the coming weeks of enforced rest* with trepidation. In fact, I feel blah.

For those unaware of the finer points of language, ‘blah’ is a technical term for not knowing what to do with oneself, and feeling miserable as a result. You must remember this :

Okay, the relevance of that video clip is a bit of stretch, but ‘you must remember’ how it felt when you were a teen, and the end of year exams were suddenly over? After all that furious studying there was suddenly – nothing. Part of you still felt as if you had things to do, urgent, important things, but the energy to do them had no outlet.

Well, I’m feeling much the same now, except that this misery is a kind of double-blah because unlike exams, I actually do enjoy writing.

I know the blah will fade as the habit fades, but the paradox is that I’m equally scared of that eventuality – I know what writer’s block feels like, and that misery is even worse than this one. So in an attempt to keep my hand in – without going back to Innerscape – I’ve decided to re-read the very first story I ever wrote. This mammoth, unfinished masterpiece -cough- took up two years of my life, and I still have a four drawer filing cabinet crammed full of research material.

A decade on, I’d like to think I’ll be pleasantly surprised but …I have a six-pack of tissues close at hand just in case. Remember, this is the story I wrote straight after my last technical manual. Yes, I thought you’d understand.

I fully expect to spend the next few days either crying or laughing hysterically. When I emerge, however, I’ll need some more coping mechanisms, so please share your cures for the blah in comments!

Thanks in advance,

Meeks

*I think it was Stephen King who recommended throwing your newly finished manuscript into a drawer for six months before starting to edit. The idea is that time and distance from the story will allow you to see the manuscript with fresh eyes – i.e. see what you actually wrote instead of what you think you wrote. This technique does work, I know it does, but it’s hellishly hard to switch off from a story and characters that have consumed your life for months on end.

 

 


You’ll never see toast the same way again!

Okay, people, I know two posts about writing in as many days is probably a bit much, but this one is so funny!

Here’s a teensy weensy sample talking about the concept of ‘the Chosen One’, and how much of a cliche it is. Author S.E. Zbasnik, muses on what might happen if the all powerful ‘they’ picked the wrong chosen one. They might find that:

‘The true savior of the Lumtkins was actually a sentient piece of bread, but no one thought to armor up toast.’

Read the full article here. I’m going back to laugh some more. 😀

Meeks


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