Thursday, November 30, 2006

Doctor who?

doctorwho.jpgAs NaNoWriMo winds down today (or furiously races to the midnight finish) ... this is an idea suggested on the NaNoWriMo boards and gives me a chance to share my new favorite Doctor (Christopher Eccleston). (Is it sacrilege to put him above Tom Baker??) Incorporate as many of these quotes from the 9th Doctor as you can into a writing piece.
  • Ah, could've been worse. Look at the ears.
  • If you're an alien, then how comes you sound like you're from the North?
  • So what you're saying is, the whole world revolves around you?
  • The great and the good are gathering to watch the planet burn.
  • We don't want your pity! We want this world and all its flesh!
  • Excuse me, do you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?
  • Mickey the idiot, the world is in your hands--
  • He's dead. Sip Fel Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen is dead.
  • Exterminate.
  • Look at me, I'm stupid.
  • Don't touch the baby!
  • And I'm looking for a blonde in a Union Jack. A specific one, mind you, I didn't just wake up this morning with a craving.
  • Like I said, once. There's a banana grove there now. I like bananas. Bananas are good.
  • I'm... trying to resonate concrete.
  • Close the door will you? Your ship's about to blow up; there's gonna be a draft.
  • She's got a teleport! That's cheating! Now we'll never get her!
  • I think you're forgetting something: If there's one thing I can do it's talk. I've got 5 billion languages and you haven't got one way of stopping me.
  • I thought that was just a legend.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Make a wish

gothic_angel.jpgThis was posted by "Lucena Taven" in this year's NaNoWriMo Adopt-a-Plot folder.

#16: The main character (I always envisioned a man approaching middle age) is a hardened cynic, and tends to view the world with an angry, pessimistic light. One day, he's taking a walk in the park when he sees a little boy throwing pennies into the fountain, trying to get the "lady" in the fountain to catch one of the pennies in her hand, telling the man that if she catches one his wish will come true. The man, wishing to play along with the boy, throws one in, but doesn't make a wish. So, in lieu of granting his wish, the spirit of the fountain (who comes in the form of the lady statue) blesses/curses him by allowing him to see magic. Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing everything: household spirits, imaginary friends, vampires, angels...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Food, glorious food

grapes.jpgOne great technique for upping the all important word count for NaNoWriMo is writing about food.

In NaNo, there are no lattés. But there are no whip, one pump, double shot, 120 degree, pumpkin spice venti lattés with organic soy milk. (16 words!)

In NaNo, there isn't even roast goat, but there is organic Canadian maple roasted goat's meat topped with cloves, festive green maraschino cherries, and organic Canadian pineapple rings all drenched in a delightful cane sugar and organic Canadian clover honey sauce. (31 words!)

(Remember, anything can be organic and everything can be from Canada. And dash mark's come later in revising. honey-roasted=1 word. honey roasted=2 words.)

So, write about a feast or just a piece of (nine grain organic spelt sourdough) toast but be as florid as you can possibly be.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Heaven for sale

heavensbank.jpgThis was posted by "Lucena Taven" in this year's NaNoWriMo Adopt a Plot folder. If the exact description doesn't excite you, let it be a spark to fire up any idea for a story :-)

#16: Heaven and Hell are two large companies, but in recent years Heaven has declined and Hell has risen in power faster than Google. In order to keep the company from going out of business, the CEOs of Heaven sell it to Hell and retire to Greener Pastures. To keep their jobs, the angels of Heaven submit to their new masters; those who resist are "cast down to earth" in a manner ironically like the fall of Satan.

One of the main characters goes outside to see a meteor shower, and one of them falls into the sea nearby (I'm thinking this is a small coastal city, boardwalk, beach, etc.). So he/she goes out to see what happened, and they find a soggy and irate angel.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Limyaael's Rants

angryeyes.jpgThis is  a huge collection of rants (and essays) on fantasy writing, or, as one person put it, "long posts full of tips on how to not suck at fantasy writing."

Her full collection is at Limyaael's LiveJournal "Arin i Asolde" where there's a brief intro and a link to each post.

A more compact list of her older rants (pre-2006) by date is a Limyaael's Rants: Master List.

(Note: there is occasional language beyond PG-13.)

A sampling:
  • Dragons
  • Writing Non-Humans
  • Death and Weapons
  • Building Fantasy Worlds
  • Creating Breathing Characters
  • Female Protagonists Who Do Not Suck
  • Clichéd Fantasy
Here’s the headings for her piece on Names.
  1. Don’t base the name too closely on your own.
  2. Don’t make the name too long or too alien.
  3. Avoid unfortunate coincidences as much as possible. [That is, check to see if the name means something unintended in another language.]
  4. Make sure your character names fit the tone of the story.
  5. Don’t make nicknames cutesy.
  6. Adapt the name to the other names around it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Double dip

benandjerrys.gifFor 10-15 minutes make up ice cream flavors (and add descriptions if it's not obvious from the name.)

Get inspired by movie and song and book titles, cliches, other food, your favorite snacks and fruits, Star Trek, pop stars and pop rocks and pop culture, rhymes and bad puns.

If you come up with any you love, submit them to Ben and Jerry's Suggest a Flavor.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night ...

darkstormy.jpgIn honor of the month where the goal is word count rather than greatness, write a really bad opening sentence for one or more of the following categories:
  • General fiction
  • Adventure
  • Children's literature
  • Detective fiction
  • Fantasy fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Purple prose
  • Romance
  • Science fiction
  • Vile puns
  • Western
and if you wish:
  • Salute to Breasts
I didn't make that up! The categories are from the famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton who penned the infamous line that Snoopy was so fond of:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
The challenge of the contest is to come up with the worst opening line. There are examples from the 2006 winners and all the Grand prize winners back to 1983. If you'd like to submit your entry (they take submissions all year long for the final decision in April or June), check out the rules and guidelines for submission.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Character trading cards

charactercard.jpgThis is flawed but cool. Create Trading cards of your characters.

Answer a series of questions and at the end you can print out both sides on one page. You cut it out and fold the two sides together.

The problem is the print out is about half a page rather than 3.5 x 2.5 card size. (At least on my printer.)

There is a work around if your printer allows you to "print" to a file and you have some image manipulation software like Photoshop or Fireworks. After you click print on the card screen, click OK on the next screen and that might take you to the regular command page for your printer. There might be an option to save as a PDF Postscript file. (You won't be able to edit a regular PDF file.) If so, then you can import it, shrink it (make it 3.5 x 5 since it's both sides of the card), add a picture and print :-)

(There are several more games and activities at Read Write Think, some a bit schooly.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006


baseballcow.jpgUsually the text spammers send to fool the spam catchers sounds like it *almost* makes sense. But this month's spam promoting a particular stock included sort of Mad-Lib or Jabberwocky like paragraphs where all the tenses matched. I think there were several sentence templates and a confined set of words (since how often does one encounter the word mitochondrial?) But however it was done, it was well done :-)

If you want to see them in context, the text is at Best of Spam for October 2006.

Here's (way too many ;-) spam characters and situations to use as a writing prompt. There are several that work together (like some turkeys to gear up for Thanksgiving ;-) and some girl scouts.)
  • a stoic turkey reads a magazine
  • A turkey daydreams
  • Most people believe that a turkey completely secretly admires a stoic blood clot
  • a mean-spirited jersey cow eagerly trades baseball cards with the briar patch
  • a blithe spirit panics
  • The mysterious skyscraper writes a love letter to another turn signal.
  • a carelessly mitochondrial wedding dress
  • a somewhat mitochondrial fairy flies into a rage
  • a somewhat cantankerous fruit cake
  • When you see the chess board, it means that the insurance agent self-flagellates.
  • If a non-chalantly incinerated insurance agent plays pinochle with an often fat tornado, then a scythe inside a dolphin gets stinking drunk.
  • it takes a real pit viper to ridiculously bestow great honor upon a mastodon
  • A girl scout buys an expensive gift for an earring.
  • Another girl scout related to a photon starts reminiscing about lost glory
  • When a green girl scout starts reminiscing about lost glory, the parking lot beyond another ball bearing starts reminiscing about lost glory.
  • A spider over the cashier organizes the girl scout.
  • the flatulent avocado pit lazily recognizes a vaporized cowboy
  • an inexorably surly skyscraper gets stinking drunk
  • a cosmopolitan grain of sand prays
  • the parking lot hesitantly tries to seduce another tornado living with the ocean
  • A rattlesnake defined by a freight train recognizes the cab driver inside the avocado pit.
  • A fractured briar patch beams with joy
  • Some pickup truck inside the grand piano procrastinates
  • Most people believe that the gentle umbrella often satiates a football team of another ocean
  • If the cheese wheel sanitizes a spider, then an umbrella daydreams.
  • The highly paid hydrogen atom
  • A sheriff related to the minivan
  • An usually fashionable crank case

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The talismans are swallowing him!

talisman.jpgFor NaNoWriMo last year I created a couple of my favorite character by beginning a scene with a random line from manga. Pick one of the following to use as a writing prompt:
  • "The talismans are swallowing him!"
  • "I never thought the kid could be this powerful!"
  • "Sometimes in order to help someone you need to help yourself."
  • "You've wasted enough time. Kill them and I mean that."
  • "He certainly is good with small animals."
  • "It's rude to challenge someone when you're not sure what you believe."
  • "Calling them a pair of idiots isn't much of a stretch."
  • "Simply put, I go around beating up bad guys."
  • "But we're being all stealthy and everything."
  • "This is what happens when you mess with people who wear one glove!"
  • "Today is the day men give a single rose to the woman they love."
  • "I've got to watch out for his eyes. It feels like they can see right through me."
  • "One slip and the whole village will know everything about you -- and it'll be all wrong!"
  • "Why'd she text you. She could have just yelled through the window."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

Every fantasy cliche that you include at your own peril. ;-)

(Comments? Direct them to the author at Rinkworks.)

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

By David J. Parker
Additional Material By Samuel Stoddard

Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this "great, original fantasy" is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.

The Exam
  1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?
  4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  6. How about one that will destroy it?
  7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
  8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?
  9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?
  10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
  11. Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?
  12. Does "a forgetful wizard" describe any of the characters in your novel?
  13. How about "a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior"?
  14. How about "a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons"?
  15. Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?
  16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
  17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
  18. Would "a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword" aptly describe any of your female characters?
  19. Would "a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan" aptly describe any of your female characters?
  20. Is any character in your novel best described as "a dour dwarf"?
  21. How about "a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage"?
  22. Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?
  23. Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?
  24. Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?
  25. Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?
  26. Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like "The Blasted Lands" or "The Forest of Fear" or "The Desert of Desolation" or absolutely anything "of Doom"?
  27. Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you've read the entire book, if even then?
  28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
  29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
  30. Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?
  31. Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you're still many sequels away from finishing your "story"?
  32. Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?
  33. Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?
  34. Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?
  35. Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?
  36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
  37. Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?
  38. Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?
  39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?
  40. How about "orken" or "dwerrows"?
  41. Do you have a race prefixed by "half-"?
  42. At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?
  43. Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?
  44. Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?
  45. Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?
  46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?
  47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don't?
  48. Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?
  49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won't break the plot?
  50. Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as "fireball" or "lightning bolt"?
  51. Do you ever use the term "mana" in your novel?
  52. Do you ever use the term "plate mail" in your novel?
  53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term "hit points" in your novel?
  54. Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?
  55. Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?
  56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
  57. Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?
  58. Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?
  59. Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?
  60. Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more? [info]
  61. Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?
  62. Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?
  63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
  64. Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?
  65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?
  66. Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?
  67. Do you think that "mead" is just a fancy name for "beer"?
  68. Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
  69. Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves' guild?
  70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?
  71. Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?
  72. Is "common" the official language of your world?
  73. Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?
  74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?
  75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.
Comments about the list? Go here and you can write to the author :-) -- who is not me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Abandon beat chocolate

chocolate_chunks.jpgI used this list of words to drive the second scene in my NaNo novel this month. (I'm up to "incense" so far. I'll post what I come up with at the end of the day.) (Yes, there are 2 s's and no x.) Though not important, it's weird that I don't know where the list came from. It was tacked onto the bottom of a bunch of characters Kat and I came up with back in September. The mind is failing!

Use them in a story or write individual sentences for each.
vicious/viscous (Pick one. I had written down viscious which is an amalgamation of the two ;-)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Top Ten Tabloid Headlines for November 2006

wwnskulls.gifFrom The City Newsstand's (a newsstand/bookstore in Chicago) monthly MAGBAG -- Top 10 Tabloid Headlines. (Mostly from Weekly World News (WWN) and the SUN.)
  3. Taco vendor turns tiny visitors' abandoned spacecraft into an . . . ALIEN SOMBRERO! — WWN
  4. OMAHA BIN LADEN Osama's brother rides the range as a cowboy — WWN
  5. Giant Mexican monster skull proves... OGOPOGO IS ALIVE! — SUN
  6. Dust bunnies breed like rabbits — WWN
  8. Beer beats prostate cancer — SUN
  10. ALIEN MUMMY GOES ON RAMPAGE! Trick-or-treaters terrorized by undead E.T. — WWN