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Distractions

I recently finished reading The Black Prism by Brent Weeks.  A great novel that is full of characters you can relate to and a plot that is imaginative and engaging to the reader.  It has a well thought out world that has depth and dynamic. The magic is believable and based a bit on real life.  In other words, you should go by this novel if you have any love for Fantasy novels.  You can wait until you finish reading my post, but as soon as you are done, go buy it.

Like every great story I finish, I find myself sad it is over.  But, I also find myself inspired to write a great novel of my own.  I also find myself looking at my latest novel and wondering why I have not done much to advance it.  When I undertook writing with a serious intention of being published this past March, I told myself I would complete one short story a month and a novel by the end of the year.

That means I should have written nine short stories and one novel.  Currently I have completed four short stories and about 2,500 words into the second draft of my novel (the first draft was written years ago, so really this is a rewrite first draft).  I also completed a Children’s picture book my son and I wrote together.  A far cry from being where I wanted to be.

There are some pluses.  First, two of those four stories were published this year.  The other two are currently out to markets.  The children’s book is currently waiting on the illustrator to complete the drawings.  It has a scheduled release for the early part of 2012.  Both of which I think are good accomplishments for a writer in his first serious year of writing.

But, why I have fallen so short of my goals?  When I finished The Black Prism, I really began to quiz myself of the true cause of my short comings.  The answer was simple: Distractions.

I have a long list of distractions.  Many of those distractions are worth it and they have to to come first.  Those include: My kids, my wife, my health, my chores, my job (when I had one), and searching for a job.  But there are some I could trim out.  Such as: Television, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Battlefield 3, and the internet.

Of course, the real trouble is actually making those cuts.  Every time I power up this laptop the first sight I go to is Facebook.  I can’t help it.  Then I have to check Twitter now (a site I used to hate and now for some reason I can’t avoid it).  Then I go look for work, then I go check out all the sites related to Battlefield 3, then I check my writers forum, then check the site stats for this blog, then I go back to Facebook, and then I check Google+.  By then I am tired of the internet, so I shut off my lap top and turn on the TV.  Through all of this my children need my attention.  I cook dinner, put the kids to bed, my wife comes home from work, we watch TV, and then off to bed.  And I always say, “Tomorrow I will have to get some writing done.”

Perhaps I am not taking writing serious enough.  I don’t think so.  I like doing it and I enjoy seeing the positive reviews of the things people have read of mine.  The truth is, and I have mentioned this before, I just have to make the time.  Most of the time there is nothing on TV, but I watch it anyway.  Most of the time there is nothing new on Facebook, but I check it anyway.  I am finding Google+ useless but I still check it.  And I don’t know why I am so addicted to Twitter now.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are great for me to get in touch with my fans and fellow writers.  I won’t cut them out completely.  I certainly won’t be able to cut out Battlefield 3 for a while.  I enjoy the game.  But, I can limit them.  I intend to limit them and focus on my novel.

One thousand words a day would reach novel length in just forty days.  Of course my novel may be longer and I almost never just write 1000 words in a writing session, but that certainly seems like a reasonable goal.  However goals are not worth much if you don’t try.  I will try to hold to that goal, and you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter to see how I do.

So I know have two 2012 resolutions: 1) Exercise and lose weight, 2) Write more.

Of course I have more, but I will save that for another post.

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Video Games and Story Telling

I haven’t mentioned this much, maybe a few posts here and there, but I love video games.  Like many people in my generation, I have grown up with the video game industry.  As it has grown so have I.  I started with Mario on the NES, and this week I began playing Battlefield 3 for my PC.  That is a lot of growth in a short amount of time.

Just like writing, I don’t have as much time for games as I used to.  In life, you have to make time for the things you love to do.  So I make time for the games when I can.  And, of course, when a new game I love comes out (such as Battlefield 3) I tend to spend a lot of time with it.  And, while getting my butt kicked last night, I thought a lot about my uncontested favorite video games: Tomb Raider.  It got me thinking about a different aspect of video game evolution.  So this morning, I figured I better get this blog out now before I started in on the Battlefield.

Its easy to notice the evolution of graphics, controls, consoles, or even the sheer size of the games.  But, story telling has almost become a requirement in the video game world.  Take a look at the original Mario Bros., a game that is still great today, but really tells a limited story.  Scroll Right and save the princess.  The story has since grown, so that even the newest Mario games have a far more detailed story.

But stories have gotten even more important in the over all game play.  Characters’ stories are often crafted and even the slightest of changes are contested by the fans.  Katie Fleming, the Queen of Tomb Raider Fandom, recently hosted a Youtube video debate on the changes to Lara Croft’s character bio.  I mention this because it demonstrates the affect of story telling on today’s games. This was a very passionate debate by loving fans to Lara and the Tomb Raider franchise.  There is true love there for the character and her story.

People can now get even more immersed in the game world by an entertaining story, a creative world to be explored, characters you care about, and a protagonist you love to hate.  Sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it?  The same recipe for a good story has now become the recipe for a good game.  Games have become more about being playable stories then just a game.  I have spent many nights up late playing one more “level” just to find out what happens next in the story.  Just as I have done so many times with the pages of a book.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7GVSx7yMaA]

I think the evolution of gaming in the direction of story telling started early.  Almost all games had a story of some sort.  But, it has become so important now that even games like Battlefield 3, that are primarily played for their massive multi-player interaction, have ensured they have a story to go with their game.  Picking up a gun and shooting other players has no longer become good enough for most of the gamers.

With the development of another Tomb Raider in the works, story telling comes to the forefront again.  Almost all the buzz about this game has been about the story:  The reinventing of Lara (again) for our playing enjoyment.  I have not heard much talk of graphics, moves, or controls.  The talk has been about Lara’s new look, the story of Lara’s past, and the world she will be stuck in.  The same things I talk about (and look for) in a good book.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN7_8Yholm4]

In fact, video game characters have made the move into other story telling medium as well.  Of course you have movies like Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, and Prince of Persia.  Tomb Raider had a great run of Comic Books.  Some have even made their way into novels.  In fact, if the right people are reading this I should note that I would love to write a Tomb Raider Novel (HINT HINT SHAMELESS PLUG).

As a writer you may have considered writing a novel, a comic book, or even a movie.  But the world of video games offers another chance for story telling.  And, video gamers can be the most fun and challenging group to write for.  We love our games, their characters, their worlds, and the story they have to tell.

Now if you will excuse me, I am needed on the Battlefield.

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