Tag Archives: chuck wendig

NaNoing Time!

TyperwriterIn just a few short days I will be undertaking, for the fourth time, NaNoWriMo. This time it’s different, this time it’s grander… this time… maybe I won’t fail. Haha.

I do have to apologize for the lack of updates lately. Things have been a bit hectic here. Job interviews and birthday celebrations and Halloween parties… etc, etc. And now I’m gearing up for NaNo. I can’t promise you regular updates through the month of November, but I can promise you this… you will get far too many posts about what I’m working on, excerpts, word counts… and the like. Far more than you’ll want to read.

But things will go back to normal in December… maybe. Chuck Wendig doesn’t call it “National Edit Your Shit Month” (NaEdYoShiMo) for nothing… Although if you need a break after the insanity of November, you could always wait for March and NaNoEdMo

So why do NaNoWriMo? I know I covered this before, but in an attempt to make my insanity understandable, as well as perhaps draw you, my faithful reader-s- into the insanity with me, I will address it one more time.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about winning. It isn’t about losing. It’s about writing. Whether or not you’re a seasoned writer, maybe even a published writer, or an amateur with maybe 500 words of fiction written down since your birth… NaNoWriMo can be for you. No one there really cares how many words you write, or how many times your main character magically comes back from the dead… or magically avoids an oncoming train… they care about writing. Getting words on paper. Making them mean something (at least to you)… and having fun doing it. The point of this exercise, if for nothing else, is to have fun.

NaNoBoston2011Now, there are people who would tell you that the point is to write a novel… yeah, sure… that can be a point. But some people really just can’t write 50,000 words in 30 days. Hell, some people don’t even consider 50,000 words a novel. But that’s up to you. Maybe you just want to add another 50,000 words to an already existing 60,000 word novel you’re working on. Maybe you want to write a series of short stories that happen to fit together in a cohesive manner. Maybe you just want a good excuse to take the time to write. Whatever helps you, let it help you. And most importantly, let it matter to you.

I think my final point, really, is that NaNoWriMo isn’t about meeting a word goal, it’s not about writing a novel (well, it is, but…), it’s about challenging yourself and having fun doing it. And it doesn’t hurt to meet other people who are insane about a similar interest at the same time – wrimo’s unite! haha.

So as November 1st rolls around, if you really aren’t the novel writing type… challenge yourself in another way. Start a blog on your favorite topic and try to write 50,000 words worth of posts by the end of the month. Start a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try but have been scared of failing at… Hell, READ 50,000 novels in a month (okay… maybe not that many). But the point is, challenge yourself, and as always, have fun.

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An Interview with Chuck Wendig

Freelance Penmonkey logo care of Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.Update: The Critical Table isn’t dead, Courtney informed me today that he has been having trouble with his hosting, and lost a lot of data, but he’s redesigning the site and it should be up “in the next month or so.” Good to hear!

Seeing as The Critical Table appears to now be… defunct, I decided to repost this interview I did with Chuck Wendig over there on here. His answers are quite insightful and interesting.

The theme of the interview is gaming, and writing for a gaming company (in this case, White Wolf Publishing). Chuck Wendig has worked on a variety of their World of Darkness books, specifically as the main developer for Hunter: the Vigil. You can visit Wendig’s site at terribleminds, or pre-order his new book Double Dead which comes out November 15th. I appreciate Wendig taking time out of his busy schedule of writing, blogging, and slavery to his new overlord baby, to do this interview. Originally posted in August, 2011, at The Critical Table.

IEM: How did you get into writing for White-Wolf Publishing? I know you worked on the Hunter series, as well as others in the World of Darkness game, but did you start on Hunter, or did you start off on another project?
CW: A long time ago, in a double-wide trailer far away… I read on the Internet about a writer’s all-call they were putting out for Hunter: The Reckoning. They meaning, Ken Cliffe and Bruce Baugh. I answered with a pretentious 1000-word essay on the loci of fear. Somehow, my bullshit got in their eyes and convinced them to hire me.

IEM: How much work really goes into putting together a source book? As the Developer on the Hunter: The Vigil book, how much time did you spend going over all the material other people put into it, vs. working on the material you wrote for the book?
Chuck WendigCW: Quite a lot of work, though a lot more work for a core like H:tV. Bibles and outlines and hiring writers and tons of emails and first drafts and second drafts and art notes and so forth. The material I wrote for the book came after the other material hit my inbox — I filled in gaps at the end of the process. I don’t know how long, exactly — with some writers, minimal work, with others, a lot of work.

IEM: How much time do you spend re-writing material after it goes to the play testers? Is it kind of a back and forth “This doesn’t work? – Okay try it now” thing, or is it more of a “Here’s everything we found that we think needs improvement. – Okay it’s fixed, book is done” thing?
CW: In H:tV’s case, not a ton of rewriting was necessary. Lots of tweaking, but nothing severe. No hacked chapters or lost systems or anything. Mostly it’s just a case of red flags going up.

IEM: In “Old” World of Darkness each game was more or less standalone. Mage’s didn’t mix well with Vampires, etc. etc. Can you give us any insight into why that was changed in “New” World of Darkness? It seems like an effort was made to make it possible to play any type of character in any game – balancing out the abilities of all the different types, and making them work better together – as opposed to being enemies (I’m thinking of Vampires and Werewolves from oWoD specifically).
CW: I don’t know if the goal was really to balance them against one another, exactly. But I do think the goal was to make a more unified world, and certainly a more unified system.

IEM: Are you yourself a gamer, or do you just work on awesome games? And if you do play any, which tabletop games do you play? World of Darkness?
CW: I’ve been a gamer for a long time, though regrettably the last year or so has seen my gaming drop to essentially non-existent levels. I’ll play anything put in front of me, though I’ll usually only run WOD stuff.

IEM: As the developer for Hunter: The Vigil, were some of your ideas the driving force behind the game and it’s mechanics, or was your role more as a writer than mechanics designer?
CW: With Hunter I definitely helped lay the brickwork for the mechanics — mechanics are kind of added that way, one brick at a time, I think. Writers are instrumental in that, too, not just developers.

WoD Hunter: the Vigil

IEM: Do you play video games, and did you work on any of the Vampire PC games that were produced? And if so, in what capacity?
CW: I do play video games. I am right now getting so much pleasure from Borderlands it should be made illegal. That said, I did not work on any WW PC games. I did do some writing work for the WOD MMO, though I don’t know how much of that writing will survive the years-long process of bringing an MMO to the world.

IEM: Many Storytellers will take systems like World of Darkness and pull strongly from other influences (such as H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos) to alter the world and sometimes the mechanics of the system. Have you ever tried anything like that, and do you have any advice for people who want to experiment but may not want to design their own system from the ground up?
CW: I don’t generally do too much major world-shifting with the WOD — my advice to any who want to play with the system and the setting is to look into a book called WOD: Mirrors. I developed that and you just nailed the whole purpose behind that book.

IEM: On the other hand, do you think there is a point where a Storyteller changes a system so much that they should just design their own? Do you have any words of advice or caution for people interested in taking this plunge? (Not necessarily trying to publish it, but simply designing their own system at all)
CW: That’s up to each Storyteller — designing a system from the ground up is tough stuff, but also incredibly fun. Just make sure they have the time and the energy for it.

IEM: How difficult is it to contribute new ideas when writing supplements for these books, while balancing the fact that there is 20 or so years of work in the same “world,” as well as not trampling on the creative process for the Storytellers making up their own stories for their games?
CW: I don’t know that it’s so important to bring “new” to the table as it is to seek new arrangements of old ideas. Everything is a remix in its own weird way.

IEM: When watching movies (like say… Underworld) that get accused of “ripping off” World of Darkness, do you see similarities to the work you’ve done, and does it bother you?
CW: I didn’t do any work that would’ve made its way into Underworld, so, at present I don’t feel particularly ripped off. 🙂

WoD Logo

IEM: What ideas, either in film, fiction, music, or anything else really, influence/inspire you in your work with World of Darkness?
CW: The world around us is inspiration enough. From banking crises to serial murderers to WWII code-crackers, you have no end of horror and weirdness to choose from.


A-NaNoing We Will Go

TyperwriterSo in about 21 days all hell breaks loose. All across the country – nay, the world perhaps – mad people try their hand at writing a 50,000 word novel. Insanity, I know, but it’s a valiant effort. Here in Boston, there is a very strong community who attempts, and from what I have seen, usually succeeds at this task. I have heard amazing and fantastic things about this group of people from Brandon for a couple years now, but now that I have moved back to this fantastic city I will get to meet them firsthand. That’s right… I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo again this year… and with a little luck, and hopefully some help from new friends, actually succeeding at it.

So for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNo started in 1999 (in July, not November) in San Francisco with 21 people. The next year they moved NaNo to November, and it started growing to the 200,500 participants last year. Today, in fact, they are launching a new website for NaNoWriMo, so look for that soon!

The idea, really, for those of us who write outside of the month of November, is to really motivate ourselves. As a writer I rarely have a chance to say “I’m going to write for the hell of it.” Nine times out of 10 I’m writing for a paycheck, and therefore not only does that writing have to be good, but it also has to meet a certain standard; namely, that of the person I’m writing for. With NaNo, though, I’m writing purely for myself, and in general for NaNo – who cares about the quality? The point is to get 50,000 words written in just 30 days, and that is no easy task in and of itself!

Different people have different approaches to NaNo. There are some contestants who feel that in all fairness of the concept, they should start with a blank slate on November 1st, with nothing planned. I tried this my first year and wrote exactly 3 pages. That’s it. I had NOTHING. It was kind of sad, and almost pathetic.

Then there is another frame of mind, which creates not a one month event, but a three month event. Chuck Wendig (who wrote an interesting post on NaNoWriMo here) calls October NaStoPlaMo, or National Story Planning Month. And he calls December NaEdYoShiMo… National Edit Your Shit Month. His suggestion? Plan your novel through October, figure out your plot, characters, hell, etc. Then you hit November and you write like a madman (or woman) and knock out 50,000 words. Now, here’s the important part. Those 50,000 words. They don’t have to be perfect. You don’t write the next “Great American Novel” in one month. Hell, the story doesn’t even have to be good. Just written. Then you use December to edit. Turn that pile of crap into the next great American novel. Or if that’s not your thing… just turn it into something decent you’d let your friends read.

Chuck Wendig’s most important point about NaNo is something I am taking to heart this year, though.

“NaNoWriMo has a lot of rules: you’re supposed to “start fresh,” you’re not really meant to work on non-fiction, blah blah blah. This is all just made-up stuff. It’s not government mandated. This isn’t taxes, for fuck’s sake. Do what you like. Even better: do what the story needs. Hell with the rules. Fuck the police. Write. Write endlessly. Don’t be constrained by this program. It’s just a springboard: use it to launch your way to awesomeness. Anything you don’t like about it, toss it out the window. That certificate you get at the end doesn’t mean dog dick. The only thing that matters is you and your writing.”

Who cares if you start early? Who cares if you simply use the enjoyment of NaNo to work on the novel you started in August? This is about writing, not rules. So guess what? My NaNo novel? I already have a few thousand words written. Hopefully I’ll write an additional 50,000 in November, but if I don’t? If I only write 50,000 total? Tough shit. I’ll be satisfied, and that’s what matters.

NaNo2011

Not a big fan of this years badges...

So the point of NaNoWriMo? Write. The idea of NaNoWriMo? Write. Why should you do NaNoWriMo? To write. So if you want to write… want to write a lot… and want a motivational tool to get you going with it, join us for NaNoWriMo next month. And remember… don’t worry about the rules, just write.


The Updates! I can reveal them!

TyperwriterSo I can finally give some links for these shenanigans! For those of you who don’t know already, I’m now a freelance writer for Technology Review (online), which is a MIT publication. My first article, which is on the augmented reality/GPS navigation Android app Wikitude Drive, went live today. And I’m currently working on a second article. Good times!

Additionally, I’m a staff writer for the gaming/geek culture website The Critical Table, which I have mentioned before. My first interview went up today. It’s with Chuck Wendig, freelance “penmonkey,” and game developer for White Wolf Publishing. For those of you who know my gaming background, I’m a big World of Darkness fan (White Wolf’s main line). Specifically Vampire and Hunter, the latter of which is the game that Chuck was the main developer for. So this was exciting for me on two fronts.

These are my big two announcements this month. Feels good to know that I’m getting somewhere with this writing nonsense… 😉 I’m also cracking down on another project, but I won’t be talking much about that on here till it’s completed (probably towards the end of the year). This one’s an even bigger secret… Shhhhhh…. So look forward to that.

Not much else to say today, working on a few things and trying to get myself organized for my trip this weekend. I will be flying out to California on Saturday, then driving cross-country back to Delaware. Looking forward to that, I love traveling.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned tomorrow, when I’ll get something solid up.


In Other News…

Writer's BlockI now have a paying job. Well, as much as a writer can have a paying job.

A pitch I wrote for an online magazine was accepted, so now I have a freelance position with them. I’ll release more information if the story is put out and whatnot (still a chance they will kill the story…)

I am very excited though. This is a great opportunity for me.

In other writing news – The Critical Table is doing well. I should have an exciting new post up on there soon, waiting for someone to get back to me for it though… You’ll see!

Anything else… anything else… Oh. Yeah.

Working on short stories is odd. Right now I have two written, one in the mid-stages of it’s first cut (re-writing an entire page because I just didn’t like the flow of it), and the other in a final edit, waiting for me to be happy enough with the last changes I made.

Why all the edits? I’m trying to get both of them published in magazines, so I want them to be extra-awesome. So stay tuned for news on that.

The movie script is finalized. Working on other things and waiting on scheduling conflicts right now. Also, lazy actors.

One thing that I’m gearing up for is NaNoWriMo this year. Every year I sit down to start it… and then get about 5k words in and die. I think it’s my insistence on perfection, which I’m trying to break. It’s also my “crap, what do I put in here” feeling, which I’m trying to fix. One of the ways I’m trying to fix that is writing on here every day. I figure if I can make myself come up with something at least vaguely interesting for you… I can write 1k words a day in a story I actually care about in November. 😉

Another thing that might help are Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fridays. He does a week long contest every week, winner getting something randomly cool. Just for writing a flash fiction piece on a different topic (he picks) each week. This week is a genre mashup, which I’m considering. If I do it I will probably start doing it every week, just for something new. Besides I pop out 1k word stories like they’re candy… so yay candy!

That’s all for today, if you get the hint from the post… I have writing to do :).