Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordsmith at Work: The End

This is your stop.
Ta-da! The new website is finally up and running! Go check it out!

No, seriously, go on. This website won't be up for much longer-with any luck I'll get it to automatically redirect to the new website. Change your bookmarks and everything. It's awesome.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordsmith at Work: Dealing with Insanity
First off, one week till the new website! I can't wait until it's ready to be released. As soon as I get my new blog up, I'll order new business cards with my new web address. I'll be able to show them to you and wander around handing them out. I'm even planning on making flyers, not to mention the online mailing list.

Not to mention I'm going to get a hot new logo! I love my little bloody rose, but it doesn't really have anything to do with being a wordsmith. No idea what the new one will be yet.

Also, my computer is currently in the shop. It should be fine, and I made sure I had everything I needed to work before I left it, but working from the other computers is just not the same.

Lastly, as I've been alluding to on Twitter, there have been some changes. You may have noticed that there was no post on Friday. That wasn't an accident. From now on, there usually won't be a post on Fridays. There is a very good reason for that, but as I am The Wordsmith, I will show rather than tell.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Ways Role-Playing Games Can Help (or Hurt) Your Writing

You may have seen these weird RPG dice around.
I own several. Although mine look cooler.
... Well, they do.
I have a confession to make. I am a roleplayer. Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darknessfreeform text-based RPGs (role-playing games), I like to roleplay. Setting aside the social implications of gaming (because here at Wordsmith at Play, we like to ignore what most people would consider important), I would like to focus on the potential effect of roleplaying on my writing skills.

Aside from increasing my nerdiness level, getting involved in RPGs has had some interesting effects on my writing habits, some of which are good, some of which are bad.

For the purposes of this post, I'll be focusing on text-based RPing games, although most of my points will be applicable to other forms of RPing, such as D&D game sessions and Live-Action RPGs.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordsmith at Work: Writing and Rewriting

Corrections are in order. 
First, an update on the new website. I have most of the technical stuff figured out, now I'm down to two things that need work. Most importantly, I really need to order some high-quality images for my header, and possibly for my design. And I need a logo.

Second, I need some programming. The Hire Me page in particular is undergoing major reconstruction. It should be way more useful on the new site. Now, on to the post!

As The Wordsmith, I get a lot of orders from my family and friends, mostly because they want me to give them a discount. One such order just came in from Jim Crocker of Interactive Circuit Deisgn, who wants my help rewriting his About page.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vulnerable, Just Like Me: How to Make Your Characters Relatable

Cover art!
I am very fond of notes. This note says that this blog post might make more sense if you read Chirault first, but I will try to keep that from being a requirement. If anything in here is confusing, let me know and I'll try to explain it better.

The other day one of my friends linked me to a webcomic that fascinated me. Not necessarily because of the art (which I liked a lot, despite the fact that I was unable to recognize anyone besides the two main characters and the handwriting became difficult to read halfway through), but because of the characterization.

The main character is a demon named Kiran, and he is the strong, silent, epically awesome type. When he is introduced he single-handedly takes down a demon that was attacking a man without breaking a sweat.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wordsmith at Work: One Word

I have one more moment to pull from the critique of my friend Micosil's short story I blogged about last week, a brief exchange that I thought was rather compelling. We were discussing the italicized word in this sentence:

"The mountain of a man held a black double-bladed axe in his other hand, the great weight seeming not to trouble him in the least."

Here's the mini-conversation for you:

Wordsmith: I wouldn't say black in the first paragraph. It's uneccesary for the visual at that exact moment,
you mention it later, and it's usually good to cut out words where possible.
Micosil: Oh come on, that's one word!
Wordsmith: Yep.
Wordsmith: One word matters.
Micosil: Which is why I did change it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hashing Out the Lore

Vampire Killing Kit
This is Monday's post. I'm sorry it's so late. Today's Wordsmith at Work post will be up sometime tomorrow because I'm sleepy and recovering from being sick. Sorry about the delay.

While my declared genre is fantasy with a sprinkling of science fiction, I also enjoy writing vampire stories. I've been writing about vampires for years (since before Twilight hit the stands, thank you very much) and recently I haven't had much time to write about vampires. It's been more important to work on Heaven's Wrath, my novel.

However, as I mentioned in Is Writing A Solitary Art?, I am currently working on a collaborative story with one of my oldest writing friends. After a long hiatus, we've picked it up again, and we've been working on getting more of it written.

This story happens to involve vampires, and in order to write it properly, we have to figure out all of the related lore. This, naturally, leads to a lot of questions, and all of them must be answered in order to have a cohesive storyline.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Post: Striving to Achieve the Ideal (Part Four)

Image: anankkml
Welcome to Part Four, the resounding conclusion of April's guest post series! Part One is available here. Enjoy!

Likewise Colonel Tom Kratman, who co-authored "Watch On The Rhine" with John Ringo, one of the most controversial (if not the most controversial, outright) modern science fiction stories yet conceived.

He continues to write, unapologetic works which not only examine in minute detail the philosophical guides of our day and how they could affect the future our great-grandchildren will inherit, but does so with a sense of humor.

There are those who like to lambast him and what he says. Google "Tom Kratman, Space Marine" and you'll find plenty of material. I would have been one of those critics, but for the fact that I have been on the front lines and have experienced what he talks about.

Had I not spent months on the gun line of a Marine artillery battery I would never have believed the humor we find in everything. Even death. Or the music we sing and play to pass the while. John Ringo has single-handedly introduced me to more music than MTV and VH1 combined! Never mind my love for Kipling.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Post: Military Writers Humanize Soliders (Part Three)

David Drake
Welcome to Part Three of April's guest post! Part One is available here. Part Four will be posted tomorrow at 9:00 AM PST. Enjoy!

Author David Drake understands the internal workings of the military mind better than most would at first glance realize. He is a graduate of Duke University and its law school, an accomplished lawyer and prolific, well-published writer in the science fiction community.

He is also a veteran of the Vietnam war, having seen service in Laos and Cambodia as an interrogator with the Blackhorse Cavalry. He was drafted, he served, and at the end of his enlistment, he returned to the civilian life he'd left behind.

But the war, the men he lived and fought alongside, those remained. Eventually, he quit practicing law and drove a bus part-time till writing began to pay, and pay enough that it became his stand-alone income.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordsmith at Work: Sample Critique Process

To give you all a break from the military strategy being discussed, I thought I would provide a short example of one of my critiques. This exchange was conducted in real time with my friend Micosil from DeviantArt on his story Deathbound.

(Note: Deathbound was written in ten minutes at four in the morning and I didn't exactly do a full edit. For a real sample of Micosil’s talent, I would read the short story Solitude, which, unlike Deathbound, does not need a few more chapters that will never be written to be fully understood.)

Wordsmith: As I said, that is the worst first sentence I've ever read from you.
Micosil: Why, and how'd you fix it?

I tend to be a horribly awfully evil proofreader. For a paying customer, I will write a critique and then edit it so that I’m not being excessively evil, but rather offering helpful, creative advice to build his confidence and self-knowledge.

For my best friend whose work I am editing because it’s fun and I want to? He gets the full brunt of my cruelty. But that’s not what I want to draw attention to- rather, I would like to point out his response. Not offended or hurt, not necessarily agreeing with me, but asking why I think that and how to improve. That’s what I like to hear!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Guest Post: Breaking Down the Idealization of War (Part Two)

The idealization of war, personified.
Welcome to Part Two of April's guest post! Part One is available here. Part Three and Four, respectively, will be posted Thursday and Friday at 9:00 AM PST. Tomorrow will be a Wordsmith at Work day, as usual. Enjoy!

For centuries, war was idealized. The image of young men going off to fight and die in bloody combat was romanticized and sung about, and the true horror of war was ignored.

During the medieval era, knightly virtues were considered to be the best, chivalry the manner in which the greatest men in western (or eastern) civilization conducted themselves. Europe had paladins, the Persian Empire it's deghans and Mamelukes, Japan the samurai. They were mimicked and copied (or parodied as the case may be) over and over again.

Beowulf, the Song of Roland, Le Morte De'Artur, the 47 Ronin, the legends of Rustam, these are chronicles detailing the ideals which their respective people sought to be most like. Though the records we have now have been glossed over and prettied up by courtiers who never saw a battlefield, at the core they are the after-action reports of men who went to war, and, surviving its horrors, returned home.