Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I thought I’d try something new this year; early preparation.

To be clear, though, I’m not going to attempt NaNoWrimo this year, because I’m way too busy right now. However, in previous years, I would often post things to help people who were doing NaNoWriMo during the month of November, when the event occurs and this year, I thought I’d start early to let anyone who was writing get their prep out of the way.  So, here in the earliest stages of planning, you hopefully have an idea what you may want to write and, while you’ve been thinking about it for weeks or months, maybe you haven’t captured those thoughts.  In the past, I’ve used dozens of notebooks of every shape, size and description to scribble down every stray thought I may have had about whatever project I had in mind.  The only problem is, I could never seem to get the ideas all gathered together and into a useful format.  That’s where Evernote came in.
I started using Evernote because of the Getting Things Done method for staying organized.  It’s a great system and, naturally, it gave me a way to collect all my ideas so I had easy access to them and one tool that people used in the GTD system was, Evernote.  (For some more details on that, and a great introduction to the GTD system, check out David Allen’s setup document for Evernote.  It’s well worth the $10!)
Once you’ve checked out Evernote, then go read their article Prepare for NaNoWriMo with Evernote.  It’s got some great ideas for how to capture your story and character ideas via Evernote, which you can then reference on your writing computer or your smart phone.  It’s pretty awesome!
And, if that wasn’t enough, they even have some great creative writing templates you can integrate into your personal creative writing notebook.

Trust me, it’s never to early to start planning and you will not regret using Evernote once you start!
So, let’s gear up for a month’s worth of creative writing resources in preparation for National Novel Writing Month!


Place Names

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Specifically, subdivison names.

Naming things can be one of the most difficult tasks for an author.  Whether it’s naming people, places or things, the endless work of finding just the right name, one that sounds realistic and fits the circumstances, can be trying work.  For me, place names are the hardest to do well.  No matter what the setting, naming towns and streets can be challenging.  As it turns out, it can be challenging in the so-called “real” world, too.  Back in 2013, Gizmodo mentioned a book titled Real Estate Subdivisions by Stanley L. McMichael that, among other things, included a list of more than 750 potential names for your subdivision.  The article also included links to a Real Estate Subdivision Name Generator on-line.  But, personally, I was fascinated with the idea of that crazy book by McMichael, published in 1949.  I chased it down, eventually, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Besides the list of names in the appendix, there are also fascinating chapters on everything from planning your future subdivision to setting up a home-owner’s association to deed restrictions, including restrictions along racial lines.  Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then.  But, still, the names of places remain.
Just because I’m a sharing kind of guy, I typed all those names from that appendix into a single text file and I’m giving you all a link to it here: Subdivision Names Text File.
Some of the names sound a bit odd, but others are actual names of places I’ve been.  In fact, several of the “suggested” names in this book are places in the Chicago area where I have or had relatives living!

In any case, I hope you find the file helpful.  I might add, too, that if you add “Street”, “Lane”, “Court” or “Avenue” to almost any of the names in that file, they’d make fine street names!


Traveller Library Data Wiki

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, it’s been a long time since I wrote here, but this is the best place to share this.

Back in the early 80’s, I played a great science-fiction role-playing game called Traveller.  It was relatively simple and straight-forward and didn’t even require fancy dice, just regular 6-sided dice like everyone has.  It had a fairly generic feel to it, which some people found annoying, but really opened things up for the game master to let loose and develop a setting.  Of course, there was a lightly sketched background setting that was considered “official”, but it was fairly generic.
Anyway, I loved the game.  Recently, there was a ridiculously inexpensive sale on the scanned PDF documents from those original books.  Two of them were ones that I had never owned before, but only seen in bits and pieces.  Namely, “Supplement book 08-Library Data A-M” and “Supplement book 11-Library Data N-Z”.  Skimming through these really brought back memories!

A lot has changed since those good, old days of table-top gaming and there are a whole raft of fun tools that add a new dimension to gaming.  In the old days, one of my favorite things was always the various encyclopedias of in-game information, like those two supplements.  Now, one of my favorite things are wikis, like Wikipedia.  And, for some of my more creative work, I’ve really enjoyed using “personal wikis”, that never leave my desktop or private network.  (In fact, I wrote about just that on one of my other sites that’s updated more often;!)
Well, the other day, it occurred to me that I should combine the two!  So, I have, and I’m offering it here for you to download for free, per the very kind copyright restrictions of Far Future Enterprises: Traveller Library Data Wiki.

Now, this is not the same as or even derived from the excellent Citizens of the Imperium Traveller Wiki, but it’s also completely private for you and your players to edit as you please.  Also, per the requirements of Far Future Enterprises, this is being offered free and must remain free if you add to it and share it!  I did this mainly as an obsessive-compulsive exercise in data normalization in a private wiki, though also as a labor of love because I just can’t resist beautiful, well-organized, hyper-linked data about a reality that doesn’t quite exist except in our imaginations.
As faults go, this one isn’t bad.


Service Dissconnection

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Oy vey!  It’s been a long, long time since I wrote here!

Frankly, it’s been a long time for a lot of reasons, but, mostly, because my creative endeavors have moved in other directions.  For one thing, I’ve been doing more photography, which you can find here, as well as working on at least two other sites; Diary of a Network Geek and something a little more personal,

But, I’ve also been working at my day job a lot.  And, that, of course, combined with a general malaise and chaotic busyness, have all led to a pretty negative impact on my personal spirituality.  I’d like to say I’ve been seeking that, but, frankly, I’ve just been a little too burned out for even that much personal growth.

So, as a result, this blog, this site, this entire creative idea has languished.
And, honestly, it probably will continue to languish.  If not for the history of it, and some of the back-end server details that no one cares about besides me and my webhost, I’d have shut the whole thing down a long, long time ago.
In any case, if you want to see what else I’m up to, check out one of those other sites.



Changes and Unexpected News

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning.
The moon is a Full Moon

The conlang scripts may not have been the problem after all!

Perhaps, when we do track down the issue, I’ll be able to reenable some, if not all, of my conlang apps for your future enjoyment! Be sure to watch this space for news!!


No Free Lunch

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

You know, when I first started using the Internet, pretty much everything was free.  Once you got used to searching, you could find just about anything on the ‘net, all the way up to and including source code for all kinds of things.  So, in that spirit, I took some basic source code for some Perl language generation and manipulation scripts and modified them to run on the web.  Then I offered them for free, just for the simple fun of having them and letting people use them.  But, things have changed.  Now, times are tough and hosting a website costs money.   That in and of itself isn’t a problem, except the use and abuse of those simple, fun, free scripts have caused so many server usage issues that my webhost is insisting that I either disable them or pay for a higher grade of service that’s more than three times what I’m paying now.  So, guess what?  Yep, the scripts are going away.  Maybe I’ll figure out how to do them with PHP instead of Perl one day, but until then, I have to disable them.  Either that, or come up with over $200 a month for a dedicated server.

So, I’m afraid that it comes down to dollars and sense.  I don’t have the dollars, so I have to exercise a little sense and take the freebies off-line.

I wish I had a better solution, but I just don’t.  I hope you all enjoyed them while they were here, but, now, due to forces beyond my control, I have to shut them down.

UPDATE: For people looking for other free language generation software, you can check out the programs that I either adapted for the web, or that inspired me.  Chris Pound’s Language Machines pages held the first Perl code I worked with for many of the scripts and Jeffrey Henning’s amazing LangMaker was instrumental in much of my design.  (LangMaker is also available for free at Softpedia.)  So, please, don’t give up on your languages!  Check out what these guys offer and keep working on your fantasy!


How To AutoCreate A ConLang

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is a Full Moon

I’m writing this in response to the person who e-mailed me asking for instructions on how to use my Conlang Word Maker.

Now, without any intended smarmy-ness, I really thought it was self-explanatory, but, then again, when I wrote this webapp, I was steeped in conlanging. Also, it was based on another program called LangMaker by Jeffrey Henning, which a lot of people had been using at the time. And, duh, I wrote the app, so of course it seemed obvious to me how to use it!
So, in an effort to make things clearer, here are some more detailed instructions.

First, let’s define a few terms. Please note that these may not be how things are defined in a good, clear, linguistics sense, but, rather, how I thought of them when I wrote this program. Also, keep in mind that this was all inspired by an article in the now defunct Dragon Magazine about how to create a simple language for your Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign by Clyde Heaton titled Even Orcish Is Logical. Yes, that means it’s far older than even the third edition. And, yes, many conlangers my age deride this article as being linguistically inaccurate. But, I say “Phooey” on all that. That article is what got me interested in conlanging, so it did its job.
Now, keeping that in mind, go look at the page, then come back. (If you click the link, it will open the Conlang Word Maker in a new tab or window.) Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Okay, so the first column you saw was labeled Word Patterns/Formulas. Underneath that was a series of apparently nonsensical strings of capital letters, like “CV” and “CVCC” and so on. The next two columns are labeled Vowels (V) and Consonants(C) respectively. Those are what will fill in on the formulas, replacing the “V” with a randomly chosen letter from the Vowels(V) column and replacing the “C” with a randomly chosen letter from the Consonants(C) column. So far, so good, right? At this point, you actually have just about enough to generate the words for you language. All you need to do is choose which vowels and consonants you want to use in making your words and how you want those to be arranged. In fact, if you want to keep it simple, just use those three columns and leave everything else blank. Then, when you hit the generate word list button, the app will use those simple settings to generate a list of words.
If you look closely at the default data in those columns, though, you’ll see that you can also use multiple letters, like “sh” and “ch”, for consonants. You can do the same, like I’ve done with the “ee” and “oo” for vowels.
Please note that it’s important to keep the formulas in upper case and the letters you want to use in your language in lower case.

Now, you’ll notice several other columns, one of which I’ve also filled in. The column labeled “T” variable has both more complicated syllables, made up of consonants and vowels, and some formulas. In the default formulas that I started the web app with, you’ll notice that several of the formulas include a variable T, as in TVC and CVT and so on. In those formulas, the T variable is replaced by the syllables listed in the “T” variable column.
Okay, so far, so good, right? Well, the columns starting with T all have what I think of as an “advanced” feature. If you put a simple formula into them, it will treat the results of that formula as a syllable. So, you’ll notice that I have several CV and VC formulas in there. When the web app hits those, it will treat them first as standard formulas, making a word or syllable from the consonants (C) and vowels(V) randomly, before using it like a “T” variable in the formulas found in the first column, labeled Word Patterns/Formulas. It sounds more complicated than it is.
Again, though, this only works for columns starting T and beyond.

So, the trick is to choose letters and syllables that combine in ways which sound like you want your language to sound. Also, you’ll need to create all the other rules for your language, like sentence structure and verb conjugation and the like. So, I guess I lied a little in the title since you do have to do most of the heavy lifting yourself.
In any case, I hopefully have answered the e-mailed question. The real thing to do though is just play with it and see what happens!


Bit Rot

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

By all rights, this blog should be dead.

Frankly, the entire website is so old and out of date and willfully not maintained that I’m surprised there’s any traffic to it.  But, there is.  And with any large volume of people, there are always those who take advantage and push free resources beyond their intended use.  Well, that’s just what happened here.

One of the many things I originally did with this site was dabble in conlangs, or CONstructed LANGuages.  Toward that end, I created or modified several Perl scripts to help me generate words that sounded authentic and consistent according to some linguistic rules.  When I was doing this, very few people were yet.  Now, there are many, many more people who offer language generation programs and scripts, but I think I was one of the first people to have free, interactive web pages that would let the neophyte conlanger generate or manipulate their language.  In fact, I’m not sure how many there are even today.  Hopefully, there are a lot more who can take the burden of people ramming quite literally gigabytes worth of data through their free resource.  I hope they have their own server, though, since when people did that here, it crashed the server I was on.  Yeah, that’s right, people ran so much data through my little programs that it crashed the server.  In spite of me asking them not to do it, then building in some fairly significant limitations on how much data could be sent to the script at once, a small percentage of the users, who I have come to think of as abusers, still managed to crash my webhost’s server.

So, sadly, my conlang scripts are starting to go off-line.  One bye one, like fading stars, they’re being pummeled off the internet by people who never appreciated them, apparently.
But, what really makes me sad is that so many people who did NOT abuse them, but used my little scripts to enhance and improve their writing or leasure time won’t be able to use them all any more.  Those innocent bystanders will simply have to do without because of the greed of a few pushy, obnoxious people who had to test the limits of the system.

So, to those of you who played nice and were friendly and enjoyed my little conlang scripts, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry, but now when they start to cause problems for my provider, I’ll have to take them off-line, one by one.
I hope you enjoyed them half as much as I did while they were here.

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