Fantasist's Scroll

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

6/4/2018

JKHoffman.com, My Home Away From Home

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Don’t forget, this isn’t really my most active blog anymore and hasn’t been for quite some time.  For that, really, I’d prefer you go to my main, personal website, JKHoffman.com.  I call my blog there Use Your Words, because I’m a frustrated writer.  If I hadn’t listened to my High School AP English teacher and majored in English, I might not have majored in Marketing and wandered away from writing after college.  Then again, my career in tech makes my websites possible, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing!  Besides, as everyone told me then, there will be time enough to write when I retire.

Anyway, for the most recent posting and so on, head over to JKHoffman.com.

11/30/2017

NaNoWriMo is Done!

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

That’s it! National Novel Writing Month is over! Hopefully, you reached your goal for the month and wrote a 50k word novel. Now, set it aside, get some rest and forget about it for at least a month, before you start to revise.

11/1/2017

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

If you’re going to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, you can officially start NOW!

10/27/2017

NaNoWriMo Prep – Templates and Worksheets

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Trying to get all your ideas and characters organized for National Novel Writing Month? I can help!

It may not always be obvious, especially to those closest to me, but I love being organized. What’s probably more obvious is that I played a lot of role-playing games growing up. I think it’s safe to say almost every hopeful writer or professional geek my age or younger played Dungeons and Dragons, or something similar. But, for me, the best part of that was always before the game started when we were making characters and filling out their character record sheets. I absolutely loved thinking about all the things they might buy at the market for use in surviving their adventures. And, along with that, describing their looks, their clothes, their family relationships and other background details. Not everyone did all of that, but, like I mentioned, it was just about my most favorite part. And, now, it’s one of my favorite parts of writing. Unfortunately, it can also become one of my favorite distractions from actually writing. Don’t let that happen to you! But, also, as you’re planning your novel, it’s good to try and think about who’s going to be in it, what they’re going to do and where they’re going to do it. So, toward that end, I’ve got some, hopefully, fun novel planning worksheets, or “printables” as the fancy kids call them these days, for you.
First, from the All Freelance Writing website, I’ve got an article by Jennifer Mattern which collects her favorite Novel Planning Tools and Worksheets. It’s a short list, but it’s also a great place to start if you’re just looking for the bare minimums to get you started.
Much more complete is the list of links gathered by Eva Deverell in her Creative Writing Worksheets post. Frankly, it’s a pretty complete list and you could stop there without worrying about missing out on anything, even if you do have to chase them to all their respective sites.
If you’re a more visual guy, like me, then maybe you should try this collection of “pins” at Pinterest titled “Novel Writing Worksheets”. It’s got a lot of “printables” besides the planning worksheets that might help, especially if you find yourself needing a little help creatively in a crunch.
My personal favorite, however, is the group of Evernote templates for planning your novel (or story) at the Evernote blog. I’m 99% sure I’ve mentioned these before, but they’ve updated them and added a few. If you use Evernote to plan and organize any other aspect of your life, I highly recommend that you take a look at these templates. They’re really well done and should cover any creative writing need. Seriously.

The next question is, of course, what are you going to use to actually write your novel?
If you go with Word, William Shunn has some free, downloadable templates that will let you get started with a pretty standard manuscript format. If you like Word, but don’t want to pay Microsoft for it, check out Libre Office instead. It’s a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office and it includes a very good replacement for Word called Writer. And, I even have a basic manuscript template you can download and use for Libre Office Writer, also free.
If you want to get fancier, there are a lot of alternatives, but Scrivener is specifically written for fiction writers and is often offered at a discount to people attempting NaNoWriMo. And, while I have absolutely nothing against the creator of Scrivener, there is a free, open source alternative called Plume Creator. I don’t have any real experience with either of these, but I always favor the free, open source alternatives whenever possible.

For myself, while I used to mostly work in whatever word processing package I was currently using, I’ve gone to pretty much only using straight text. I made that change for a number of reasons, but I was heavily influenced by an email exchange I had with Steven Brust about his writing tools. I was surprised to find out that he wrote exclusively in emacs. I found out after a bit of digging around that he’s not the only one. Vernor Vinge, a brilliant science fiction author, also uses emacs to write his fiction, though it’s less surprising to me since he also teaches computer science at the collegiate level. So, now, while I’m still working on the actual text, I just use my favorite text editor, which in my case is the same tool I use to write Perl code and edit server scripts and web pages, UEStudio, which is an extension of UltraEdit, a tool familiar to serious programmers. Incidentally, keeping everything in straight text with out any formatting not only limits distractions, but makes for the most compatibility between systems, which, ultimately, is why I decided to make that change.

10/20/2017

NaNoWriMo Prep

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime.
The moon is a New Moon

Next month is National Novel Writing Month. Are you ready?

I suppose a better first question is actually “Are you going to participate?” I, for example, am not. I tried it once, several years ago, but ever since then I’ve just been too busy, and too out of practice writing fiction, to try it again. But, I do think about it every year when it rolls around. This year, rather than post things like story starters during NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d post them before, giving the brave souls who are up for the attempt a running start. So, here we go!

First, of course, I’m going to suggest the Fantasist.net Writer’s Resources, because if I can’t promote my own site, what good is having one? On that page you’ll find links to my Story Starter, my World Building Resources and my sad, old Conlang page. Though for conlang resources, I’d suggest going to the Language Construction Kit at Zompist.com or VÜlgÅr, a language generator, which is everything I wanted mine to be and more. In fact, I actually paid the roughly $10 to get the bigger, better version and upgrades!
Those resources sure ought to be enough to get you started on most of the crunchy stuff you might need to get an idea and prepared for writing a novel, if you aren’t already.

Second, though, I’d like to suggest the Bookbaby NaNoWriMo Survival Guide, which has several links to helpful resources, mostly on their site, including some information about publishing your book if you’re a NaNoWriMo “winner” at the end of the month!
Also, while you’re getting ready, you can read through Medium’s coverage of NaNoWriMo, which I’m assuming they’ll do again.

Thirdly, if you haven’t read it, No Plot, No Problem!, which is the original guide to National Novel Writing Month by the founder, and a great way to get your thirty day novel writing experiment launched.

And, finally, there’s the NaNoWriMo website itself. It is quite literally the place to get all the information about the event. Also, it’s a great place to get support while you’re working on your novel!

Come back next week to see if I manage to find even more NaNoWriMo prep tools for you, or have something totally different!

8/18/2017

Trippy GIFs

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

And, yes, that’s pronounced like the peanut butter by all right-minded geeks.

Because that’s how the creator said it! Okay, that’s all a joke, because he didn’t actually care that much about how anyone said it, according to an interview I read. Though, I suspect he might appreciate having gotten royalties on the file format. The really big deal about GIFs, in case you were really bored on a Friday and looking for an internet history lesson, is that the specification included provisions for animation. So, basically, these little guys were the first way we really shared video on the internet, back when the internet was CompuServe and other “walled garden” sites.

Flash forward to today, though, and artists have done some spectacular things with the format, like wavegrower and his amazing animated GIFs. Go take a look and just prepare to waste your entire day being mezmerized by the beauty of his psychadelic moving images.
Stunning. Seriously, just stunning.
And, a pretty fun way to waste time on a Friday when you’re reading blogs instead of working.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

8/11/2017

More About Maps

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

More generated maps to inspire your imagination.

Back in May, I wrote about some procedurally generated fantasy maps. Well, really they were small atlases, but randomly created by software, including all the names and travelogues. For whatever reason, these days, I find myself thinking about cities. Cities in the future. Cities in the past. But, especially, fantasy cities.
I’ve invested a fair amount of money in Profantasy Software’s mapping package over the years. (That link, by the way, IS an affiliate link!) But, I’ll be honest; I’m lazy. That software is fantastic and will create the most amazing maps, but, honestly, my imagination has gotten soft and flabby, and my creative imagination is even worse than that. It’s terrible. But, there’s good news!
Now, someone from the same happy group of programmers and creatives that made the Uncharted Atlas, has created the Medieval Fantasy City Generator!
You basically have four choices; small town, large town, small city or large city. That’s it. But, it’s also pretty much all you need.
Here’s an example of what it can create.

(Incidentally, this came to my attention by way of The Map Room Blog, which is worth checking out if you’re into maps.)

5/16/2017

Magical Maps

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

Autogenerated fantasy landscapes feel like randomly programmed dreams.

I wouldn’t really call myself a writer any more, since I don’t really write regularly, outside of emails at work and these weekly desperate blog posts. But, I was once, and when I was, I would obsess over what fantasy writers and fans call “world building”. In fact, eventually, that obsession took over all my time and energy and became my primary excuse for not writing. Still, I find it hard to let go of the idea that if I’m writing a fantasy story and don’t know where people are, or are from, or are going, that I can’t relax into telling their story. I know I’m not alone.
So, that leaves a writer with a couple of choices; steal someone else’s setting, or make your own.
I’m not a big fan of stealing, or even borrowing, someone else’s fantasy setting, because there’s always the possibility that you may need to pay royalties one day, if your new work sells. Or, that other author, or their estate, may squash your work altogether. It’s been known to happen. So, then, your other option is to build your own.
Personally, I’ve always loved the maps that come with my favorite fantasy stories. And, when I tried to write, I often would spend inordinate amounts of time trying to draw my own.
Now, though, there are other options. The one I’m sharing with my faithful readers this week is Uncharted Atlas. It’s a Twitterbot that automagically generates a pretty random fantasy map every hour. Yeah, a new fantasy world every hour. And some of these maps are pretty damn good! You can read some notes by the developer, Martin O’Leary, at his website about both how the maps were generated and how the names for the maps were generated. Also, that page explaining the code includes an interactive, step-by-step example of generating a map. It gives you a bit more control over what the final map looks like and is a great way to waste a few minutes on a Friday.

Okay, so this isn’t likely to really fix any writer’s block issues, or even jump start my own writing, but, hey, it IS a great way to waste a little time on a Friday!


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