Sunday, November 11, 2018

Braced

Salt Water

“Brace yourselves for the worst storm you have ever experienced. The winds will be cyclonic, the rain torrential. You may want to get these raincoats on. The waterproof boots will be extremely helpful too. Oh, and I advise you to wear these glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris. You'll never forget this experience, I assure you.” 
The group was skeptical, considering how beautiful and peaceful everything looked.
“It better be epic. We paid a lot of money for this.”
After a long wait, the only thing that flew was Steven, the guide of the weather-themed park.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Dispute

Il Nido

The four men sat at the table surrounded by birds chirping.
“This racket is driving me crazy.”
The others shrugged and continued to talk about the plan.
“All weapons on deck?” he asked.
The others nodded.
A map appeared out of nowhere.
“What if he's dead already?”
“Then, that's it.”
And he thought, no, that's not it. First, I'll come back and kill these damn birds. Then, I'll get rid of you cretins. And finally... Why not?
He pulled out two guns and shot the others right there and then.
Sometimes, there's no point in waiting.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Smart Move

Collins Land


The winner would be announced later. It was obvious that the blue boat had won, but they'd announce it later.
To announce something obvious, with great pomp and circumstance, hours after the event ended was confusing. But Peter believed there was some sort of live event logistics that determined that, until... he saw the crew looking rather suspicious.
He stormed over to the mic.
“There's a lot more than people in that boat...”
The police rushed to the stage. Peter was arrested. The crew of the blue boat hurried away.
Smart move to traffic dope right under everyone's noses.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Turtle

Kingpost


“Pirates are turtles.”
The others at the table frowned. Most of them were pirates.
“Yes, turtles.”
“You drank too much, mate.”
“No, no. Turtles, they are.”
“Why turtles?”
The man prepared to stand up and walk away.
“Wait, wait. Have a seat. Explain why we're turtles.”
“Parrots.”
The others frowned.
“Turtles or parrots?”
The man raised his beer mug and laughed.
“Another round for the boys!”
Everyone forgot about the turtle story.
When the man walked away he had several pouches of coins in his pocket.
“Slow blabbers,” he whispered.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Writing in a Virtual World,Tips and Tricks!


Milk Wood


NaNoWriMo Trepidation

November is right around the corner and an increasing trepidation amongst WriMos is quite palpable. We now have less than a month to prepare for the writing marathon.

50.000 words, 1600 words a day (I suggest you aim higher, 2000 would be good, 2500 would be better), seems to be a daunting effort, and it sure is.

However, there are ways to minimize the stress! One of those ways is to make use of the resources virtual reality offers. I will refer myself to one virtual world in particular, Second Life® (SL).

A disclaimer, before I continue. I'm, in no way, affiliated with Linden Lab, the company that owns SL, nor have I been asked or paid to promote it. The only reason why I use SL as an example is because I have been a resident there since 2007 and I know it well.



Finding what we need

Visit a location with high traffic. The more traffic one sim has, the most interesting it must be. Well, no, not necessarily. There are many reasons for people to park their main and their secondary avatars at a sim. Long story! So, be cautious about this option.

Check SL blogs. This is interesting, because all travel blogs post pictures. Many of those pictures are heavily edited, true, but still. You can get an idea of what the place looks like.

Read Profiles. People's profiles are a great source of information. Usually, residents place their favorite locations in the Picks section of their Profiles. It always involves a bit of leg-work to find the sim that fits your needs, but it can be done, especially if checking Profiles becomes something you do on a regular basis. You just might stumble onto something useful. Keep the SLurls handy, and add a short annotation to it after visiting the place.

Look for Roleplay (RP) sims. This is my favorite option.

Second Life's DestinationGuide is a good place to start. It has a specific section for RP sims – Vampire, Steampunk, Fantasy, Historical, Pirates, Sci-Fi, Urban Noir.

Many sims are not interesting as writing resources/writing prompts. The About Land snapshot looks promising, but when you teleport there, everything looks bad. The textures are wrong, the buildings are boxy and not well built, the landscaping is chaotic, there's no terraforming whatsoever, everything is very flat and boring.

On the other hand, most RP regions I have visited are very well built. Their owners pride themselves in creating an impeccable landscape, realistic buildings and the proper ambiance to fit the type of RP.

This suggestion may be tricky though. I have heard several SL writers say that they don't feel welcomed at RP sims and that they have had really bad experiences. RPers get nervous when a new face shows up, especially when the visitor is not RP'ing. They are wary of griefers. And they simply don't enjoy seeing people they don't know walking all over the place, and interrupting their immersive RP. Everyone can relate to that. We always get a bit suspicious when a stranger appears in our neighborhood, don't we?



What can we do to make our presence accepted and even welcomed at RP sims?


Ground Rules

I have never had any problems at RP sims. I always felt welcomed, and was never ejected or banned. I don't know why, but I do have a few ground rules each time I visit an RP region.

Before the visit:
  1. I make writing-related Groups and Picks visible in my profile. Some of us hide a few groups, or even all, for many different reasons. However, it's important that anyone who checks your profile understands that your goal is to write. Picks are also a quick way to send the same message.
  2. I always respect the dress code. If I know the sim will be a Medieval sim, I try to dress in a Medieval way.
  3. I wear the tag of a writing group. One of the first things RPers see when you enter the sim (and they will zoom in on you and check, believe me!) is your name plus the tag you're wearing. Writing is something RPers can relate to. Creating characters and stories is something familiar.
  4. I wear a “Visitor” floating text. On top of the writing group tag, I wear an invisible prim with a floating text that says “Visitor”. This will send out a clear message. You are not there to cause any trouble. I'm a Visitor who wants to write.

Upon arrival:
  1. I react slowly. Nope, I'm not crazy! I have a pretty good computer. Rezzing is fast. As a result, I can start walking about fairly quickly. But I don't. I step away from the LP (Landing Point) and wait. This will give the residents of the sim (owners, moderators, anyone in charge, …) time to check my profile. That's when they'll see the writing groups and the writing picks.
  2. In the meantime, I check if there are any sim rules. A notecard (NC) is often dropped automatically in your inventory. Other times, there's an object with a floating text saying “click for sim rules” or something similar. I always make it a point of reading the NC thoroughly. Sometimes, these NCs are quite long. But I read them anyway because they mention important things like the dress code, if there's an OCC (Out of Character) tag provided by the sim (in this case, I remove my “Visitor” tag and wear the sim one), if visitors must remove weapons (usually scripted ones; mine are not scripted, but I remove them anyway if necessary).
  3. RP sims often have an avatar monitoring arrivals. If I am asked to leave, I do it. No argument. No hassle. I never forget that I am a visitor. It's not my sim!

During the visit:
  1. I walk the line. This means something obvious. I use the pathways, the roads, the streets, and never enter private property. Anything with a closed door... I don't go inside. I don't even click the door to open it.
  2. I don't talk to RPers unless I am talked to. This was an advice a longtime RPer gave me many years ago. And it makes perfect sense. In Real Life (RL), you don't talk to everyone you come across in the street if you don't know them. If someone greets me, I greet them back and move on (to let them continue their RP).
  3. If someone IMs me and asks me “what do you want?” (sometimes the first approach can be a bit testy), I don't take it personally. I calmly and briefly explain the reason for my visit. Usually, the reaction is then positive, sometimes even volunteering help in case I have any questions.
  4. If someone invites me for a beer, I accept it! RPers are proud of their sims. They are also eager to share them with anyone who appreciates their work. I once had a very surreal but extremely interesting chat with a horse (!!) who invited me to have a beer and a bit of a chat. Then the said horse volunteered to give me a tour of the sim, which led me to visit places that could only be accessed by a restricted list of people in the RP.

After the visit:
  1. I send an NC or an IM to the owner of the sim. I thank him/her for having such an inspiring sim open to the SL community. If I have talked to anyone in the sim, I mention the fact that I was welcomed and that everyone was very friendly. Most of the time, the reply says “do come back anytime”.
  2. Finally, if I write a story using the sim I visited as an inspiration, I send the owners a link, if the story is posted in my blog.

Virtual Reality in general and RP sims in particular are important resources for writers. They are packed with ideas for us to use – ambiances, sounds, names, etc. And they provide something absolutely fundamental, which is immersiveness. You can look everything up online, true. Yet, nothing beats walking through a snowstorm in a virtual world to understand what it feels like, especially if, like me, you live in a sunny land with no snowstorms.

Happy writing and good luck for NaNoWriMo!



References


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018



NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and it's time to get ready!
I have been taking part since 2013 (I missed 2016 because... life happens).
Throughout the years, I have produced a few articles, and a workshop I hosted, about writing in a virtual world called Second Life.

I have decided to collect all the articles in one single post. 
The listing is organized by theme and not chronologically.



Take 5! Writing in a Virtual World includes:

5 Common Misconceptions about Virtual Worlds
5 Reasons Why Writing in a Virtual World Is a Good Idea
5 Easy Steps to Start Writing in a Virtual World
5 Simple Ways to Make the Best of Writing in a Virtual World
5 Things Virtual Reality Can Teach you About Writing



What to Expect of a Writing Session
When You Just Don’t Feel Like It
At a Writing Session - Double Do’s
The Dynamics of a Writing Session
Loose Ends


Workshop: Boost Your Writing Using Second Life includes:

1. Problems during NaNoWriMo
  1.1. Real Life
  1.2. The Story
  1.3. The Writing

2. The Writer’s Path – Support, Information and Writing Opportunities
  2.1. Meeting Other Writers and Readers
  2.2. Writing Opportunities

3. The Story – Immersion
  3.1. Finding Locations
   3.1.1. Destination Guide
   3.1.2. SL Travel Blogs
   3.1.3. Suggestions of Friends and Fellow Writers
   3.1.4. Roleplay Sims
  3.2. Arriving
   3.2.1. Windlights and Sounds
   3.2.2. Writer Tag and Cautious Interacting

3.3. The Macro Approach
3.4. The Micro Approach
3.5. Going beyond Your Comfort Zone

3.6. The Roleplaying Approach
3.7. Profiles
3.8. Avatar Names and Looks


Take a Walk on the Scary Side about using environments in Second Life as a resource for the Setting in your stories.


A few Writing Resources that include:
Thesaurus
Plot Generators
Word Counters
English Usage, etc.


Virtual Inspiration Booth at Milk Wood in Second Life.


Good luck with your NaNoWriMo!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Mystery

Avatar Games

“The painting changed.”
“What do you mean?” asked the cop.
He wasn't sure.
“Do you mean it's a different painting?”
He shook his head.
“Well, then... We're off.”
That's when he saw a slight movement.
The hands. It was the hands.
The cops wouldn't believe him, he thought.
So, he threw the painting in the garbage. Too disturbing.
The neighbor across the street snatched it and placed it at the window facing the street.
Better not tell anyone, he thought, but the hands waved at him.
He didn't want to be taken to that place... again.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Dug

Home

The hole must be big enough, he thought.
But he wasn't sure he wanted to do it.
He wasn't sure he wanted another flower or worse, another task to take care of every day. Water the plant and add fertilizer, and all that.
But he continued.
Just a bit more, he thought. The hole was big enough for him to fit in it.
This should do.
He turned to stare at her horrified eyes.
“Don't worry my treasure, you'll bloom like all the rest.” And he waved his arm around to show her dozens of mounds with beautiful flowers.



Sunday, September 30, 2018

Files

BCC

The train left the station. It was empty. No passengers.
Halfway, the engine exploded. There was only one casualty.
No one knew that the train was packed with cases of secret files, the kind of files that would have been talked about for weeks.
The explosion was not reported in the media.
When John, the farmer, picked up a bunch of bits and pieces of paper off his land, a reporter showed up.
The reporter was told to get the hell off his property.
John packed it all in a box and burnt it.
He knew when to shut up.
(Pick Two: - Minefield, Fountain, Angle, Craft, Sodium, Salute, EngineCandle, Case)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Chaos

Winter Sweet

“A bear. Run.”
A bear? In the house?
He stood up and opened the door. The house was quiet.
At the end of the corridor, he looked down. The stairs were clear.
A step. Then another.
When he turned to enter the living-room...
“A bear. Run,” he yelled.
He'd never run up the stairs so quickly.
He locked the door and hid under the bed, as if that'd help him.
For weeks, social media was flooded with photos of his horrified face when he saw the embalmed bear.
Life became difficult while everyone else was having a laugh.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Addictive

Finlandia

She was supposed to read those damn books. She did pick one of them up once. Don't do this, don't do that.
She looked out the window. It looked bleak. Pollution, you see. And they were worried because she smoked. She was one of the last few who did. Smoking had been banned.
The door opened.
“Ready?”
She nodded.
“What did you read?”
“That one.”
“Good. You may go. Tomorrow, more.”
She nodded meekly.
Now I need a cigarette, she thought.
She wasn't sure what she was addicted to, whether the cigarettes or just being subversive.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Driver Error

Grimm Shores

Three figures stood on the esoteric symbol.
“Quite thrilling.”
“Yes, I wonder how...”
“Stop talking. You sound like amateurs.”
The other two chuckled.
“This is such a treat.”
“Yes, I wonder if...”
“I said shut up or I'll strike you down with my powers.”
The others exchanged a look.
“With what?”
“Yes, with what?”
When the third one was about to talk, the two grabbed the giant symbol from the floor and smashed it on him.
“This is quite thrilling.”
“Yes, I wonder what they'll say.”
They chuckled some more.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Win

Forgotten City

At the end of the year, everyone who had turned 18 received an envelope in the mail. It contained a ticket and a note. The note had instructions about what they had to do – go to the Orange Plaza, place yourself within 10 meters of the Beam to travel through time, and wait.
And they waited.
Suddenly, the beam buzzed.
All the kids were turned into mush.
No one had told them that every 18th group had to be sacrificed to feed the Beam.
The tickets were scattered on the floor, a sad reminder of what they could've won.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Darling Terminal

Sick

She checked her ticket for the tenth time. Stop it! Yes, you have it. She wanted to start a new life without any recollections of the past.
The monitors showed line after line, sometimes too quickly for her to read. Good thing they also used the artificial voice system blaring out information. The flights went out one after the other. And then the system had a burnout moment.
Her flight was called out but to a different destination. She didn't care. That was her best decision ever. Many years later, she still remembered how he looked, standing at the terminal.
(Pick Two: Mask, Pinprick, Out of sync, Grapes, Rose, Drive, Print, Darling, Terminal)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Flay

The Tower by Rebecca Bashly

Roam the land and watch them hanging from a branch, flayed alive by animals with a human face. Kneel. Show them you are inferior. Take a risk and play the game. They will smile and disrespect you. They shaved your head and made you walk naked. They will take your submission for granted. With time, they will believe you. They will get distracted. Then, you will strike back, smiling, holding a whip in each hand. They too will hang, and they'll struggle to breathe as you did. And they will die, swinging from that branch to never hurt anyone again.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

When the Lights Went Out

Roche


Late at night, no-one cared. A slow slumber took over and everyone was fast asleep quickly.
During the day, things collapsed. The lamps that had existed for several decades inside the underground survival units were vital. They illuminated every corridor, every room.
When the lights went out, Rachael desperately wanted to leave. They didn't let her. The air, the ground, you can't.
She managed to escape and went to the old hut in the middle of nowhere where she had grown up.
Only the ones who left the units survived.
When she flipped a switch again, she felt ridiculously alive.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Power

La Cittá Perduta


Walk forward. Don't give up. Even when they say you are not worth it. Power. Even if they... Power... Pow...
The robot stopped its roaming and blabbering. We all stared at it, expecting it to return to life as unexpectedly as it had started to move and talk.
“Perhaps if we walk away and come back, it'll start again,” someone suggested.
But the robot didn't move when we all did that, its arms awkwardly stretched back. We shrugged and walked away. The museum was big enough.
The robot rotated its head slowly and reprogrammed the data in everyone's chips.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Unfortunate Mug

Tierra del Fuego


The fast plane took off with ahhs and ohhs of exhilaration. It was the inaugural flight of a new model. Heads of state, ministers, members of parliament, journalists, an array of dubious reality TV personalities, even football players were invited. Each received a commemorative mug to display at home for curious visitors. When the plane crashed, a few miles short of the airport, the horror was only surpassed by the relief that there were no casualties. Except for the mugs. Nobody cared for the mugs. And no one noticed that each mug had a little spying device. Close call, huh?
100 Word Stories


(Pick Two: Mug, Unfortunate, Global, Grime, Elephant, Splat, Dread)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Quill

Vice City

The name of the exclusive, terribly expensive event was Quill. No better name than Quill for a writing event, she thought. The turn out was better than she expected. The room was full. The problems started when one of the attendees tripped and hit his head on the giant quill that was placed in the corner for decoration. He split his head. Blood all over. Everyone left in a hurry, waving their hands in the air. Well, she thought, that was easy money. She didn't even have to host the damn thing. She packed up her stuff and left town.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chance

Winter Moon


Take a chance, she said, perhaps you'll win. And he took a chance, so full of himself. After all, he was super fit. He was given a small boat and told to row South, that he would find the beach. He did. The place was amazing. First few days were easy. Then, a terrifying storm arrived. Everything was damp. He couldn't find any food anymore. Instead of building a shelter while he was strong, he sunbathed. And then they couldn't find him. He was in the wrong beach. Take a chance... He almost died. He did win his life back.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Stab

Misali

The two men sat on the porch, looking at the inferior ones, they'd say. The porch became a symbol of power, of dominance. Only those who ruled could sit there and watch the others while they went about their lives. Ron felt like he was in jail and those two men were the guards.
One day, in a moment of lunacy, Ron took over the porch. He stabbed one of the men and knocked the other one out. He was king of the porch for 10 minutes. The best 10 minutes of his life. After that, it was all downhill.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Never Say...

Black Kite


The countdown started. 10, 9, 8... She closed her eyes and tried to come up with ways to stop it. 7, 6, 5... The place was deserted. She didn't know what to do. 4, 3, 2... It was all over. ONE. Perhaps not. It's not over till the fat lady sings, they say. ZERO. And nothing happened. She opened her eyes and remained sitting. What an anti-climatic moment... The director of the play clapped. She... she just stared at the small candle on the floor. It flickered. Never say I just love this theater company, can I join you guys?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Fired Future

Vintage Style

She sat in the water, looking at the horizon. The future promised to be as bright as the brightness of that bright summer day.
She smiled.
Perhaps what happened would not mean anything.
A few seashells swayed with the tide.
Perhaps no one would notice.
The seashells bumped against her thigh. She watched them for a moment. Then she swatted them away, just as she had swatted him away, that greasy fucker who had got her fired.
Shame she swatted him too hard...
This was such a bright day and he would never ever see another bright summer day again.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Wafer

Neverlandx

Mr. Probitas stared at the store window.
The new notice was titled Antisocial Behavior Order, an anti-sugar diatribe.
Ever since the intake of sugar became controlled by decree, Mr. Honey's store was in a financial crisis.
Mr. Probitas walked in.
“What's that all about?”
“I have to close. Or I'll be arrested...”
“Arrested?!”
Mr. Honey shrugged.
“Why?”
“For being antisocial. Here, have a wafer. Be antisocial while you can.”
It was then that Mr. Probitas and Mr. Honey started an underground movement to import wafers.
But it was not really about the wafers, was it?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ratchet

Pixel Dreams

Rest assured. This will not happen again, you said.
Aim for the future and don't look back, hey? May those sorrows stay in the past, you said. Bury them deep. What you did cannot be undone, can it?
Time will tell, of course. Time will tell.
Call upon the meek, you must. Their sorrowful, all-forgiving smiles will free you.
Haul and cry if you must. Haul and cry. They'll forgive you.
Each new day will bring new hope, we hope. You hope.
Then, it'll be the end. Where? Right there. Find the place. Rest assured. This will not happen again.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tip

Fae

What should I do? The green is fading away. The red is taking over. A man is hanging from the big oak, swinging horribly. His blood is pooling on the ground. And I don't know what to do. I just hide in this tree. The magic is gone. The magic is gone... The man has been there for a while. I didn't see who did it. I was hiding, hiding in this tree. And I hid for so long that I am now the tree. I am not hanging, but I am dead too. Tell me, what should I do?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Happy Story

Il Nido


Sneezy Tom went to the bookshelf and picked up a book.
“Wanna hear a story?”
Grumpy Doc nodded.
“But read a happy story.”
“Doc, what's a happy story?”
Grumpy Doc turned to look at him, frowning.
“Something that ends well.”
“Then I have to grab another book. This won't do.”
With the second book in hand, Sneezy Tom started reading.
“... and the two lived happily ever after, her head chopped off and stored in a jar.”
“That's happy?!”
“Yes, my wife drives me crazy. It's a shame I can't do this...”
(Pick Two Prompts: Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pizza

Enoshima


“This looks awful. Are you sure they have pizza here?”
“Yeah.”
“How did you find this place? There's no one else here.”
“I got an email. They sent me an 80%-off coupon.”
“80%?? Let's go. Now.”
“Why?!”
“Haven't you heard of the 80% club? They'll shrink your brain by 80%.”
“What?”
It was too late. The doors closed.
The next morning, they were found barely alive.
The number of these cases had been growing lately. No one knew how it was done, but everyone knew the consequences.
Discount coupons can be hazardous.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Organ

Westdell


When we arrived for dinner at the neighbors, a man was playing a song on an old pipe organ. One of the notes was off-key, but he played on. When the host invited us to go outside, I was happy to escape that torture. The problems started when she explained that they needed meat and that they took some of his organs . I was shocked, and was about to ask how he could even play when I felt a sharp blow to the back of my neck. Officer, do you think this scar is what I suspect it is?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Fly

Sopor Aeternum


“The photo's really bad. Where's this?!”
“I don't know. But this is where the hot air balloon is.”
“I can see that... Do you have any other irrelevant information to volunteer?!”
“There's a lighthouse on the photo.”
“I can see that too... What else?”
“Nothing... Except those red leaves.”
“Special leaves?”
“No. They're quite common.”
“Then, we have nothing.”
“Nope.”
“Why did you bring me this photo then?”
“Because at the back someone wrote the coordinates.”
“And you waited this long to tell me that?”
“I just hate negative people.”

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Mr. Caramel

Matanzas


Mr. Caramel was surely the one who knew more about everyone else. He noticed every single detail regarding the neighborhood and memorized it thoroughly.
Mr. Caramel could hear his wife chatting languidly with Mr. Granite, that Mr. Granite...
Mr. Caramel decided, right there and then, that he wasn't going to do anything but enjoy the warm hours of a lazy afternoon. He slowly stretched his neck towards the sun. 
If Mrs. Caramel wanted to eat, she could go prepare things herself... or ask Mr. Granite. 
He stood on the pole and closed his eyes. Mr. Caramel was a proud seagull.
(Prompt Pick Two: Granite, Pertinent, Record, Surely, Tag, Bridge, Proud, Detective,Tarp, Caramel)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Camping

Magical Farm


“It's cold and I don't even like camping.” And Annie slammed the door behind her.
Why did Annie have the final word about everything, thought Paula.
A pair of curious eyes looked inside the house.
Why couldn't they go camping in the winter? They just needed a few extra sweaters. And besides, Paula really wanted to see that stag again.
When she turned around, he was there. She didn't dare to move. They looked at each other. And that's how the word camping took on a completely different meaning, as the stag came back for a visit every day.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weak

Black Kite


“My stomach is weak,” she said, a tray filled with amazing food looking back at her.
At the restaurant, they were used to her moaning. But she ended up gobbling it all down.
One day, they dared her to cook. She hesitated, but she wasn't one to run away from a challenge.
When the insurance company showed up, it was impossible to identify where the kitchen was, and it was nearly absurd to even attempt to tread through the barrier of debris by the front door.
That's when they heard, “My stomach is weak and now my leg hurts...”