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



“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.”
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!


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:
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


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



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.