31 May 2015

Traveller to Firefly - The TANSTAAFL-Class Liner

Previously, I tried converting a character from Mongoose's Traveller to MWP's Firefly.  With that success behind me, though with questions, let's see how ships transfer over.  For this, I need a ship I know, the TANSTAAFL-class* Type M Subsidized Liner.

The Type M first appeared in Classic Traveller's Book 2.  The liner carries about twenty passengers, a couple hundred displacement tons of cargo, and a launch for passenger transfer.  The range of the vessel is good, capable of Jump-3, though only of 1G acceleration in real space.  That's the base model.  The Imperial Merchant Ship (IMS) TANSTAAFL I have in mind was converted from the version I just described to become a Q-ship, a pirate hunter far better armed than she appears, with two triple turrets with beam lasers and a miniaturized particle accelerator spinal mount for that extra surprise.  With this in mind, let's get going.

29 May 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 3

Previously:
"The dives are horrible and obvious."
"Cait, you promised not to interfere."
"If you're asking if he's a regular ref, I don't know."
"I'm putting in an official protest of this game.  If another of my girls gets hurt, we're leaving."

Unruly
Basketball Night in Canada
Chapter 3 - Clock's Ticking


Caitlin watched as Heidi and her friend had a whispered conversation.  Heidi stepped forward first.  "Fine.  We'll help.  For the sake of our team, not yours."

"Help is help."  Caitlin turned to the friend.  "I need a name.  Unless you want us to call you 'Heidi's Friend' all night."

"Tanya."  Heidi's friend held out her hand.

Caitlin shook Tanya's hand.  "Good.  I'm Caitlin, these are Laura and Autumn.  Laura, what did you find out?"

28 May 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 2 - Commentary

The Gephardt Phoenix want a clean game, but the Simcoe Loyalists aren't obliging.  Welcome to the commentary for "A Nice, Friendly Game".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

While the Unrulies have left the safety* of the Academy in the past two episodes, they haven't dealt with anyone that isn't from St. Dymphna in the series.  That oversight is corrected.  The other schools in Oshawa haven't faced against either the Academy or St. Dyphmna before because the two rivals kept getting suspended for the season.  Heidi has heard the stories, but has dismissed them as rumour.  Her friend isn't so sure.  Heidi's wrong about the stealing; the Unrulies wouldn't steal everything not nailed down.  Some would bring claw hammers and crowbars.  The rest would find a way to just take the entire building.  Autumn summed it up, they're supervillians-in-training.  Stealing one computer is beneath their efforts.

St. Dymphna also has a reputation, one they work to keep unmarred.  In the war of public relations, St. Dymphna has managed to make the Unrulies look like the aggressor.  The girls of both schools know better, but the public perception is that St. Dymphna is the innocent party.  It's a useful perception for when police get involved.

The basketball game is the impetus for the plot, it's not the central action.  I know just enough of the sport to know I don't know enough of it to write a full game.  Thus, the action in the stands and the cuts to significant plays on the court.  Skye is very unimpressed by the dive her opponent took.  The soccer reference is to some of the overacted dives players have made on the field**.

The Unrulies have set a record.  The game hasn't been called, nor have the riot squads arrived.  The match is still clean, with no bleeding.  The previous year's game against St. Dymphna ended in a brawl after Skye tried a rebound pass off the face of Sarah, one of Verity's people.  Sarah didn't take kindly to that, and, well, any semblance to a basketball game ended and things fell apart fast.

Coach Cherry wants a win.  She'd be ecstatic with a complete game, too, as would the team.  For once, they have a shot of finishing a game.  Caitlin wants to help Skye.  She also hates seeing her school being messed with.  She weasled her promise to Skye last chapter to leave room to act.  Caitlin is also dealing with an unknown school.  Most of her schemes involved St. Dymphna and Verity.  She never expected that another school would dare get involved.

The basketball game is degenerating.  The Phoenix are trying to keep playing, but the Loyalists aren't making it easy.  Skye's bloodied nose could have been the end if Felicia hadn't grabbed her arm and pulled her away.  Felicia was taking her life into her own hands; for all she knew, Skye could have been past her breaking point and wouldn't have cared who she hit.  Even the Simcoe students in the stands see the game as getting out of hand.

Tomorrow, Unruly: Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 3, "Clock's Ticking".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the history of adaptations continues with the top movies of the 1950s.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, The Evil Dead.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.


* Barring kidnapped Jennifers and tipsy killer robots.
** Between the time I wrote the post and the time it came out, the world of soccer took a bizarre turn.  Several over FIFA's top officials were arrested on corruption charges.  Makes what's happening in this episode look tame, really.

27 May 2015

Hacking Cortex+ - Traveller's Third Imperium

I'm still working on a couple of hacks of the Margaret Weis Productions game, Firefly, including one for Reboot that I've mentioned before.  The other hack is for Traveller's Third Imperium, focusing on the Spinward Marches.  Most of the work will focus on adapting* the existing distinctions for the Third Imperium setting.  After all, Firefly does look like someone's Traveller campaign, centred on the lives of the crew of a Free Trader.

24 May 2015

NaNo Musing - 2015 Edition

Camp NaNo is over, and was a nice relaxing writing sprint.  Managed to get stuff done without having to use a laser-like focus on one project.  However, November is coming.  I have four months to figure out what to write and get the prep work done.  NaNoWriMo 2015 will be my tenth go at it.  I was considering skipping for a year, but this is not that year.  This may be the big one, though.  As such, I want to be ready.

Good thing I have a few ideas already.

The obvious project is a continuation of Unruly.  After all, I have the characters, I have the ideas, and I don't need to worry about filling out a novel's worth of ideas when I can use several novellas instead.  There are plot hooks dangling, from Laura's testimony to the mysterious person or persons working against Caitlin and the Academy.  Worst case, I escalate the Caitlin-Verity war for an episode.  For more fun, I have an idea where Autumn does her own thing against Caroline.

The next idea is one I've been toying with for a couple of years.  Potentially set in the Subject 13-verse, the idea uses a concept I've played with in an RPG.  Imagine, if you can, a suit of steam-powered power armour, with canister launchers*.  The story, tentatively called The Clockwork Avenger, would straddle two eras.  The first era is Victorian London, where the first Clockwork Armour would be built and used to fight the forces of darkness.  The second era is today, with the descendant of the original builder receiving the plans for the power suit.  The clockwork becomes digital instead of analog.  All I need now is a plot that can span about 150 years.

In a similar vein, I've been trying to work out a team of heroes doing what Batman does, but without his wealth.  Using the working title Streetwise Valyries, the team fights crime in a city that is currently Chicago but may move elsewhere.  The Valkyries have a uniform, a costume that makes each member look similar enough that they're seen as just one hero.  The difficult part is trying to get all the needed equipment together without being traceable.  Batman may have Wayne Enterprises to launder purchases; the Valkyries need to be careful.

The last idea, but certainly not the least, involves taking an idea I had for a Star Trek story and filing off the serial numbers.  The characters I had in mind were my own; I was using the Trek setting, set during the Next Generation era, to pull together several ideas together.  Without the Star Trek details, I can move the story to a new colony and not worry about stepping on trademarks.  Thus, the security officer who hates Orions becomes a Star Navy boarder who hates an unspecified neighbouring nation, and lets me step away from the baggage of Trek.  This idea may work better as a serial, like Unruly, so will require more thought.

Good thing I have four months.

* As an aside, never launch an ether canister into a room lit solely by candles.  The ether ceases to be non-lethal when exposed to open flame.

22 May 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 2

Previously:
"Wait, we're not facing St. Dymphna?"
"The team won't be suspended for the year the first game of the season."
"One game that counts instead of the usual brawl between us and the Dymphnoids."
"Me, I'm not even betting on the game."

Unruly
Basketball Night in Canada
Chapter 2 - A Nice, Friendly Game


The stands at Simcoe Secondary School were half filled when Caitlin led Autumn and Laura in.  Both teams, the Gephardt Phoenix and the home team Simcoe Loyalists, were on the basketball court, warming up in their respective half of the floor.  Caitlin glanced down, easily finding Skye in her orange t-shirt and grey shorts, the number seven on her back.  She waved to her roommate, then found a spot in the stands to sit.  Laura and Autumn sat down on either side of the redhead.  The buzzer blared, ending the warmup on the floor.  Both teams returned to their benches.

"This is what I was expecting from high school," Laura remarked.  She looked around.

Autumn adjusted her skirt, increasing the gap between the top of her stocking and the hem a bit more.  "Not as many boys as I thought there'd be."

"Girls basketball."  Caitlin brushed her red hair back.  "Boys aren't as interested."

"There are girls in shorts and t-shirts."  Autumn tossed back her hair.  "And, today, me."

21 May 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 1 - Commentary

A new episode* has started!  Please read "Miracle on the Courts" first before continuing.

For those just joining, welcome!  Everyone else, welcome back!  Basketball Night in Canada has started.  It was started during NaNoWriMo 2014 and was completed during Camp NaNo in April.  It's a longer stint, too, but hopefully still interesting.

The episode starts with Laura having a crisis, Caitlin and Autumn being jealous of their new roommate and unusual news for Skye.  Laura's crisis comes from personal experience, though she's getting far less sympathy than I did.  Mr. Baker, the English teacher, has an effect on the girls, though not all.  Laura seems to be immune.  Caitlin?  Not so much.

The poor junior taking the schedule to the basketball team has foreseen Skye's questions and has, in a bored tone, answered them.  The unasked questions:  "Is it for real?" and "Are you sure?"  The FAQ is a nice touch and has such answers as, "No, it's not April," and, "Just read the damn schedule."  It even saw Autumn's question coming.

I keep mentioning this, but Simcoe Secondary School doesn't exist.  The name appears throughout southern Ontario, thanks to John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.  Simcoe established the legislature in York, now known as Toronto**, thus ensuring that his name would be on streets and schools throughout the region.  Is there a Simcoe Secondary in Ontario?  Yep.  One in St. Catharines and a Simcoe Composite School in Simcoe.  None in Oshawa.

Caitlin takes the news in her normal way; she starts looking at how it can be used for her own ends.  It's something she can't control.  Caitlin always has a plot or a scheme.  It's like breathing for her.  She is keeping her promise; Skye should have worded her request better.  Laura is getting a great lesson about phrasing requests here.

I had to work out the schools' team names and mascots for this.  For the Academy, that was done before I started.  Their teams are called the Phoenix, after the mythical bird that gets reborn from its own dying flames.  Meant to be symbolic, really, reflecting the students being reformed from their previous paths of destruction, such as Laura's drug making and Caitlin's school board takeover.  For Simcoe, the obvious came up, the Loyalists, named after the United Empire Loyalists, the guys who remained loyal to the British crown despite the revolt in the colonies to the south.  Being named after a Lieutenant-Governor helped with that decision.

I got to engage in Canada's second favourite sport, making fun of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Not everyone enjoys it.  There are people in Toronto who, like Laura, believe the city has a professional hockey team.  However, when a team is mathematically eliminated on the Ides of March and hasn't won the Stanley Cup for four decades, people can argue that there isn't one.  There have been rumours - fantasy dreams, really - that the NHL will add two Canadian teams, in Halifax and in Toronto.  I, for one, will be happy to see Toronto finally get a professional hockey team.

Laura's neighbours are fun to have appear.  Vamsi is a fence, a fixer, the second guy in "I know a guy who knows a guy, no names."  She has contacts throughout the 905 and 416 area codes, covering the Greater Toronto Area***.  Flora's the mad scientist from The New Girl, the one using recycled squirrel brains as a gyro for her laser-equipped robots.  Flora's twin sister is Fawna, who has gone the goth route in her fashion choices.  No one bothers to tell them apart despite them not looking alike anymore.  Finally, we have Cassie, the butt of almost as many jokes as the Maple Leafs.  I probably should feel guilty for presenting Cassie has the brainless blonde.  I do have plans for her that make up for that.  Cassie does get back at her classmates; notice that she never calls anyone by their proper name.  Even Laura gets the treatment, getting dubbed "Lorelei" instead.

Vamsi is doing well in history.  Her quote is based on one attributed to Henry II, "Will no one rid me of this turbulant priest?"  Henry was upset about Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was resisting the king's attempts to exert more control over the Roman Catholic Church in England.  Several knights decided to answer that question with, "Me!" and murdered the Archbishop, which didn't endear the king to the Pope, Alexander III.  Cassie is luckier; Flora and Fawna are too busy to pay attention to what Vamsi is saying and Laura isn't that desperate to get into the Maple Leafs' locker room.

Tomorrow, the next chapter of  Unruly: Basketball Night in Canada episode, Chapter 2, "A Nice, Friendly Game".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week for Lost in Translation.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the history of adaptations continues with the top movies of the 1950s.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.


* I need to figure out what to call the individual stories under the Unruly arc.  Episode fits better for now.
** As opposed to the current York, which is now part of Toronto, too.
*** As it's called, despite not having a decent hockey team.

15 May 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada - Chapter 1

Previously:
"I'm here because of unnecessary roughing."
"If you can't stay out of her way, keep your head down, say, 'Yes, Caitlin,' a lot, and make time for yourself."
"Someone in an Academy uniform and someone in a St. Dymphna uniform stole our Jennifers."

Unruly

The Ulrich F. Gephardt Academy for Unruly Girls was founded outside Oshawa in 1886 to help young, troubled women turn their lives around.  In 1889, U. F. Gephardt changed the mission, refining the girls to become his personal army.  Gephardt retired to the Century Manor Asylum in Hamilton after suffering a nervous breakdown.  The Academy, however, still continues, helping troubled and troublesome girls get an education and a good start in life, whatever their ambitions are.

Basketball Night In Canada
Chapter 1 - Miracle on the Courts


Laura threw down her pen in frustration.  "I hate writing!  Why do we have to do this?"

Caitlin glanced over at her new roommates homework.  "'We' don't have to.  You do.  I don't see why you're complaining.  It's for Mr. Baker."  The red-haired girl exhaled a dreamy sigh.  "Do you know how many girls would kill to get special homework from him?"

"Cassie has hitmen on speed dial," Skye said.

"It's the only way she'll be the smartest, eliminating the rest of the class."  Caitlin returned to her own homework.  "No, Mr. Baker's safe from her."

"Like he's going to ever date a student."  Laura picked up her pen.  "Especially someone from here."

Autumn set down her tablet.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

14 May 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 7 - Commentary

The Jennifers have returned.  Welcome to the commentary for "New Threat".  Note that the title shown was incorrect and has been updated.  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

There is a reason why Jennifers clump together.  The seniors at the Academy have a five year age advantage, and all of them are at the school for reasons that would have them seeing jail time or worse.  Mind, the latter is something the Jennifers and the seniors have in common, but the older girls have had five extra years to hone their skills.  Now add a student who knows how chemicals interact with the human body and you have to feel a tad sorry for Juliana.  I didn't have to do much research on the drugs Laura mentions.  Before I got into science fiction and fantasy, I read spy thrillers.  Scopolamine is the classic truth drug, administered to spies in the 60s.  It's been replaced since then, but amobarbital does have a negative reaction with caffeine.  Death-levels of negative reaction.  I have filed that information away for future use, not necessarily with the Unrulies.

For those wondering about the green jacket, the girls of St. Dymphna have a pink blouse, plaid skirt, and a green blazer.  Other schools with uniforms in the area avoid the colours of St. Dymphna and the Academy, trying to not get caught in the eternal war between the two schools.  The schools in the Catholic board use darker colours in the Unruly-verse, reflecting reality to a degree.  Schools in the public board don't use uniforms, but have school colours, just like the real world.

As seen earlier, Skye is cranky when rudely awakened.  Laura is downright mean when she's overtired.  Skye does understand and took the new girl's side over Caitlin and Autumn.  Caitlin lacks empathy at times, which goes along with her ego.  Autumn is just taking the opportunity to get back at Laura for being used as a guinea pig.

The Headmistress may well be aware of why Laura isn't in class.  After all, she knows that Caitlin accessed her daybook.  The uniform is the last step for Laura to become an Unruly.  She's now part of the school.  Perfect timing, really, for Caitlin has a plan.  Laura hasn't had the time to get a rivalry of her own with anyone at St. Dymphna, Mackenzie notwithstanding.  Skye doesn't really have one, either, except on the court, but she's been up all night.  Autumn and Caroline?  They have a history that will be revealed at some point.

Once again, I ran into an old nemesis, naiming public places.  Again, I don't want to use a real place unless that place is so ubiquitous that not using it stands out.  This time, I needed a name for a coffee shop that was considered neutral grounds between Caitlin and Verity.  Then I realized I had the name right there, Neutral Grounds, and the cafĂ©'s raison d'etre soon became obvious.  With schools like the Academy and St. Dymphna, the baristas are also bouncers, to make sure that no trouble starts.

The scene with Laura and Mackenzie grew organically.  If you see the beginnings of something more than friendship, you're not alone.  The budding relationship is something that wasn't planned but came out of their scenes together.  Sometimes, when writing, events happen that aren't expected.  Will the relationship last the full school year?  Too early to tell.  Mackenzie is the driving force here, at least for now.  Laura isn't as sure of herself as Mackenzie is.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Basketball Night in Canada begins.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Phantom of the Paradise.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, hiatus week with news about Lost in Translation.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.

8 May 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up - Chapter 7

Previously:
"Fire alarm!"
"Excuse me for not coming from a war zone!"
"A booby trap."
"Juliana, one of the missing.  I thought you could use her for info."

Unruly
The Great Jennifer Round-Up
Chapter 7 - New Threat

Laura returned to her dorm, marching straight in.  "Thanks, everyone, for leaving me there."  She stormed to her bed, then stopped dead when she saw the young auburn-haired girl sitting in it.  "What's this?"

"This is Juliana," Caitlin said.  She walked up behind Laura.  "She's been very helpful so far.  However, she hasn't answered the important questions."

"I don't know!" the young girl cried.  "I didn't recognize her!"

"We need to know if you're telling the truth."  Caitlin knelt down beside the girl.  "Laura here just spent a sleepless night in your dorm room and really needs her sleep.  She gets mean if she doesn't get enough sleep."

7 May 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 6 - Commentary

Last week, the Unrulies discovered that "Nothing Good Happens at 4AM".  Welcome to the commentary for Chapter 6.  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

Fire alarms are great for causing confusion.  Having been through far too many at one apartment building, you get one of two reactions - the quick evacuation or the ennui of an yet another alarm.  I lived on the 20th floor.  After the first few, I stopped going down unless I smelled smoke.  Not helping, when I worked at a government department in one of the taller buildings in the city, floors were evacuated based on distance from the floor reporting the alarm.  The further away, the later the evacuation.  I have a delayed reaction to alarms now as I wait to see what the floor wardens do, at least at work.  Laura doesn't have the delayed reaction.  Most of the time, if there was a fire, it was either in her makeshift lab or her father's rivals trying to shut him down.  Kristie, despite being a Jennifer for at most six weeks, has the Academy figured out.

As mentioned last week, Kristie is a magician of sorts.  I haven't locked anything down yet about how magic works.  Most of it is from working from Laura's point-of-view.  She has no idea magic exists and would be shocked that it does.  Why include magic?  I have mad scientists, megalomaniacal school girls, and a school rivalry that makes the Cold War look tame.  Why not magic?  That said, I should have had one of the Unrulies in Laura's dorm be a magical girl of sorts.  Bad planning on my part, but one that can be fixed in later chapter.

Not everyone at the Academy has the same level of loyalty that Caitlin does.  Vamsi has her reasons for bailing, but she doesn't have the same desire to defend the Academy that Caitlin has.  I'm about to start a Vamsi-focused episode to get into those details.  Autumn's reason for leaving are more based on her fear of the Headmistress.  Ms Stone has placed certain limitations on Autumn's computer access, some of which Vamsi has already broken just by providing a laptop.  The North Korea reference was explained in the previous episode, The New Girl; short version, Autumn is wanted there for serious computer crimes.

Outside, Skye and Jenn are out doing a bit of reconnaissance.  The scene was inspired by The Lost World: Jurassic Park (aka Jurassic Park 2), with Skye in the role of the velociraptors.  Jenn, though, gets right to the prey's weak spot.  Worst thing one can do to a kid, threaten to tell her mother what she did.  Juliana chooses wisely.

The scene with the juniors let me put Caitlin in the role of a commanding officer, or at least her idea of what a commander is.  Danielle is being treated unfairly.  She did what she could with what she had.  Rules Three and Four were broken, but the other juniors also broke them without trying to make amends.  The scene also demonstrates how writing during NaNoWriMo can go at times.  There is always the need to add to the word count, even if the story is thought out ahead of time.  If anyone accuses Unruly of being thought out, this scene shows otherwise.  Yes, I am referring to the booby trap.  Yes, it's a horrible pun.  No one complained about Quoth in Chapter 5, though.

Back at the dorm, Jenn has left a surprise for Caitlin.  Autumn does have a point; Juliana isn't the first girl left tied up in her dorm.  Caitlin wouldn't have all of Juliana's teeth removed; she isn't cruel, just efficient.  The threat should be enough to get the Jennifer to talk.

On the dreaded fourth floor, where the magic labs dwell, Laura is still stuck.  No water, no bathroom, and only a Jennifer for company.  Fortunately, Laura doesn't see Jennifers as a mob but as individuals.  Kristie has even noticed it.  Kristie also misses the life she could have had if she weren't at the Academy.  The witch is still young enough to buy into the "traditional" approaches of dating, where she's the one asked out.  A few more years at the Academy will show her that the tradition can be subverted for her benefit.  Laura is finding that out herself, though that was completely unexpected from my end.  The school Laura is trying to remembers is AM Farewell, named after Moody Farewell, one of the early settlers who backed Oshawa as the name for the community.  When I say named after, I mean, I named the fictional school after; none of the schools mentioned in Unruly are real.

Tomorrow, Chapter 7, "New Threat".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the news round up for April and May.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Phantom of the Paradise.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

5 May 2015

"I can be me if I wanted that."

Spent time in an online chat this past Wednesday* with other people from MuseHack and Crossroads Alpha when the topic turned to anime that featured otaku as protagonists and how the trend is limiting the audience.  The idea is that the target audience can relate directly with the protagonists, and thus the title quote, "I can be me if I wanted that."  I can get weirdly philosophical when dealing with a headache and neck pain.

Let's add a bit of context.  There's a school of thought that requires a character be a reflection of the audience to be relatable, and, indeed, works need characters who are relatable.  Thus, anime with otaku protagonists and coming-of-age stories, works where the target audience can relate to what the main character is going through.  I don't care to read about someone allegedly like me, though.  I don't need a relatable character.  I need an interesting character.  I need a character who represents something different from what I can get in my own life.  Let me decide if what I have, if anything, in common with the main character.  Sometimes, I won't, but that's not the critical characteristic.

Let me rephrase the title.  "If I wanted to experience being me, I can be me."

Not quite the same, but the idea is there.  I never cared for coming-of-age stories as a teenager.  I went through a phase of reading novels by Philip K. Dick.  "Who am I and what is my place in the world?" pales next to "What is the nature of reality?  What if we can't trust our own senses?"  TV series like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Doctor Who had me asking, "What is out there, beyond our solar system?"

Even now, my hobbies lead to different points of view.  I read science fiction and fantasy, exploring someone else's world.  I've played both tabletop RPGs and video games, not limiting myself to a character that is a reflection of me**.  I have played elves, dwarves, Ewoks, spies, swashbucklers, wizards, samurai, even uplifted wolves.  I try not to limit myself to being me, a white male in the IT industry.  I don't see the point.  Even my writing tries to expand my experience.  I have never been a teenaged girl, yet there is Unruly.  For those wondering, Unruly isn't intended as a coming-of-age story.  It is about girls who are budding supervillains and their plots.  Maturing is a side effect; character growth is a good thing.  However, Caitlin will be Caitlin at her core.  She does not worry about her place in life; she's out to carve it out herself.

All that aside, I don't have a use for works that pander to me.  I want characters who are their own people.  William Gibson's Neuromancer was the first book I read where I had the thought, "You idiot!" over something Case did; yet, I kept reading.  Why?  Because what Case did was in-character for him and added another degree of uncertainty over the mission's success.  Case wasn't me, nor was he someone I cared to become.  He lived in the shadows and used drugs to compensate for losing the ability to run the Matrix, the Internet with full sensory input.  While the ability to type while bypassing the keyboard is oh so tempting, I can live without LOLcats being sent directly to my cerebral cortex.

"I can be me if I wanted that."

I have experience at being me.  I'm in my fifth decade of being me, and while who I am is always changing, I am still me.  That's why coming-of-age novels fall flat for me.  The main character is meant to reflect the target audience, but no one has better experience at being me than me.  Worse, the authors tend to pull from their personal experience.  Sure, there's the classic bit of writerly advice, "write what you know," but it should be written, "know what you write."  I question the skill of a writer who only works with what he or she knows through experience.  Even if the experience broadened them, writing about it doesn't.  Write a biography instead of fictionalizing the experience.  As a reader, I want to discover new worlds, not the same path someone else has tread.

I can be me if I wanted that.


* April 29, 2015, if you're not reading this when it was first posted.
** To a degree.  The name of this blog, The Chaos Beast comes from other players' observation of my play style, where shiny buttons get pressed and stuff just happens when I get going, usually well off plan.

Happy Cinquo de Miaou!

You're not really reusing that lame joke, are you?  At least there's no sombrero.

3 May 2015

Camp NaNo 2015 Post-Mortem

The blog was a little quiet in April, being filled mainly by Unruly.  The reason?  Camp NaNoWriMo.  To try to keep my mind busy, I gave Camp NaNo a try.

Camp NaNo can be treated like a full-fledged NaNoWriMo, 50 000 words in 30 days, but it doesn't have to be.  Goals can be set at any number.  I chose 10 000 words; I wanted a leisurely pace where I didn't have to type furiously day after day to meet my target.  I wanted something achievable, so that I could focus on the other goal I set for myself, finishing the unfinished /Unruly/ episode.

For those following The Great Jennifer Round-Up, that was finished during NaNoWriMo proper last year.  It's the following episode that I wrote myself into a corner on, through not planning far enough ahead to figure out who was behind the plot.  Before April 1th, I did figure out who was responsible for the events, but that meant some reworking of prior chapters to make sure that I had the Unrulies on the right path.  The girls did follow the leads I gave them, and they reached a point where the immediate problem was solved.

The numbers:  With a 10 000 word goal, I wrote 15 100, including a start on the following episode.  That works out to an average of 500 words per day, to one significant figure*.  Given that I had a few days where I didn't work on the story at all, which was planned for with the goal I gave myself, I had a few days where I doubled and almost tripled that average.  There were days when I made the minumum, 333 words, without trying.  Words flowed.  Compared to my first NaNo project, Lethal Ladies, the entire process was effortless.  Writing regularly over the past ten years has helped.  What was once a major exertion taking several hours is now a walk in the park.  I'm noticing this in other areas, such as Lost in Translation, where I can sit down, write a review of or an essay on adaptations and then be amazed at how long it became.

The end result, I got what I wanted done, expanding the Unruly-verse a bit more and setting up some longer plotlines to be resolved over the course of the series.  Each girl got some spotlight time, and I discovered that Verity's people are more dysfunctional than Caitlin's.  The episode, Basketball Night in Canada, should start appearing in May, running through to August..

* I rounded to one digit for the sake of simplifying the math.

1 May 2015

Unruly: The Great Jennifer Round-Up - Chapter 6

Previously:
"Caitlin, problem."
"My job is to get you out of here."
"There's a new group coming in."
"Give me a moment.  I can figure out something if I get enough time."

Unruly
The Great Jennifer Round-Up
Chapter 6 - Nothing Good Happens at 4AM


An alarm whooped, echoing off the walls.  Laura covered her ears, trying to block the noise.  "What the hell is that?"

Kristie had her own ears covered.  "Fire alarm!"  She had to shout to be heard over the din.

"Fire?  We have to leave!"

"No!"  Kristie blocked Laura's path to the door.  "False alarm!"

"How can you tell?"  Laura tried to find another path to the door.

Kristie removed her hands from her ears.  She mouthed words Laura couldn't hear over the blaring of the alarm, then clapped her hands.  The noise levels dropped, but the alarm continued.

Laura kept an eye on the younger girl.  "What did you do?"