Get a Free Short Story Mailed To You!

I am delighted to announce I am starting up a free short story service here at One Wet Sneaker.  I’m always digging up great old stories online, and want to learn to use an certain automatic email program, so I thought I’d combine them this way.  These are the best short stories I can find.  In one case, the story is so good that I’ll be typing the story in from a scanned document.  It’s in the public domain, but it’s not on the web in text format anywhere.

(This particular story was the inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s story Coraline, and in my opinion it’s a much deeper and weirder story.  It’s less spectacular, but far more strange. — But until I type it up, I have plenty of other great stories lined up.)

So, sign up and enjoy a short story mailed to you every week — free!

Advertisements
Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Organizing Written Description of Place

English: An alcove in Navajo Sandstone near Mo...

English: An alcove in Navajo Sandstone near Moab, Utah.  Nothing to do with the text, but pretty cool.

This was useful to a few people over on intfiction.org, so I’m quoting it from that thread.

Jamespking wrote:

Quote:
The immense magma river flows below effortlessly, although slow and patiently. The whole cave is lit by its fiery belly. From here you can see the broken pillar rising from the flames like a finger pointing the sky — a sky made of crumbling rocks and metal — and the stony walls surrounding the sight like the steps of a giant arena. Below, the thin cornice cuts a distinct line on the side of it, losing itself in the distance inside a small passage to the west. The piece of quartz you are standing on has resisted the quake’s onslaught and is now holding itself onto the rock like a cat on a tree trunk. Something like steps rise from here to an alcove, up above and near the ceiling. A faint cyanotic light pulsates inside it. You can reach it to the northwest

This is TERRIBLE prose. On behalf of the author, I must say he was writing it trying to think in English not being english himself. That could lead to awkwardness.

First: every other noun has an adjective before it. It gets boring really soon.

James,

What is lacking is organization to the whole passage. Description of a place needs to develop in an organized way, just as an argument needs to, and the structure of that organization must match with the way the human mind processes and understands locale.

Visual description should be organized in a way that matches the way humans organize visual information, description of embodied feeling or emotional feeling should be organized in ways that match those senses, and so forth.

To do this, consider the way that, if you were in the location, you would direct your attention from moment to moment.

If I can be forgiven for making the attempt– Let’s look at the parts.

  • The immense magma river flows below effortlessly, although slow and patiently.
  • The whole cave is lit by its fiery belly.
  • From here you can see the broken pillar rising from the flames like a finger pointing the sky — a sky made of crumbling rocks and metal — and the stony walls surrounding the sight like the steps of a giant arena.
  • Below, the thin cornice cuts a distinct line on the side of it, losing itself in the distance inside a small passage to the west.
  • The piece of quartz you are standing on has resisted the quake’s onslaught and is now holding itself onto the rock like a cat on a tree trunk.
  • Something like steps rise from here to an alcove, up above and near the ceiling.
  • A faint cyanotic light pulsates inside it.
  • You can reach it to the northwest

The point of view this structure reveals is a DM’s point of view. It’s me looking in, considering the walls, the lighting, and working my way in to the player’s current options.

If I were there, I would probably attend to where I am, and my attention would then move outward.

Quote:
Sweltering, you stand on a piece of red-lit quartz that has survived the quake and clings to the rock like a cat to a tree. Northwest, irregular steps rise from here to an alcove near the ceiling. Inside the alcove a faint cyanotic light pulses.From the alcove, a cornice leads along the stony walls enclosing this huge arena. Far to the west, the cornice loses itself in some passage into the rock.

Red heat, so intense it feels solid, radiates from the patient magma river that flows below. A broken pillar rises from the flames like a finger, pointing to the ceiling of crumbling rocks and metal.

–Now, I don’t mean to hold myself out as an expert IF writer. My own productivity is pretty limited. And clearly as a writer you could select from among many organizational principle. The “from where I am out” basic strategy, which I picked here, is just the one I picked. You might instead pick “the environment in,” or “panning left to right,” or so forth.

But do consciously pick an organizational strategy, and stick to it in your writing. Also something I like, and therefore do, is to drop one- or two-word hints early in a passage, which details are explained later. So I dropped “red-lit” well before I described the lava river.

Conrad.

Published in: on July 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Timelines

I had a funny dream where I was looking at a tree that was a family tree.  But it was a physical tree in the real world.  Then I looked at it again and it was a branching diagram of _homo sapiens_.

I’ve often regretted that Homo sapiens can never really know Neanderthal man, or homo erectus, because we must compete for resources, and in the modern world we would interbreed, knitting us together.  Thus we are deprived of knowing those who are like us, and yet different from us:  human, family, but different in kind.  That would just be so cool.

So I had this dream that time travel was not possible, but communicating among contemporaneous points in alternate branches was.  Thus we could in VR walk among our cousins, and yet we would be spared the possibility of war between homo sapiens and homo nextus, or homo nextus and homo nextus nextus.

It was a very cool dream.

Published in: on June 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm  Comments (1)  

History Class

backdated

Is what you want, looking at the past, to have no worst day?

I have a worst day.  I hope and pray I won’t have to trade it down for an even worst one.

I have been thinking:  Looking back, you’ll have a worst day.  Almost undeniably.  But to focus and dwell on that worst day causes its power to loom large in your psyche.

If you’re the type to dwell on and worry over worst days, I suggest worrying about worst days in the future.  It’s easier because it’s speculative and because something can be done about it.

I always recommend to people that they study emotion and the nature of the psyche.  This is because the nature of healing begins deep within the self, within the ego, within the witness.

Anyway, I was worrying about such natural disasters, and thought to post this letter I wrote about the next Hurricane Katrina.

(more…)

Published in: on June 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Marriage isn’t Contract Law — It’s Partnership Law”

I’m told that marriage isn’t actually well described as contract law, but as partnership law.  Partnership law is the same area of law that governs the establishment of corporations.

Does that mean that a marriage is a legal person?

Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

review: The Blue Death (by Otto Grimwald / in Ramus)

http://anamnese.online.fr/site2/textallion/showcase/the_blue_death/the_blue_death_ramus.html

A nifty little game I’ve played through a few times. It’s puzzling, in the way CYOAs often are. Parsered IF tends to force the game to focus on a specific scenario, and therefore situational coherence is to some degree enforced. Not so with CYOA, as we all remember from the old playbooks: go through one door and the aliens of UFO 52-40 are traveling in time, choose another and they are heading to another planet.

The Blue Death does not change the factual basis of the story with which door you walk through, but the story does have that drifting quality. It is not a story driven by cause and effect, nor a situationally-bound series of events. The story is intentionally CYOA-like, with choices and sections unnecessarily designated by numbers. Early choices may lead to death, or may circuitously lead around to the city in which the game is mostly set. Cheating is almost endorsed, with the user prompted to roll a die and click on “I am lucky” or “I am not lucky”, with the computer able to generate a random number if desired.

Lite spoilers in this paragraph. (more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Incredibly Cool Site for Writers…

Here we have fictional characters from various famous novels rendered pictorally by police artists.

http://thecomposites.tumblr.com/

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

OWS in the news

To be honest, I’ve been surprised to see my little blog covered nationally.  But when major lobbying firms are planning a coordinated PR attack, that’s — that’s just out of control.

Published in: on November 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Latest: Occupy Bangor!

update —

I’m running with the Occupy Bangor crowd this past week. I’m online with a blog relating to that experience, which you can find at http://conradcook.wordpress.com.

That’s an unofficial blog. What you see in the news about the 99% crowd doesn’t really capture the reality.

Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Latest…

The latest for me is that I seem to be wrapping up my walkabout.  I say seem to because these things don’t involve a decision from me.

Wikipedia tells us the walkabout was primarily about shirking work and institutional regulation, and from my point of view this is a nontrivial dimension of it.  So to speak.  But on the other hand, the rumor really is true:  at some point, you meet yourself.

Hard to explain.

Ron asked if I’m going to be involved in IF Comp 2011.  I expect not.  I’m currently without a laptop, and I’m putting my daily one hour online toward a bigger project.

I remember questioning, two Comps ago, whether interactive fiction had a social code.  This due to that trivial but constant meanness we see, on r.a.if, out of that guy who pretends to be Jacek Pudlo, and so forth.

When I vanished on my first walkabout, it turns out a few of you guys got together to try to find me.  You were worried.  I got an email about it later.  It was very kind, and I realized later how definitively it answered my question. IF does indeed have a social code.

Thanks, guys.

I have a few ideas for games, which I mean to write up sometime.  But I’m really into this calamity prevention and recovery planning, and I’m not sure when I’ll get around to text games.

My college friends would often end up with spare computers kicking around.  If you’re reading this and you have an old laptop that you’re not using, it’d help me be more productive.  An hour a day doesn’t give me much.

Currently, I’m working on what (minimal) knowledge set would be needed to bootstrap modern high-tech civilization.  It’s a peculiar problem.  Currently, it seems you need kilns, to make bricks for blacksmith’s furnaces, and plenty of steel digging tools, for mining.

Without those tools, you end up in a catch-22:  The most accessible coal is deep underground, the stuff on the surface already being used up, and you can’t easily set up a blacksmith shop to make steel mining tools without coal…

It’d be tough.  It’s not inescapable, but it’d be tough.  Especially with a serious knowledge gap.  Some picks and shovels scattered around would help tremendously.

Anyway, yeah, if you have a laptop you don’t need and aren’t using, email me.  It’s taking me longer than I counted on to find work.

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,