Tuesday, 27 November 2012

AQC is the place to be.

AQC (Agent Query Connect) is a great place for writers.
Most importantly people there say awesome, spirt lifting things such as: "BRIGHTON IS WISE" that is a direct quote from soon to be published author of Not A Drop To Drink, Mindy McGinnis.
Really the point of this blog post was to have an excuse to post these awesome screenshots:

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Weekly Drudgery

Hello again, sane people of the world. Another post to introduce you to a little bit insanity.

I have often and maybe incessantly, professed my love for epic fantasy - worlds which are similar yet so different that life there seems worth living without the daily squabbles of a job, cleaning and the tedious clockwork of meniality. Most of these worlds encompass an essential ingredient - Magic. Some have a varied populace living in a large spread across continents, others focus on the different classes of humans there can be - clans, guilds, tribes to name a few.

But my love for epic fantasy does not stop at books. There is another realm which excites me and simulates my thoughts in equal measure - Computer games. I have always found the storylines and the thrill of being an adventure in well made role-playing games far more enthralling than shooting random people/organisms mindlessly or driving around like a man possessed to win a race and unlock new features and more cars.

In fact, for me sometimes the graphics are quite unimportant if the storyline and the world is realistic. Case in point is the Avernum series by by Spiderweb Software. The game looks like a badly drawn cartoon with the characters horrible smudges on your screen but the world is so vast and the story is so well thought out with so many choices in the mystical land, that you feel that, yes, this is my life and the characters are my own portrayals.

The next game on my list is the World of Warcraft. A truly massive world which not only spreads across continents and races, it spreads into different worlds as well. Elves, dragons, dwarves are the most common of creatures and you will even come across barely-heard creatures like tauren and kobolds. The game is quite enchanting at first and roaming about the vast world itself has its own charm. But after a while, the competitiveness in the game starts getting to you. Being an online game, you are forced to be part of a community and many important quests and tasks are dependent on other people, who you may or may not gel with. And as the game goes on, inspite of changing scenarios and plots, the theme remains the same- level character, improve gear, kill the big bad boss. I tired of it in about a year and my character lies sullen and lost in the world of Azeroth. Maybe someday the blood-elf will smell the  fresh air and feel the sun on his pale cold skin once again.

However, a few days ago, I cam across a game called Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Surprisingly, even though the series is quite popular, I hadn't heard much about it. But thanks to another writer friend of mine, who shares my indelible enthusiasm in gaming, I went ahead and tried it out. And was blown away! Here was a game so awesome in scale and playing style, that it literally brought my vision of a perfect game alive.

It's set in a world with dragons, magic, castles, swords and a backdrop which is stunning and rich not only in the eyes, but in the heritage and development as well. Also, the quests are not linear. You choose the way you want to proceed, if at all you want to do it. If you don't want to bash monsters and kill skeletons (yes, again and again), then collect and read the vast collection of books lying about in the world, create a library for your own, buy a house and marry a girl of your dreams. Yes, you can do that as easily as becoming the archmage of an ultra-cool magic school.

It literally lets you experience the world as you would want to if you were in there and lets you lead a life of choices you want to make and not direct you to a specific outcome.

The game has a highly developed storyline and the awesome NPC's are definitely making it to my current work in progress which is also an epic fantasy (surprise, surprise). I would recommend the game to any fantasy buff, gamer or not. The amount of satisfaction one can derive from the endless hours of gameplay in the frosty barren lands of Skyrim are well worth the hours lost from your writing because the ideas you develop are truly worth it.

Don't believe me? Give it a try.

Signing off,


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Book Review! The Heroes of Olympus- Son of Neptune

Hello people,

Today I am presenting a book review of something I read during office hours, while I was thoroughly bored with work. And before you come with brickbats in your hand claiming why I am reviewing a Percy Jackson book, let me tell you that although I have read all the books in the series to date, I don't consider them literary masterpieces or heck, even literary pieces.

For the uninitiated, this is a MG/YA series about teenage demigods with the full overload of Greek mythology (which to my ignorant mind seems well researched) and the fulfillment of quests and prophecies. Although extremely popular, its characters do seem to fall a little flat and the humour sometimes is childish and forced. And I daren't go into describing the writing. It also spawned a god-awful movie starring Pierce Brosnan as...wait for it...a Centaur. James Bond - Aston Martin to cleaved hooves.

So why again did I read the book? I told you...I was bored. I wanted something light, which wouldn't engross me so much as to get lost (and fired). 

Ok, now for the actual review. The series does grow better with the books and the second book of the second series is, in my opinion, the finest yet. The storyline is very intriguing. Percy Jackson has lost his memory and is sent to the Roman side of demi-gods (who war with the Greek ones) and goes on a quest with two equally lost characters named Frank and Hazel. Frank and Hazel have some puppy love brewing, although that's not handled very well. Nevertheless, their perilous journey to the frozen desolation of the Arctic..no wait...Alaska, is fun and littered with nice and fun banter. The quest is reasonably well thought out and the pacing is quite good and did hold my interest.

The ending does have an oversight (read all giants need a God and demigod to kill) but nothing major. My main issue lies with the narrative slipping back into memories of the characters every so often. It works a few times, but then it gets irritating specially because the transitions are not done well. The prose while catchy, does lack a certain maturity which a YA book should have and although, I have nothing against light-hearted books, 'Yay! I am going to die.' attitude isn't what I expect.

Not too disappointing a read and the story definitely would keep me interested in the sequels but if Rick Riordan can make things a tad more smooth in his writing the books will finally find a place in the literary halls.

Signing off,

Saturday, 10 November 2012


  I Love Everyone.
The end

Best blog post ever. 

(credit goes to: Charlee )

Do you have you have to love all your characters? Probably not, might be good to hate some of them. I do think it's important to find them all interesting though, and to feel passionate about them. If a character in something I'm writing doesn't interest me or make me feel strongly I often find those are the ones that should be revised and can easily be cut. 
In an early draft of What the Water Gave Us I cut out three fairly good sized secondary characters, one of whom was playing a very important villain role. I found that they all served a purpose in the plot, but that was mostly it, they were one dimensional, and it was easy to pick them out because I didn't love them, (or hate them) I didn't feel much of anything for them. I cut them out and reassigned any important plot functions to other stronger more passionate characters and the story is stronger without them. 
So if you find yourself not loving everyone maybe take a look and see if some characters need to be cut out.