Friday, October 15, 2010

Tough Guide to Fantasyland ... I've got it!

Just a short post of me congratulating myself on finally having a copy of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland in my hands. Here's hoping that none of my books qualify too closely. I'm also taking a look to see if there's anything in there that could be spun into something interesting. I mean, if 'guy gets shot to death' can be spun into thousands of wonderful crime novels (mm, I love crime ... gotta get back into reading fiction) then why can't fantasy tropes? Well, we'll see.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

De-Toxing the Easy Way

Well, rather than succumb to one complicated diet or de-tox plan or another I decided to do something simple. My birthday weekend was a binge of energy drinks, snack foods, and the odd glass of alcohol so I figured I should probably do something to de-tox. So, preferring the simple way, and having noticed how 'meh' I've been feeling of late, I cut out the refined sugar.

Basically, no cordial, no chocolates, no cakes, no energy drinks, no lollies. This is my fifth day. My one failure was a yohurt-iced muesli bar so I'm doing pretty well. Especially since it was a Zombie Walk on Saturday that I went to that involved eating in the city for lunch (6-inch subway) and dinner (chicken burger at a yiros shop). Everyone else pretty much went to KFC so I think I did well. Later on, there was a close brush when the girl giving us a lift wanted to take us to a chocolate-based cafe where she was going to shout us food. Then we went to an On-The-Run petrol station where they picked up a very large cream-filled cake-thing for us all to share (me and my fiance resisted the urge).

This week, there has also either been a cake or biscuits in the lunch room at work every day of the week. Can you believe that? Normally I'm lucky if it happens once. This week it's every day! I've also been drinking 2 - 4 cups of water a day.

Funnily enough, other than massive cravings (destroyed by eating mangoes - they sure hit that sugar button) and a mild yet persistent headache on Day 2, I've felt better than before. While my poor sleeping habits ensure I'm sleepy each morning and I still laze in bed for 20 minutes post-alarm (don't worry, I set my alarm expecting that), that's still a 50% reduction in lazing-in time AND when I finally do get up I feel awake. I'm not even nodding off at my desk come 3.00PM like I used to.

So it appears to be working ... the trouble is that this isn't the intense de-tox that makes your body fit and fighting and ready for another onslaught. This is the sort of subtle de-tox that only really provides long-term benefits as part of a life-style change.

Gee, I'm glad it's fruit season in Australia because I sure have a sweet tooth!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Skilling Up Your Storytelling Skills

Well, we've all read up on how to improve your skills through reading how-to-write books and blogs, attending conferences, and interviewing writers. At least, odds are that if you're reading my blog, you have. I've also mentioned how you can improve your storytelling skills through general research, training and observation (such as going bush walking can improve your descriptive techniques as well as be inspirational).

Of course, there are other options. What about all those storytelling hobbies out there? What about sitting around a campfire and coming up with improvised horror stories? You can keep track of your skill by watching how a real live audience reacts to you. Doing theatre sports or acting classes can also assist by making you more aware of the role of body language amongst other things.

Also, why not try your hand at a pen-and-paper roleplaying game either as a player (where you create and control a single character complete with personality and goals) or as the Game Master / Storyteller / Dungeon Master (where you create and control the world, antagonists, and any character that isn't controlled by a player)? Sure, these games can be played as dice-rolling extravaganzas to the tune of 'lightning bolt' and 'magic missile' where the players simply use statistical number crunching to win against the enemy. Generally, however, they are played as excursions into other worlds, with players throwing themselves into the skins of their characters, and GMs developing story lines in an interactive universe. We all know what it's like when a protagonist in a novel has a mind of its own. What about having four that really do?

The benefits of doing this is that you can see first-hand which plot lines capture interest and which fall flat. A session of roleplay also generally covers more ground than a session of writing, which means that you can practice plotting on a faster level, and you certainly gain a lot of skills at description and dialogue. If your description is too long or your dialogue too unrealistic, you'll soon know about it. You can have games about solving crimes, exploring fantasy worlds (great to assist with your world building), dealing with horrible monsters, or hunting ghosts. Pretty much any type of genre has a market for it (except for Romance - that could just get plain weird between friends).

Also, it's a lot of fun and can give any budding writer the audience s/he craves. Just beware: No plot survives contact with players. A player's mind doesn't function the ways that ours does and they will always come up with some unexpected route to solve an obstacle.