The Gamer’s Guide to Writing: An Introduction


IMG courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

IMG courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

Like many genre writers, I enjoy playing video games, and I often complain that my gaming addiction is taking time away from my writing, and vice-versa.  But I’ve found that in some ways, my love of gaming has had a great impact on my writing.  Even in a genre that is generally panned for its presentation of script and plot, an observant writer can still pick up pointers about what to do, and what to avoid.  This blog is a look at some of the lessons I’ve picked up in my many years behind a game pad.
A game I’d like to look at first is “Final Fantasy IX.”  Launched in the U.S. in November of 2000, it is often overlooked because of the timing of its release.  It came out at the tail end of the Sony Playstation’s lifecycle, a full month after the blockbusting premier of the Playstation 2.  Even though the game pushed the console to its limits, it was competing against more dazzling technology.  It also has an awkward place in the franchise, between the panned “Final Fantasy VIII” the next year’s revolutionary “Final Fantasy X” for the PS2.
None the less, FFIX is an excellent source for writers looking at plot, structure, character, and theme.  Over the next series of posts, I’ll be drilling deep into the plot of the game, examining the presentation and hunting for literary gold, as Dave Robision would say.  Think of this like a very different sort of walkthrough.  Instead of looking for secrets to success in the game, I’ll be looking for hints to improve writing craft.  Spoilers obviously will be a part of this project.  So if you have an old set of discs gathering dust, or a few bucks of Playstation Network credit lying around, come join me as we examine how a classic game tells a great story.
Next week, we’ll look at compact character introductions, and what we can learn from the title screen!
Final Fantasy IX was originally released for the Sony Playstation and is also available as a digital download on Playstation Network.


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It’s finally 2015!  The ball has dropped, the champagne has been drunk, the s’mores have been eaten.  But however you celebrate the new year, the festivities have ended, hangovers have been nursed, and it’s time to get down to the business of the new year.  As such, I’m resetting the Page of Awesome and setting new creativity goals for myself in 2015.
400 Blog Posts:
This year I will be continuing to blog my serial Drabble story “The City: A Story in 140 Characters.”  When that finishes, I’d like to begin a new story with a similar premise.  In addition, I’ll be continuing to post “Hugh Likes…” entries throughout the year, updating my status with appearances, announcements, reflections on writing, and more!  I’ll also be unveiling a brand new article series in the near future!
50 Podcast Episodes:
I haven’t always been the most regular when it comes to updating The Way of the Buffalo, but with a new year and a new season launching this month, I am back on the bandwagon.  The podcast’s new schedule will look something like this:
One audio fiction episode, one interview episode, and one special episode, which could be anything.  These will be panel discussions, audio from conventions, bits of my own writing, and more!  We’ll also be presenting one episode The Dark Wife in the feed per month until it’s finished.  There are a few more things on the horizon, but it’s a bit too early to unveil them yet.
5 Self-Published eBook Launches:
My primary goal for this year is to increase my editing.  I have plenty of novellas and longer-form projects that just need a few coats of polish and cover art.  At the very least, I’d like to get these into your digital hands this year:
The Freelance Hunters:  The Shadow Over Ironwood
The Freelance Hunters:  Bingo’s Charm and other Tales
The City:  A Story in 140 Characters ebook edition
Fabulous Powers Vol. 1:  Where There’s Smoke…
Scum and Villainy (Working Title)
Most of this content is working its way through the editing process.  There will be more details as they get finished up.
50 Traditional Short Fiction Submissions
While I will be working on a lot of self-published work this year, I still want to keep submitting to magazines and anthologies.  While I’m not singularly focused on earning my SFWA qualifications this year, completing short stories and sending them out is good practice for a variety of writer’s skills, the most important of which are meeting deadlines and dealing with rejection.
So that’s what I’ll be working on this year.  What are your plans and goals for 2015.  Leave a comment below, or say hello on Twitter and Facebook!

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The City: 019: Melinda

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Melinda looked into the camera like it was the face of every one of her hundred-million viewers.
“Once again, our top story this morning:  Augustus Sizemore, CEO and Majority Stockholder of Midas Corp has reportedly sold his shares and is stepping down from his role as management.  A statement released this morning did not name the purchasing party, and the Company itself has yet to make a statement.  Midas Corp is the operator of “The City,” a realistic virtual environment which employs hundreds of thousands of people and has millions of users.  Markets are reacting sharply to the announcement.”

The City: 018: Abner

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Abner arrived late to work.  Even in The City, the trains wouldn’t run on time.  There was still so much human error, still so few backup systems.  And it had to be during rush hour.  Of course in The City, it was always rush hour someplace.  But naturally it was during his commute, on the day of his evaluation.  He braced for a siren as he badged in.  He was going to climb up to the 48th floor and kick someones teeth in.  He froze in the lobby.  “Sizemore Sells Shares to International Investors” was plastered on every monitor.  Awesome.

The City: 017: Iva

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Iva was jogging through Sizemore’s Grove, the upscale, suburban neighborhood where well-off Citizens started their day.  She was a Daytripper herself, but she liked it for her route.  The occasional presence of guards, dogs, or even once a security drone which hovered behind her for half a mile and took pot-shots at her made training more invigorating.  Her Messenger flashed and squawked before turning on in automatic mode.  This was a public safety message.
“Attentional all City Residents.  Mass Transit will be shut down for routine maintenance until further notice.  Thank you for your patience.”  Iva smirked.  Commuters.

The City: 016: Govad

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From his office on the 48th floor, Govad read the reports.  They were not good news.  He was looking at a situation so outlandish, so downright impossible, that he didn’t even have the barest bones of a response for it.  To make matters worse, he could not get ahold of his superiors for instructions.  It was like the entire Board of Directors took a vacation at once.  Things like this didn’t happen in The City.  But he was Director of Mass Transit, and this was what they paid him to do.  He called up the messaging system and began typing.

The City: 015: Julia

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Julia had been a cop in The City for over five years.  Some of her friends had chided her for taking such a safe assignment, but she didn’t care.  The City had rules just like anyplace else, and of course special care had to be applied in enforcing them.  But this was nothing she’d trained for.  She called dispatch.
“Marcy, this is Julia out in Commerce Station..  I’ve got one hell of a case here.”
“What’s up?”
“Jane doe jumped at a moving train as it was entering the platform.”
“That shouldn’t happen.”
“That’s not the weird part.  There’s a body.”

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