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Podacst: The Gamer’s Guide to Writing – The Legend of Zelda

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Welcome to part 2 of the Gamer’s Guide to Writing, a part of the Dog Days of Podcasting. In this podcast, I talk about The Legend of Zelda, and what it taught me about exploration.

Click HERE to listen!

Music in today’s episode is “I do it for the Faeries,” By the 1-ups, from OCRemix.org!

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“Masks,” Now published in Iridium Zine!

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Hello readers!

Holy cow has it been a busy couple of weeks! Between a triumphant return to the Smoky Writers retreat and a whole bunch of positive but dizzying developments in my day job, I’ve been running in circles. I haven’t even had time to properly promote my brand-new short story from the fine folks at Iridium Magazine!

Masks” is a very personal flash story I wrote last year, and it’s probably the most political thing I’ve ever written. It was inspired by a picture in Dave Robison’s most excellent Daily Flash group, an island of writerly refuge that has really kept me working when I was tempted to slack off over the past year. Members of the group got a preview of the story, as did supporters of now-on-hold Patreon campaign. I’m happy to finally be able to share it with a wider audience.

Iridium is a free web-based magazine, and I’m thrilled to be in their first issue. Go take a look, read the other stories too, and let them know what you think.

Podcast: Interview: David S. Atkinson

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Pat and I interviewed author David S. Atkinson about his new book Not Quite So Stories.

Click HERE to listen!

Also, if you still haven’t, this is your LAST CHANCE to back Michael R. Underwood’s Genrenauts Kickstarter!

This podcast first appeared at Wayofthebuffalopodcast.blogspot.com on Monday June 6, 2016.

Thanks for listening.  If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it, or leave us a review on iTunes!  You can also support me on Patreon!

Welcome to 2016!

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Happy New Year, everybody!  2015 is over and it is time to look ahead to the new year.  But first, let me consider and retire the Page of Awesome for 2015.  The Page of Awesome is the little tally in my notebook where I set my goals for the year and keep track of how I do.  And this year, my eyes were bigger than my productivity.
I put up a little tracker at the side of this blog, and as you can tell, I didn’t make most of my goals.  I wanted to publish over 400 blog posts, and I fell well short of that.  Partially that is because last year at this time I was working on “The City,” and I expected to release more daily drabble serials.  But after I completed the first one, I stalled out on two more.  In 2016, I might finish and release more of them, but if I do, I don’t know if a daily blog post is the best format.  And if it is, I won’t start until the work is finished.
I did better on podcast fiction, and even cleared my goal of 50!  I kind of slacked off on them in the later half of the year, though.  In 2016, I’ll be trying to collect all of my podcasts in one place for convenience.  The Way of the Buffalo, Freelance Hunters, and Chrononaut Cinema Review podcasts are all hosted in different feeds, and while I plan on keeping all of those going, I’m a bit jealous of my friends with Uber-feeds, and I’d like to have something here on this site.  That should be launching this week.
I didn’t write as much as I wanted to this year.  I particularly didn’t edit as much as I needed to.  As a result, I didn’t make either goal for short story submissions or self-produced ebooks.  I still have some things to get out the door, but if 2015 taught me anything, it is to not write checks my ass can’t cash.  I think it is better to be a mysterious author and leave you all in suspense rather than promise more than I can deliver.
Which is why I am NOT publicly making any goals this year.  The Page of Awesome will continue, and I’ll be making brand new and exclusive (for at least a little while) content for my patrons over at patreon.com/hughjodonnell, but I’ve been thinking a lot about goal-setting as a metric of success, and I’m not sure it’s good for me at this stage.  I’m obviously not great at setting goals, and failing to reach them made me feel bad, even though I didn’t do too badly.  I still had a lot of blog posts and story submissions this year.  I want to stay positive in 2016, and thus, I’m only announcing my results, not goals.
In the meantime, there will be a lot of cool stuff happening around here in 2016, and I hope you stick around.

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article, please share it, or support me on Patreon for more content!

Hugh Likes Podcasts: Writing Excuses

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Writing Excuses
Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells
writingexcuses.com
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Writing Excuses is a master class creative writing course broken up into bite sized chunks.  Hosted by three best-selling novel writers and one of the internet’s most successful cartoonists, each episode goes surprisingly deep on a topic of craft in a very short amount of time.  Their tag line, “Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart,” is falsely modest.  Each one is packed with useful tidbits from leading spec-fic authors.
Essentially secrets of the pros for those struggling to make it, Writing Excuses is on its tenth season and has a huge back catalog covering a wide variety of writing related subjects.  The current season has been examining the process of creating a book from outline all the way to revision.
In addition to being useful, this podcast is also surprisingly entertaining.  The four hosts have an excellent rapport with one another, and they also have a great stage presence.  They also have frequent guest authors for more perspective.
In addition to the topic, each episode ends with a writing exercise or homework assignment to further illustrate the lesson.
Writing Excuses is like the greatest creative writing course you never took, taught by a quartet of engaging experts.  If you are looking for an informative writing podcast, this one should be at the top of your list.

The Gamer’s Guide To Writing: Final Fantasy VII and 3 Act Structure Part I

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Three act structure is a form of plot found very commonly in film, but which can be used in just about every kind of story. As the name suggests, it consists of three parts: The Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution.
Final Fantasy VII was released by Square Soft for Sony Playstation in 1997. A breakout hit for the system, the game had a very cinematic style, and its clear narrative makes it a great example of a game with a classical three act structure. This might be at least partially due to the technological limitations of the system. FF7 originally came on three CD-Rom discs. We can look at each disc roughly equating to one ‘act’ of the three-act structure. Today let’s take a look at the first disc and how it introduces the story and characters. From here on in, we’re cutting right to spoiler territory

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Disc one is the the Setup. We are introduced to ex-SOLDIER Cloud Stryfe, mercenary and former guard for the ruthless and world-controlling Shinra Electric Power Company, and Avalanche, the small band of eco-terrorists fighting against them. We meet them in Midgar, Shinra’s grimy, dystopian capital city, built in such a way that the poor are denied even sunlight.
The first act contains the Inciting Incident, the event in the story which changes the direction of the characters. In Final Fantasy VII, this is the murder of President Shinra. As the head of Shinra corporation, he serves as the main antagonist for Cloud and the others. They break into Shinra headquarters to confront him, only to discover he has already been killed by Sephiroth, a powerful SOLDIER thought to be dead. Sephiroth’s appearance as antagonist, and Shinra’s death, the trajectory of the story changes. Cloud and party escape the confines of the City of Midgar and follow Sephiroth’s trail across the expanse of the world, while they are pursued by the Turks, Shinra’s elite unit of special forces.
The first act ends with a plot point that again changes the direction of the story and propels the action into plot two. In Final Fantasy VII, this is of course another confrontation with Sephiroth and another murder. This is the infamous death of Aeris, a healer with an ancient lineage who may hold the key to stopping Sephiroth. Depending on the player, she is also probably Cloud’s primary love interest at this point. Aeris’s murder serves a dual purpose in the story. It is a setback which removes a potential solution to Sephiroth’s mysterious goals. It also raises the stakes by killing a party member and Cloud’s love interest, assuming the player chose her through his actions. This elevates the journey to find Sephiroth from a search for answers to one of revenge.
Next time, we’ll look at disc two, and discuss Rising Action as Sephiroth’s plan is put into motion, and Cloud comes face to face with who he really is.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Or, support my Patreon for more content!

Going beyond National Novel Writing Month

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Today is November first, and for the first time in ten years, I’m not starting a novel for National Novel Writing Month.  I’ve taken part in the 50,000-word writing challenge every year since I’ve heard about it in 2005.  I haven’t always won, and a few years I bailed on the project early when other things in my life overwhelmed me, but I always went for it.  But I haven’t done much of anything with the manuscripts, even the ones I thought had real potential.
I’m not sure where my fear of editing came from, but what kind of writer doesn’t finish what he started?  So rather than start yet another new project, I’ve decided to dedicate this year to editing.  If I can write that much in a month, I should be able to edit a good chunk of it.  My goal is to have a beta-ready draft of my 2014 NaNo project, “Fabulous Powers” to hand off to beta readers by the end of the month.  This might be a bit ambitious, but I want to try.
National Novel Writing Month has always been about quantity over quality, but I’ve taken the ethos a bit too much to heart, I think.  I’ve produced a lot of words, and never shown them off or polished them.  So I’ve put my formal announcement here.  Gentle reader, please hold me to account.  Notice the widget on the side of the page, charting my progress to 80,000 words.
And if you are an aspiring writer, let me urge you to take the plunge in my stead this year.  It still isn’t too late to sign up.  National Novel Writing Month is a challenge, and it isn’t an easy one, but it was the push that inspired me to write in the first place.  It gave me the opportunity to meet an incredible group of writers in my area, who gave me encouragement, inspiration, and companionship on my writer’s journey.  NaNoWriMo was the starting gate for my journey as a writer, and while I’m not as far as I would like to be, I’d have never gotten there without it.  See you at the end of November.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it!  Or, support me on Patreon for more content!

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