Tag Archives: writing

Once Upon A Time On Vacation

London Bridge may be falling down, but they're ripping the old Oakland Bridge apart the hard way.

London Bridge may be falling down, but they’re ripping the old Oakland Bridge apart the hard way.

In a Driveway
You are standing in your driveway. There is a minivan full of luggage here.

>STATUS
Today is February 27th. You are stressed out. Your mother-in-law is corralling the boisterous, screaming children. You have also not posted a blog for seven days and kind of suck for that.

>WRITE BLOG
What would you like to use to write your blog?

>USE CELL PHONE
As your phone lights up, your spouse emerges from the house and announces that you are ready to leave on vacation.

>WRITE BLOG
No time, you need to drive!

>DRIVE
You fire up the van and head off from home to enjoy a stimulating drive up from San Diego through Los Angeles.

>DRIVE NORTH
You deftly drive through the traffic. Yup, it’s stimulating.

>WRITE BLOG
You can’t do that while driving.

>DRIVE NORTH

North of Los Angeles
You are now north of Los Angeles, near Magic Mountain theme park.

>RIDE ROLLER COASTERS
No time to get vertigo today.

>DRIVE NORTH

Kettleman City
You are in Kettleman City. There is a gigantic fake western town under construction here and an In-and-Out Burger.

>EAT IN-AND-OUT
Your stomach thanks you as you briefly mourn for those souls who don’t know the glory of an In-and-Out Burger.

>LOOK AT WESTERN TOWN
You are giddy with the nerdy anticipation of a western author.
westtown

>PLAY IN WESTERN TOWN
After a quick jaunt through the construction site, your spouse reminds you of the time.

>DRIVE NORTH
It is not your turn to drive.

>ENTER VAN
Done. Your spouse fires up the van and heads north into the hilly nowhere.

Middle of Nowhere
You are in the middle of nowhere. You still owe the universe a blog post.

>WRITE BLOG
Your spouse reminds you that it is bad form to tell the universe (and the vicious thieves that live there) when you’re not at home.

>WRITE BLOG
You boldly fire up your software and scowl as the Internet ceases to exist. You may as well relax.

>WAIT
Your spouse finishes the drive to San Francisco.

San Francisco – Parking Garage
You are in San Francisco parking garage. There is a ramp heading down to 8th Street and a hotel here.

>GO DOWN RAMP
You cannot do that. There is urine and other icky stuff down there.

>ENTER HOTEL

HOTEL ROOM
You are in a hotel room. There is a King sized bed here, devoid of screaming children (a scenario wholly unfamilar to you).
There is a bottle of wine on the bar counter.

>SAVE GAME
Game saved.

>WRITE BLOG
You head for your laptop and promptly acquire the crappy spouse of the year award.
(You have lost 200 points)

>RESTORE
Game restored.

>ENJOY VACATION
Done. 2 awesome days pass.
(You have earned 200 points)

HOTEL ROOM
You are in a hotel room. There is a King sized bed here, devoid of screaming children (a scenario wholly unfamilar to you).
There is an empty bottle of wine on the bar counter.
There is a flyer on the bar counter.

>LOOK AT FLYER
There is going to be a history event at the Old San Francisco Mint today.

>GO TO MINT
You attempt to reach the Old Mint but relent to the urgent pull of hunger.

>FIND FOOD
You discover a restaurant at Sixth and Market called Showdogs.

>BUY FOOD
You are glad you did. An all-beef sausage, fries and a Lagunitas Sucks later, you are ready to commit to history.
sausage

>GO TO MINT

Outside – The Old Mint
You are outside the Old San Francisco Mint. Golden shutters cover the windows around the lower floor and you can’t help but wonder which one your Western Novel hero character would break into.
A steep staircase cut through solid gray granite leads to a historical shindig.

>ENTER OLD MINT

Inside – The Old Mint
You are standing inside of the Old San Francisco Mint. Costumed characters mill about, bringing specific color to the historical displays that fill the rooms.
To the east and west are historical displays. Stairs wind downward into darkness where the vaults await. A bright passage to the north leads to a
courtyard.

>STUDY OLD MINT
sfsteel

You head room to room and downstairs and upstairs, drawing sketches and marking doorways for later use in fictional accounts. You finish hours later, standing in a central vestibule.

In a Vestibule
You are in a central passageway in the Old Mint. A long table filled with cupcakes and tasty desserts flanks the south wall.
The swollen head of Joaquin Murrieta floats in a nearby jar.
A costumed Leland Stanford is sitting here, guarding the cupcakes.

>LOOK AT HEAD
You are almost mostly positive that it’s not a real head. But, wow.

>GET CUPCAKE
Leland Stanford waves his arms, blocking your move.

>LELAND, GO BEARS
Leland Stanford is amazingly not impressed. He sulks away to seek assistance, leaving the cupcakes unguarded.
(As the spouse of a Cal grad you have gained 150 points)

>EAT CUPCAKE AND LEAVE TIP
You devour a tasty pastry and leave a donation on the table.

>WRITE BLOG
As you tap the pseudo-keys on your Iphone, a costumed historian attempts to shanghai you onto a boat to, well, Shanghai.

>EXIT MINT
You wisely head back outside.

Outside – The Old Mint
You are outside the Old San Francisco Mint. Golden shutters cover the windows around the lower floor and you now know your Western Novel hero character will be breaking into the window at the southwest corner of vault room V5.
A steep staircase cut through solid gray granite leads to a historical shindig.

>WRITE BLOG
A homeless fellow edges close, eyeing your cell phone. You sense the need to go enjoy more vacation.

>CONTINUE VACATION
Another 24 hours vaporizes before your eyes…

>WRITE BLOG
There is no time, you have to go home now.

>DRIVE HOME
Done.

Home
You are sitting at your kitchen counter, exhausted but with post vacation satisfaction.
There is a laptop here.

>STATUS
You are back home, grandparents relieved, children sleeping soundly, spouse relaxing on the couch.

>WRITE BLOG
Done.

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I love it… Kill it!

...and if it doesn't come back, it probably sucked in the first place.

…and if it doesn’t come back, it probably sucked in the first place.

photo credit: admitchell08 via photopin cc

Writing, like any art, is a time consuming labor of love. When wrapped up in such a massive personal investment, it is easy to forget that the entire act of creation is optional; that sometimes the best way to FINISH the project is to simply stop creating…

>START GAME

Garage
You are in a garage that has been converted to a recreational room. Arcade machines and scrapbooking items line the north and south walls. Outdoor carpeting on the floor and a stash of booze in the corner display case will keep you from freezing. A table in the middle of the room is set up with all the implements of an aspiring author. In the corner of the room there is a door to the outside world and another that leads back inside the house.
There is a laptop here.

>SCREAM
You emit a hearty battle cry to the Gods of creativity.

>TURN ON LAPTOP
The system clicks and blinks to life.
Laptop: “Good day, writer! Are you ready to craft glorious fiction!?”

>NO, NOT REALLY
Laptop: “Sorry to hear! You’re so close to being done!”

>FINISH WIP
You’ll have to write something new. Your WIP deadline has passed.

>INV
You are carrying:
a wallet
a deadline
a table of contents

>LOOK AT DEADLINE
Accordingly to this 4th deadline, your beta readers expected your novel draft last week.

>ENTER DOOR
(which door, the door to the house or the door leading outside?)

>OUTSIDE

Outside the House
You are just outside the garage side entrance door. It is pitch black out here in the moonless night. You are likely to be abducted by aliens.
There is a trash can here
There is a recycling bin here

>RECYCLE DEADLINE
Like a used water bottle, the deadline comes back in a new form and with an improved ‘use by’ date.

>ENTER HOUSE

Garage
There is a laptop here

>WRITE
How much would you like to write?

>ALL OF THE REST
Don’t be ridiculous. That’s too much at once.

>WRITE SOME FICTION
You’ll have to be more specific. Better check the log.

>READ TABLE OF CONTENTS
It is a listing of chapters for your WIP that reads 1 through 38. Chapters 9, 28, and 37 are highlighted in red.

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 9?
Chapter 9 of your WIP is an engaging display of fancy description and brilliant yet directionless dialogue as you currently fail to enamor your reader to your new characters.

>FIX CHAPTER 9
Your heroine and bit characters glare at you in confused response.

>ADD A PERSONAL TRAGEDY TO CHAPTER 9
Done.
(+13 to backstory)

>ADD A DIARY TO CHAPTER 9
Done. A sense of balance and peace settles over the characters inside this chapter.
(+9 to structure. Your novel is now passable.)

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 37?
Chapter 37 is a gripping episode in which action overshadows form and unanswered questions are left brutally unanswered.

>FIX CHAPTER 37
Your hero and antagonist look up mid-grapple and await clearer instruction.

>ADD FIRM ANSWERS TO CHAPTER 37
Done. The opposing parties finish their brawl and sigh with satisfied relief.
(+23 to closure. Your novel is looking quite good.)

>READ TABLE OF CONTENTS
It is a listing of chapters for your WIP that reads 1 through 38. Chapter 28 is highlighted in red.

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 28?
Chapter 28 of your WIP is a fine example of classic American fiction in which characters are stuck in a romantic tangle with muted fire and nary a resolution in sight.

>ADD ROMANCE TO CHAPTER 28
You sprinkle in cupids and hearts to little effect.
(+1 to romance. -5 to clarity.)

>ADD PASSIONATE KISSING TO CHAPTER 28
Your characters fall into a rousing embrace. Events in Chapters 18 and 33 no longer make any sense.
(+53 to reader confusion. Your novel has issues once again.)

>REMOVE KISSING
Done. All kissing has been swept from the book.
(-123 to gender sensitivity)

>UNDO
All kissing restored.
(+123 to gender sensitivity)

>REMOVE KISSING FROM CHAPTER 28 AND HELP?
Done. Perhaps you can try a more subtle, background approach.

>ADD BONDAGE SWING TO CHAPTER 28
That didn’t qualify as subtle.
(+32 to kinkiness. -60 to continuity. -20 to tone.)
Your noble hero character looks nervous.
Due to poor structure, a flock of rogue chickens has entered the room.

>ADD WHISPERED SECRETS TO CHAPTER 28
Your hero mouths dark truths to the pecking chickens. Your heroine is in the corner, tentatively spinning the bondage swing with one curious finger.
(-90 to continuity. -130 to tone.)
Your main antagonist has entered the room. A braying donkey has entered the room.

>REMOVE ANTAGONIST
The braying donkey is too distracting to the text for you to make that update. The antagonist saunters into the corner to inspect the bondage swing along with a now quite interested young heroine. You appear to be losing control of the novel.
(-100 to everything. Your novel is now bad literary comedy.)

>REMOVE DONKEY
The donkey resists your efforts with a flurry of kicks. Your hero is struck in the gonads and falls to the ground, mortally wounded. The antagonist sweeps the heroine off her feet and leaps onto the donkey to make his getaway.
(-100 to everything. Your novel is now a fictional cesspool.)

>KILL CHAPTER 28
Your characters, human and animal alike, freeze in mid-step and pivot their fearful stares in your direction.
(What do you want to kill chapter 28 with?)

>WITH LAPTOP
Laptop: “Oh sure, make ME the bad guy.”
With a series of torturous clicks, the deceased hero, the sordid heroine, the suave antagonist, the pile of animals, and all the miserable rest of chapter 28 cease to exist.
(+675 to structure, +102 to tension, +50 to tone.)

*** Winner! You have finished your first draft! ***

Of course that’s all much easier said than done… I’ve been stuck on the same nasty ol’ chapters for a few months now. How long does everyone else give a troublesome section before it’s off to the circular file?

(Re)Pressing Matters

"...now we see the violence inherent in the system!"

“…now we see the violence inherent in the system!”

You’d like to write. No, you’d LOVE to write. So, by God… that will be your mission for the day.

At the Kitchen Table
You are at a table. Dirty dishes cover the far side of the circular surface, while the near side is buried beneath wrinkled sheets of plot outlines and character sketches. Your laptop hums among the latter pile.
There is a laptop open here.

>WRITE NOVEL
You’d love to, you really would, but something stops you.

>WRITE DIALOGUE
Try as you might, you can’t do that.

>KILL WRITERS BLOCK
The writer’s block is not the problem.
A pressing matter enters the room and perches itself on your laptop, obscuring your field of vision.

>STAND UP
Done.
The pressing matter follows close behind.

In the Kitchen
You are in a kitchen that has seen recent catastrophe in the form of burned eggs. Scorched pans sit on the stove and a dank, heavy smell permeates every corner. It does not, however, smell like napalm, thus it does not smell like victory.
Your spouse is standing nearby.
A pressing matter is here.

>SPOUSE, STATUS
Your spouse is healthy and happy. There is a good chance of ‘adult time’ in your future.

>SPOUSE, SCRUB BURNED PANS
Your spouse gives you a glare that seems to say “Excuse me?!”
Your spouse is now noticably nonplussed. There is a small chance of ‘adult time’ later in the week.

>LOOK AT PRESSING MATTER
It’s your standard, everyday pressing matter. There is a giant dollar sign on the front of it.

>SHOW PRESSING MATTER TO SPOUSE
Trust me, your spouse knows all about the pressing matter.

>KILL PRESSING MATTER
You’ll have to be more specific.

>INV
You are carrying:
a dollar
a shirt(on your back)

>GIVE DOLLAR TO PRESSING MATTER
The pressing matter consumes the dollar with sadistic glee. It appears to not be fazed.

>GIVE SHIRT OFF MY BACK TO PRESSING MATTER
You can’t go to work naked, so that won’t help things.

>GIVE PRESSING MATTER TO SPOUSE
Spouse: “I can’t possibly resolve that alone.”

>WAIT
The pressing matter bumps into the counter, knocking a box onto the floor.

>OPEN BOX
Inside the box is a menial day job next to a burdensome day job.

>GIVE BOTH JOBS TO SPOUSE
Spouse: “No.”
Your spouse is now noticeably displeased. There might possibly be a remote chance of ‘adult time’ next Tuesday, about 11.

>GIVE BURDENSOME DAY JOB TO SPOUSE
Done.
Your spouse has generated income. Your spouse is now exhausted.
The pressing matter appears to have weakened slightly.

>GET MENIAL DAY JOB
Taken.
You have generated income. It is now nighttime. Your brain is now Swiss cheese.
The pressing matter quietly fades from view.

>SIT DOWN
(at the table)
Done.

At the Kitchen Table
There is a laptop open here.

>WRITE NOVEL
You can’t do that. The plot has fallen out of your head.

>STAND UP
Done.

In the Kitchen
Your exhausted spouse is slouching nearby.

>SPOUSE, FOLLOW ME TO BEDROOM
Your spouse tags along close behind; they enter the bedroom and crawl immediately between the sheets. You get only a single wink goodnight before your spouse passes out to dreamland.

>SLEEP
I guess there is always tomorrow. Sweet dreams!

*** You have lost! ***

(Play again?) >DIE
I’ll take that as a no.

C:\WRITING\YAC\2-10-14\_

Hello Monday, It’s Wednesday…

What the hell is a gigawatt?

What the hell is a gigawatt?

The chime of a Cupertino Marimba rouses your weary soul. After a quick peck on the cheek of your spouse, you kick off the toasty comforter (gently, your spouse is not as equally inclined to rise this early), and swing your legs to the floor. You reach over to your dresser and instinctively swipe a to-do list from the atop the pine surface, then stagger out towards the living room.

Living Room
You are in your living room. Or, by all visual accounts, a cookie warehouse. Your kitchen lies to the south. Dozens of cases of Girl Scout cookies form a narrow passage that blocks your way into other parts of the house.

>SOUTH

Kitchen
You are in the kitchen. There is naught a sliver of light from the moonless sky outside the windows. Candace sits on the counter near the sink, bathed in the eerie amber glow of a full power charge. A digital clock beams greenish numbers at you from over the microwave.

>LOOK AT CLOCK
It is 4:22am.

>STATUS
You feel very much like it is 4:22am.

>INV
You are carrying:
a to-do list

>READ TO DO LIST
Things to do for Monday:
kiss spouse
write blog
kiss kids
go to work

>LOOK AT CANDACE
Candace is the pinnacle of functional household technology: A voice-activated, 12-cup coffee maker married to a swivel mount 10″ wi-fi tablet with detachable wireless keyboard. Santa was good to someone last year…

>TURN ON CANDACE
The system whirs to life in a series of clicks and bubbling fury.
Candace: “Good morning! It is swell to see you again!”

>DETACH KEYBOARD
You set the small keyboard on the tile counter.
Oddly, you hear water steaming within Candace’s metal bodice, but no percolating.

>LOOK AT COFFEE POT
The pot is full. It is not yet hot. You feel confused, it must be 4:23am.

>WRITE MONDAY BLOG
Candace interrupts your effort.
Candace: “Sorry, but you can’t do that.”

>LOOK AT KEYBOARD
There is nothing special about the keyboard.

>WRITE MONDAY BLOG
Candace: “It is much too late for that, master.”

>CANDACE, IT IS VERY VERY EARLY AND IT IS MONDAY
Candace: “Yes it is and no it is not.”

>WRITE MONDAY BLOG
Candace: “It is Wednesday.”

>CANDACE, YOU ARE WRONG
Candace: “Says the dummy who thinks they can time travel.”

>CANDACE, WHAT DAY IS IT
Candace: “Today is Wednesday, February 5th.”
You find this to be utterly shocking as you are positive that last night was a typical Sunday evening.

>SHIT
You really don’t want to do that.

>NORTH
The cases of Girl Scout cookies in the living room collapse as you approach. You are trapped until your spouse awakens, unless you’d like to also wake your kids by screaming.

>OH, HECK NO
Thought not.
Candace beeps loudly.
Candace: “Your old coffee is now reheated!”

>CANDACE, WHERE DID GIRL SCOUT COOKIES COME FROM?
Candice: “The charming little one called ‘Princess’ conspired to conjure them. Your spouse brought them home Sunday. You sorted them until passing out in the wee hours of Monday morning.”
(This news sounds vaguely familiar)

>CANDACE, WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY?
Candace: “You were late to work. You came home. You took orders and sorted cookies. You took the ‘Princess’ to a dance class. You taught a four year old about sorting cookies. You made dinner. You resorted cookies again. You passed out in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.”
(This news sounds vaguely familiar)

>CANDACE, WHAT HAPPENED TO TUESDAY?
Candace: “You were late to work. You came home. You sorted cookies. Your four year old opened boxes and then you bought a lot of cookies. You became grouchy. You made dinner. You helped with homework. You sorted cookies.”
(This news sounds vaguely familiar)

>WRITE BLOG
You hesitate. Perhaps you should wait until Thursday and reset the table.
Candace: “Master, some cookies make reheated coffee better…”

>LOOK AT BOXES OF COOKIES
Each box is labeled with a cryptic title. You see Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, and Savannah Smiles.

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A THIN MINT?
Candice’s amber light flickers as she plunges onto the internet.
Candice: “A Thin Mint is an exceptionally narrow edifice in which to manufacture coinage, or a chocolate mint cookie that is meant to live in a freezer.”

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A TREFOIL?
Candice: “A Trefoil is a classic, buttery shortbread cookie, or a literary plot-device wherein an evil doer is undone by any manner of tall foliage.”

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A SAVANNAH SMILE?
Candice: “A Savannah Smile is a tart, lemon cookie covered in powdered sugar, or a grin from a joyful Southerner.”

>DRINK COFFEE
It tastes of metallic water and bad judgement.

>WRITE BLOG
Your fingers hesitate on the keys. Still not ready. Maybe some physical activity?

>SAMOA
Nothing happens.

>TAGALONG
I’m not sure what to do.

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A DO-SI-DO?
Candice: “A Do-si-do is a peanut butter sandwich cookie or a square dance manuever.”

>DO-SI-DO
The dance requires a partner.

>DO-SI-DO WITH CANDACE
You rip the machine from the wall and launch into a series of steps. The awkward coffee maker slips from your grasp and smashes on the ground. The spilled pot of coffee soaks quickly into a loose case of Thin Mints.

>LOOK AT CANDACE
Candace flickers in her death throes. She is beyond cookie therapy. Weak sounds emit from the bent speaker panels.
You sense activity nearby as the six year old ‘Princess’ enters the room.

>GOOD MORNING, PRINCESS
The princess ignores your greeting, looking instead at the ruined Thin Mints.
Princess: “Thank you for supporting my troop! That’ll be 48 dollars please!!!!”

>KISS CHILD AND GO TO WORK
Done.

Work, Children, and Burning Quilt

*Cue music!* - We go togeeeeether, like oil and water, cats and fire pits!

*Cue music!* – We go togeeeeether, like oil and water, cats and fire pits!

Kitchen
You are in a kitchen. Light from the full moon reflects through textured glass on the south wall, reminding you that you’d rather be sleeping. Assorted appliances line the counter like stoic, chrome soldiers. There is a cabinet filled with every food imaginable on the west wall. The rest of your house is to the north.
There is a mug on the counter.
Your son is shuffling nearby.
Your daughter is twirling nearby.

>STATUS
It is 5:52am. Something important is afoot, but you can’t think clearly.

>INV
You are carrying:
a typical amount of tired
work clothes (wearing)
work badge (wearing)

>NORTH
The children block your path.

>LOOK AT CHILDREN
They appear equally disgruntled by the early hour. You should probably do something for them, but can’t think clearly.
There is a loud beep and a bubbling sound from the row of appliances.

>FIND THE BUBBLING SOUND
The bubbling sound is coming from a fresh pot of time delayed coffee.

>GET COFFEE
(in the mug)
Done.

>DRINK COFFEE
Ah, nectar of the Gods! Your head clears somewhat.
You are now aware that you will shortly be late for work.

>NORTH
The children block your path. They are hungry and standing here expectantly.

>TALK TO CHILDREN
Son: “Feed me breakfast, please!”
Daughter: “I want food, please!”

>STATUS
It is 5:55am. The children are tired. You must leave for work 18 moves. If your children are not fed and happy, you will have a burning quilt.

>GET QUILT
There is no quilt here.

>COMPUTER, YOU HAVE A TYPO
If you say so. You just wasted two moves.

>GET FOOD FOR CHILDREN
You have to be more specific.
The children are hungry and pacing around you, grabbing at your pants.

>LOOK AT FOOD
Between the fridge and the cabinets, you want for nothing.

>MAKE EGGS
Risky. Your spouse is in bed with a migraine. You need to avoid a tantrum. Maybe ask what they want?

>CHILDREN, DO YOU WANT EGGS?
Son: “I want some eggs!”
Daughter: “No, I HATE eggs, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
That’s not going to work. Try again, perhaps.

>CHILDREN, WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Son: “I want cereal!”
Daughter: “I want a smoothie!”
That’s not going to work. Try again, perhaps.

>CHILDREN, PICK AGAIN
Son: “I want pasta and meatballs!”
Daughter: “I want a pony!”
You hear stirring from your bedroom. The children are getting too loud.

>CHILDREN, FOCUS!
The children stare blankly at you.

>STATUS
It is 6:02am. The children are tired. You must leave for work in 9 moves. If your children are not fed and happy, you will have a burning quilt.

>COMPUTER, DID YOU MEAN GUILT?
No. Tick-tock, tick tock…

>CHILDREN, WHAT DO YOU WANT
Your son crosses his arms and pouts.
Daughter: “Fine, I’ll have some eggs.”

>MAKE EGGS
You only manage to place a pan on the stove.
Son: “NOOOOOOOOOOO, I HAAAAAAAAAAATE EGGS!!!”
You hear stirring from your bedroom. The children are getting too loud.

>CHILDREN, YOU BOTH SAID EGGS
Son: “No I didn’t! I never, ever did!”
Daughter: “But I hate eggs, and you KNOW that!”

>DRINK COFFEE
You can’t right now, your face is buried in your hands.

>PUT CEREAL AND YOGURT ON TABLE
You place a selection of food on the kitchen table.
Both children are now crying loudly.

>KISS CHILDREN AND GET COFFEE
Each child gets a goodbye kiss.
Mug of coffee: taken.

>STATUS
It is 6:10am. The children are tired and grumpy. You must leave immediately for work. You sense a burning quilt coming.

>NORTH
You head towards the bedroom to rouse your spouse.
Both children wail, “NOOOOO!!!!!” and clutch violently at your legs. You lose your balance and leap forward, trying not to spill hot coffee on your offspring. The mug goes flying from your hand and into the open hall closet across from the kitchen. You tumble in after it, sprawling headlong onto a fluffy quilt, now saturated in 20 steaming ounces of Columbia’s finest.

On a Burning Quilt
You are on a burning hot quilt. You are also upside down in a closet. The exit is to the south.

>WEEP
There, there.

>STATUS
You are going to be late to work. You are covered in coffee. Your children are nearby, angry. Your spouse is standing nearby, holding and shaking their head.

>QUIT
Good call.

For anyone chuckling or nodding their heads right now – check out the Twinfamy blog. It’s good stuff that makes a parent feel better.

Photo credit: Me!

Your Word, Your Bond?

Every moment in life can be viewed through myriad angles. Even if fiction hits the page in one form, you can always turn it on its head in a second or third pass. We join our intrepid hero, Headcount Jones as they stand at the precipice of fateful decision…

Work is all fun and games until you have to go and kill someone.

Work is all fun and games until it kills you.

>PUSH DIRECTOR
The evil office director totters for a moment at the edge of the gaping elevator shaft, lowering his newspaper just in time to still not save himself. Gravity embraces his body with a fatal clutch and pulls him to an untimely death at the bottom of the metal cavern.
As his final scream echoes into oblivion you look up into the security camera lens. There will be no escaping your fate this time. You flash a winning smile and realize this is…
*** THE END ***
You scored 4 of a possible 42 points, earning you the rank of paper clerk.

WHAT NOW? >RESTART

Your Word, Your Bond?
You Are Carrying:
Copyright (c) 2014 Cordell Falk. All rights reserved.
Revision 4 / Serial Number . . . _ _ _ . . .

“It’s not a Monday unless you’re late,” you muse as you pass under the worn Welcome to Bigcorp banner at the entrance to your work. You cross the lobby and slap the cracked, orange button on the wall. A series of metallic groans mark the approach of the ancient and hazardous elevator car. The doors clatter open like the maw of an ancient dragon. You step inside and punch the ‘2’ button.

Elevator Car
You are in an elevator car. You see an official looking list taped to the wall.
There is a sticky note here.
There is a newspaper on the floor.

>GET NEWSPAPER
Taken.

>LOOK AT STICKY NOTE
There is writing there. It looks like your employee Heather’s handwriting.

>READ STICKY NOTE
Someone has scrawled your declaration verbatim from last month that you would either kill the evil director or quit in protest the next time he screws up the numbers for your group.

>READ LIST
The text announces that your work group has come in last in the district with 0 widgets produced. The evil office director has obviously forgotten to carry the decimal in his latest update, once again. Someone has scribbled in angry red crayon across the bottom.

>LOOK AT CRAYON
YOUR WORD IS YOUR BOND, is scrawled across the top of the list in your employee David’s handwriting.
The elevator finally ascends and lets you out.

The Second Floor
A circular room branches into two wings, east and west, where awesome productivity may sometimes occur. The elevator doors are to the north, partially obscured by support columns. There is a staircase to the south.
The evil office director is standing here.

>LOOK AT DIRECTOR
He projects the snappy, carefree fashion sense of a man who gets his monthly bonus regardless of performance.

>EAST

East Hallway
You are in the east wing hallway of your office. A set of key-coded double doors is to your left.
A plumber is here, working.
There is an open utility panel on the wall.

>OPEN DOORS
You do not have access. You belong in the west wing.

>HELLO, PLUMBER
“Hi there, be done soon. Have you seen my tube of caulking?”

>LOOK INSIDE PANEL
A number of pipes criss-cross en route to various parts of the building. A massive yellow handle is pulled out at a 90-degree angle from the main.

>ASK PLUMBER ABOUT PANEL
Plumber: “Sorry, sir. Had to shut off water to floor 2 or we’ll flood the main shaft.

>WEST

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here.
“Hello, Headcount!” the evil director offers with a wave.

>WEST
You hear the elevator car creaking back down as you leave the area.

West Hallway
You are in the west wing hallway of your office. A set of key-coded double doors is to your right.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.
There is a tube of invincible latex caulk here.

>OPEN DOORS
The doors are firmly sealed shut.

>EXAMINE DOORS
The creases around the doors are sealed as if by invincible latex caulking. Through the window pane in the door, your work group is visible. David stands in front of the staff, arms crossed and head shaking. Heather draws her finger across her throat in reminder.

>GET TUBE
Taken. There is plenty of latex remaining.

>PUSH CART TO THE EAST
Ok.

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.

>GIVE NEWSPAPER TO DIRECTOR
“Thanks Headcount,” he says. He butterflies the pages open, obscuring his field of vision.

>WAIT
director: “Whoever that is, can you hit the call button?”

>SAVE GAME
Saved.

>PUSH BUTTON
You hear a horrible crunching sound from behind the closed elevator doors.

>WAIT
The elevator doors grind open, revealing the rusted interior of an empty elevator shaft. The car is nowhere in sight.
“Ah, there we are!” the evil director says over the top of the paper. He steps up to the edge of the shaft, pausing to finish the story he is reading.

>PUSH CART AT DIRECTOR.
The evil director squeals in terror. He tumbles in a full circle, the newspaper pages flapping like broken bird’s wings, and he strikes the ground with a terrible thud. Free from witnesses, you have fulfilled your vow. You are given less than an hour to revel in your success before the director’s fate is revealed and your group is downsized due to poor performance.
*** THE END ***
You scored 18 of a possible 42 points, earning you the rank of assistant coffee peon.

WHAT NOW? >RESTORE
Okay.

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here, engrossed in a newspaper.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.
director: “Hey you, did you hit the call button yet?”

>INV
You are carrying:
a tube of invincible latex caulk

>GO DOWNSTAIRS
Okay.

Front Lobby
You are in the lobby of Bigcorp. There are locked gates blocking hallways to the east and west. The elevator doors are to the north, obscured by a statue of bureaucracy. There is a staircase to the south.

>CAULK ELEVATOR
You apply a generous layer of caulk around and between the doors. You could likely float the Titanic inside of that thing.

>GO UPSTAIRS
Okay.

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here, engrossed in a newspaper.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.

>EAST

East Hallway
You are in the east wing hallway of your office. A set of key-coded double doors is to your left.
A plumber is here, working.
There is an open utility panel on the wall.

>LOOK INSIDE PANEL
A number of pipes criss-cross en route to various parts of the building. A massive yellow handle is pulled out at a 90-degree angel from the main.

>TURN YELLOW VALVE
The plumber frantically waves your hand away.

>GIVE TUBE TO PLUMBER
The plumber accepts your gift and walks away to inspect the remaining latex.

>TURN YELLOW VALVE
A hissing and bubbling sound emanates from the core of the building.

>WEST

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here, engrossed in a newspaper.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.
director: “Hey you, did you hit the call button yet?”

>PUSH BUTTON
You hear a horrible crunching sound from behind the closed elevator doors.

>WAIT
The elevator doors grind open, revealing the rusted interior of a water filled elevator shaft. The car is nowhere in sight. The surface of the water is a foot below the level of the second floor.
“Ah, there we are!” the evil director says over the top of the paper. He steps up to the edge of the shaft, pausing to finish the story he is reading.

>PUSH CART AT DIRECTOR.
The evil director squeals in terror. He tumbles in a half circle, his vision blinded by flying pages, and he splashes down into the water.

>WAIT
“Help! Help! A bonus for saving me!” screams the evil director, flailing.

>WAIT
“Help! Help! A promotion for saving me!” cries the evil director, splashing.

>WAIT
“Help! Help! My company car for saving me!” gargles the evil director, weakening.

>SAVE DIRECTOR
You reach into the elevator shaft and pull the now humbled director to safety. He lies sputtering and gasping, soaking the carpet. He throws his arms around you in gratitude and you smile with crafty vengeance into his tilted hairpiece. You can’t wait to come back to work tomorrow.
*** YOU HAVE WON!!! ***
You scored 38 of a possible 42 points, earning you the rank of vice-president.(Next time get a corner office out of him)

WHAT NOW? >QUIT
Thanks for playing!

The author of this blog disavows any responsibility for haphazard workplace hooliganism that may follow consumption of this post.

The First Draft Dilemma

Fear the WEES - The Wizened Elf of Errant Syntax

Fear the WEES – The Wizened Elf of Errant Syntax

A first draft is merely a starting place. Whether it becomes the start of something wondrous or the start of a lingering nightmare is entirely up to you… and, of course, the W.E.E.S.

A Dark Blackness
You are in a deep and endless field of dark. There are those who might call this Chapter Nine. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the East.

>VERBOSE
Maximum Verbosity.

>FINISH FIRST DRAFT
It’s never that easy.

>WRITE
A line appears on the horizon. It speeds toward you in a blur of grey and brown, creating a hard concrete surface beneath your feet. Dingy walls rise up along all sides and a domed roof appears overhead.

>WRITE
Details fill out around you, subtle color blends, glistering slime molds, pungent smells and flickers of light from dying bulbs and cracks in the glass above.
A WEES wanders into the room and looks about with its eternal curiosity.

>LOOK

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. Pools of stagnant rainwater and streaks of mold are the only regular inhabitants these days. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the east.
There is a WEES standing here, waiting.

>WHAT IS A WEES
The Wizened Elves of Errant Syntax are mythological creatures renowned for their sensitivity to both poor grammar and errors in frequency. In olden times they were retained by kings and heads of state to ensure that diplomatic affairs were conducted in only the most formal and proper of etiquette. The WEES faded from human society after one too many monarchs were devoured whole after uttering, ‘Um…’.

LOOK AT WEES
>The ancient creature has cracked grey skin, covered with the dust of a billion shredded pages. His pointy ears turn your way and he studies you with eyes sharp as fireballs.

>INV
You are carrying:
a thesaurus

>SHOW THESAURUS TO WEES
The WEES claps his hands together and bows reverently.

>WRITE
A homeless man that reeks of fetid dingo’s kidneys appears, laying slumped against a wall.
The WEES wrings his hands and stomps his foot, shaking the ground. “Been done!” he shouts, pointing to the west.

>WEST
Ch.8 – Hotel Ballroom
You are in an elegant ballroom covered in gold drapes and dazzling crystal. A sixteen piece band sets the mood from atop a stage on the north wall. Debutantes and gentlemen in top hats mill about, brushing elbows among high society. There is a Chapter Seven to the west and a Chapter Nine to the east.
Earl, your stock broker, is leaning against the bar.

>LOOK AT EARL
Earl, in his rumpled brown suit, stands out amid the fancy setting like a heap of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

>EAST

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. Pools of stagnant rainwater and streaks of mold are the only regular inhabitants these days. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the east.
There is a WEES here, leaning on a gnarled walking stick and wearing a smug grin.
There is a homeless man here, reeking of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

>ERASE KIDNEYS
The homeless man smells much better now.
The WEES nods in appreciation.

>WRITE IN PEAT MOSS
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and your word “WRITE” explodes into pixels.
I don’t know the phrase “IN PEAT MOSS”.

>CREATE PEAT MOSS FOR THE HOMELESS MAN
The homeless man now carries the odor of an old highland bog.

>CREATE RATS
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and your word “CREATE” explodes into pixels.
I don’t understand “RATS”.

>CONJURE RATS
Soft squeaks and the skitter of small claws add to the ambiance.

>CRAFT A COLD WIND
The homeless man shivers.

>HELP WITH NEW WORDS
This is your dream, help yourself.

>MAKE A CAREFUL FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
Your main character will now pause for introspection about his ex-wife and Earl the stock broker, while avoiding of the words KIDNEYS, WRITE, PEAT MOSS, CREATE, RATS, CONJURE, CRAFT, COLD or WIND.

>LOOK
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and disallows your last request.

>USE THESAURUS
You’ll have to be more specific.

>EAST
You can’t enter chapter 10 until you flesh out more of chapter 9.

>WEST
The WEES smashes you on the knee, having seen you do that already.
The WEES notices that you used the word “MAN” again somewhere in your recent flashback sequence. He gobbles the sequence down with a fierce gnashing of teeth.

>KILL WEES
(with the thesaurus)
You hurl the hardbound copy at the WEES. He catches it in mid-air and thumbs through the pages.
The WEES scans the room and screams, “Cliche!” He waves his stick and the room trembles from his wrath. Some items are no longer here.

>DESCRIBE THE ROOM

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. There are no surviving details here. There are no exits here, as you cannot proceed without completing this chapter.
There is a vicious looking WEES here, wielding a gnarled walking stick.
You sense a lethargic disinterest is lurking close by.

>RESTART

A Dark Blackness
You are in a deep and endless field of dark. There are those who might call this Chapter Nine. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the East.

>WAIT
A WEES wanders into the room and looks about with its eternal curiosity.

>WAIT
“No!” shouts the WEES. “Just said that!”
The WEES waves his gnarled walking stick and blinks, confused. There is nothing to edit out yet.

>WEES, THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT
The WEES turns a brilliant shade of persimmon. “Whoops! Sorry, mate! Be redundant at will,” he says and then vanishes in a puff of white smoke.
A small card falls to the ground.

>READ CARD
“Erika Marks has an excellent post on battling a first draft. Enjoy it at: http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com

>WRITE
Ok.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc