NaNoWriMo 2017 – Are You Game?


Writing is Hard.

Inspiration doesn’t last forever, and like exercise, or maintaining a healthy diet, or praying, it will at times feel impossible.

That’s why changing things up is important to keep going. Introduce fun. Do it with people. Make it a game.

NaNoWriMo does all of this, which is why I’m participating this year. My writing output has been nil lately, and the creative constipation is making me queasy.

Like getting in a pool, it’s best if you go all in at once. No half-measures. I intend to experience NaNo in its fullness. Not just the 1,667 words-a-day minimum, but the community, the Twitter “word sprints,” the friendships and sharing of ideas.

My plans:

  • Write 3x a day for 25 min each session (morning, noon, and night). I’ve got the music playlist all set to the perfect timing!
  • Vlog each day on my word-count and also a specified topic.
  • Have two days of dedicated writing, shooting for 5,000+ words each day to make up for inevitable hiccups in the plan.

Sound impossible? With a full-time job and two small children added into the mix?

Don’t worry, I plan on cheating!

Here’s how:

  • Pre-planning the novel
    • Characters detailed in advance, complete with arcs
    • Plot-points and pinch-points nailed down
    • Scene summaries and goals prepared
  • Vlogs prepared
    • Video editing completed ahead of time (as far as can be done)
    • Topics and salient points preplanned
  • Writing habits set in place ahead of time
    • While I am not writing a novel, I am writing each day. To avoid the blank page problem, I write one memory a day, whether long or short, meaningful or frivolous. Some day it may even be a great treasure to have. Having this system will help ease into the rigors of NaNoWriMo.

Writing is hard. Especially when it’s not fun.

I plan on having a blast, painful parts and all. Join me – be my buddy on NaNo.

Happy writing.


Story in Games – The Witness [The Blank Slate Character]

blank slate

Video Games are unique…in a bad way!

Blank Slate Characters
Video games are the only storytelling art form that consistently makes use of the “blank slate” character. they rarely speak or show any personal character motivation or emotion. In theory the player is supposed to superimpose himself onto the character to increase the immersion. From a storytelling perspective, I think this is incredibly wrongheaded.

Chrono Cross, for example, while being a great game, spent a huge amount of time making each of its 40 or so minor characters have distinctive speech patterns, but gives us a main character who doesn’t have any lines at all. Leaving the main character in this state does nothing to enhance the game’s story or emotional impact. It fact, it’s the game’s weakest point.

The Witness’s Blank Slate Character
The main (and really only) character in The Witness is a blank slate character, but it may be the one game where actually enhances the story. It’s an unconventional point of view, but The Witness is an unconventional game and its storytelling is likewise.

So why does the blank slate work for The Witness:

  • You start the gameĀ in a state of absolute ignorance. There is no opening cut-scene that explains the world/struggle/war. You are dropped into a dark tunnel with no explanation and you must piece together what’s going on from there. The character’s blank slate mirrors this experience.
  • The game’s story isn’t about the game world. The “story” in The Witness is literally about your experience, not the characters!
  • There is no character motivation in the game, only your own desire to solve more puzzles and explore more areas.

So what’s it all about then, this game? It’s about life. It’s about how you see the world. It’s about patterns.

There are scattered around audio logs to listen to. But they don’t really fill you in on what’s going on, although in a very expanded sense they tell you everything.

I won’t go into any more detail because this is not a game to have spoiled in any way. It is a game only to be experienced, and truly witnessed from a purposefully blank slate.