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Showing posts from 2024

YMMV: Write to a Word Count

📈 It's a Competitive World... In the early teens, I started what would become a two-year writing project called Friday Flash Fiction , in which I committed to posting a new original 600-word story every week. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me as a writer; I learned a number of invaluable skills. Most of those I'll get into in more detail in a future post, but the most important by far  was how to... Write to a Word Count It's funny how all of this came about. You see, circa 2012 I had a pretty serious SEO problem. The first search result for "Kurt Pankau" linked to my personal page on a now-defunct social media platform called Atheist Nexus. I'd joined it in a fit of pique, gotten immediately bored of it, and deleted my account. Several years later, it was still my top google hit for some ungodly (ahem) reason. This was a problem, because I live in the Midwest and I was getting ready to go job-hunting. While I make no apologies for or att

YMMV: Describe With Actions

🖼️ Could You Take a Picture, 'Cause I Won't Remember... I think it's time for you to meet Steve. Steve is a CPA in his mid-twenties. He has sunken green eyes and a seemingly permanent 5 o'clock shadow. His sandy brown hair is unkempt. He wears an un-ironed white button-up shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows and a red tie that sits loose in his collar. He likes fast food and vinyl. He has a bare bones apartment and a compact car. Steve... sounds real boring, right? Describe With Actions Most writers view description as a necessary evil. It's not fun to write--or to read--but if you want your reader to be able to picture the scene in their heads you have to give them something  to work with. So you pick a few important details and string them into a paragraph and plop it somewhere near the character's introduction. It's not interesting, but if you keep it short you won't use up too much of your reader's attention budget . Besides, readers are accu

YMMV: Motivate Your Dialog

👄 People Are Talkin', Talkin' 'Bout People... Want to write better dialog? Well, there's no shortage of advice out there to guide you. Avoid maid-and-butler exchanges. Listen to how people speak, perhaps by making recordings in public. Try writing a story that's only  dialog. Read They're Made Out of Meat  by Terry Bisson for inspiration. Well, I'm here to tell you that you don't need any of that. I mean, read Bisson's story--it's short and it's quite good, but you're not necessarily going to learn anything earth-shattering from it. If you want to write good dialog, there's one simple rule you need to follow. Motivate Your Dialog I talk a lot about movies. For one, it's the default way that most people consume their fiction these days. It's a lot easier to find cultural touchstones in film than on the page. And for broad story analysis, film is great! But it does operate at a different wavelength than prose does, and what I f

YMMV: Plot Holes Don't Matter

🕳️ ...In My Heart That Can Only Be Filled By You... There's a fantastic moment in Wonder Woman  where Diana first uses her powers. She's surrounded by friends and family and they all react without speaking in a way that conveys that they love her but are also terrified of her. It's a great scene--and I'm a sucker for good "face acting" anyway--and at that moment I knew that I was going to be on board for whatever this movie had to dole out. My wife, however, was not affected the same way, and the movie on the whole just wasn't working for her. Throughout it she would lean over and point out inconsistencies or anachronisms or continuity gaffes (we were in our living room, not a theater; she's not a monster). And the thing was... nothing she said was wrong. I just hadn't noticed any of them and didn't really care. And that was when I realized... Plot Holes Don't Matter Blame CinemaSins. Er... well, that's not entirely fair. There's a

YMMV: Watch Bad Movies

🎥 I Can See By Your Eyes You Must Be Lying... I love bad things. For the last few years I've spent New Year's Eve marathoning bad movies. I did an entire year-long blog series about movies, TV shows, books, and more than I don't like. (It was, frankly, a little exhausting.) Why do I do this? For the irony? For the schadenfreude? For the LULZ? No! Well... maybe a little. But, really, what fascinates me about horrible things is the mental autopsy of trying to understand what the vision was for the project, and how the execution went so horribly wrong. It's pretty common for ADHDers such as myself to have an exceptionally strong desire to understand how things fit together. And for me, I want to know how storytelling works, and that means understanding how it fails. Watch Bad Movies The first step to becoming a writer is reading, so they say. Read classics. Read what's new and hot. Read up on your genre. Read outside your genre. Read so you can figure out what works

First Impressions: Wyrmspan

🐉 Stop Draggin' My Heart Around... Developed by Elizabeth Hargrave; Designed by Connie Vogelman; Art by Clementine Campardou I don't want to call this a review, because this is not a review site. This is a blog where I post weird diatribes and years-long writing projects. That said, I  do  frequently post about board games and I  did  manage to get my hands on an advanced copy of one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2024. So I might as well share my thoughts and some pictures, right? (Caveat: the gameplay pictures are of fancy upgraded components, because I am a fancy upgraded boy, but base game components will also be discussed.) So without further ado... Wyrmspan: a  Wingspan  Game It's wild to think that  Wingspan  only came out five years ago. There was a good stretch of time (I want to say at least a year or year-and-a-half) where it was the game that everyone wanted to play but that you couldn't actually find on shelves anywhere. It was a moderate-weight en