Monday, October 31, 2005

What's My Name? Fuck You! That's My Name

So, you meet this girl, right, and you're chatting the chick up. You think she's hot and easy to talk to. In fact, you think she's great. You take her to bed, and while you're on top of your game, you suddenly cry out, "Fuck yeah, Caroline!", only, she suddenly screams at you, "Stupid fucker, my name's Amanda!" And thus ends any chances of a repeat of the fine program you might have been participating in.

So what's in a name? A lot more than people give credit. A name is a defining thing. It's all-encompassing. In fact, as I have found with people I've run into in life with the same names, certain traits can even be given to specific names. Meaning and definition of character are given by names. Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Well, gotta ask yourself if you'd really like that bouquet of "Shit-buds," since I'm sure everyone wants to stick their nose in that.

The same can be said of the names we choose for the characters we role play. They define our character as they define us, giving a meaning sometimes subtle and sometimes a smash-in-the-face-with-a-hammer subtle. No longer are you simply that guy. The character is no longer that dude, either. The character is now the name chosen for him or her, and it is the symbol that represents the character indicating who they are.

A name distinguishes us from one another in the same sense that it distinguishes our characters from one another, unless of course you're Final Fantasy Fanboy #462 where you've aptly named your character Sephiroth, along with several hundred other rabid-in-need-of-Final-Fantasy-immunization-fanboys. And when that happens, any hope of being distinguished from sheer stupidity is lost.

Names not only define our characters of give meaning to them, and not only do they distinguish one character from another, they can also carry information about the character, a reputation sometimes. It sets the basic qualities of a character, their personality, outlining and channeling the actions we want to go through with the character. They aren't a simple thing, never were. Each name has a meaning rooted somewhere, and those meanings can sometimes imply further implications without our even knowing it.

In fact, the name chosen for my first character was Wolfgang. The name itself is of German descent and means "wolf path." What is a wolf? It's a pack animal, vicious and deadly, but calculating. A thinker. I later changed my character's name to "Amarouk." The word is Inuit, and means simply "wolf", or in the connotation I used for it, "swift wolf." The name defined my character. He was vicious, deadly, calculating and fast. A thinker and not someone to be trifled with. That is what I wanted my character to be, and the name I chose for him was very apt. It defined him to a tee, acting as a symbol for people to understand who and what he is.

So what's in a name? A lot more than people give credit, I think.

 

- W. Visarett

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Guns 'n' Swords -- The Latest in Bad Music

I see your sword is bigger than mine--compensating for something, mayhap? Or perhaps, you carry about a big gun, 'cause you know, big guns are mighty fine to have, and I can't help but think of a few women who like big guns. Or maybe it's a small sword you got there, but the size don't matter 'cause you know how to put it to use. But then again, that compact, high-caliber handgun just hits the spot just right.

But in all seriousness, when we duel, it always comes down to two camps: guns or swords. Now, I'm lumping in axes and staffs and polearms (oh my!), etc into a single generic group for the sake of discussion. You either like to "reach out and touch/frag someone," or prefer a more personal approach, where you lip-synch to badly done English acting and say "You kill my father, prepare to die."

But, which is better?

Now that there is the age-old question. Do you like big guns or big swords? You want to be splooging over distance or hitting them down up front? Now, I could say that one is generally better than the other, but in dueling, it all comes down to personal taste. In truth, if this were reality, which weapon being better would depend wholly on the situation at hand. The same could be said of dueling, really. However, the majority of people believe simply that swords are better than guns, regardless of any truth or falseness behind the claim.

A fact is, though, that in forum dueling, no matter how many rounds of automatic fire are directed in your direction, be it laser, plasma or plain projectile, you can evade them all with leet, H4X skillz. Bad dueling, in my opinion. You can't dodge every round. Sure, maybe one or two, but when that many rounds are flying at you, you're gonna be turned into Swiss cheese pretty quick, unless you of course cheeze your way out of it.

But then, you're a sword user, and this means you can hack and slash every bullet out of the air like you're (OMG! Spoilers!) Cloud from FF7: Advent Children. Now you're just lumping yourself up in the category of re-hashed, seen a dozen or more times bullshit that we're all tired of. Sure, you can get lucky and dodge a few bullets, but face it, not everyone has super-human speed. But then on the flip-side, you don't see a gun able to stand up to a sword. And I don't think fencing with a rifle would prove feasible or easy in any regard. Would be rather ungainly, I should say.

Now, I know that everyone wants to believe one weapon is better than the other, but it's not. It comes down to personal taste and the ability to be creative with said weapon. And yeah, I do know that in role-playing we create an alter ego, something to be greater than ourselves, but even in fantasy, some idea and mechanics of reality has to come into play--physics doesn't take a back seat whenever you want to bend the rules of reality, they still exist, and any good role-player will utilize physics to make their attacks both more realistic and just damn cool to see.

But in the end, it boils down to taste. Which do you like better and which are you better at using?

 

- W. Visarett

y helo thar

READ IT. LEARN IT. LOVE IT. LIVE IT.
Forum Dueling -- A Conceptual Guide

That’s Fine, Just No Kissing On The Lips.

“Y helo thar.”

Yes, you may all be wondering who I am and just what I am doing posting on Wolf’s blog. No, I’m not some ingenious hacker, and no I didn’t hypnotize Wolf to let me post here. As you may or may not know, Wolf a.k.a. Wolfgang Visarett is working on a comprehensive guide to forum dueling, and to help him out Tier and I will be addressing some of the issues that Wolf intended to handle, so if you need a question answered, don’t be afraid to hit any of us up.

Now, back to my topic; it seems that in the current age of dueling, the main concept is nothing but fight, fight, fight! Now, don’t get me wrong, fighting is good and all, but it does get a tad stale when the character interaction flies out the window and we get a ten car pile-up of slashing swords and overpowered energy blasts. What ever happened to the romance, people?! Who says there can’t be a little kiss in between two duelists fighting on the same side, why can’t we save a helpless NPC and then get repaid by a sexual fav…er, I mean hug? I’ll tell you who says this, a lot of people….

DeePee: “dueling is fighting... not meant to be character interaction.”

Now, to some degree, I would say that this statement is true, but there is that other 160 degrees that leads me into my next point; wouldn’t forum dueling be a bit more fun, and a bit more appealing to the masses if there was a little background to it? For example, take a look at dueling in its most linear form;

"All right, it's starting," Lizard thought to himself as the gate on the opposite side began opening. All nervousness was lost. The feeling of battle overtook him. His hand was instinctively led to Reiniku's handle.

Then suddenly, an unexpected calm washed over the stadium. Was it usually this quiet when the fighter entered the ring? No, the noise was quite loud on his entrance. What could-

"Wait a second, it's a woman," Lizard did not commonly see women on the battlefield, and those he did see were rarely his target.

As she walked closer, more detail could be identified. Especially that of her face. Instantly, Lizard's thoughts strayed from the battle... 'Is this my opponent... or some pre-fight entertainment? I can't fight like- wait, the fight!'

The steel gates from behind closed. "That's it," Lizard's eyes widened, the direct focus taken off his opponent. He took this opportunity to make a strike.

He made a direct charge towards the female fighter, making a jump just a few feet in front of her. Propelled by the extra force from his tail, Lizard would attempt to end the match quickly by taking a slash at his opponent's throat...

Look at this, I give my opponent the outmost opportunity to take a stab (Not literally, but emotionally) at the female character, and yet he could care less how beautiful she is, and instead charges headlong in to kill her. Now, if I see a female character that I am about to fight, I shall at least hit on her. Now, I’m not saying this guarantees some sort of relationship, which would be up to the other writer, but it does give way to a bit more fun and clever ways to play out the duel.

Now, everyone can run and slash, but to try and plant a gentle kiss on the woman’s cheek while you attack, now that is an art my friend. So what if you leave that attack with your face imprinted by five fingers and an angry palm, it’s better than a slice by a sword into the gonads, right? Now, the reasoning behind this isn’t to just put interaction into the duel, it may also put your opponent into an unforeseen corner, somewhere that they may not be familiar, and it will lead way to you holding the upper hand.

Now, instead of being a gun-totting, magical sword-wielding robots that live to fight, go out there and show some emotion. It lets the readers enjoy the duel more, and it may give you that key advantage to winning…

Corbow6

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hey Pa! I'm Gonna Go Hunt Me Some Zerg!

I had a chat with my older brother a couple days ago about my decision to join the army. He was shocked and surprised, but said that whatever I do, do it for me--which is why I'm doing this. He also asked if I had told our parents about this decision yet, to which I said no I hadn't. He wanted to know if he could tell them. I replied saying that "it'd be best if they heard it from me."

Well, I got a phone call today from my folks with my dad saying "Your brother says we should call you, says you have something important to tell us." It was around there that I began to both laugh at the situation that was about to ensue, and to slightly rue it. So, I told my dad flat out, "Yeah, I'm going to be enlisting in the army in the next couple weeks."

Now, I'd both seen and heard my dad flip out thousands of times in my life. I wasn't prepared for the amount of surprise/shock he espoused over the phone when he heard that. He literally yelled back into my ear: "WHAT!? You're joining the army!? You're crazy!"

About now I could hear my mom launched into laughter and hysterics over this. While I know she didn't see this decision coming, although I've been brooding over it for nearly eight months, she probably understands my reasoning behind doing it more than my dad. So, I ended up explaining to my dad that yes, this is something I wanted to do, yes I know I could get sent off to a foreign country to get shot at, and yes, I know it'd be tough, but it's something I want to do.

The end result was that my dad, although shocked, wished me well. My mom even wished me well, which wasn't what I had been expecting from her at all. Of course, my parents' reaction to my decision wasn't what I had been expecting. I'd thought they would be screaming and telling me I was insane, although my dad did say I was crazy for even thinking this. Either way, turned out well. Of course, with me enlisting, it might mean dropping the courses I am taking part in and heading home for the remainder of the wait before I ship out for training--because I'm pretty damn sure I'll get in without any hassle or problem whatsoever. Only time will tell though, eh?

And, this Friday, I will be seeing two movies: Domino and Two For the Money. The follow-up might be me seeing another two movies on Saturday, The Legend of Zorro and The Weather Man. Here's hoping they're all excellent movies, although I'm pretty sure they will be.

And speaking of good movies, Doom was okay, better than I expected (although I hadn't had high expectations to begin with), but as I've told many people, if you want something with good acting, a rich story and a great amount of plot, don't see it. If you like guns, monsters, and killing said monsters, then this would be something for you. I, honestly, believe anyone should see if just for the sake of seeing it to give it a chance and decide whether it was good or bad. I'm pretty sure the 'Net's already filled with reviews for and against the movie; so really, it's up to you whether you want to see it.

 

- W. Visarett

Monday, October 24, 2005

So, I Knew This Guy, Right--Real Asshole

Well, since I've started on the path of character creation, the only thing is to actually create a character, as an example, mind you. I'll create it all on the fly.

Now, me personally, I like to start with a name. You can try either Behind the Name or Baby Names for a name of choice. Or, you can use my strange method of coming up with original names.

First, you take an ordinary name: Matthew

Second, you take the name and split it in half: Matt hew

You then switch these two pieces: Hew matt

Add a "yk" to the end of "Hew": Hewyk Matt

Subtract the "tt" and add "nz" to the end of "Ma": Hewyk Manz

Finally, change the "a" to "ae": Hewyk Maenz

Pronounced: He-EW-ick Muh-enz

My method doesn't work for everyone, so only try it if you feel comfortable with it. The trick is the addition and subtraction of specific letters to produce a certain sound.

As a follow up to the name, then we decide whether the name is masculine or feminine, as this will decide whether the character is a guy or gal. I, personally, think the name Hewyk is masculine, so our character in question is male. Next we then describe the character, what he/she looks like, how he/she acts, etc.

Most people follow a preformatted guideline, using name, age, gender, race, appearance (eyes, hair, build, clothing, etc) and finally some kind of personality. I, on the other hand, try and just start writing about the character. Put the character in a situation and then write a way for the character to get out of the situation, and based on that, ascribe specific traits to the character. But for the sake of convention, I'll use the traditional method.

  • Name: Hewyk Maenz
  • Age:
  • Gender: Male
  • Race:
  • Appearance:
  • Personality:

Now, when filling all that out, you have to think about the character, what's he like. Most people already know in some subconscious portion of their mind what they want the character to be like. Each character is really some small extension of ourselves in a small manner.

  • Name: Hewyk Maenz
  • Age: 29
  • Gender: Male
  • Race: Human
  • Appearance:
  • Personality: Calm, cool, collected with sarcastic/wry humor

Notice I left off the appearance bit for the moment. I'll throw together a small writing piece, as that's generally the best way to capture what a character looks like, at least in my mind. Remember, though, what might work for me doesn't always work for someone else, and it's best to experiment until you get something you like or feel comfortable with.

It's ten PM. The sky's dark; pissing rain. His trenchcoat is soaked, the fedora atop his head along with it. The streets are turned slanted under the streetlights. It's twisted how the world changes in the dark. He stands about six foot, with cruel blue eyes, and a glint of blonde hair beneath the dripping outcrop of hat. A business suit, he wears, with one hand at his face holding the smoldering remains of a cigarette while the other is perched in his pocket. He holds himself like a man of class, but the shifty look in his eyes says anything but.

That's a pretty good description of the man's appearance. What you really need to do, then, is take the key points and put them into the appearance portion. The hardest part, mind you, is creation a back-story, a history or origin for your character, and there I can't help you. It's completely up to you what to do.

Anyway, I hope this little example proved at least somewhat useful. I'd hate to think that I'm wasting my time writing all this.

 

- W. Visarett

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Who in the Hell Was THAT?

Ah, the character. The basis for all role-playing and dueling. The foundation that we build our skills upon. Weak or bad, flawed or clich├ęd, our characters only perform as well as we write them to, and often-times, those characters are so completely horrible in their own right that even considering them should be grounds for being slapped in the face. Some of my own are like that. But sometimes, our characters are works of art, unique and alive in their own way.

If you look around the site Juryrigged, you'll find in the RPG section a sub-section of dueling/role playing guides. Some of those guys are meant for character creation. We talk about the importance of names, of powers, of traits and abilities; in fact, we stress so much about the value of these abilities, powers and traits that we forget a key concept--the importance of the characters' character; or even yet, the importance of their name.

Ooh! Maybe I got your attention with that one, didn't I?

When a character lacks, well, character, they're less real to us--like 2D animations on a piece of paper. They don't have meaning, they don't have depth, and we don't empathize with them. If they suffer, are joyful, exuberant, stuck in a rut or anything else, we don't care. We need to make these characters feel, and the only way to do it is through our writing, and if the writing lacks, the character lacks. It's a two way road. We build on the character with our writing, but both need to improve in their own right.

But what of names? Names make up an important part of the character, and we must choose a name that thoroughly fits the character. But a question: do you pick a name then created a character to match the name, or create a character then pick a name to match the character? A name can make or break a character. Sure, you wouldn't see a medieval knight with the greatest sword skills you have ever seen being named Bob. But why not? Isn't Bob a good name for a knight of unsurpassed prowess?

But what happens when we can't even get past the name part, let alone choose a name altogether? Some people want dearly to role play, but lack the ability (or haven't developed one) to create and fine tune characters. In which case, it might be useful to use this scenario.

Pretend for posterity's sake, that the character in question has committed a crime. We don't have a name yet, but we can still move forward with the creation of the character. Now, you saw this character commit the crime. In fact, you saw it in all its gruesome detail. You now stand behind a one-way mirror looking onto a police line-up with the character in question standing in the line up. Describe him to the police. Everything you could recall. Height, build, eyes, hair. You name it. In fact, include what he's wearing, and how he committed the crime, and what kind of weapon he used.

To me, this is a good way to begin development on a character when you normally can't seem to do it. Probably not the best, but still a useful idea. Another good idea is to ask yourself questions like: if I were a superhero, what kind of super-power would I want? You could ask yourself other questions along similar lines. Each one helps further define your character and give them substance.

Does my character have family? If so, what kind of a family? These questions and more should be asked. The sky's the limit really when coming up with a character.

 

- W. Visarett

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

I was asked why I hadn't updated this yet, why there wasn't another article on dueling or role-playing and some myth that needed to be debunked or some problem or conundrum solved. Well, it's because I haven't been able to think of something to write about. I go in search of questions in which to answer. And speaking of questions to answer, a funny question was poised to me by Corbow:

What would you suggest when undertaking a new character of the opposite sex?

I can't say my own response to the question was any good, or even a half-way-decent answer, and the answer I gave is heavily biased from my own point of view, especially so considering I'm a male. The answer itself was very stereotypical, actually--a generalization; anyway, my answer went like this:

If you're a guy trying to play as a girl, become bitter, petty, fickle and misunderstand all things.

If you're a girl trying to play as a guy, think about baser instincts and emotions; hate, rage, anger with a smattering of angst and horny.

Yeah, real poor answer. But then again, there's always the movie As Good as it Gets to fall back on:

"How do you write women so well?"

"I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."

Yeah, still pretty bad, isn't it?

I suppose it is a real conundrum in and of itself. How would a guy role-play a woman, and how would a woman role-play a guy? Neither sex understands the other. All we have are generalizations, and it then takes a huge leap of faith to see if we can't get even part of the scenario right if we were suddenly put into the opposite sex's shoes.

Could always fall back on those stereotypes, and they might see you through only partway, though. Role playing is meant to be immersive, to immerse yourself in the role of the character. To not only get inside the characters' head, but let other role players see you're good at it and to make a connection with your character and empathize with it. No easy task, especially so when you're trying to role play as the opposite sex.

You'd think with this one there are easy answers. There aren't, and I'll make no claims that I have any good answers on this subject. I'm pretty sure someone somewhere has a better answer for all this than I; maybe they'll drop me a line and give me a tip, or leave a comment. Best I can offer up for advice is experiment. Worst comes to worst, base the character off a girl (or guy) you know and see how it goes.

 

- W. Visarett

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Say What?

We get signal.

What?

Main CRT turn on.

It's post!

How are you role-players?

All your post are unintelligible.

You are on the path to misunderstanding.

What you say?

You have no chance to comprehend, make your time.

Yeah, that's exactly what happens in my mind when I run right into another garbled post for a duel or role play. I don't think any of us happen to like posts that are so unintelligible that we can't make sense of what's what in them, especially in duels. In a duel, you're supposed to explicitly tell your opponent what you are doing. When you fail to do so, there is a lack of clarity and understanding to be had turning the whole post into one giant ambiguous mess--and let's face it, when you fail to write what you're doing clearly for all to understand, you fail as a duelist.

Why do I say this? Well, I'll give you an example.

In business, especially large corporations, when you relate a proposal to your boss, you have to be very clear, very explicit, about what it is you're proposing. If you're not, the proposal goes down the drain and becomes a waste. If you send documents to another law firm with documentation about something, and that documentation isn't clear, a trial could be won or lost on that lack of clarity.

In my mind, and if I were the boss of a certain individual, and he continually submitted documents, proposals and forms that lacked clarity, weren't explicit in their meaning and generally vague, I'd fire him and find someone else who was clear and explicit in their meaning.

But that's me.

I don't like somebody stringing me along without a clue as to what the hell is going on, do you? I should trust not.

If an attack isn't clear, you don't know how to counter it. Throwing in extra words in the hopes of making your post look pretty doesn't make it clear. Cutting out needed details to make your post short doesn't make it clear. What makes a post clear is description that gets the point across. The description doesn't have to be paragraphs upon paragraphs to be clear, either. And example would be something like this:

Ex: Stent jabbed with her right hand toward the bridge of the man's nose.

A single sentence. It tells you exactly, to the letter, what the character is doing. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. You know for a fact, that Stent is going to punch the man in the nose. You can't get clearer than that. And yet I find many instances where people lapse over the important details for the sake of making things look pretty, or just lapse over the detail altogether.

I guess the problem is, again, always trying to find the happy medium--not too little description, but not too much description. Although, when you think about it, too little is never enough, but too much is superfluous. For all our sakes, I hope we can all be as clear as possible with our attacks in duels. I don't want to think what would happen if we weren't.

 

- W. Visarett

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Saw it Once -- A Big Pile of Shit

That's right, a huge, enormous pile of stinking shit that just flew through the fan and landed right smack in your lap. What am I talking about? Character in writing, and why most of the time its non-existent. Even I can't say I've got character in writing; just another scathing pile of mutated brown stuff thrown at you for your reading pleasure, and you'll devour it, say it’s good to my face, and then wander around back to puke your guts out. Leaves a rather sour taste in your mouth, don't it?

Nobody likes being force-fed random shit, but we do it all the time. In dueling and role playing, we write a lot, but for all the writing that we do, most of us just lack the knack of putting some character, some emotive force behind the words to actually get the audience to feel what we're trying to make those words on a page or screen to feel.

Character in writing is just that: to infer enough emotion and meaning within the words so that the reader takes something away from it, that they will feel and empathize with the words you've just regurgitated from your mind onto paper or screen, that there is personality behind it all. Sometimes we hit the nail on the head, we get it right, and the reader does feel what we intend for them to feel. But most often, we're just stuffing their face full of puked up words reminiscent of the brown stuff.

You can't get any more brutally honest than that, folks. You have to step back and look at your own writing from time to time. Is it doing what you want it to do? I can't say that my own writing evokes a sudden warmth from the reader for my rather 2D characters on the screen, but I hold out a bit of hope that they might cherish those characters as much as I do. But of course, with all those convergences of words, putting together the wrong combination will produce a bland, boring and unsightly mess. Grab a rag, kiddies, and clean off that screen. Gotta start the process all over again.

A thought, at least on my part, is that perhaps all this idea of character in writing is also a direct tie-in to style of writing. Perhaps, as it turns out, some styles are more conductive to producing the feeling within our readers that we want and giving them none of the bad-taste-in-mouth we're trying to shy away from.

So, where does it all end? Where do we find the proverbial character-in-writing ability? Where is the sacred chalice that will grant us the not-write-like-crap ability? Truth is, I don't know. I can't say I'll ever know, but what I can say is this: the only way to improve is to step back, grab a shovel, and see if we can't dig our way out of the mess we've made.

We're trying to convey emotions, character, meaning and substance--we're trying to achieve a truly 3D character, with personality and more. The moment you begin to lack that is the moment your writing starts browning over with growths we don't even want to consider. If you can pull off what you want to do with your writing, more power to you. But I'd rather not have to wade through five+ pages, or even a few paragraphs worth, of mindless banter. You might as well be throwing mud in my face. And let’s face it, nobody likes to eat shit, least of all me.

 

I have to actually throw out a thank you for this one, since it was Kiori Hayabsua who got me thinking on the subject. Kudos to him, even if I don't agree with his personality most of the time.

 

- W. Visarett

Monday, October 17, 2005

I Like Big Guns -- And I Don't Know Why

This Friday, at your local theater or cinema (if you live in a big enough city to warrant), Doom will be playing. We all know that game-to-movies aren't entirely outstanding films, but we'll all see it regardless. We'll shell out the money to watch, and when it ends, leave with either a sour taste in our mouths like Hollywood just decided to force-feed us a load of shit, or think the whole was moderately good enough having parted with our hard-earned (I hope) cash.

Anyway, I'll be seeing Doom this Friday, like thousands of other people in North America. Hopefully I don't come away from it feeling cheated. It might mean I would have to bitch, moan and complain some more, and we all know how annoying and boring that is to see (although some might think it amusing).

Oh, yeah--I saw Serenity last week, that Joss Wheadon film. The acting, while not top notch, was pretty good. The dialogue I thought was great, and the film as a whole is worth seeing. It actually makes me want to pick up the Firefly series on DVD. Too bad it'll have to take a back seat to my anime/Batman: Animated Series DVD collecting for the time being. And to think, next month George R. R. Martin's new book, A Feast for Crows will be released! Oh dear...I have to wrap this up. I just splooged all over my monitor.

 

Oh, and before I completely forget, I've got some new ideas being mangled in my head about an article about writing having character. We'll see how far I get with that one. Now, where in the hell is a rag...

 

- W. Visarett

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A New Haircut -- Like the New Do?

You have to love all the various kinds of writing out there, even the ones you love to hate. You can't even begin to imagine at the thought processes that went through the writers mind that caused them to arrive at the word choices they did, how they built and constructed their passage or post to make it the fortified (or crumbling) piece of writing that they did. A difficult concept to grasp, really.

The style of writing sometimes evokes feelings of elation, joy, sadness, annoyance, anger or hatred. Each style takes you along on the journey by a different means. Such a strange thing, how twenty-six letters can be combined for form hundreds of thousands of words that can be combined to form billions upon billions of sentences, each with their own way of conveying information and feeling and stringing you along on the tale the writer wants to tell.

The style of writing used by each poster in their duel posts differs greatly. Some are concise, to the point, others are verbose, still arriving at their destination while painting a grand picture, and yet others still are vague and ambiguous about what is happening. Each is effective in its own right, and each is to be loved for the good traits about them. Of course, some styles, those that are more vague or ambiguous than the norm, shouldn't be loved so much.

In dueling, with any style, you are trying to portray to your readers and your opponent specifically, what is happening, and when your style of writing fails to portray this, you have failed as a writer. While it is good to leave some things open to interpretation, doing so in a dueling environment means setting yourself up for a long fall.

Depending upon where you role play or duel at, you'll encounter varying styles in use. You mustn't decide that just because a style is different that it's necessarily bad. So a person likes something more direct and short--directness is good, as long as the person doesn't forget key details. Verbosity is also good, as long as you don't get lost in the wording to the point where it all becomes vague nonsense.

A style that uses short posts with vagueness is just as bad as a long post that employs massive amounts of verbosity. You won't be able to understand either, and in one case (the short) there isn't enough meat to the post to understand what is happening, and in the other case (the long) you get lost in all the words being thrown at you. In both cases, you end up not even knowing what's what.

It is good to be clear about what you're doing in your style, of what you're planning on doing, and how something you've done in your post is accomplished. Lapsing over details doesn't win you over points and just confuses the hell out of everyone. Then again, including unnecessary information won't win any points either. Try and find a happy medium. No easy task, mind you, and even I can't claim I've found it yet.

So which style is better? Neither one is better than the other. You should develop your own style, love it. Practice with it, evolving it and make it better with time. Your style can be completely your own. After all, nobody writes like you can because they don't think like you, although some might emulate it. However, when looking at your own style and deciding whether it’s vague or concise, short or long, ask yourself "Does this convey to my opponent exactly what I want it to?" If you can't answer that, it might be time for a re-tooling.

 

- W. Visarett

Quick, Honey! Get the Exlax!

An interesting question was poised earlier tonight. A guy I know, RAYClovis, was asking for pointers on how to fix his flow problems with his attacks in forum dueling, as well as his writing in general. It was an interesting topic, and got me to thinking about it.

Now, there's a plethora of good advice out there, so I thought I'd chip in my own on the subject.

When writing, you gotta think of the words as, say, Lego bricks. You're going to assemble your story, passage or post from those very bricks. Just reach in and start building away that wall of text. But, you'll soon notice that if you grab the wrong kind of pieces for the job, the whole thing will fall over and it'll leave you scrambling to fix a problem by adding more bricks that don't do shit and you just end up compounding the problem.

But, what if you used all the right kind of bricks, and your wall of text stands up right and pretty? Another problem arises then. You've grabbed a multitude of colored bricks that just scream at you. A gaudy mess of color that few are going to appreciate.

If you want to craft the finest of posts, you have to choose the right kind of pieces, or words, and not only assemble them so that they fit together--as only certain pieces can go together in certain ways--but you have to make sure the colors fit. If it doesn't fit and flow from one color to the next, it'll just hurt you as much as it does anyone who happens to read it. We don't want to inflict that kind of harm on people around us, do we?

Now in the interest of furthering this analogy, we'll consider that you've built a fine wall (of words mind you), and that it conforms to building structure. Everything fits. There's no sudden change of color. In fact, it's all uniform, a single block of color. Now it's boring. There's no shift, no change, and while it all seems to fit, you'd fall asleep before you reached the end. Can't have that. So, go back, fix it. Add some spice, a little color here and there, but if you over-do it, you end up with the gaudy mess again.

This is where a minimalist view comes in. Put in only the necessary parts. You wouldn't bake a cake by throwing in a pound of salt into the mix, would you? Course not, as I don't think anyone I know likes a pound of salt baked into their cakes.

In essense, you want to changes in color to flow, to move with a particular pacing and structure. Where everything fits within a theme that you're trying to set. Pure color is boring. A mash of color (tie-dye shirts, anyone?) is gaudy, messy and just makes it problematic to read. I can't say crafting a piece of writing is something easy. Even building a simple wall with Lego sometimes isn't all that easy. But practice makes perfect, right? Only way to get better is to keep at it.

Anyway, I hope this helps all you aspiring duelists and role players to some extent. As a final, I'd throw in what Lachesis had to say on the subject.

From: lachesis77 | Posted: 10/15/2005 10:42:20 PM

Try varying sentence length to make your posts flow better. If you've just written a short sentence, follow it up with a longer one, and vice versa. Of course, that doesn't mean you should use this throughout your post: if you overuse this technique, it'll probably wind up worse than if you hadn't used it at all. Use it sparingly, though, and it can work wonders.

As suggested before by Haya, Lady M and Wolfie, read your posts aloud. You'll pick up grammar and spelling mistakes as well as rhythm issues that way. It can also help you with things like word choice: while you're reading, you may find that you want to produce a certain "sound" (e.g. something harsh or violent, or maybe something sibilant), and often the only way you'll figure that out is by reading to yourself.

If you can't read aloud because you're in a public place (like a library or school) or you just think it's really weird, then my advice would be to ask another writer/RPer/duelist to proofread your work. Self-editing is good, but because you're reading over something you've written yourself, sometimes you can underestimate just how much more work your post needs. The advantage of having another person read your work is that he/she is reading it for the first time and can have a more objective view of what needs to be done.

If you can't get a friend to read over your work, then (people are going to hate me for this) don't post it just yet. If you let your work rest for a day or two, you may come up with fresh ideas, improvements and the like. By giving yourself the time to clear your head of your post, you can catch onto errors that you hadn't seen the first time around. And don't just read it over once: go over it two, three times if you can. I'm a proofreader by profession, and when I had to edit some text for a game that needed to be ready yesterday, you'd better believe I went over every single line three times over before my supervisor took a look at everything.

And I don't think I need to stress the importance of spelling, grammar and punctuation, do I?

 

- W. Visarett

Saturday, October 15, 2005

An Inception of Quality

What is quality in dueling, and how does such a concept as quality sneak its way past our defenses to coil its way around our posts? We talk about quality versus quantity, tossing the words about like we really know what we're talking about, that we're the hot cats we are and we can fully comprehend this little conundrum--even when we don't, us lying bastards.

Thing is, we ascribe certain traits to good forum dueling structure: flow, readability, creativity/originality, directness, good use of language, detail, grammar/spelling... Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up, here. Dozens of different categories all combined to create a little nuance called "quality"? When the hell did that happen, and why wasn't I informed?

Truth be told, I did get the memo--then shot the message bearer. We're over-complicating things. Sure, you need to have all of the above, their traits specific to writing in the first place, but a quality post should be one that's simple, straight-forward and gets the job done. Don't get me wrong, I still believe in all of the above and think they're very important things to keep in mind when crafting a duel, or even RP, post, I just don't think we need to complicate matters with an over-abundance of thought put into all of that, at least not straight-away.

Problems arise when people decide to over-simplify or over-complicate, going from one extreme to the other. Over-complication comes in the form of being overly verbose--not necessarily a bad thing cramming in every detail, but some become bored by it. Verbosity is both good and bad, and if one isn't all too skilled with it, it'd be better to shy away from it as one is likely to cause boredom over excitement. An example would be describing every single piece of paint on a door, right down to the cracks, and following it up on how the brass knob seems to be tarnished. Do we really need all that? Is it necessary to overload our sensory input with that much detail? I don't think so--it'd drive me insane trying to read it, or to write it.

Of course, the other extreme is over-simplification, where details are cut out from the heart of the post, slashed away in the hopes of creating a truly aerodynamic post that gets straight to the point. No longer are you talking about the door. It's now just a door, a doot that lacks character. You don't say that the paint is chipped and cracked, or even that it's white. No character, no feeling. This creates a whole new problem where the post is so short that it is useless to the opponent and anyone who happens to read it. We need details to function. Vagueness and ambiguity in posts are a detriment, and we should shy away from them if they interfere with quality.

So where's the happy medium, then? How can we get quality posts without over-stepping the bounds in one way or another? Well, you can't. You can only gauge what you feel is a good post. Does it contain the necessary detail? Does it read and flow well? Are the ideas, attacks and counters original/creative? Are you direct and to the point, and is the use of language good? If you can give a fairly good answer to those questions then chances are your post doesn't suck to holy hell--although sometimes you might want to get a second opinion.

After all, most people say quality is a matter of opinion, like intelligence, and frankly, I don't have one.

 

- W. Visarett

Friday, October 14, 2005

This...Sucked

I switched from using LiveJournal to Blogger. The reason for this is because LiveJournal didn't allow me to edit the CSS to a satisfactory level so that I could create a blog that was pure me. Hence my new blog. Unfortunately, I spent far too much time playing around with it to the point where I got a headache.

Probably could have been a tad easier than I'm making it out to be, but meh. Anyway, so tired...and I need to work on my forum dueling guide. Urge to kill...rising.

Oh, and if you hadn't noticed yet, there are still problems with the page yet that need to be ironed out, like the huge "white space" after this post picked up only after my sidebar ends. I think it might be a problem with the margins and/or padding. I'll fix that sometime when I have the urge or time to, otherwise I just don't give a damn.

 

- W. Visarett

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Certainly Didn't See That Coming

So, I've decided that if this current semester of college doesn't pan out--that is, I don't obtain the 3.0 GPA I need to continue with my next semester, I'm going to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces, Army to be exact.

If you think this is a sudden and rash decision, it's not. I've been thinking about this since March, and lately I've felt it's the right choice for me if I do happen to go through it. Since working at the sawmill during the summer (I was on a clean-up crew), I found that I love doing manual labor. I love hard work. It makes me feel good and accomplished at the end of the day; makes me feel that I'm made for a purpose, that I have meaning. So, I figure it should be the same with military service.

It's something I have given serious thought to. Of course, if I can continue my education, I'll go with that route over the army so I can get my degree, but if that falls through, I'll be suspended for a year and I don't want to be kicking around for a year with nothing to do, hence military. Should be good, I think.

 

- W. Visarett

Monday, October 10, 2005

Without Me?

If you didn't know, I'm Canadian. This means that I celebrate Thanksgiving on the second week of October every year, unlike my American neighbors. I'm also a college student away from home, so thus far every year, I've made the trek home to partake in Thanksgiving with friends and family. A rather large event. Well, this Thanksgiving was notable to me for several reasons.

The first is that my older brother never came this time. That meant that the usual gather of myself, my two brothers, three sisters, parents, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, two nieces and one nephew was cut down by three people who didn't show up. I reamed my older brother out for not being there since him and I have generally been close over the years.

Another thing that stunned me, really shocked me, is that my parents place, which I had called home since 1990--and have many fond memories of--is no longer a home for me. Since leaving for college, I've felt exorcised from the family, and it was even more palpable in feeling this Thanksgiving. My two younger sisters, who also left for college this year, felt it a bit, but not to the same extent I did over the weekend. It just isn't home for me anymore. Just a place I stay at in-between semesters of college.

In fact, I find myself feeling that I no longer have a home to call my own, just locations that I stay at during transitory points in my life currently. I don't even miss my family except for my younger brother, who has in the past two years been turning into my best friend, except for my two other good buddies (Nova and Tier).

It's an odd feeling. Like I'm drifting away from everything and everyone I've had in my life. Maybe it's just some subconscious desire to strike out into the completely unknown on my own, and the only way to do that is completely cut off my old ties. I dunno. I really don't like the idea of severing any of the friendships.

Speaking of severed friendships, I lost a good friend of five years a few weeks back. Due to my own arrogance, assholishness and probably innumerable other factors. It came to a head when I accused him of being manipulated by another friend of his that I didn't agree with too much (although the friend's friend says I hate her, which I don't). I still feel bad about the way it turned out, but I guess it's my fault I became distant in the first place.

Oh well. Anyway, that's about it for me.

Oh, I picked up a book, Star Wars: Hard Contact, as well as Batman: The Animated Series Vol 2. I have Vol 1 and 3, and hear that Vol 4 is out this November or December; and George R. R. Martin's next book, A Feast for Crows, is out this November. Can't wait for either!

 

- W. Visarett