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The Skid Journals 1-3: Meet and Greet

The large gates slowly trundled open with a grinding noise that reminded Cobra of a rock slide, heard even over the steady rumble of his engine. Beyond the widening opening, a second barrier was also sliding sideways to the right of the entrance; a heavy frame construction of rusted metal girders forming a wedge which braced the back of the gate itself. A precaution against ramming attacks. As it neared more than half way open the group got their first look beyond the walls, save for Tuc who had visited before on business. The old cracked road surface stretched directly ahead for about half a mile before reaching the opposite wall and another, equally fortified gate. The town spread to the left of the road around 100 meters before dipping down into the slope. They drove through the gates and along the road towards an old forecourt to the left that may formerly have been a petrol station or used car sales lot. The surrounding buildings seemed to be relics of the old world, maintained as best as can be expected after over a century of post-calamity neglect. At the slope and beyond the buildings were all constructs of salvaged junk, old shipping containers, ruined vehicles and even a large boat, capsized and beached at the edge of the slope. Small outcroppings of buildings had been built out of the upturned hull, clinging to the ship like barnacles made from scrap metals and wood. A short distance past the now-closing gates the group pulled into the old forecourt, each of them getting out and stretching their legs once more.



Progress, progress bars and project updates

It has been a while since I blogged anything so here is a quick update on the ongoing projects I have as well as a little tweak to the site here and there.

Let’s start with that last one first. Up until recently, I have only been working on one thing at a time, first with The Skid Journals parts 1-1 and 1-2, then re-editing 1-1 and republishing as per my previous blog entry. However, I recently began writing a second short story along with part 1-3 of The Skid Journals. More on this below. So, with this dual project on the go, I felt it was time to start tracking them on the site. And going forward for any future works I have on my table. I have added a progress bar plugin to the sidebar to track ongoing projects and started with the first two and their current states. I was not really able to find any that fully matched what I am looking for, given that my writing is not set to any specific goal in terms of length or content other than getting it done. I was not sure how exactly I would gauge the level of completion of any of my stories and represent them in one single bar. Overall I view my writing to be a three stage process. First is the outline, where I scribble down a note form of the flow of the story. Second, I begin working on the draft for the story, essentially padding out the outline, and usually changing stuff along the way on a small scale as the narrative takes shape more naturally. Finally, I proofread the story giving it two passes of editing. The first focusing mostly on grammar and punctuation and the second pass being a readability check making adjustments to wording and such. With the single progress bar, it is difficult to track this other than estimating the volume of workload represented by each section. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, though, and I feel I know my own writing well enough to quantify my own progress.



And the words will… re-flow?

Something I am very much aware of as a budding writer is, you must always be ready to learn new things. Another thing I believe is that you can never have too much critique, and should never take it badly when it comes your way. Recently I published the first and second parts of The Skid Journals story series, feeling rather proud of my efforts. This is not saying much, however, given that when writing in the past I would feel ‘good’ about what I was doing. And if checking over my old EVE Online character story backlog has taught me anything, it is that my writing had a long way to go back then. Either way, that does not mean I took a look at my new works here and realized I had written a mess. Far from it, in fact. Though who knows how I might feel in 10 years time, looking back at this site. Only time can tell.

Back to the present, however, a good friend of mine offered to provide me with some feedback on the first journal. I had mentioned in my previous blog that I have a friend who used to edit professionally. By way of a quick plug, her name is Sakaane and you can find her own writings and assorted art on her site, Incyanity. Sakaane is also the friend who prompted me to begin this site, as well as setting me up with discounted hosting, and provided me with support setting up the site. She approached me soon after the second part was published in the beginning of March and offered to spend some time going over the first part to give me some pointers. I had expressed to her a couple of times in the writing that I had struggled with some of the technical details, again as mentioned in my previous blog about my experiences writing the first two parts.



And the words will flow.

Hello, everyone.

I figured a little blog would do right about now, and I can share some experiences with the site so far. Not to mention getting some content out at last. Since I want to blog about the whole writing thing to begin with I will start with the shameless plugging.

Around a month back I made a decision to begin releasing the story I had been working on in smaller sections, instead of one huge block of text. On the subject, here is a link to the first part. After making this decision I split what I had currently into separate parts and began the editing and re-write process. This is the first of a new series of stories based on a roleplay session for a game called Apocalypse World, as I detailed in this previous blog.



The Skid Journals 1-2: Making Friends and Influencing People

The mountains suddenly gave way to the vast and endless flatness of the plains beyond. The road stretched out across the world towards the dark stained flats beyond. Further into the journey, three dark looking dots resolved in the distant haze, resting by the roadside. Before long the distinct shapes of three bikes, riders by their side, came clear through the heat ripple rising from the cracked and dusty road. One of the figures separated, driving across the road and stopping sideways before stepping off Tuc slowed his van a little as Cin gave him a sideways glance from his passenger seat.

“What are you doing?” he said, slowly reaching for the assault rifle, now propped up in the footwell.



The Skid Journals 1-1: Blue Skies, Broken Roads

The broken and patchy road, snaking through the mountain range, seemed more determined to shake their vehicles apart with each rapidly passing mile. Both engines protested as their drivers attempted to encourage more speed from them: one, the haggard and sickly rattle of an aged beast of burden, fighting for each yard it travelled; the other, a throaty bellow of a well-cared-for and faithful companion, taking the uphill journey in its stride. Some way behind them, several higher-pitched growls filled the air, gaining ground with the steady determined pace of committed predators.

Cobra jerked the wheel to the right again before pulling back to the left. One of the three pursuers, a dune buggy of some old pre-Starfall design, locked its wheels as the driver jammed the brakes on to avoid the side-swipe from the larger SUV. The three assailants were from a war gang called the Bisons, as evident from the tattered banner trailing behind the buggy depicting a horned skull pattern emblazoned in dull red ink the colour of dried blood. The Bisons claimed a large tract of badland near the entrance to the mountain road. Just ahead of Cobra’s truck, the lumbering faded-green van they were escorting struggled with the rough road surface. Behind, as the buggy recovered from its skid, the other two pickup trucks closed the distance.



Works in progress

It has been a while since my last, and first post here. A little update is in order on what is currently in the works. So, straight into it!

Site design updates

The theme I have used here since launch has been more of a place holder and the more I looked at it the less happy I was. I did not imagine I would keep it long anyway, so I have spent a little time checking out other themes after it became clear I could not tweak this one very much. I could also not settle on an overall theme for the site, though as a good friend of mine said, it is a difficult thing work out. I think I may have settled on a theme now, and need to research what the paid version will let me do before I commit fully. The biggest issue I have had with the current theme has been text layout. As a best practice, the font for a website should always be clean and of a good size with good spacing to avoid eye strain. However I felt like the old initial theme had the text set too big, with a narrow area assigned for the main content making each s paragraph seem to flood the available space. When writing short blogs such as this, that may be fine. However, publishing longer stories was different and the previews of some current works always looked wrong to me.



Chronicles: Remembrance

Intaki V – Moon 5, Astral Mining Inc. station

“And the next shipment?” enquired Darius. “I hope it will go better than the last one.”

“I have refitted our haulers.” replied the Vherokior on the other end of the holoscreen. “Should survive enough punishment to get to warp. So, yes. They will be fine. The production line ends in… another 4 hours. I will have them loaded up and begin moving them straight afterwards.”

“Thanks Haq.” Several seconds of silence followed.

“Gratitude.” Came the eventual reply. “If I didn’t know better I would say you were starting to like me finally.”



Shakor Saga Release

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start.
– Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music

And a good place it is, too. In 2003 I started playing EVE Online as Darius Shakor. I spent weeks plotting my character back-story before I even had the game. The lore had me hooked, and I found my place among the Minmatar.

I had an old website, which fell into disrepair sometime between the last update in 2007, and about 2 years ago when I noticed it was pretty broken. It was hosted by a friend, and my skills were limited. They still are, but another friend of mine encouraged me to revise my efforts, get proper hosting and become familiar with a content management system such as WordPress.



About Apocalypse World

Introduction to the Apocalypse

“What the hell year is it, anyway?” Bogs dropped the last few inches to the dry, dusty ground from his improvised perch on top of the vehicle, his boots sending a thin cloud of earth up from the impact.

 

“The fuck should it matter?” replied Ranch, squinting out over the road below from the seat of his rusted buggy. “It’s today, and today we get paid.”

 

Bogs scraped his boot along the ground, sending another drift of dust and grit skittering behind him. “Haven’t you ever wondered, though? I mean, I know it doesn’t change much but surely someone would have kept track of it. I mean… hey!” Bogs whirled around to face Ranch as the rock struck him in the back of the shoulder. “Man, fuck you!”

 

“Shut it! Listen…” Ranch held up a finger as he leaned out over the steering wheel of the buggy. Bogs stood for a moment and let the world around him settle. The unmistakable drone of another engine echoed along the rock faces around them. It was hunting time…

Welcome to the apocalypse, mucker. I hope you came well prepared, otherwise the wasteland will rip you up quick.

Apocalypse World is a tabletop roleplay game, published by Lumpley Games and available at their website. The setting is, as the name implies, the post apocalyptic, though with no specific theme or setting. Instead the players create the world setting together, throwing ideas into the pot to cover several basic areas of world building and then they let the story unfold. Unlike many other tabletops games, where play is dictated by dice rolls and structured rules, the game is more about narrative flow where the game master only makes his own moves against the player as a result of their faulture in skill tests

If you are new to roleplay games and are looking for a good place to get started, but you are unsure about having to remember 400 pages of rule book, this is a good game to get started on. And the character play books are totally free to download on their site, so your players can get a free reference copy without needing to buy in themselves.

So, is this an advertisement or something? I know it is coming off as such, so thank you for putting up with it. Now, onto the writing part of this whole saga.

Apocalypse Journals

I ran a few sessions of this game with some friends before we were slowly but surely unable to continue playing due to personal schedules, and the story was just starting to get good. I did, however, keep all the notes about the setting of our particular apocalypse as well as scraps of ideas and background info for the different factions that inhabited the world. One day recently I sat down and looked at the files I had and felt a little sad that this world was not going to be explored further. Then I realised, though not in the spirit of the tabletop game itself, I could still continue to flesh it out in story form.

And so begins the writing of the Apocalypse Journals. Initially the stories will follow along with the adventures the group I played with had in the world of The Skid, with a little artistic interpretation thrown in for the sake of flow. After all, not everything is roleplayed in tabletop and some exposition is briefly thrown on the table for the sake of conceptualising the humdrum and moving on to more exciting stuff. After that I will continue with the ideas I had for future potential sessions and see where the story goes from there. Heck, I may even roll on the character sheets to see what happens as I write. One of the great things about the game rolling mechanic is that a failure does not always mean harm to the player. It just means something different happens to what they wanted, the tables turned on them and instead you continue telling the story with this in mind.

Going forward, I may also further explore other apocalypse settings and write more stories in the future with different flavours of the post-apocalypse. I have some inspirations I could work on, but one thing at a time. it has struck me that, outside of video game, TV, and movie settings there is not a lot of post-apocalyptic representation in literature. Let’s see if we can change that.