Finished Ratchet and Clank (2016): How It “Re-Visions” the Original Game

 

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Ratchet & Clank (2016) Box Cover Art with Ratchet and Clank standing on a planetoid. Image Source: Amazon.com 

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 19 (+2)
    Goal = 5 Pages a week.
    Actual = 3/5 Pages done so far this week. I added a page to the 1st issue last night.

  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)
    (Researched an article on Whaling, No Writing so far)

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: FINISHED!
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Insomniac Games and the Ratchet and Clank Universe

Last Saturday, while I was feverishly trying to find and coral a “structure” for my paper that I needed to turn in Sunday, I finished a game called Ratchet and Clank. While it is for the PlayStation 4, it is a “re-imagining” of the original game which debuted on PlayStation 2. I actually could have finished it the week prior, but held off on the final boss fight as it looked fairly complex and I’d already been playing for a while and was starting to get frustrated by the boss fight. I’m glad I took a break because the boss fight was nearly as hard as I’d first envisioned and I beat it after about half an hour.

Re-imaging = Re-visioning

So, one of the reasons why I wanted to talk about this here and now was because of my previous post on drafts and revisions. Ratchet and Clank (2016), (which will be referred to now on as R&C 2016) represents one way (a great way, in my opinion) of “re-seeing” a work to make it much better. There was a R&C animated movie that debuted with this game and while this game was released to take advantage of the movie, it still was very much its own creation. One of the things that I liked that the designers did was “translate” the game for modern audiences (gamers). Games, their systems, and what gamers expected in 2016 is markedly different than what they expected in 2002 when the first R&C was released. Insomniac, the makers of the R&C series, understood this and revised their game to bring it in line with modern expectations of gaming. In essence, they looked at the advantages of the new technologies they had available to them and used those to their advantage when shaping the new game. The core storyline of the R&C 2016 game is the same as the original R&C game, but the controls, graphics, effects, and music & sounds have all been upgraded to such a level that it doesn’t feel like a “remaster,” but an entirely new game.

Re-visioning Leads the Way

This is what I hope to accomplish with my writing projects and my new process of going through the outline/rough draft, 1st draft, & revision draft stages. Something that remains true to the original vision of the story that I had in mind and that excited me when I originally wrote it, but that, by using techniques and experiences that I learned/engaged with since the original story was written, I can create something that retains the flavor of the old, but is light years beyond the old. Re-visioning, or simply revision has that power. Through revision, one can shape a story and mold it into something beautiful. The problem with revision is that it can be ever on-going. There has to be a point when it comes to a stop so that one can market it and move on to other projects and ideas. For me, I’ve stopped the process too soon, ending at the first draft stage and not really going back to “re-vision”/revise the project as deeply as I could. I’m hoping that 3 really strong passes at a story will help me 1) get past the 1st draft on the market syndrome that I’ve fallen into in the recent years, and 2) not get stuck in the mode of continuous revisions, however, where I keep picking at it and picking at it, while not actually submitting the stories.

Sorry for such a long blog entry–perhaps it will make up for the one I missed yesterday. Will try to get back on a regular schedule as soon as my schedule becomes a little more regular.  Have a good day.

Sidney




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Writing It All: Roughing It, Writing It, Revising It, Submitting It

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The Writing Process. Image Source: Teachers Pay Teachers – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Circular-Writing-Process-Chart-3304077

 

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 17 (+1)
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft) (Researched Article, No Writing so far)

Goal = 5 Pages a week.
Actual = 1/5 Pages done so far this week. I added a page to the 1st issue last night.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: FINISHED!
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Here is a summary from Amazon: “In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Writing It All

This year is all about trying different things to jump-start my writing career. Yes, I said career, as I would like to grow myself to become a novelist in addition to a scholar, but right now, one thing at a time.  I realize that I simply don’t have the time (at the moment) to devote all my energies and resources to writing, but I’m really good at focused work on 1 project at a time. My goal then is to rough draft a story, write a story, edit a story, and submit a story once per month (1 X 12).  I’ve come to the realization that I’m slow in terms of writing speed and the level of detail that I want in my writing takes time. Even these blog entries take a while to develop–the writing/drafting isn’t bad, but “tagging” it, slotting in categories, finding an image, sometimes linking to YouTube or Amazon, and well, I can sometimes spend an hour to hour and a half creating one blog post.

Roughing It

For me, this is probably the easiest part of the writing process. I can come up with tons of amazing ideas. Two Saturdays ago, I came up with 4 separate ideas that could become projects later on down the line (of course, I only wrote down 1 of these, so the other 3 still exist in the nebulous realm of my mind taking up space and brain power–note to self: need to jot them down , put them on paper, and out of my mind’s eye). My goal is to formally “rough draft” a project monthly which means that I simply write down a (possible) beginning, middle, and end for a project that month.

Drafting It

This is where my focus has been for most of the Spring and Summer. I’ve really concentrated hard on trying to get WORDS ON A PAGE. I’ve worked diligently on this and have completed 2 First Drafts and I’m working on the script of a graphic novel (1st issue in comic book terms). I’m working on getting it more consistent by doing it “daily.”  Right now, I write for four days a week (M-Th) and I try for 250 words in a session = 1000 weekly.  Now 600 words is about where I top out at in one session, so my goal is to try to slowly increase over my time in grad school to 500 words and maybe boost that to 5-6 days a week, but that’s an aspirational goal–I’m not there yet.

Revising It (“Re-visioning”)

This one is where I’m really up to snuff yet. I’ve done some preliminary research on a story that I’ve wanted to rewrite for while (every since I received feedback on it at MTSU’s Writing Center), but I haven’t had the time in the past two weeks due to the large paper that I had to write. I find myself wondering if it is even worth “saving” or if it is beyond hope and to put it away as a learning exercise and move on to revising a different story?

Submitting It

This too has been a weak area for me. Now that I understand that I’ve probably been submitting my stories too soon in the writing process, I’ve decided to slow down in my submissions. I currently have 0 stories out at the moment. This is probably too harsh. The way I’m presently writing, this is going to take me months to create a story with the level of polish that I hope (keyword = hope) will make me 1000% more competitive in the writing market while other stories that I’ve written will languish until I can get to them. I need to find one place a month and just submit a story that I feel good about and that matches the guidelines of the market. If I submit more than one, great, but you can’t be a published writer if you never send anything out to publishers.

Well, that’s all that I wanted to highlight today: showing some of places where I’m strong in the writing process and some places that need work.  Reflecting minds want to know how well they’re doing and what strategies that they can use to improve and if there’s anything that I love reflecting on, its the writing process.

Have a good day

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

The Independent = Project Independence (aka Space Truckers)–Finished a First Draft of the Story

BOATS

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 12
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)

Goal = 3 Pages a week.  Working on Rough Drafting a Graphic Novel Page on one day and then writing the page on an alternate day.  250 Words a day on the Whale Song Revision–focusing on the characters this time.
Actual =

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: I started this a while ago as a book that I was reading just before bedtime, but I didn’t really make much headway.  I restarted it and I’ve just finished the introductory character generation section and I’m now moving on to the skills section and will be soon moving into the “lore” section.  This is a revamp (rules 2.0) of an old school British RPG from the 1980s.  Updated for modern times, this fairly short book still gives a great set of rules, game system, and lore that I hope will serve as inspiration for new sci-fi works in my own writing life.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

The Independent = Project Independence (aka Space Truckers)!

So I finished a First Draft of a story!  I finished Project Skye earlier this year and I thought I was out of the wood in terms of creating new stories.  However, when I tried to finished Project Poet (the First Draft), it fell apart.  I think I know what happened (a fantasy story with NO magic–just lost interest in it), but the 250 words goal and the “gamification” of Scrivener’s Writing Goals, I finished the story on Friday (July 6th) and t is out to my “alpha” readers.  While I intend to do an in-depth project notes (Author’s Note) posting sometime after the 3rd Draft, I feel that it was huge WIN for me to finish this story by my own “self-imposed” deadline.

250 Words a Day (Mostly)

So, I mostly wrote and stuck to the 250 Words a Day goal that I set for mysef.  Actually, before school started in June and a little into the first week of June, I wrote more than 250 Words a Day.  I discovered that I could write about 650 words in a writing session before I started to get “fatigued.”  As I’d written so much earlier, when I finally got behind in school work and couldn’t do the full 250 words, the Scrivener goal system was only requiring about 150-175 words, which worked out just fine.  I did miss a few days, but never more than 2-3 days in a row.  I also discovered that I don’t write on Saturday nights or Sunday nights, just on weekday nights, but I do tend to brainstorm new ideas on Saturday afternoons/nights, so there is that.  So, it looks like drafting will happen on weekdays and brainstorming/creating will happen on the weekends.

What’s Next?

I’m working on creating some sort of schedule–drafting a new story and revising old stories.  Apple used to work on a “Tick-Tock” cycle.  Tick = new product, while Tock = Revision.  That’s sort of the methodology that I’m working with right now.  This month will be a “Tock” cycle where I revise two works: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novels and Whale Song Revision (which I work-shopped last year at the University’s Writing Center and have been meaning to revise for a while).  This will be a Second Draft, so I will try to apply the lessons that I learned with The Independent to finish this new draft and I will be focusing on characterization of the main characters.   This is where editorial feedback was pretty consistent–the main character just didn’t resonate for most readers so I will be radically changing that character (fingers crossed).

That’s all I have for now!  Have a good day.

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Snow Day

So today is a Snow Day for me.  The semester was supposed to start today, but school was closed, so I’m taking a day to get mentally set and prepared for the upcoming semester.  Specifically, I will be trying to work on writing and getting ideas down on to paper and planning stories today.  I will also be working on revisions and editing also if there’s time.

I hope to get a lot accomplished today (while also resting a little as well).  I’ve learned from my time as a Middle School teacher–you want to really use Snow Days effectively (and I have several projects that could use a little more time to work on them!).

Be safe!

Sidney
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“Don’t Be a ‘Writer.’ Be Writing”

This quote from William Faulkner is as close to a New Year’s Resolution as I will allow myself for this year.  I’ve tried too hard to be a “writer.”  I need to just write.  I need to plan what I want to write (for me that generally means character sketches and plot outlines, along with world building) and I need to revise what I write (getting it in good enough shape to submit and making adjustments as necessary).  But most importantly I need to just write (to draft project after project regardless of whether I’m selling the projects or not).

Planning to Write
I’m working on planning at least one project to write every month.  If I finish planning a project early, then I will pull out another project and plan it, but every month I plan to have at least one project done (so I should have 12 new projects ready by the end of 2018).  This is both attainable (hopefully given school work) and measurable (I report back at the end of the year to see how closely I matched this goal).  I created a Planning Checklist in Numbers (Apple’s answer to Excel) to track the days that I can actually work on planning and on the days I do, I simply place a checkmark beside it to give visual feedback on how well I’m doing.  Thanks to my illness, I only got to work on planning 2 days last week.

Writing
This is where the rubber meets the road.  This where I actually sit down and draft out a story, trying to adhere to all the story conventions (Character, plot, dialogue, setting, beginning, middle, end, exposition, rising action, climax, resolution, etc.).  I intend to create a checklist for this process as well to help give me visual feedback on how well I’m doing.  Thanks to my illness last week, I didn’t get any drafting done last week, although I did draft 5 days consecutively the week before Christmas.  The same thing applies: every month I’m drafting 1 project, so that at the end of the year I should have at least 12 projects written.  I want to be a little “harder” on myself on this step as it is doable.  Just pull the internet connection on the laptop and write until the battery drains (which in the case of my late 2008 Macbook Pro is only about 45-50 minutes), so this is where Faulkner’s quote comes in: don’t be a ‘writer’ Be writing.  This is where I really want to show growth/improvement in the coming year–(again, based on schoolwork).

Revision
While I understand the market isn’t perfect and I’m not the flavor of the month, I still want to publish my work.  To that end, like the other two steps, I want to try to revise at least 1 project every month and put it out on the market.  I plan to follow the same “mold” as the other two steps in creating a checklist to help give me visual feedback on the days I worked on the project.  I worked 1 day on HawkeMoon last week due to the illness.  I want to submit it to an anthology that has a deadline of Feb. 1st, 2018.  I intend to enlist aid from either another grad. student or the Writing Center to help get the story where I want it for this market.  I intend to write an Author’s Note for it as well as to write a more in-depth Revision Note section on what I want to revise and why and try to solicit feedback on how to achieve this goal.  As I type these words, I just got an email from a market that Silence Will Fall made it to the second stage (the “maybes” pile) at a market–so there’s hope still that some markets do, in fact, like what I write.

Well, that’s all for now–while I might not touch on this monthly (although I might give periodic updates, I’m not sure yet), I will try to revisit this in an end-of-year post to see how well I’ve done.  All of this is dependent on school/classwork which is the great unknown in this endeavor, but hopefully I can find 45 minutes somewhere in my day to not be a writer, but to be writing.

Sidney



Back to Basics Writing Approach

Sorry that I’ve been away from blogging for a while, but between grading, students’ presentations, my own Final Exams and related schoolwork, I’ve been too overworked to get much in the way of writing (for this blog or for myself) done.  However, I realize after getting a particularly “hard” rejection letter that I’m probably never going to be much more than a “hobby” writer despite my best efforts.  I like different things than what editors and audiences want apparently (as seemingly confirmed by the Rejection Letter that found its way into my inbox not more than 5 minutes ago).  What I like are heroes and what’s popular are villains who masquerade as heroes, so with two different competing philosophies, the one who controls the “gate” (aka the “gatekeepers”) win.  So be it.  Since it looks like I’m not going to be doing this for the “money” and only for the “love,” I intend to do this my way.  Rereading a book on writing and the writing process as I brainstormed how I would set up my next class, I came across a simple statement of the writing process that I’m going to adhere to: research, prewriting, drafting, and revision.

Research
Most of the time, I’m inspired to write something based on something external, so I do research, but I don’t really make it a formal step.  For instance, All Tomorrow’s Children was inspired by a Special Report on Sky News about Jihadi Brides.  However, rather than have a formal “research” period, I took the idea and started writing.  I think now I’m going to actually take a period of time (a week, two, whatever is necessary) and find out all I can about that topic.

Prewriting
I generally start here with an outline.  I think the outline comes too soon.  I think here is where I need character traits, motivations, etc.  Once I nail this down, then I think my outline will work better.  There’s nothing wrong so much with my plots (to me), but I think my characters leave a lot to be desired.  I feel that the characterizations are consistent and adequately explained, but the rejections notices would say otherwise.

Drafting
Here I think I’m pretty good, although I’ll look for places to get better.  I can write a rough draft in a day or two usually, and (when school isn’t too rough), I can write a submission draft in a couple of weeks to a month.  Drafting isn’t really a problem, except when life comes pounding at my door, demanding that I do X, Y, and Z all in one day or the entire world will explode–that’s when I don’t do drafting well (as this past Finals Week has illustrated).

Revision
Again, I feel I’m pretty good here too, although I feel that I have work to do.  I usually only revise or change when I feel it is necessary, but I’m trying to be more receptive to feedback that I get back from editors.  There’s a danger in listening to someone who’s rejecting your story as they don’t have a vested interest in seeing it succeed (as opposed to someone who offers to publish it if it is revised.  However, I’m trying to submit to markets who seem to give good feedback (say, Cosmic Landscapes) as opposed to markets whose comments have been “nitpicky.”  I think this is where going to the Writing Center and running it by a Consultant that I trust is also helpful–it helps me see it with an objective eye, something I can’t do no matter how much time passes between my writing it and my revising it.

 

Students Hate to Revise (Figuring out how to get past the Do It Once paradigm)

So, I don’t usually talk about teaching or my students or anything like on my blog as the purpose of the blog and my teaching endeavors don’t usually mix.  However, something happened in a class a couple of days ago that I really feel merits discussion.  I don’t have a lot of time so I’ll be brief: a discussion came up about revising and having the opportunity to revise and change an essay, and the comment was made (and I’m paraphrasing): I know its not quite right, but I just don’t want to have to go in and work on it again.

That’s the whole point of Revising/the Revision Process.  We got into a short discussion about it and I tried to make it a “teachable moment” by telling them that’s how real writers write.  They weren’t having it (for the most part–I think I got through to some of them).  To them, the whole I idea of revision stinks because it means more work on their part–not the it is to make it better part.

Yesterday, I had to reread Kate Chopin’s The Awakening for class.  I’d already read it in High School, but I went back and dutifully read it again.  I got much more out of it than I had before just by going over it a second time and I revised my opinion of the work (see what I did there).  In addition, I got a Rejection Notice on a story.  The editor was nice enough to provide feedback and gave two places where the story broke down for her.  I went in, revised the story, “fixing” those to places (i.e., adding in more detail that I thought would explain those places better) and resubmitted it to another publisher, but I will submit another story to that market until I get one that sells.

Not to dilute my message, but I’m convinced that’s the reason that people also don’t want to outline either.  Too much work involved.  So, no (or little preparation) to write something, and no (or little) revision after the work is written.  I, as an educator, have to break down these barriers if I want my students to truly be successful writers.