Saturday, July 25, 2015

Demo Story Available for "The Good, the Bad and the Undead"

The Kickstarter goes live in one week! Aaaaaauughg! To commemorate this occasion, I've put together a short demo story for your amusement and edification.

In case you have managed to get this far without being aware of what "The Good, the Bad and the Undead" is, I like to describe it as 'Clint Eastwood meets Night of the Living Dead.'

It is the result of a collaboration between myself and Jamie Thomson, in which we both created the story and content, I'm doing the writing, and he's editing, revising, and providing creative input as I go along. Originally, this was borne out of an idea he had that he was going to write himself, but time constraints interfered (as they so often do) and I came on board to help make it a reality.

The cool thing about "The Good, the Bad and the Undead," (aside from cowboys vs. vampires... duh!) is the style of interactive narrative it uses. It's not so much a 'gamebook' in the traditional sense, as instead an 'interactive novel.' There are absolutely no mechanics, no dice, no character creation, no inventory--nothing that would interfere with your experience of immersing yourself in the story.

Furthermore, it's written in past tense, third person, just like most mass market novels. And it even jumps around in point-of-view between three protagonists.

So how is it interactive, then?

As you read, you get to inform the decisions of the whichever character is in the driver's seat at the time. Your choices let you discover and create that character at the same time. You get to make decisions that reveal who that character is, while simultaneously changing who that character is. You can tilt them toward good, or toward evil. You can tilt them toward cooperation, or toward strife.

It blends the lines between reader and author, between recipient and creator. As you read, you will make decisions as to which character's point of view you want to follow, and affect choices that character makes while you're following him or her. And your input, the way you influence these characters, can have a profound effect on how the story turns out.

It's a pretty unusual interactive fiction style. To my knowledge, it hasn't been done before, at least not in a paper book. Therefore, to help people get a sense of what they would be getting into should they decide to support the forthcoming Kickstarter...

I have prepared a short demo story for "The Good, the Bad and the Undead!" It is a short story, written in the same style, set in the same world, featuring two of the same characters, but at a different time and place compared to the main book. You could consider this a hint of a prequel.

Will you read the demo story? Will you capture the criminal, or let him escape? Will you save the family, or let them die?

Will you support the Kickstarter and read the full book? Only YOU can choose!

Read the full demo here :)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Snarkiness or Fear? How to Write a Compelling Main Character

Hello hello, long time no see. I've been doing a lot of writing lately, and I keep having these observations I'd like to share, so might as well dust off the old blog.

Today's observation has to do with the snarky hero. How much snarkiness do you want? How much real terror? How do you find the right balance?

I see this as a spectrum ranging from characters like Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden on one end, spit-talking and cracking jokes not only in the face of death, but in the face of utter world annihilation, over to on the other end, characters like the hapless protagonists of bad horror movies, capable of little but screaming in terror.

Should your character be awed and disgusted and terrified by the dangers and horrors she sees? Or should she face it with a brave smile, cracking jokes to keep her spirits up (and to keep the reader amused)?

As in many cases, I think the correct path is the middle one. Characters without spine and spirit are no fun, either to write or to watch. And persistent action scenes can get boring if there aren't some jokes to spice them up. Yet at the same time, you don't want your character to be so insenitive to the violence and danger that the reader doesn't care either.

I think probably the ideal--at least for me at this time--is to strive for landing closer on the snarky end of the spectrum, maybe about 80% snarky, 20% real. This way, the 80% snarky keeps it fun and makes the character strong-willed enough to be interesting. Furthermore, saving the real reactions for the most crucial times will help bring power to those moments.

It's all about contrasts, right? If the character screams at every spook, then there's no difference between the zombie that lurches around a corner or the Cthulhic Old One that rises from the deeps. But if the character faces horror after horror without blinking, then that one time she does drop her jaw and run really tells you something!

What do you think? Post in the comments below!