Category Archives: Writing

Why I Wrote It – Chance’s Muse

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Chance’s Muse is my first book on my principles for creating random generators. I took what I’d learned over two-plus decades of running Seventh Sanctum and compiled them into a collection of guides and theories.

I created it because of my own sense of mortality.

Seventh Sanctum started in 1999 after I’d made a few random generators. At first, it was a subsection of my personal site, but it became its own thing due to popularity. It is one of the oldest random generator sites on the internet that I know of, and obviously, an older site means an older creator.

In 2018 I realized I had to ask what the legacy for Seventh Sanctum should be. Though I am in excellent health, I will age at some point, and I won’t be here. Though I love the site, there might be a time of change that means I’d pass it on. I had to ask, “what should be next.”

This resulted in a multi-pronged effort:

  • I identified an inheritor if I die.
  • I participate in a community of randomizer enthusiasts, so I have people that may help.
  • I am rewriting the site in a more modern code base for anyone that may come after me. Plus it helps me keep up on coding.
  • Third, I decided to write things up in a book. That became Chance’s Muse.

Chance’s Muse is part of my legacy, something that will be out there when I’m gone. I’m a writer, so obviously, that was one way to pass on what I learned to others. I am not sure how much good it will do, but then again, what is certain?

There will probably be a sequel or two for it, additional legacies for the future.

This is something I want to encourage in your writing – finding a way to leave a legacy. This is part of mine, but I have talked to other people about writing down histories or experiences – one did not live to do that. This is your chance to create something to outlast and to reach others.

Steven Savage

Numbers Are For More Than Pages

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Being a writer, on the side or professionally, requires a lot of skills. A self-publisher wears many hats, but even authors with agents and support have to take on tasks other than writing. Of those many skills, one stands out as very important and easy to miss – Math.

People have widely differing reactions to hearing “we’re going to talk about math.” Trust me, it’s worth it whatever your response is – because math is used everywhere in an author’s work.

A writer’s growth requires math to be measured – and improved. Comparing word counts lets you determine if your typing speed is improving. Time taken to edit a document helps you determine if your grammar is improving. Becoming a better writer may mean being better at math.

But once you’re writing, math comes in again as you plot a schedule. How long will it take you to write this chapter for your pre-readers? How long until you need to get a cover from your artist? Scheduling is all math – often made more challenging with timezones, calculating dates, and the like.

As a book progresses, math once again comes to the fore. How fast are you working? What’s the percentage of a book done? Do you have to change your schedule or speed up your pace? Scheduling is math – but so is seeing how you’re doing.

When a book is done, there comes more math. How many pages is a book, and how does that affect cover size? What’s the ideal formatting with font sizes and margins? If you do self-publishing and don’t outsource formatting and the like, get out your calculator.

Finally, a book launches. It’s out and . . . here comes more math. You have to calculate if your ad spends are paying off. Evaluating book sales requires math, often with complex date-time calculations. Your newsletter opens and clicks need to be compared to past events – which means math.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it? When I first realized I had to write this column, I was overwhelmed with the realization of just how much math my own publishing involved. I was so used to it I didn’t see it – until I wrote this.

If you like math like me, or don’t, this should be a helpful realization. Math is a skill you need to use in writing, and if your math skills are lacking you have a new motivation to improve them. Math makes a better author.

Steven Savage

A Spoonfull of Action Makes The Mythology Go Down

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Serdar recently wrote an excellent re-look at the seminal film The Matrix. I have nothing to say about his essay except to go read this fine piece of work. However, I do have something to say about The Matrix and how pieces of media work together.

In some ways, The Matrix seems to be two films.

One film is an exceptional action movie with a near-perfect cast. As of this writing in 2021, it still influences the styling of movies, television, and games. The film showcases the talents of various actors and actresses, each well-fit to their role. Were it just an SF action film, it would be an accomplished one.

However, the film’s heart is that another movie: the story of a not-quite Chosen one on a journey about reality and physicality, machines and humanity. One can – and many have – spilled ink and moves electrons to going over the mix of Gnosticism, Buddhism, bodily identity, and more in the film. Later revelations about the transgender experience and the film only illustrate how much is in it.

Some films may be riddles wrapped in enigmas. This is a film of a philosophy wrapped in a stylish hail of bullets and punches to the face.

Both sides of the film are enhanced by the other. The stylish action catches our attention, grabbing us by the visceral parts of our brain. The deep thoughts and many sides of it reach our hearts and mind. The Matrix creates deep engagement by having these two facets.

There are many lessons to derive from The Matrix, and certainly more to be found. One lesson that I see as I look back on the film is that seemingly unrelated concepts can enhance each other. You can have your philosophy and gun-fu at the same time and be better for it.

A creative work can have “unrelated” ideas that come together for richer results. Let no one say to you “your ideas don’t work together.”

Genres are not limited by what they are “supposed” to be but can deliver any kind of payload in the right person’s hands. There is no “wrong” genre, and sometimes the “wrong” genre may be the most right one.

A “tightly focused” work may become too limiting, whereas other ideas, even conflicting ones, may enrich it. Sometimes focus is another name for “narrowness.”

If the Matrix taught us to break free from many forms of conditioning, let it also be a reminder to break free from simple ideas of what “genre” and “themes” are for.

Steven Savage