Writing And Metaphor

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

What’s Your Metaphor for writing?

Returning to fiction with my novel, A Bridge To the Quiet Planet and its upcoming sequel, a School of Many Futures, required me to think about writing a lot. Thinking about writing, how to conceive of it, how to pace it, how to develop it helps you, well, write. A metaphor gives you tools to think in and ways to improve.

For nonfiction I think of it in abstract, visual forms. I’m so used to writing it and have for so long that my metaphors are things I see and feel. Perhaps once I had to use more concrete terms, but time makes things unconscious and automatic, and I don’t remember.

But fiction? That was harder because I’d not thought about – and when I was rethinking my writing methods, I realized I was treating fiction as a “physical” thing.

You’ve heard me talk about “Big Rocks” as pieces of fiction and plot. I’ve discussed Agile and stories, but Agile comes from physical manufacturing and store stocking – it often has “physical” ideas built in. I treated stories and chapters as scenes as boxes containing various events.

Did these limit me? Hell yes, because fiction – and indeed a lot of writing – probably isn’t best thought of in physical metaphors. It’s too limiting, too atomistic, too confining.

Now how did I realize this? Because I was analyzing writing (as I always do) and realized how important editing is, and editing requires a product. You make something then improve it.

Writing fiction is like writing computer code.

Computer code is more a living thing, with components and distinct parts, but it works because all its parts come together. It’s about flows of information and functionality. Best of all, as long as you have it working – no matter how awful – you can improve in. In fact, you often have to make bad code to get good code because you don’t know how it’s going to work until you have something.

Seeing this metaphor, this new metaphor, really helped me get over some of my writing challenges. Thinking about the parts of a fictional story as physical started to fade away. I had a way to see things differently.

My metaphor or metaphors may not be yours. Even my more abstract ways of thinking are my ways, not yours. But a challenge to you, my writing friend, is to find what metaphors help you write. What is a good way to compare writing to something else that helps you?

Maybe you have it. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you just thought of it and have more to explore . . .

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Sex and Worldbuilding

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

I’ve decided to take the time to discuss just why I’ve written some of my books. I figure every week or every other week I’ll talk about just what I did, why I did it, and what I learned.

Sex and Worldbuilding was my first “Minibook” in the Way With Worlds series. It originated in a series of interesting events.

The story of my Way With World minibooks is complicated. They originated with an idea of doing small books on specific subjects to tie into the core books. They would be almost supplements, exploring a few areas I wanted to help people with more, using a coaching approach. Then I found people really liked them and I liked writing them, and a quick exploration became it’s own project.

But let’s talk the first book, Sex and Worldbuilding, and why I wrote it. That is pretty simple.

  • Fictional worlds often were very un-creative about sex, merely mapping existing cultures, ideas, and biologies to an imaginary setting.
  • Too much writing about sex in fictional world ignored what it was and how it could touch on every aspect of life. Weddings, child-rearing, contraception, all come into play once you start thinking about sex and reproduction.
  • A lot of discussion on sex in fiction didn’t focus on worldbuilding.
  • We get embarrassed talking about sex.

This set the stage for what I wanted to write. I would need to cover a broad amount of things like marriage and gestation. I would also need to make it less embarrassing or prurient.

In short, I had to write about sex, reproduction, and culture and make it really calm, rational, and even boring. I realized that if I didn’t do this, people would see “sex” not “worldbuilding.” Setting that tone early helped me write a good book.

At that point, it was pretty easy to come up with the proper coaching questions: I looked at important areas to discuss about sex and reproduction, and areas that were often ignored. This let me get a pretty good amount of questions and produce a good book.

This is really one of my prides as a book. I covered a lot of important areas, I did it in a tone that didn’t distract, and I helped people out.

But really, it all goes back to finding the way to discuss an important subject and focus on often ignored issues.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 1/13/2019

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to our first update for the new year!

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: The Gods and Deities Book is at the editor. It’s been a busy time, so it’s a bit delayed.
  • A School Of Many Futures: Chapter 9 is being worked on, I shaved off an unneeded chapter, and I’ve got some great plot improvements! This one is going to be a doozy!
  • Seventh Sanctum: My new generator, gemstones, is in beta!
  • General: Mostly just post-holiday catch-up

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: I’m going to plot out the next book while waiting!
  • A School Of Many Futures: Keep writing. I’m hoping I can get enough velocity going to finish the draft in February.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Finish up the new generator and return to building the new backend for end of 2020
  • Other: Nothing right now.

Steven Savage

Resting In The Palm Of Your Hand

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

Several times when I’ve read about psychology, philosophy, and meditation I’ve seen people go about how you can’t really “grasp” things. You can’t truly hold an emotion because you live it. You can’t truly sieze on peace of mind because it disrupts piece of mind. These are things you experience, but they can’t be put into a box.

This is very frustrating to many people (at times myself) because we so want to grasp the idea, the feeling, the mental state. As soon as we do it’s gone.

This I have found is true of writing as well.

Me, I’m a planner, but as many of you have read over the years, when I overplann my work falls apart. I can have everything outlined and linear, have a schedule, and at that moment I am the most vulnerable. At some point you have so much plan and schedule, you don’t have a book or a story – the plan predomnates, the schedule dominates.

When I back off, I’m suddenly more in touch with my work. I feel it because I’m not trying to control it.

When I back off, the ideas flow. I’ve loosened the flow of ideas as opposed to immediately channeling them.

As I’ve said earlier, I think it’s important for an author (or any artist) to stay in touch with their work. From creating it to editing it, rereading it to blue-sky dreaming, it helps to stay in touch. It ensures it’s a part of you, not something you rip out of yourself and throw into a plan.

We must touch our work, but not sieze it so powerfully as to loose it. Instead, it’s like letting something rest in the palm of your hand – it’s there, you’re in contact with it, but you’re letting it be.

It may be painful and tear through us. It may be something that makes us think graceful thoughts or feel subtle emotions. But we need to let our creativity be itself enough that we can manifest it as books, songs, games, and more.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Book Roundup 1/7/2020

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites:

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

Steve’s Update 1/6/2020

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to our first update for the new year!

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: The Gods and Deities Book is at the editor!
  • A School Of Many Futures: Chapter 7 is in progress (and I have the last chapter written), so powering through!
  • Seventh Sanctum: I have been working on a new generator!
  • General: Some post-holiday planning. More to come on that!

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: As soon as I get it back from the editor (probably next week) I’ll work to get it out. I also hope to start the next book!
  • A School Of Many Futures: Write like crazy, of course!
  • Seventh Sanctum: Get the new generator out and return to my plans to make a new backend.
  • Other: As noted before I am looking into a new book on Agile methodology, and am deciding when to write it. It may be this Spring, so you may see a delay to any worldbooks for few months while I focus – though I won’t start on it until Gods and Deities AND the next one is out!

Steven Savage

Tofu Scrambled Eggs

This was a hopeful attempt at creating a scrambled egg that was vegan – I have a recipe for egg muffins, but that’s not the same. So I just crossed one of my recipies with some stuff I found online and it worked!

Done right, these are really close to scrambled eggs. The only caution is to not use a firm tofu else it becomes kind of crumbly. Experiment to find what works for you.

Otherwise, whip these up and you can fry them up like any eggs (though I might try baking to make it even more healthy).

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz tofu.  Firm may not be best, you want something soft, so try different kinds depending on your local brand.
  • 1/2 tsp kala namak
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground bk pepper
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Mix all but tofu together, then slowly fold into the tofu while mashing slightly.
  2. Stir-fry until it browns.

Sharing Interesting Things

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

One thing I did this Christmas was to gift some people various games that deserved their attention as they were:

  • Indie games that were original or interesting.
  • Early access games that deserved support – and were usually Indie games as well.
  • Games that broke the mold or redid things in smart ways.

The reasons for this may seem obvious, but to be obvious:

  • I want to support Indie games so that the games industry continues to innovate. There’s fantastic stuff out there.
  • I want to support Early Access so games can evolve with proper feedback. I know what good feedback can do.
  • It’s fun to blow people’s minds, so they think outside of the box and experience new things.

I want to strongly encourage this behavior because there’s enough sameness out there, enough watered-down media. If you’ve got something good, share it – and a gift is a great way to share it. Hey, if nothing else, people feel obligated to try it.

Besides the obvious benefits of sharing and so on, remember this includes giving people cold, hard cash. That dev probably needs every cent spent, and you can pay a few extra cents to help out.

Steven Savage

Always In Touch

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

As noted before, I replotted and restarted some of my sequel to A Bridge To The Quiet Planet. There were many reasons from stress to the fact I’m frankly playing above my game – it’s less romp more messed up magical mystery with twists and turns. But these moments teach us plenty of lessons – and here’s another to share.

Lately, life has been chaotic (this has fortunately calmed). This chaos has meant that some days I haven’t been able to write, or I had to take breaks. As I was working on writing and plotting, I observed something interesting.

While working on the novel, starting on anything – from plotting to writing – would be hard to start. In time, though, I would get into it – and I decided to analyze why. I found that taking time meant I “got into” and connected with the work. It wasn’t just unblocking things or getting up to speed – I re-connected intimately with the work.

I also noticed something else. If I were to do these things day after day, it felt more normal – as long as I didn’t pressure myself. “Write X a day” or “you must do this by Monday” didn’t help. I just needed some form of contact with the work.

Finally, I found that there are times one gets deep into a work, be it writing or plotting, that its best to continue. You get into the zone, which means when you start a creative work, it may be best to have buffer time so you can keep going.

I realized when I looked at some of my best works, I keep in touch with them almost every day during their creations. It may be only a few minutes or taking notes, but it works and keeps me in the zone. It kept me in touch.

So ask yourself how you can “keep in touch” with your work. Not something stressful or burdensome, but something that helps you “feel” your work. Maybe you can do something every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 12/23/2019

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

A few big announcements!

We’re heading for Christmas, so let’s round up.

Fair warning, not gonna do much blogging this week for obvious reasons! Also I know I’ve not spread my posts across all my sites – I do hope to correct that. Life has been hectic.

Now, where are we?

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: The Gods and Deities Book’s draft is done!
  • Chance’s Muse: Is out! You can get it at at this link! I also need reviewers!
  • A School Of Many Futures: Chapter 4 is nearly done (plus I have stuff written past that).
  • Seventh Sanctum: Taking it easy right now, but am setting up new update plans for next year – I want to streamline it, use some new code, etc.
  • General: Holiday preparation.

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: I’m going to edit it and get it off to my editor. Now if all goes well it’ll be out early in the new year!\
  • A School Of Many Futures: Finish Chapter 4 and do more replotting, as well as get some editing in. Let’s see if the holiday is kind to me . . . or if I just play videogames.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Nothing right now!

Steven Savage