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TroytheRobot

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  1. Well, the concept of revision is something that's going to vary slightly from writer to writer. So, likewise everyone is going to have different methods based on what works best for them. I can, however, provide you with an idea of what I do when I'm editing something or reviewing someone else's work. The method I use doesn't really have an official name, but I guess you could call it the "Funnel Method". What I do when I edit is start out by looking at the big picture and systematically moving on until I'm focused on the minute details of the story. By big picture, I'm talking about the concept (the idea) behind your story. Even before you worry about making your plot more interesting, try to make sure that the underlying idea is not only as interesting as it can be, but that it also makes sense. You should be able to reiterate your concept back to yourself in two, maybe three sentences and if your summarization bores you then you know you have problems. After you've dealt with that move on to more detailed aspects such as plot. Is the plot intriguing? Is it original? Is it entertaining? Does it represent some level of complexity that transcends a shopping list? Other things you might want to look, and assess in a similar manner are: characterization, tone, tempo, description, dialogue etc. etc. After you've covered these more broad aspects of writing you can zero in on the more intricate details of your work. This is going line by line, word by word and making sure everything is at its best. Now that you've gone through the editing funnel, you can start revising your story for spelling and grammar. Which, is not limited in any way to spell check. Edit your own stuff for spelling and grammar. Yes, that's right you're going to have to learn how to spell on your own without relying on a computer program. If you have questions about the mechanics of your story you can always pass the question on to a partner and see if the two of you can't figure it out together. This brings me to the next point of my editing advice. Have a writing partner look at it too. I won't go into detail about this again, but I'd just like to emphasize that this is a very good idea. Its just that a lot of times, we'll read over so many times that we become blind to our own flaws making the editing stage redundant and in a way counter-productive. One last thing before I forget. Make sure you give yourself some time (like a couple of days) in between the time you finish your rough draft and when you begin editing. Hope this helped.
  2. First of all, Tom brings up a very good point about reading working cohesively with writing quality. While it may be tempting to only read certain works that you find enjoyable but I find this limits your writing and you may find your style become one-dimensional. Read everything you can get your hands on, so you have more to draw upon. Read Shakespeare, read the one author who wrote those books about that one wizard, read poetry, read sci-fi novels, read epic fantasy, read biographies, read historical fiction, read the classics, read soup cans, read the dictionary; JUST READ YOU BASTARDS! Ahem... This will allow you to pick the gems of these works and utilize them in your own writing. Likewise, it will fill your conceptual library with a larger multitude of ideas that go beyond the simplistic view of character x fights character y. In turn, having been exposed to so many different ideas you'll find that your own concepts are much more complex and in turn more sophisticated. Which could be used to do something really cool. The other piece of advice I can offer is to be critical of yourself. This is basically the advice I give anyone who's asking for it. Take a look at your writing, and just trash it. No seriously, get out your trusty editing knife and hack away at it. What you're trying to do is remove the diamonds from the coal mine. There's a common idea in our society that you simply need to do a satisfactory job. However, writing is something in which you can always push yourself. You can always find a way to improve on your writing, and if you look back at it and go; "this is the best I could've done," then you're dead wrong. Writing, being an art form, is never truly finished. So therefore, you can always improve on what's already there. If I may borrow a metaphor from one of my favorite authors editing is like the polishing of a river rock; with each revision the rock become smoother until you get a polished river rock that was at one time a rough chunk of bolder. This brings me to my next piece of advice: EDITING. I can't tell you how important revisions are to the writing process. However, this step is sadly ignored. "OH BOY I HAVE SOMETHING WRITTEN! BETTER POST IT QUICK!" Read over your work, make it better. The revision stage is as much a part of the writing stage as anything else. And since there's really no consequence to posting a match by a certain date there's no excuse to skip this step. Also, even if people do edit they sometimes think that this step merely has to do with running spell check. Let me say right here and now; running spell check is a very VERY small part of the revision stage. Editing is so much more. Its about seeing if your concept is interesting, its about making sure the story flows, its about making sure that people can connect to your characters, its about being more descriptive, its about rearranging text... The list could go on and on, and there's not really a checklist of things you can go by or any sort of apocalyptic sun dial that'll tell you when you're done editing. Another favorite author of mine has been editing his book for the past six years (possibly more.) So if it wasn't clear; REVISE REVISE REVISE. Final piece of advice is to get somebody to review your stuff. I'm talking about somebody you admire as a writer and can trust enough to be honest. Have them push you in the right direction, towards better writing quality. This does not include praising everything you do, or telling you that you suck and being incredibly vague about it. Its about telling what parts of the writing they enjoyed (so you can continue doing so) and what parts that sucked (and then going into detail about it). I know it's tempting to seek advice from someone you know is going to praise you but in the long run you're just hurting yourself. So this was pretty general advice, but I hope it helped to some degree. Feel free to ask about specifics if you'd like.
  3. I've been glimpsing around the CBUB and I haven't really noticed anything I didn't expect per se. However, I've come under the impression that some CBUBers (basically the newer ones) are confused about how the site works and maybe not so much the technical details but the more of the inner workings of the site. So my initial idea for this topic was to do a CBUB tutorial of sorts. However, I've come to realize that members who may understand the technicalities of the site, but maybe need some advice on something else CBUB related could also benefit from such a topic. If you have any questions of advice about the CBUB, and you wouldn't mind a helping hand feel free to ask them here. Ask specifics, ask for writing advice, wonder why no one likes you, ask me about my personal opinion of the CBUB, ask me how to deal with a certain member etc. etc. Just so long as its about the CBUB, I'll try to answer it as best I can. Now, this isn't to say that I'm some sort of end all, be all expert on everything. However, I do have enough confidence in my knowledge that I feel that I could be helpful to someone who's lost their way. Think of this as the counselors office for the CBUB. So, whether you've been here for years or just registered today and you need advice on something CBUB related; I'll try to help you out. Note: Other people may offer advice too, if they please.
  4. 1. I'm not really on the CBUB 2. Don't know 3. Again, don't know 4. Beats me 5. No idea 6. Caesar Speaks! 7. Edgar Allan Poe
  5. This topic is sure to bring the FPL and the CBUB closer together. I just know it.
  6. Foreword by Ivan: On a cosmological timeframe, fifteen years is insignificant. In internet terms, however, damn son, that's like back before there were dinosaurs. Fifteen years. That is how long this ol' website has been trucking along, and somewhere early on, about the third or fourth year, a highly talented and universally respected FPL creator named Abdiel decided to start conducting interviews with some of the most well known FPL creators of the day. (Those old interviews can be found here if you're interested- scroll to the bottom to see them all.) This was just for fun, and it was cool to get to see people reveal exactly what their take on the FPL was. Among those interviewed were Serge, Landon, ThreeDark, and Rookie (as well as some brilliant older FPL vets you've probably never heard of, like Austin, Number 2, and Abdiel himself.) It was a cool bit of history while it lasted, and it was never meant to exalt or exclude anyone, just to provide some small insight into the mind of your fellow creators. Flash forward to 2011, a few of us old guys were talking about how it might be cool to start up the interviews again. We discussed it a bit, and decided the interviewer should be a Moderator or Admin who is well liked among the general FPL/CBUB crowd and is also a competent writer. I nominated Tarvius, because in addition to posessing the above qualities I know he has an earnest interest, not only in Khazan, but in what might be dubbed the "general lore" of the site itself. Tarv humbly accepted, and then squarely got down to the business of scheduling and conducting interviews. What follows is hopefully the first of many. I was fortunate enough to get to sit in on this interview, and I was pleased to see that Tarvius had done his homework, not only on the interview subject- the delightfully misanthropic Rhekarid- but also on Abdiel's old interview format. He even starts with the requisite "first question," which seems like a small thing, but it's the kind of attention to detail that lets me know he's going to continue to do a great job in the future. -Ivan (PS, If you have any favorite FPL creators you're dying to learn more about, please PM that creator, not Tarvius. Interviews are chosen more or less at random, although creating a lot of really good FPL characters certainly won't hurt your chances...) The Rhekarid Interview Tarvius: Rhek, as much as you hate the social courtesies, I'd like to thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Rhekarid: You'd have whined otherwise. Tarvius: That's true... Tarvius: Anyway, I really do appreciate it. Tarvius: Now, you undoubtedly know my first question as its been a tradition for quite some time. Tarvius: Which character do you feel is your "greatest success" and why? Rhekarid: Depends on the meaning of success. As far as reception, The Door seems to be popular. Personally, though, I'd say Broken Richter and Wicked Riser. Those two, I think, most effectively got across the "feel" I was trying to make for them, and converted from thought into writing. Tarvius: Can you describe that feeling a bit? Rhekarid: What I mean by getting it across is the difficulty of taking the image of a character in my head and translating it to written form. A character might have been written technically well (ignore that I technically suck), but I'll still dislike it if I failed to really put into words what I had in my head. Rhekarid: Richter was about loneliness and isolation; if you could see the world but couldn't tell things apart, if you could hear people talk but not understand them, and likewise, if they could see and hear you but couldn't understand, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that could be done about it. I didn't want to get across the common image of a figure who was hurt and therefore protected others from being hurt, but more the tragedy than the psychotic killer robot. Tarvius: Ah, I see. Tarvius: So I take it you value concept over craft? Rhekarid: It's a balance. I don't think I lack for ideas; my bigger difficulty is in giving it shape. I'm great at daydreaming all day, but am rarely satisfied with the resulting description of it. Still, no matter how great your concept, it will be mangled by awful writing. Tarvius: I know exactly what you mean. Tarvius: Speaking of awful writing... Tarvius: In your opinion what makes a "great" character in the FPL? Ivan: Powers. Say Powers! Rhekarid: That can be as hard to explain as to do. "The FPLGame" is a great character about the impossibility of grasping what makes a great character. There are the obvious factors of technical skill combined with creativity and originality. Then there's the more elusive combination of a story the creators WANTS to tell, and one the reader WANTS to know. Rhekarid: Also powers. Tarvius: Hmmm, I see I see. Tarvius: Rhek, are you saying that FPL characters are great for their own reason, but there's not really an all-consuming "great character" formula? Rhekarid: Pretty much. There are plenty of characters that can be objectively looked at and called great, but in practice, the results vary. When someone really thinks a character is fantastic, it's often because those two factors of the storytelling, writer and reader, have made an attachment. If you throw your heart into a story but fail to connect with the readers, you can end up with a character that's "great" but is ignored by everyone. Rhekarid: On the other side you have a frequent thorn in the side of some creators, when they didn't have that heart in the writing, but someone else did in the reading, causing them to raise up on a pedestal a character that you don't think is great, and wish they'd look at the other one. Rhekarid: When I wrote Darkness, I made no effort to create depth or tell a story that had any meaning. It can be hard to give meaning to a monster's actions beyond "grr, I'm a monster", and pretty much just for fun I decided to skip that and simply put my effort into the extreme of monstrous, murderous rage. It ended up being one of my more successful characters. Tarvius: Rhek, you mentioned that developing a connection between writer and reader as being essential. What sort of you connection do YOU try to make when you write characters? Rhekarid: While I consider it a major part of a good character, it's not an easy thing to do intentionally beyond hoping you can put your thoughts into words and further hoping that someone else can understand them both. Ironically, it's something I don't think I try for much at all, since as I'm sure will shock everyone, making connections with people is not my strong point. In fact, what I consider one of my own biggest weaknesses in writing is a lack of my own connection to it. Everything I write is generally done all at once, in a single draft, and never even edited. Tarvius: Hehehe. Well, you certainly have a lot of fans on EF, whether you like it or not. Ivan waves a "Rhek Yourself" T-Shirt Rhekarid yells into the audience, "Cover yourselves back up, you ugly bastards!" Tarvius: Rhek, you pretty much wrote the power descriptions for the new FPL. Can you describe that experience a bit? Rhekarid: "Took longer than I expected" would be the main experience. I wanted to define what they could and couldn't do, but also wanted to make them as open as possible. Even though most people (including myself) don't vote on powers, I often enjoy stretching the concept to come up with new ways to use them. Rhekarid: I'm not a comics nerd, but a gaming nerd, which is probably why I volunteered to write them. When I see a story or setting I'm always setting down rules of gameplay on what you can do, and how you can exploit the loopholes. Tarvius: Ah, never would've guessed. So gaming mechanics largely influenced the power descriptions? Rhekarid: The powers are, after all, the strongest "gaming" aspect of the FPL. While they exist as a framework to build characters around, they're also the stats. I play games for fun, not to win, and I prefer powers that make the game more interesting over those that are just "strong." Tarvius: I definitely agree with that take. Tarvius: What were some of the difficulties in creating the descriptions? Rhekarid: I wanted to make a sense of equality; that any of them are powerful if used right, and flexible if used creatively. With any luck, those who put emphasis on powers would be less afraid to move away from blatant attack power and those who aren't can see more options for them. Fire can burn a target, but it can also set off bullets without a gun. Tarvius: There's definitely a lot more versatility with these descriptions than the last set. Tarvius: Has this whole process changed the way you look at the FPL at all? Rhekarid: Not really. They are, after all, based on the way I already looked at (or wanted to) the powers. It's everyone else they're different for. Tarvius: Being someone who obviously knows the ins and outs of the FPL; what do you feel is the biggest misconception people have about the FPL? Rhekarid: Probably the idea of winning and competition. People join expecting to win with God of Everything Character #4825 don't, and quit. They come in expecting praise for their writing, find criticism or face a chance loss to an inferior character, and quit. It's nice to win, but mainly if the trip was worth it. Most of your competition is yourself. Rhekarid: If you're not enjoying the process, why take part in it? If you just want to win, why play something with such fuzzy rules and standards? Tarvius nods. I can see that Tarvius: Although, I'm kind of surprised to see you advocating fun and enjoyment. Tarvius: Whether you admit it or not, you've helped more than a few creators with their writing. In your opinion what's the best way to "help" a new creator? Rhekarid: To tell them not to quit. It's hard to really explain what sort of character and writing is best for the FPL without observation and experience, and you're more likely to improve by making new things than rewriting the same one over and over to make it great. Don't make excuses for yourself, learn from mistakes, and try again. If that fails, there are whips. Rhekarid: You either break through the wall eventually, or you entertain the rest of us breaking your face. Tarvius: Speaking of which, you've said in the past that your path to the FPL Hall of Fame was a difficult one. Can you describe that journey? Ivan: Tarv I require you to disagree with whatever Rhekarid says next Rhekarid: There's not much interesting story to tell. My first character was terrible, losing its first match and being fatalitied on the second. Upon getting a more up-close view of the FPL, my next characters were less terrible, but it was not a weak time for the gallery. Gradually I stopped thinking in terms of "this seems like a tough character" for "this seems like an interesting character", and after a 5-character streak of 1-win/3-loss records and a couple forays into the eliminations, finally reached the HoF with my 14th character, Creathers. Even then it was another ten until my first Main Event winner, Gribbinwrech, when I finally started reaching the Hall of Fame more often than not. When one character went down, I just wrote another." Tarvius: Uh... I disagree? Rhekarid: Ivan is just jealous because he can't live the pressure-free life of someone with no talent. Ivan: Have you asked him about his connection to the Bush family? Tarvius: Shhh Tarvius: That was supposed to be the secret question. Ivan: I want that Baked Beans recipe! Rhekarid: And I keep telling you, I'm a *different* talking dog! Tarvius: GASP* Tarvius: Rhek's a dog? Tarvius: That brings up quite a few questions... Tarvius: Well, Rhek after all the characters, and all those years you're seen by many as being among the FPL elite. Nearly every character you write is "hall of fame" material, and you're often cited as a favorite amongst the EF crowd. Tarvius: Now, I was hoping you could talk about your current project, "The Shadow Basement". Can you tell us a little bit about this story, and where the idea came from? Rhekarid: I'm just not sure how to describe the "concept" for it, beyond the basic point of most forum stories, "platform for extending background/personality behind characters." Tarvius: I see I see. So, its sort of a way to branch out your characters? Tarvius: Like a launching pad? Rhekarid: Kind of. The character of Jude/Judeccagorgon came about as pretty much the opposite of Darkness; instead of motivation less violence, an effort to depict "real" evil in the form of someone with very premeditated motives, and not just "evil for the heck of it." Rhekarid: That couldn't really be done effectively with the sole adventures of his character sheet, so The Shadow Basement formed around him as a way to depict who he is, what he does, and how he influences the world. It just hasn't really gotten past establishing other characters and settings enough to go back to him. Tarvius nods. Tarvius: There's definitely some deep psychological darkness going on with the story, which is pretty much a common theme in all your characters. Rhekarid: Plus, there's always an ongoing but scattered effort to put together more writing and canon for Khazan, which mostly takes the form of poor Ivan trying to coax acrobatics out of a retirement home. I mainly do villains anyway, so I thought a story could be a way to inject an antagonist into any larger storylines that may appear. Tarvius: So, people are just getting a glimpse of Jude? Rhekarid: For now. He's a lot more than the magical equivalent of a mad scientist, as has been most of the depiction so far. Tarvius: Speaking of Jude, you have a real talent for dissecting the psychology of some really "crazy" characters, be it serial killers, mass murders, evil it self etc etc How in the world are you able to do this so well? Ivan: "Well Tarvius, when you're a formless mass of writhing darkness, you really get a sense for these things..." Ivan imagines Rhekarid as a black cloud full of barbed tentacles Rhekarid: At the risk of putting myself on an FBI watchlist, I don't really need to. That makes up the majority of my characters because the bigger challenge is putting myself into a *different* mind. The characters I've written are largely toned down to be suitable for the FPL. That's the base wavelength of my thoughts at any given time. Tarvius eyes widen in shock Tarvius: Your characters are toned down?!?!? Rhekarid: There are basic levels of decorum for what is considered "too far" to allow a character to be accepted. At times, I have to deliberately stay below that. Ivan: To be fair there's a difference between what you are capable of imagining and what you think about most of the day. Tarvius: That just still blows my mind. You're one of the most gruesome, and mind-jarring writers I've ever read and now you tell me you're holding back. Rhekarid: Yeah, there's a difference between daydreaming and capable of imagining. The latter comes about when you stop and focus to turn the droning "hatehatehatehate" into capital letters before my thoughts turn to 80's cartoons and roguelikes. Tarvius: I have to know; How did you learn to write like this? Rhekarid: I can't stick it to any one point. I wrote a full-sized (400-500 pages) novel in high school, which drew some commentary from its readers for its dark nature. The prologue involved a child having her ears cut off in a torture/interrogation scenario. Before that I mainly drew, and often plotted out characters and scenarios, but did little writing. I don't remember a "start" to writing, but don't remember much before that novel either. I'm pretty sure I just started writing and that was the shape it took. Tarvius: Damn Tarvius: Going back to Ivan's question real quick before we move on: Has there ever been a time when you've held back writing a character and later wished you wouldn't have? Rhekarid: Not particularly. Going back to wanting to reproduce the vision in my head for a character, it can be too easy to substitute extra gore for actual substance. While the violence is a part of many characters, fewer of them really "need" an accurate representation of its severity. The possibility is there, but the line of what's "worse" in horrific acts is a vague one, and just adding more without a leash on it risks becoming ridiculous in more ways than one. Tarvius: Hmmm, I see what you're saying. Tarvius: No doubt, you're the FPL's dark horse in every sense of the term. Have you ever considered writing a "lighter" character? Rhekarid: I've written several. Hassae Hero, The Stone on the Sword , The Coalition of Bad Ideas , and The Marriage-Ruining Robot are all pretty darkness-free. Rhekarid: Ah wait, just remembered another one. Wrath of the Ridiculous Ninja*. Tarvius: So maybe you're not a formless mass of darkness... Tarvius: I'd like to get away from the FPL for a few questions. Tarvius: Are there any creators you'd be willing to collaborate with? Rhekarid: I did one collaboration with Ren, a while back, but generally I'm just not comfortable with it. I don't like messing with other people's writing OR having them mess with mine. Tarvius: Who is your favorite creator in the FPL, past or present? Rhekarid: I seldom remember the creator tied to a character. I often don't look, to prevent even subconscious favoritism in voting, not that it matters since I have terrible memory and will forget the creator AND the character in 5 minutes. Tarvius: Hmmm, I see where you're coming from. Tarvius: Do you think the current FPL is better or worse than it was in the past? Give your FPL State of the Union address... Rhekarid: The current FPL isn't in a very fair state to defend itself. It's only just now becoming active, many longtime creators are still in or slowly emerging from hibernation, and many current players are newcomers who don't really know what they're doing. Tarvius nods Tarvius: Ok last question... Tarvius: Anything you'd like to say to the FPL crowd? Rhekarid: "Eventually I will gather enough snakes for the lot of you." Tarvius: Well, I'm all out of questions. If the rest of you (Ivan) has any more questions feel free to ask them. Before I open the floor though, I would once again like to thank Rhek for agreeing to do this. It is very much appreciated. Ivan: Rhek do you like scary movies? Ivan assumes you have a huge collection of obscure foregin horror titles Rhekarid: I don't watch many movies, actually. Ivan: Gasp! *Wrath of the Ridiculous Ninja is heavily inspired by the movie Enter The Ninja, which is hilarious and highly recommended.
  7. Pickle Chile laugh Feet launching Gravy-Brain, cheesehead, stinky-butt
  8. Just trying to clarify the whole idea of "group" acceptances for those who don't understand. Yes they should've been accepted as a group, because they are displayed as a collective force and not as solitary or individualistic characters. Its the whole "Three Musketeers" rule, in cases like that, submit them as one entry. But if you're going to submit two random characters that more often than not fight alone and are not reliant on one another to generate a form of characterization then they should be submitted separately. If there's ever any doubt whether a submission is acceptable or not, don't be afraid to ask.
  9. AVP you've been told this multiple times. Consider this your final warning.
  10. Player: Tarvius Origin: Mutant Fighting: Standard Agility: Supreme Strength: Weak Endurance: Ultimate Reason: Superior Psyche: Superior Health: 8 Karma: 5 Resources: Standard Powers- Lodestone Transformation (Superior) > Levitation (Standard) > Absorbtion: Metallic (Supreme) Transform Others: Lodestone (Standard) Talents- Geology, Guns
  11. Having seen what a kick-ass GM you are, I'm definitely in.
  12. I would like to hereby pledge my vote to Velocity.
  13. A word of caution: The database isn't always the best indicator of what should and shouldn't be accepted. The DB needs some tidying up, to say the least.
  14. Why apologize, when you can.. BEHOLD AND STUFF! The CBUB Tournament
  15. One more thing: Please put, "For Review" in the subject line of the PM. Thanks! Looking forward to those suggestions.
  16. Well, a few weeks ago, I had a nice long conversation with myself. Other than figuring out that conversations with yourself aren't as much fun as they used to be, I also came to realize maybe its time to actually try this blog-thing out. Now, I don't expect to have thousands of loyal followers, and I don't even expect to need an on-line store. No sir, I'm doing this just for the fun of it. What is IT, you ask? IT, well... THIS is going to be a place where I'll review CBUB matches and FPL Characters. So here's how its going to go down: I'll probably forget all about this, remember it a few months later and write a review; you promise to read it forget about it for a few months and then read it. That way we should be at the same pace. To be honest with you, this whole blogging thing is kind of frieghtening. Posting, updating, having things to post about... being entertaining... not going on and on and on... being original... knowing when to stop with the elipses before someone stabs their eyeballs... You know that sort of thing. With that lengthy introduction you're probably expecting a scathing review that leaves someone in tears, right? Well too bad! You see, I haven't reviewed anything. Oh sure, I've thought about it. I've wondered about it. One time, just once, I even clicked a link to a CBUB match I thought about reviewing. Of course, I didn't actually read it... but that's besides the point. Now, before you storm away and go on a murderous rampage, rest asured. There WILL be a review. In fact there'll be a nice hot review from the Tarv oven every Saturday. So, why isn't there one now? The biggest problem is that I need things to review in order to review. Sounds simple enough, right? The only problem is that I've promised myself never to review something if nobody asked me. That way I can avoid stepping over any boundaries. That's where you guys come in! The plan is to have people PM things to review; I'll read through them and if I decide that I have a lot to say about it I'll post a review of it and have it here on saturday. Now, get to it. Send me those suggestions. Send one, send five, send a hundred if you want to! The more suggestions, the better. *Note: I want "Finished" products only. That means no brainstorms, no "I just had an idea", and no rough drafts.
  17. Silly Treach. I'll definitely get around to this yesterday.
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