Plot Challenge of the Week

Well, I have successfully written four papers this week, and edited my big paper twice. I still have a few sources that I need to find and work into it before I finally submit it, but I think it’s actually at the point that it’s a fairly strong paper. It’s been a long week though, and a little bit overwhelming. A week from now I have my exam, and then one more paper to write and I can stop worrying about school for a few days: yay!! Anyway, I do actually have a plot challenge for you today. I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to develop a part of your world based on what you see. It should be a setting that is believable in your world, and that has potential for stories in it. Here’s you’re picture:

484508745b54996186b73652f986c6fd

Plot Challenge of the Week

Well, I started into my last book, Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship, today. I read it a few years ago, but I don’t remember enough of it to discuss it meaningfully. Still, I remember that I generally enjoyed it, and so I’m looking forward to reading it again. Life can be difficult sometimes, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Whether its work, spiritual frustration, relationship problems, or just plain loneliness and lack of purpose or direction. Honestly, whatever the problem is, I’ve always found that the root of the answer is to accept those things that actually are my responsibility (which is usually a lot of things that I don’t think are or want to be my responsiblity), and let go of those things that aren’t my responsibility (amazingly, a lot of the time these are the very things that I’m trying to take responsibility for). I’ve found that when I get my priorities in proper order and really understand my responsibilities, the problems usually resolve themselves fairly quickly. However, when I keep demanding that the world work my way they usually don’t. Anyway, for today’s exercise I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to use it as inspiration to design one part of the world you’ve started. This could be fleshing out one of the nations that you’ve already come up with or it could be creating an all new nation or continent for your world – also, just a thought, in Kalagrosh, one of the worlds that I’ve included is a world in which sound doesn’t exist – you might try doing something like this. Create a world where things just work differently. The rules of physics are completely different, or something that we take completely for granted (like sound) is non-existent, and then figure out how the world works without it. Here’s your picture:

ENV-OtherWorld-2

 

Plot Challenge of the Week

Temple_of_Elemental_Evil01I am very tired. I’ve been on Alayna’s schedule this week, and she’s worked six twelve hour shifts, and on Tuesday we spent the day car shopping. Honestly, she’s still got a lot of energy even though she’s on her six shift. I, on the other hand, am just about dead. I really don’t know how she does it. I have managed to get grading done, a paper finished, two and a half books read, plus all the reading for my next Ph.D. seminar and some research for the other paper that I’m writing next week. So, it’s been a very productive week, just a rather exhausting one. I read Stanley Hauerwas’ A Community of Character and N.T. Wright’s After You Believe, and I’m about half-way through Reinhold Niebuhr’s An Interpretation of Christian Ethics, which is kind of a sequel to his Moral Man and Immoral Society that I read in the fall. I enjoyed Wright, I’m not sure what I think about Hauerwas – he has some good points, but I think he tends to take them too far – and I generally think that Niebuhr is just confused. I don’t think he actually knew whether he wanted to be a conservative Christians, a liberal Christian, or a Marxist (though, admittedly in his day the last two often went together). In many ways he seems to be trying to combine the work of Augustine and Walter Rauschenbusch. They don’t mesh well. Anyway, I have an exercise for you. This is a setting exercise, and most of you have probably done these before, but just in case: I’m going to give you a set of criteria. Your job is to design a setting based on those criteria.

Your Criteria:

1) Your setting must be in a fantasy world. More over, your setting must be a singular location (i.e. ancient ruins, castle of a tyrannical lord, massive shrine to worshippers of a god of chaos and destruction, etc) that might be a place where the major characters in a story would travel to achieve some kind of quest.

2) Your setting must include character profiles (loose profiles) for some leader (i.e. an evil baron, an ancient undead sorcerer, a high priest, etc) and at least two powerful lieutenants.

3) Your setting must be remote enough that evil may run amok, but not so remote that no-one can get there (i.e. it might be the capital of a despotic kingdom, a forgotten ruin in the mountains near a new mining colony, a hidden temple underneath a major metropolis – let’s face it, do you know what goes on in underneath New York city? That’s pretty remote, even though its geographically very close).

4) Your setting must involve at least three different races (i.e. your undead sorcerer may be recruiting, or perhaps your depostic lord recruits intelligent and semi-intelligent monsters into his army, etc).

5) Your setting must include some form of otherworldly beings (i.e. alien gods, demonic visitors, military allies from alternate planes of existence, etc).

Plot Challenge of the Week

Well, I’ve finished with sin. I’m done with it. … … …Or at least my initial deep research into what Aquinas said about it anyway. I’ve no doubt that I’m going to go on sinning. However, I did get more of my research done today than I actually thought I would, and I had a few hours to spend with Alayna, which is always very nice! Anyway, I do actually have a plot challenge for you today. I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to develop a part of your world based on what you see. It should be a setting that is believable in your world, and that has potential for stories in it. Here’s you’re picture:

This was retrieved from imagekid.
This was retrieved from imagekid.

Plot Challenge of the Week

Well… the moment of truth has arrived… Next week I’m going to write my 40 page paper and hope that 1) I manage to get it done in a week, and 2) I do it well. We’ll see if those two things happen. I think I’ve done a fairly decent amount of research for it, and I have a few more original sources to go through. Ultimately, though, I’m going to do my best and see what happens. Anyway, for today’s exercise I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to use it as inspiration to design one part of the world you’ve started. This could be fleshing out one of the nations that you’ve already come up with or it could be creating an all new nation or continent for your world. Here’s your picture:

Till-Hell-Freezes-Over

Plot Challenge of the Week

I have a test today. It’s actually been a long time since I took a real exam, and Alayna can tell you that I’ve been pretty stressed all week long. She’s actually handled it pretty well all things considered. I… well, I managed to get studying done and I hope that I’m ready. Anyway, I have an exercise for you. This is a setting exercise, and most of you have probably done these before, but just in case: I’m going to give you a set of criteria. Your job is to design a setting based on those criteria.

Your Criteria:

1) Your setting must be a modern day fiction setting. This could potentially be urban fantasy, modernism, and just general fiction.

2) Your setting must include a major library.

3) Your setting must be or be near a major city.

4) Your setting must involve the government of said city in some significant way.

5) Your setting must include one or more foreign ethnic groups (i.e. Chinatown, the Russian Quarter, etc)

Plot Challenge of the Week

Well, on top of my job, I wrote four papers, finished up my reading for a class, and did a couple of hours of research for my papers last night. All in all, I feel like yesterday was a fairly productive day. On top of this, I’m starting Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics today, which is kind of exciting for me. The only Aristotle that I’ve seriously read is Poetics and part of Eudemian Ethics. I have, if I haven’t mentioned this yet, discovered that the philosophy of law is not my favorite thing in the world. I spent an hour today reading about the relationship of law and morality and the theories that attempt to unify concepts of liberty, morality, and rights. Anyway, I do actually have a plot challenge for you today. I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to develop a part of your world based on what you see. It should be a setting that is believable in your world, and that has potential for stories in it. Here’s you’re picture:

1200x784_25_Dragon_Lair_2d_fantasy_landscape_environment_concept_dragons_lair_travel_wizard_warriors_adventure

Plot Challenge of the Week

northbrotherislandWell, for anyone wondering, Alayna’s visit was a lot of fun! We got some good time together, had a nice double date, and generally had a fun, encouraging day. Now she’s headed back home to work, and I’m diving back into books… …so many books. I’m currently reading David Well’s Above All Earthly Pow’rs, which is excellent, and soon I’ll be starting Harold Berman’s The Interaction of Law and Religion. Anyway, I have an exercise for you. This is a setting exercise, and most of you have probably done these before, but just in case: I’m going to give you a set of criteria. Your job is to design a setting based on those criteria.

Your Criteria:

1) Your setting must be a modern day fiction setting. This could potentially be urban fantasy, but I would actually suggest surreal modernism.

2) Your setting must include a wilderness of some kind (this could be a remote desert, a deserted urban sprawl, a dense inner jungle, etc).

3) Your setting must include a small human settlement (i.e. a monastery, aboriginal tribe, gang, etc)

4) Your setting must include some kind of overarching government that the human settlement stands in some form of dubious relationship with (i.e. this could be a gang in relationship with city law enforcement, an aboriginal tribe in Ecuador in relationship with the Ecuadoran government, etc), and the complicated politics that this inevitably spawns.

5) Your setting must include some form of ‘exotic’ foodstuffs.

Parallel, part 2

This is the second installment of a story I’m currently working on. If you missed the first part, you can read it here. As always, I welcome constructive feedback, and I hope you enjoy reading!

I don’t really know how to explain it. See, I’m not stupid, but I’m not exactly book smart either. Advanced science and all the newest tech just really aren’t my thing, and I could barely even begin to tell you what exactly this thing on my wrist had done to me, or what it was even designed to do. Honestly, I had no idea what it was back when my buddy Vince first snagged it off of one of the science nerds at work. He tried to sell it to me at the bar one night, and I told him he was stupid for taking it at all. Me, I would never steal off the guys we worked for. I may not be a genius, but I’m too smart for that. But I’m also not above taking a good deal when it’s offered to me, and like I said, the watch looked like silver, and you could tell it was pretty high-tech something-or-other too. I paid Vince a hundred bucks for it, and I’m pretty sure it was a steal, because over the next couple days I overheard some of the nerds talking about some real important piece of tech that had mysteriously gone missing. Course, I just smiled and moved on whenever I heard stuff like that. What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right? And I know Vince won’t say anything. No way he’d bring the cops down on himself, and besides, he doesn’t even work at the lab anymore. A couple weeks after he swiped that tech, he got fired for coming to work high. Told you he was a freaking idiot.

But I digress. I had the watch and it had definitely done something, bringing me to wherever this place was. The first time I came here, once I got over the shock and got my bearings a little bit, I definitely wondered just what had happened and how the hell this was even possible. A part of me still wonders, if I’m being honest. My first thought was that it was some kind of teleporter that sent me to a different part of town. But see, I looked it up after I came back, and there’s no Gatz St. or Avenue E anywhere near town. So forget that idea.

I also picked up a newspaper that first time just to try to figure out what was going on. And hell, did that confuse me more than ever. Not only were

Image taken from Flickr Creative Commons
Image taken from Flickr Creative Commons

the sports stats all wrong, but there were some team names that I knew for a fact weren’t real. Who names a pro football team the Rhinos, anyway? But what’s more, according to the paper, Obama wasn’t even President. It was some white guy I never heard of and can’t even remember his name. See, this place looked like home at first, but a lot of stuff was off in really weird ways.

Then I wondered if maybe the watch was putting me in some kind of virtual reality. But that didn’t make any sense either. If that was the case, then what happened to my body while my mind was just sitting there hallucinating all this crap? You’d think somebody would notice the same guy just lying or standing on the street corner for an hour or more. See, like I said, I’m smart, so I think through stuff like this, and I know virtual reality has got to be out of the question here.

I had a hunch, but I couldn’t be sure. So one night I had called up my nephew Brandon.

“Brandon! Happy birthday!”

“Hey, Uncle Rob!” he said. “Um, it’s not my birthday.”

“Whatever. So I’m a little early. Figured I’d call you anyway, just so I don’t forget.”

“Umm…thanks.”

“Yeah, no problem. Hey, listen. Wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure. What?”

“You read a lot of books, right? And go to the movies? You like all that high-tech sci-fi space stuff?”

“Yeah, I like it a lot. Why?”

“I’m trying to figure out what’s going on…in this show I’m watching,” I told him. “It’s like, this guy got transported to a different place. Well, it looks a lot the same, but it’s different somehow, and a bunch of stuff about the whole world has changed. That make any sense to you?”

“You mean like another dimension?” Brandon asked.

“Is that what they call it?” I asked. “Yeah, sure, like that. Um…what exactly is that?”

Brandon apparently knew what he was talking about. “Well, the theory is that there’s an infinite number of parallel dimensions, or alternate timelines, with an infinite number of possibilities. They might seem kind of like ours, but they’ve changed in different ways at some point in time. Any number of things could have happened differently in this world. It’s like when they went to the mirror universe on the old Star Trek and they had to fight evil versions of themselves. Although, in the new movies, the whole thing is really a different timeline because—”

Image taken from Flickr Creative Commons
Image taken from Flickr Creative Commons

“Yeah, yeah, I think I got it,” I told Brandon. “Thanks, kid.”

“Sure. What’s that show you’re watching? It sounds interesting.”

“Uh, I forget the name of it. But I’ll definitely let you know. Just don’t worry about it for now, okay? How’s school?”

So that was it, I guess. The watch wasn’t taking me anywhere else in my town, or even on my planet or in my universe, for that matter. So far as I could tell, whenever I pressed that button, I opened my eyes in a whole different dimension where things weren’t quite the same as I knew them. Except nobody here was fighting evil versions of themselves like in all those stupid overpriced action flicks. They were just trying to get by and live their lives, just like regular folks in my own world too. So coming here was perfectly safe and could still be a nice way to relax. But just the fact that I really was in some kind of alternate timeline made it a brand new adventure at the same time, and also quite a unique change of pace from whenever I got tired of how things were back home.

I got to Miniver’s and stepped inside. The room was dimly lit and a band was playing in the background. I walked around and began to look for a place to sit and kick back for a bit.

And that’s when I saw her.

To be continued…

Click here for part 3!

Plot Challenge of the Week

Roommates are frustrating sometimes, you know. I want to go to bed, and instead I wind up waiting for someone to get out of the bathroom so that I can use it before I do. Well, c’est la vie. We all have little things to deal with. Soon enough I’ll only have one roommate and we can find a way to share the bathroom when necessary (well… to a point anyway). So, for today’s exercise I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to use it as inspiration to design one part of the world you’ve started. This could be fleshing out one of the nations that you’ve already come up with or it could be creating an all new nation or continent for your world. Here’s your picture:

Seraphii-Blackstar