Fiction Friday – Identity Theft

FictionFriday

It’s Fiction Friday! (Saturday Edition) Personal stuff kept me busy all day yesterday so I had to delay, but here it is. Fiction Friday is my weekly project in which I attempt to plan, write, rewrite and publish a 1000 to 2000 word story every week. (Preferably on Friday.) 

Enjoy. 

Owen.

This story has been temporarily removed, as it has been published elsewhere. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Fiction Friday is Delayed!

Sad Face

This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve had to delay this week’s Fiction Friday. Personal business occupied me until pretty late in the evening, but I’m not working tomorrow so I’ll have it for you then. Of course, then it’ll be a Fiction Saturday, but never mind!

Apologies, Owen.

Recycling, Repetition and Plagiarism.

Political cartoonist Bill Day is in a bit of hot water over an accusation on plagiarism, and some slightly less hot water over accusations of recycling. This has opened up an interesting debate about reuse of images. The aspect that interests me the most is Day’s use of the same image to serve different points on several different occasions. This is a tool that a daily cartoonist can exploit much more easily than a writer, but it does make me wonder why this isn’t something we see more often in fiction. Why, for example, do you not see writers creating the same narratives, and the same characters, but in the service of different points? I can imagine many books where a change of ending, introduction of new characters or even a move to a new setting could radically alter the theme of the story.

On a side note, when I have dabbled in cartooning, I have been guilty of serial repetition with almost no changes. Here is a cartoon that I have drawn no less than twenty times, for different audiences, because the joke still makes me laugh.

adopted worm

Whatever Happened to the Short Blog Post?

tl;drI have started and abandoned many blogs over the years. This current blog is easily the most successful, no doubt because it is a personal blog intended to promote my writing and communicate with my readers, rather than a venture in its own right. So long as I keep writing, I will always have something to blog about. It is also a good little repository for my Fiction Friday pieces, which would otherwise be hidden away on a hard drive somewhere. I try to update it once a week with something interesting (the hardest bit) and it ticks along quite nicely without too much manipulation from me.

However, I have observed that I don’t really feel comfortable using this blog for small updates. The kind of blog posts that used to be the most common, quick updates on days out, nice meals cooked, all that trivial but charming material seems to have been filtered down to 140 characters and dropped on twitter. That’s not much of a surprise, twitter is a much better medium for the small observation, the trivial and the tangent. Unfortunately, the effect on me seems to be that I am reluctant to update my blog unless I have some lengthy and insightful, rather than something brief and interesting. I find myself straining to write great, inspirational blog posts when I should be working on my stories. And unfortunately, inspirational blog posts aren’t really my forte so the result is always something of a damp squib.

With that in mind, I have decided to take back my blog for the short, the snappy and the concise.

That is all.

Why Writing Confidently Matters.

confident writingConfidence is that magic, elusive quality that seems to make the world go round. People who do well, so it is said, simply have more confidence. In fact, if popular wisdom is to believed, there isn’t a problem you can have that couldn’t be solved by more confidence. This advice is particularly frustrating since it is hard for those without confidence to understand exactly how to obtain it, and even then it seems fleeting.

Confidence is particularly important to a writer. Not least because, should you plan on pursuing it as a career, you will be expected to thrust your work out for the approval of the public. I hit the publish button on two of my short stories last year and both times my heart was racing. Writing can be cathartic, personal and therapeutic. The idea of taking the scribblings plucked from your own brain and asking people to fork over their hard earned cash to enjoy them can be a nerve racking experience. It is, however, a fear that can only be overcome by throwing your beloved stories to the lions again and again. More importantly, the writer must be confident when engaged in the writing process. Partly, because it is when we are feeling confident that we are at our most bold, our most audacious and our most creative, but also because it is when we are nervous that we make mistakes.

Looking over my work for 2012 I feel I have improved a lot since I published that first, hastily written, little story. My writing feels tighter, more concise and more deliberate. The story I am working on currently feels, to my own biased eyes, to be much more focused. No word seems to have fallen on to  the page by accident. I am very proud of it, and I attribute any improvement to a great increase in confidence since I began.

Like an skill, confidence comes with practice. The more you write, the more experience you have, the better the results will be. Confidence should follow shortly.

If it doesn’t, fake it. It works almost as well.

Fiction Friday – Customs

FictionFriday

It’s Friday which means it’s time for another FictionFriday story. Every Friday I try to plan, write, revise and publish a 1500 word short story in an afternoon. Last week’s story, The Confession, was my first and I was pretty pleased with the results. Here’s this week’s story. 

This story has been temporarily removed, as it has been published elsewhere. Sorry for the inconvenience!

 

Two Free Short Stories – Today Only!

Good morning all,

As we near January’s halfway point there could be no better time for a post-Christmas give away. Both my short stories are free today on the kindle store. They’re part of my Timewasters series and should complement each other nicely, though both can be enjoyed separately too.

time trial book coverTime Trial – Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk

Harbour is the nicest place to live in the known universe. Unless you’re a time traveller. 

It has been weeks since Annie left Earth and all she wants to do is go home, but first she and her friends must stand trial.

Unfortunately, they are all guilty. 

Christmas Past Owen AdamsChristmas Past – Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk

The Time Travel story with a dark side.

A man died while the snow fell. His body would be hidden until summer, but there are strangers in the woods today. During a long forgotten Christmas, three time travellers come to town; is their presence just a coincidence or are there darker secrets hidden beneath the ice.

Free Books Tomorrow.

Christmas Past Owen AdamsThis is just a quick post to let you know that I’ll be having my own little January give away tomorrow. My two shorts Christmas Past and Time Trial will both be free for the whole day on the kindle store. I’ll post again tomorrow with proper links and stuff, but I thought I’d give you a heads up so you can all charge up the kindle and wait for freebie day to roll around!

Goodnight, all.

Owen.

Fiction Friday – The Confession

FictionFriday
It’s Fiction Friday! This is a new series I’m running on my blog. The goal is to plan, write, rewrite and post a 1500 word story every Friday. I’m pretty pleased with my first entry which is posted below. Enjoy!
* * *

This story has been temporarily removed, as it has been published elsewhere. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Batman: Arkham City – Review

I’ve had some nice responses/hits for my Assassin’s Creed reviews, (here, here and here,) so I thought I’d copy a few more reviews across from my account on Dooyoo.co.uk for you. Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of my favourite games in 2009, I snapped up the sequel immediately. Here’s what I thought of it…

BatmanCatwomanArkhamCityBatman: Arkham Asylum was something of a surprise hit back in 2009. Developed by little known studio, Rocksteady, the game managed to combine original gameplay with a very authentic interpretation of DC Comics’ darkest hero into one of the finest games produced this generation. A sequel was inevitable, and when the first whispers of Arkham City started to appear people began to wonder if Rocksteady could make lightning strike twice. The final game is here now and we can see how well it lives up to its predecessor.

Arkham City picks up loosely where Asylum closed with a large section of Gotham City fenced off and turned into an open prison for all the thugs and crazies that make up Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Though, funnily enough, the neighbourhood also seems to house most of Gotham’s famous landmarks. The so-called Arkham City has become a political and legal nightmare which is brought to a head when Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne is arrested in the middle of a peaceful protest and locked up with the rest of the baddies. This is not entirely unwelcome however, as Batman can now investigate the city from the inside and find out exactly who’s pulling the strings behind the whole shady affair.

BatmanArkhamCitySkylineWithin Arkham City, you’ll also find some subplots involving a lot of the supporting cast from the Batman comics. The Joker has a major storyline that interweaves with the overall plot which is tied to the plot of the first game, but you’ll also see some faces we missed last time. The game features are great take on both the Penguin and Mister Freeze, you’ll also spend a lot of time solving the Riddler’s puzzles once more. Each of the characters feel like they were written and designed by people who read and love the Batman comics. For anyone familiar with the comics, it’s very much like returning to that world of plot twists and interlocking characters, and it’s nice to see a Batman game that takes this source as its inspirations and not the films or cartoons.

ArkhamCityJokerThe game has made some changes from Arkham Asylum. Where the first was a tightly scripted affair, walking you through the Asylum building by building, Arkham City is an open world game. You are free to make your way around the city as you please, but the story will guide you to various locations such as the old police station or the abandoned steal mill. These sections are more tightly controlled and feel much more like the previous game. This creates a nice balance between the exploration sections that let you really feel like a superhero, and the more plot driven moments that give the game a stronger sense of narrative. One of Arkham’s Asylum’s biggest strengths was the feeling of authorship, of being guided through a really well constructed story. This is a double edge sword however, as the game occasionally felt on-rails and restricted. In Arkham City, the balancing of these two factors does have the consequence that the story feels like it has been placed on the back burner a little. The effect when you finish the game is a little less grand, the whole experience less gripping, but it feels necessary. A sequel could not have returned to the setting of the first game, nor performed the same tricks in a similarly structured location. It’s a step forward, but a little is lost in the process. Still, Rocksteady do a lot with their transition to open world. There is a lot to find in the game, ranging from in-jokes and trivia for comics fans, to whole sideplots you might not discover until you’ve completed the main game.

ArkhamCityPenguinThe combat system returns, with very few tweaks, from the first game. This is easily one of the best fighting styles in games at the moment and the gameplay is so strong that the game is comfortable making set pieces entirely around one of Batman’s martial arts battles. Essentially combat is divided into only two controls, Attack and Counter with more complex moves arriving later in the game. The goal is not to unleashed complicated attacks on enemies, but to fight multiple opponents gracefully. Moving from next to next without getting hit yourself. It has to be played to be understood really, but it remains one of the series’ best features.
Also returning are the stealth sections. These take the form of rooms or locations patrolled by prisoners with serious weaponry. These fights are generally impossible to win when attacked head on, instead you are required to pick off opponents one by one using stealth attacks. The combination of the flowing martial arts sections and the slow stealth rooms really add to the feel of being Batman that make these games so unique.

ArkhamCityFreezeWhere things have changed from the previous game, they have mostly changed for the better. Batman is equipped with “Detective Vision,” a sort of x-ray vision, computer mode that highlights enemies and strategic objects. In the previous game, this was criticised as having no restrictions. It would be too easy to simply leave it on permanently and play the game with super-sight. Arkham City however places clever restrictions on this that feel natural. Essentially, while the new detective vision highlights enemies and weapons, it obscures the environment somewhat. Leaving it on all the time will make it significantly harder to discern the room’s details further away. You also can’t view other directional info with detective vision enabled. This forces you to be more tactical and is a definite improvement.

Most of the gadgets from the first game return, with many of them unlocked from the start of much earlier in the game. There are even a few new ones. The game adopts the Legend of Zelda model, and uses the gadget progression model to lock you out of certain places earlier in the game, keeping you moving through the story to explore further. You can use the in combat also, but they’re mostly superfluous and unless you’re trying to get your trophies/achievements, you’ll probably never use them.

Arkham City is a definite step forward from Arkham Asylum. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is better in every way. It is an excellent game, but Asylum offers a more tightly scripted experience that moves from scene to scene with precision and timing. City looses a lot of that by going open world, but what it gains in return is a sense of forward momentum, a real reason to play the sequel. Most importantly, Batman: Arkham City is not a game to be overlooked by those who aren’t necessarily Batman fans. It’s a really great game that would appeal to all kinds of players.