Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Friday, December 23, 2016

BOOTCAMP LESSON 15: Impersonation


Seasons Greetings!,

           Welcome to this special holiday edition of the BOOTCAMP writing prompt! It’s been awhile since I made one of these writing exercises, so I hope you are ready to try this one out, cause it’s going to be a lot of fun.

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Lesson 15: Impersonation

Impersonation is the act of pretending to be another person, either for the purpose of entertainment or fraud. Most of us are familiar with the concept from childhood games, where we pretended to be adults going to work, or some kind of hero saving the day.

However, impersonation plays an important part when creating characters. Being able to get inside the character's head is a vital component of the process, as it helps the author to better understand and expand their characters.

In today’s exercise, we are going to place ourselves in the minds of some popular, public domain characters. We are going to imagine ourselves as one of these characters and get inside their heads, see how they would go about doing a simple task. This works for any situation, from doing groceries, going to the movies or even cooking supper.

So for today's game, we are going for a more festive activity; writing a letter to Santa! The goal is to imagine what one of the following characters would ask for Christmas in a letter to Santa Claus. This will really allow you to dig deep into the characters motivation and desires.

So, here are today's guidelines!

Rules

  1. Below is a list of five ‘’candidates’’, which are public domain characters. Select ONE of the five characters to work with.
  2. In the form of standard correspondence, write a letter to Santa Claus from the point of view of the character you have chosen to work with.
  3. In the letter, the character must clearly state what they want for Christmas, in a way that suits their personally and needs. The goal is to stay in character!
  4. There is no word or length limit to this exercise.


List of candidates
The Scarecrow
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Tarzan
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Big Bad Wolf
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Dr. Jekyll
Image result for public domain commons Dr. Jekyll

Ebenezer Scrooge
Image result for public domain commons Scrooge

For those who aren’t afraid to share their entries, feel free to submit your letters as a reply to this post. Remember, this is a game, so no posting bad comments about other people's entries.

Hope you have fun giving this exercise a try. Until next time!

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne

Friday, December 16, 2016

Inspiration Part 17 - Shopping Malls


Welcome back,

The holidays are here, and this time of year has many different meanings to many different people. No matter what your beliefs are, however, there is one thing that we all experience this time of year in North America; holiday shopping!

           The idea for this inspiration post struck me as I was navigating my way through the crowds during Black Friday. Shopping malls and centers play a very important role in today’s society, as they are not only an important place of business, but also serve as a social gathering place for many. Furthermore, these places of commerce take on an entire new life during the holidays, as people flock to them in order to be prepared for their holiday festivities.

           With this in mind, I decided to make Shopping Malls the focus on this month's inspiration article. We will explore different aspects of these establishments, such as their architecture and contents, and see how they can play a role in fiction.

           To begin, let us take a look at the architecture of shopping malls. These buildings come in many different styles and formats, but some traits are recurrent among most of them. Their similarities include large hallways and high ceilings to facilitate clientele circulation. Store front will line each side of these passageways. Most will also have large gathering areas allowing people to sit and eat, more commonly known as food courts.

architecture building infrastructure ceiling chandelier lights art design floor shopping mall

stores shops shopping retail building gallery ceiling architecture windows displays arches


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           Of course these buildings would serve no purpose if they did not have stores! Shopping malls contain a variety of different stores in order to cater to their customers. This is convenient for shoppers (and writers looking for inspiration), who might be looking for anything from clothes, groceries, books or more. There are also many different restaurants where customers to rest and take a bite to eat which.

botique clothing fashion store shopping jeans sleeves

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clothes jackets shirts fashion clothing shopping retail ecommerce display hangers store
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           This covers all the areas that are accessible by the general public, but have you ever thought of what you couldn’t see? As an ex-security guard, I can tell you there is a totally different world behind those stores. Service corridors allowing employees to have access to storage areas, underground parking, mechanical rooms housing machinery which power the building and offices for administrative staff. It is something to take into account when trying to flesh out one of these buildings in a narrative.

parking garage parking spaces pavement lines underground

hallway tiles lights floors ceiling

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Image result for public domain mechanical room

           Finally, we have the social aspect of shopping malls. How many of us have gone to shopping malls as teenagers just to hang out with friends? How many times have we seen older generations socializing at the food court or simply walking down the hallways? And aren<t we all guilty of doing the occasional window shopping? Shopping malls are a favorite stomping ground for many, as it has a lot to offer; comfort, accessibility, entertainment and much more.

london underground train station people traffic busy crowded stairs escalator stores shops travel merchant walking travelling
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As you can see, a trip to the mall can be beneficial for any writer. Maybe you are searching for references on the layout of a shopping center for a particular fight scene between superheroes. Or perhaps the mall is the main environment of your story, and you need to get a better idea of the layout, good examples are Mallrats - 1995, Paul Blart Mall Cop - 2009, or Dawn of the Dead - both 1978 and 2004.

shopping mall christmas christmas tree lights ball decorations ornaments bazaar people

As you can see, a trip to a shopping mall can be beneficial to a writer looking for inspiration. I hope you enjoyed this month's inspiration post and that I encouraged you to go out there and experience it for yourself.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne


**Please note that most of the photos below were taken from free stock images sites such as StockSnap.com, or were found doing a public domain search via Google.**

Friday, December 9, 2016

By the Book - Elvenbane


Welcome back,

           This book has been in my ‘’backup’’ folder for almost ten months now. I read it around last Spring, but thought to myself it might make a good book review for December. My logic was that books with Christmas themes are hard to come by, so given that this one is about elves, I figured I would keep it on standby unless something better presented itself. Since that was not the case, it made the cut for December after all. So here is my review of the Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton.

           I originally read the Elvenbane back in high school, as part of my second language class. I had found it really well written, and remember feeling some sort of attachment to the main character, Shana. Her struggle to find her place in a world that did not understand her struck a cord back when I was a teenager. Having forgot many of the details since having read it last time, I was happy to rediscover it again.

Another quick note of interest about this book for me was its author, Mercedes Lackey. A few years ago, Mrs. Lackey was part of the movement to save City of Heroes, a Massively Multiplayer Online game which allowed its fan base to customize and play their own super heroic creations. Not only did I have fun playing this game for years, but its closure is what sparked the creation of Missing Worlds Media, the video gaming company I currently volunteer for. This fact is what prompted me to read this book again.

The story takes place in a world dominated by elven lords, while the majority of the human race has been reduced to slavery. There is also a race of sentient dragons, who prefer to stay hidden from the rest of the world. Through this setting, the story focuses on the life of Shana, an elf/human half blood who was raised by dragons. The narrative has a heavy political focus, as we see the many different aspects of the elven society. This is important, as Shana fits the prophecy of the half blood who will take down the elves, and restore mankind to his rightful place in the world.



Back of the book
Two masters of epic fantasy have combined in this brilliant collaboration to create a rousing tale of the sort that becomes an instant favorite. This is the story of Shana, a halfbreed born of the forbidden union of an Elvenlord father and a human mother. Her exiled mother dead, she was rescued and raised by dragons, a proud, ancient race who existed unbeknownst to elven or humankind. From birth, Shana was the embodiment of the Prophecy that the all-powerful Elvenlords feared. Her destiny is the enthralling adventure of a lifetime.   

When Serina Daeth, favorite concubine of the Elf-Lord Dyran, conceives a half-blood child by him, she flees his wrath into the desert, where she quickly succumbs. But the child, born in Serina's dying moments, is rescued by a friendly dragon and raised with her own draconic brood. As the child Shana grows, she develops prodigious sorcerous powers--so strong that it seems she might be the fabled Elvenbane, powerful enough to free the enslaved humans from their elven oppressors. The dragons come to fear her unplumbed power, though, and cast her out. With a renegade elf-lord and his half-blood servant, and the aid of her remaining dragon friends, Shana prepares to challenge the elfish supremacy.

What I learned:
  • Politics: A decent portion of the book focuses on describing the elven society. The authors have done some pretty detailed work, explaining they hierarchy of both the elves and humans, and how they rank affects their standing in society. They also contrast the diplomatic elven ranks with the ones of the dragons, which seem more tribal in how they function. This book is a good example for anyone wanting to create a complex social structure.
  • The Build up/Payout ratio: This book made me realise that if you build up to a confrontation, you need to deliver on the pay out. One example here is the confrontation between the brother and sister dragon (sorry forgot their names and I no longer have the book). Throughout the entire story, the two confront each other verbally, coming close to blows on a few occasions. When the two finally fight… the story cuts away and we are taken to narrative happening elsewhere, only to come back at the end of the fight to see that the antagonist wins. This is only my personal opinion, but I felt cheated by this result.
  • Highlighting the action: This book places a heavy accent on the setting, which made some of the more dramatic character relationships and action scenes seem trivial. The action in certain parts of the story felt rushed and barely addressed, like the example in the previous point.

Andre Alice Norton (February 17, 1912 – March 17, 2005) was an American writer, whose work ranged from historical and contemporary fiction, to those of science fiction and fantasy. She wrote primarily under the pen name Andre Norton, but also under Andrew North and Allen Weston. She has received many awards, and was the first woman to be inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.  

Mercedes Ritchie Lackey (born June 24, 1950) is an American writer and has published over 140 books. She is deemed to be one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy writers of all time. Her novels and trilogies are often  interlinked, and focus on the complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists, ranging from elves, mages, vampires, and other mythical beings. Lackey often explore issues of ecology, social class, and gender roles.

For those interested in learning more about these great authors, feel free to visit the following links.

In closing, I would like to my family, friends and readers for all the tremendous amount of encouragement you have shown me since the beginning this endeavour.
 
Until next time!
 
Cheers,
 
Patrick Osborne


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Current Progress Part 23


Welcome back!


It’s that time of year again! The holidays are quickly approaching, and we find ourselves running around like crazy in order to get ready for all the festivities. Though this year will require some adjusting, I’m still looking forward to buying presents, putting up decorations, and planning my time off.

That being said, I am working on some seasonal themed articles for this month to help bring in the holiday cheer! Hope you like them.

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As I write this post, I can’t help but feel a little impressed with myself. That is because this month’s Current Update marks the end of my second year working on this blog. Though keeping up with regular updates may have been challenging at times, I’m glad to see my hard work paying off.

However, I have mixed feelings when taking a look back at last December’s post. My current progress is entirely different than what I had imagined back then. Twelve months ago, I was hoping to have a rough draft of my story done, but the farthest I have gotten is my prologue. In reality, I have yet to complete my location and character sheets. The road ahead is still a long one, but I plan on still forging on, until my story is told.

Speaking of my story, I did manage to get some progress done this past month. I have completed the character sheet of Vivian Winters, the resident arcane specialist that will be helping my protagonist. With her completed, I have moved on to another key character, Lindsay Reed. Lindsay will be playing the role of the protagonist's love interest and driving motivational force, so she will require a lot of attention.

Image result for city of titans kickstarter

Due to my current living situation, most of my writing time has been focused on my work or taken up by other responsibilities. I have really tried to settle down and dedicate some time to writing, but right now I have trouble focusing and need time to get my head straight. This means I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to Missing Worlds Media as I would like. I believe at this point they may want to wait until my life gets a little more stable before assigning any new projects to me.

They did release a new lore update featuring a villain group this month, you can check it out on their Kickstarter page here:


            That is all for this update, cause like I said, I am short on time, and have to get working on the other articles for this month. Before I go, I would like to wish you all a safe and happy holidays. Be with the ones you love, and cherish the moments you have together.

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            Thank you all for dropping by, your continued support is truly appreciated, especially now when I need it most. My journey is not done.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne

Monday, November 28, 2016

By the Book - The Incredible Hulk: Abominations

Welcome back!


           This month's book review marks another first for me. In order to experience something different, I tried reading a story based on a popular comic book franchise, to see how well it would translate from one medium to the other. The book in question takes place in the Marvel Universe, and is The Incredible Hulk; Abominations by Jason Henderson.    


           I was lucky to get my hands back on this book! Originally it had come to me from a family member who gave it to me, knowing I was a fan of comic books. This was before I started reading again, so instead of reading it, I donated it to my campsites free library. It wasn't until two years later that I came across it again, so I decided to snatch it up and give it a read.


For those unfamiliar with the Hulk’s mythology, this story takes place during a period when Doctor Bruce Banner was permanently stuck in his monstrous form, but retained his human intelligence (roughly during the late nineties). So at no time during this story will you see the transformation between Banner and Hulk, nor will there be a mindless, rampaging Hulk. Which can be misleading to current generation fans.


The story provides some good mystery and intrigue, and covers a few thought-provoking themes. We see both the Hulk and the Abomination fighting against each other, while playing the puppet to government agencies (SAFE and URSA respectively). Along the way, we explore the inner workings of Bruce Banner, as we see him struggle with fate, relationships, his powers and being the misunderstood monster.


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Back of the Book
Dr. Robert Bruce Banner. Emil Blonsky. One a brilliant scientist, the other an agent of the KGB. Both men whose lives were irrevocably altered by gamma radiation -- transforming Banner into the incredible Hulk and Blonsky into the deadly Abomination. For years, the two super-strong creatures have clashed. Now they are brought together for their most deadly confrontation yet.
The Abomination has allied himself with URSA, an organization dedicated to restoring the Soviet Union -- but he is using URSA to further his own mad quest for vengeance on all who have wronged him--especially the Hulk!
The Hulk must turn to the American intelligence agency SAFE for assistance against his old foe. But since the head of SAFE is one of the Abomination’s targets, even that assistance may not be enough…


What I learned
  • Exploiting one’s weaknesses: A popular character in the Marvel Universe, the Hulk is known to be a powerhouse of monstrous proportions with a temper as explosive as an atom bomb. In this book, the version of the green giant being utilized is the ‘’smart Hulk’’ (Hulk's body with Bruce Banner’s mind) which was popular back in the nineties. The author did a good job of showing that, despite all his strength and intelligence, there is still some things that the Hulk struggles with, like swimming/floating, trying to do CPR on an accident victim or using tools for a delicate operation.
  • Exploring character: One of the themes of this book revolves around one's character. The main antagonist, Emil Blonsky (a.k.a. the Abomination), commits dastardly acts of terrorism, saying that he is merely acting the way God intended; as an abomination. Blonsky attempts to push Bruce to act out as the rampaging beast he believes the Hulk to be. This leads to Banner’s internal struggle between trying to act reasonably or lash out as the Hulk (classic struggle with inner demons).
  • Using many POV: To cover the many different themes in this book, the author jumps between several Point of View characters. This tactic is a sound one, as it helps gather information a single PoV character cannot acquire or translate to the reader. However, too many can be a bad thing as well, as it can start to distract from the story’s main focus, which in this case should have been the Hulk.
  • Using the mirror image: In order to underline the differences between the protagonist and the antagonist, the author cleverly created a few distinct similarities in order to get certain themes across. Both characters are super strong, green, irradiated monsters; both are in the service of a government agency (SAFE and URSA); both have love interests (Betty and Nadia). The similarities help highlight the differences between them, which is what the Abomination tries to show the Hulk throughout the story.


Jason Henderson is an American based author, currently residing in Colorado. He graduated from the Universities of Dallas (1993) and Columbus (1996),  earning degrees in both History and Law. He has written in many different fields, ranging from video games scripts for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, manga like the Tokyopop series Psy-comm, novels such as the Alex Van Helsing series, and several comic book series like Sword of Dracula from Image Comics.


For those interested in finding out more about the author, Jason Henderson, you can find out more at the following pages:


           Each chapter of the novel opens with an illustration from comic book artist, James W. Fry. If you are interested in seeing more of his work, simply follow these links:


In closing, I would like to thank my extended family for giving me this book, and to thank all of my readers for the tremendous amount of encouragement you have  shown me since I started my journey.


Until next time!


Cheers,

            Patrick Osborne