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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Guest Blog by Jay Posey - Under the Influence ... of VIDEO GAMES - April 29, 2014


Please welcome Jay Posey to The Qwillery. Jay is the author of the Legends of the Duskwalker. Morningside Fall (Legends of the Duskwalker 2) is out today from Angry Robot Books. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jay a Happy Publication Day!



Guest Blog by Jay Posey - Under the Influence ... of VIDEO GAMES - April 29, 2014




Under the Influence … of VIDEO GAMES

       It’s a fairly common experience: you’re hanging out at a party, or a conference, or a convention, and you meet someone new, and they ask you what you do for a living. For me, this exchange generally falls into a somewhat predictable pattern that looks something like:
New Acquaintance (politely feigning interest): “So, Jay, what do you do for a living?”

Me (nervous, as usual): “Oh, I’m a writer.”

New Acquaintance (leaning forward with genuine interest): “Oh, really? Wow that’s cool! What do you write?”

Me (nervous, as usual): “Video games!”

New Acquaintance (leaning back, scanning room for reason to escape): “Oh … that sounds … interesting. I’m sorry, would you excuse me for a moment?”
       And I get it. Video games aren’t exactly known for their ground-breaking, revolutionary writing and mastery of story-telling. It’s not a secret that writers of other media sometimes think of game writing as the sort of thing you do if you aren’t good enough to write anything else. Which is a real shame, because some of the most talented writers I’ve ever met work in games, and can (and do) move effortlessly from games to novels to movies to TV shows. I won’t get up on my soapbox about the complexity involved in writing your average video game, but I will say that one of the coolest things about the discipline is that it draws from just about every other form of writing there is out there.

       Though I’ve been interested in all forms of creative writing since I was a wee lad, I came into the game industry with more of a screenwriting background than anything else. Like most people, I assumed that if I knew how to write a movie, writing a game would be easy. I will pause now for all of my game writing brothers and sisters to have their laugh and wipe the tears away.

        Suffice to say, I had a lot to learn from games, and I was fortunate to have an excellent mentor in the legendary Richard Dansky. After a few years in the game industry, when I decided to take a stab at writing a novel, I was amazed at how much I was able to bring over. I probably don’t have the space to cover everything that you can learn from game writing and apply to novel writing, but three big things jump out to me.

        The first is in world building, and there are two important lessons I picked up. One lesson, which is probably kind of obvious, was in what it took to establish the world. That’s mostly in regards to the amount of work and the level of detail that needs to go into building up a new world from scratch for the writer’s use. Learning what kinds of questions to answer and what kind of topics to consider when creating a consistent, credible world was a huge help to me when I started my novel writing. But just as important was learning what of all that information actually needed to be communicated to the audience. I found myself constantly tempted to want to tell ALL THE INFORMATIONS, because hey, I spent so much time figuring out the details, it only seemed natural to share it all with everyone. But game writing taught me a lot about the difference between writer’s needs and the audience’s needs.

       Another thing I learned from game writing was to trust my own creativity to deliver in times of crisis. Game development is typically a chaotic process where budget concerns or looming deadlines might suddenly gut your entire meticulously-crafted second act break without warning. Or, you know, your second act entirely. It’s not necessarily a pleasant process, but having to pick up your broken story bits and then reforge them into a meaningful narrative develops a certain confidence in being able to face those crisis moments. When I hit a wall while writing a novel, I still tend to have a little freak out, but I also know that if I take a little time to breathe and contemplate, my story brain will generally find a solution.

       And probably the biggest influence that game writing has had on my personal writing style is that it’s made me more comfortable with the idea of the audience collaborating to create their own experience. When I first started out writing prose, I was always very concerned with making sure that readers would picture things exactly as I saw them. But in games, the story you write is only part of the equation; it’s not really complete until the player steps in and adds their choices and actions, and experiences it all for themselves. In writing games, I learned that it was okay if your version of a character didn’t look exactly the same as mine, or if that fight scene played out for you with fewer elbows and more flips. It’s a natural part of reading anyway, to personalize your own vision of the material, but it’s one I had just never really embraced the idea of. These days I spend more energy trying to sketch the right feeling for a particular scene or setting, giving readers enough to understand what’s going on and to build their own picture of it, without necessarily trying to enforce my personal vision for every little thing.

       I could ramble on a lot longer talking about all the things that writing video games has taught me about all the other forms of writing I like to do, but I’d likely go on until I was the only one left listening. Suffice to say, the depth and complexity of video game narrative provides ample opportunities to learn and to practice a lot of the craft found in other disciplines, and I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had writing in the industry.





Morningside Fall
Legends of the Duskwalker 2
Angry Robot Books, April 29, 2014 (US/Canada and eBook)
      May 1, 2014 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
Cover Art: Steven Meyer-Rassow

Guest Blog by Jay Posey - Under the Influence ... of VIDEO GAMES - April 29, 2014
The lone gunman Three is gone, and Wren is the new governor of the devastated settlement of Morningside, but there is turmoil in the city. When his life is put in danger, Wren is forced to flee Morningside until he and his retinue can determine who can be trusted.

They arrive at the border outpost, Ninestory, only to find it has been infested with Weir in greater numbers than anyone has ever seen. These lost, dangerous creatures are harbouring a terrible secret – one that will have consequences not just for Wren and his comrades, but for the future of what remains of the world.

File Under: Science Fiction



Three
Legends of the Duskwalker 1
Angry Robot Books, July 30, 2013 (US/Canada and eBook)
     August 1, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Cover Art: Steven Meyer-Rassow

Guest Blog by Jay Posey - Under the Influence ... of VIDEO GAMES - April 29, 2014
The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.

But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantle of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Three For All | Apocalyptic Wasteland | A Journey Home | Fear the Weir ]





About Jay

Guest Blog by Jay Posey - Under the Influence ... of VIDEO GAMES - April 29, 2014
Jay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises.

A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry.

You can find him online at his website, jayposey.com, as well as on Twitter (@HiJayPosey).


Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014


Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014


To those who celebrate Happy Easter and to those who don't Happy 20th April! I hope that whatever you are up to you have a good book to hand. I have been lucky to have read a couple of goodies this past week. So what have I read?

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014
I started the week returning to a series I love - The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. I didn't re-read one of the books but found a novella from the series that I hadn't read - How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea. The novella features Mahir who appears in the series but not prominently until the final book in the series. This story takes place after the final book Blackout and with Mahir taking a trip to Australia to see the rabbit proof fence and the unique way that Australians have dealt with the zombie apocalypse. I love this series and it was one of the few where I liked the secondary characters as well as the main ones, including Mahir. I did think however, that once you finish a series it should stay that way.  I liked the story but the impact is gone as in my mind the series has finished. I think I will avoid reading the other two novellas I haven't read yet.

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014I then set my sights on reading a book I got from NetGalley  - Morningside Fall by Jay Posey. I read and reviewed book 1 of the series Three last summer which was Posey's debut novel. I thought Three was pretty good, especially as a debut but I didn't enjoy Morningside Fall. Posey made a risky decision to turn an 8 year old boy, Wren into the story's hero and main character and it was a risk that didn't pan out in my view. Wren fluctuated between clinging to his mother, as you would expect a child of that age to act like and talking/acting like a very articulate adult. I have yet to find an 8 year old that uses inner dialogue that they are 'appalled by their own weakness'. Young children don't think that way, act that way or speak that way. It really diminished the power of the story but having such a young character as the focal point and main protagonist. The story also dragged as it was almost all inner and verbal dialogue. There was a lot of action but it was almost all conveyed verbally rather than Posey describing events. This makes for a tedious read. Posey has a great post apocalyptic world and interesting characters in the Weir who sound part zombie/part robot but so many of the other characters are really one dimensional and stereotypical. I really struggled to finish this book and spent as much time looking at the fantastic front cover as I did wishing it would end already.

I rounded out the week reading an ARC I received from Qwill - Turning Tides by Mia Marshall. I read and reviewed the first two books of series last August Broken Elements and Shifting Elements and was super excited to have a crack at reading the next book. I will be writing a full review of this book so look out for this in May.

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014That is it for me for now as I am off to read something that isn't fantasy or science fiction! I am going to read my new recipe book - Leon which is actually the name of a coffee shop type bistro which does delicious food.  I am looking for something that will counter balance all the chocolate I plan on eating this weekend. If I don't slip into a sugar coma I will look forward to clearing off more books from my TBR. Until next week Happy Reading.
Guest Blog by Jay Posey - Under the Influence ... of VIDEO GAMES - April 29, 2014Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014

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