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The Fun of Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding is a cornerstone activity for writers and gamers alike. Without it, our characters would not have a place to live or props to tell stories. This short primer will show you how to make a basic planetary concept with just a few basic ideas.

One of the first places to consider starting is with a species, then a planet, and then possibly their language. You name them, then design small aspects of each of them.

With species, start with the basics and get a clear vision of them in your mind. This can be anything from skin tones, eye colors, legs, arms, hair colors, and if they have unique abilities such as tremor sense, telepathy, or empathy. Are they a matriarchal or patriarchal society? Do they value gender equality? Do they have deities? What is their main cultural focus, like music, education, art, mining, etc.? Once you have these, you can move on to creating their planet.

Poll of the Week: Life changing experiences

Some experiences are definitely life changing. It could be argued that all of our experiences alter our lives to some degree, but some of them make changes so deep that our lives are fundamentally and forever different. Initiating a relationship, getting married, having a child — or suffering an accident and permanent injury, for example. Whether we chose to experience these life changing events, or whether they come upon us in surprise, we must all adapt and learn to live with the consequences.

When simming, we want to make our characters alike to real people, even when our characters are living out their lives on starships set in the distant future. That means some of these events will also affect our characters. We have seen characters start or end relationships, have children or receive terrible injuries. But on this, we have control — we decide what experiences our characters go through, especially those experiences that will mark them forever.

For this week’s poll, we want to know how much you exercise this control. Do you carefully plan every major change for your character, or do you let them happen and explore them as they come? Come to the forums to tell us.

This is a new post in our category Simming Questions. Here we will be asking questions about our community, our characters and our writing, and how you interact with it all.

Strange New Worlds Contest returns

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

For 2016, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the mind-blowing and imagination-igniting effect those words have Simon & Schuster announcing the return of an opportunity for fans to help create a part of the Star Trek universe. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds fan fiction writing contest was a yearly contest that drew short stories from the fans for publication between 1998 and 2007.

For the 2016 contest 10 grand prize winners will be chosen to have their stories published in print and ebook formats. The stories must be about main – or recurring – characters that appeared in television or films before 2009. The two 1st prize winners will also be awarded self-publishing packages from Archway Publishing.

A deadline of January 15, 2016 is set for submissions by residents of the U.S. only, with the winners to be announced in March. For those of you with interests in visual arts, fans will soon be asked to submit artwork for the cover of the book.

Additional rules and information about how to enter can all be found at Star Trek Books. Check it out today!

Ongoing Worlds 2015 Squiddies Awards

Nominations are open for the 2015 Squiddies awards at Ongoing Worlds. These awards are given to a person, sim or game, and one club. Each award nominee is judged on criteria like excellence in role playing, originality and innovation, and facilitating the community experience.

In order to nominate someone you need to only fill out this form right here. There is no limit to the number of nominations a person can make and each needs a short write-up about why the person/sim/club deserves the award, but make sure you submit your nomination by the end of the month!

For those of you that don’t know. Ongoing Worlds is a website that hosts several role playing games and has a blog that regularly publishes articles by people all over the role playing community. So it is a great opportunity to reach and inform people who may not otherwise come across information about our game.

Being part of our community is a great opportunity to experience all of these things and so much more. We have so many talented writers spread across an entire universe of ships and installations, if you can think of someone who deserves recognition for what they have done in the fleet in 2014 head on over and fill out the nomination for them!

Officer’s Guide: I Want to Feel It

What we write here at UFOP:SB118 is by and large fiction. Works of creative fiction are what move and motor our past, present and future, and keeps us all interested in the creative writing process as a whole. There are times however, when you may realize that the spark that was once there may not be anymore.  We need to feel just where your character comes from.That’s right. The key to reigniting that spark is that, as readers, we all want to… feel

Even from the time you filled out your application with the community, you’ve been drilled on character creation, and the importance of being able to create a plausible and detailed work of fiction, mostly because it’s going to be the basis for everything you do during your tour of duty. The character you create is the avatar in which your ideas come to life, the vessel that brings your creative writing to print. This is where you begin to learn about one of the first lessons in this line of work… separation between real life (RL), and in character (IC).

Officer’s Guide: Pushing it To Print

Most of us view this sort of writing as another creative avenue for us to relieve some stress, go on an adventure from the comforts of our home, or to meet new and interesting people. Some people might have different uses, such as honing their writing abilities, or sharpening their English skills in time for something bigger. Some of us enjoy writing our own books; enjoy making stories for all to enjoy. But the tricky part is… having all enjoy it. Publishing can be a bear of a task, but a little help is on the way.

In this article from The Writer’s Technology Companion, the ins and outs of the publishing business and how to bring your goal to fruition are laid out for understanding. Also the link to the actual text of So You Want to Write a Book? (O’Reilly Media) can be found here as well, bringing you to a wealth of information outlining the publishing process, how much you would expect to pay, legal issues, contracts and much more. Broken down into seven chapters, each section has specific information concerning all parts of the publishing process. This isn’t an end all be all solution to your publishing problem, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Push that book to print officer, just make sure you send me a copy…

Facing Down Writer’s Block

Writing for the Starbase 118 Fleet is not something that you can often do on a whim. Like all good writers, lots of time, energy, creativity, and thought. All of these aspects must flow in order for a good story to coalesce, but more often than not, we often find one, or more, of these streams blocked.

When this happens, we suffer from a condition known as writer’s block.

Have you ever sat down to write up a sim, but no matter how hard you try to concentrate and make something work, nothing seems to fall in place? What about those times where you simply cannot come up with anything you feel is a worthy contribution to the plot flow? These are just a few examples of writer’s block, and you can easily see why the condition interferes so much. Without the ability to write, we are unable to participate in the flow of the story on our ships, which can lead to the overwhelming task of catching up to everyone once you are able to write again.

It’s easy to see why no one likes it when writer’s block comes knocking, but what do you do when you are suffering from the dreaded condition? The St. Cloud State University has created a short, but very effective list of approaches that can help you overcome writer’s block. It only takes a moment to put your train of thought onto another track. Take a moment and look over this list to see if you can break through your blocked creativity and get back to the business of writing again.

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Active Verbs: Preferred By Writer’s Everywhere

While the Federation Standard for Starbase 118 is English, not all of the writers in the group hail from English speaking countries. There truly is a melting pot of members throughout the different ships and bases here, each with their own level of writing skill. It is for that reason that we delve into the nitty gritty rules that English was built upon once and a while; to remind ourselves the proper way of writing, and the best way to make our sims even better than they were before.

One of the most commonly mistaken or misused aspects of the English language involve the use of verbs. Now, we all know that a verb is a word that describes some form of action, but what most of us may not know is that there is always a way to actively use a verb, as well as a method of passively using a verb. Going deeper, there are some specific situations where you should use one, but not the other. In plenty of other situations, either method would work.

The lines may get confusing, which is why English expert Dennis Jerz has put together a really awesome guide; Active and Passive Verbs, from his Literacy Weblog. By using some very simple examples, Jerz is able to paint a picture that everyone can understand. With everyone’s end goal being a great sim, we should never turn down the chance to learn a little bit more about how to write the next Top Sim for the Fleet.

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It’s All In The Ending…

Everyone loves a happy ending, unless of course, that’s not what your audience wants. There are plenty of ways to end our stories, or at least pause them so that our sims don’t end up being miles long, but how many of those ‘so called endings’ are really fulfilling to our crewmates?

Writing a sim is never just about you and your character. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of what we do here in the Starbase 118 Fleet is to provide interesting and unique stories for our fellow crew members. If we don’t put thought and effort into giving those people, who are also our audience, what they want, then slowly everyone’s writer begins to lose interest in the story, and the game. Since we don’t want that ending, we must learn to write better so that we are not only enjoying reading the sims of our crewmates, but we are giving back the same level of enjoyment to them.

Knowing what your readers want, however, can be difficult. It’s a lot like mind reading, which is a gift that a few of us only have In Character. Thankfully, accomplished writer Cat Rambo has taken the time to give some guidance on how to really attain that goal of reader satisfaction with her blog post The Secrets of Ending a Story Well. She too believes that writing the perfect endings are not always the simplest part of the story, but with time, and the right path, you too can learn just how to entice your crewmates into coming back for more by integrating the perfect closure to your sims, storylines, and subplots.

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Improving Your Writing Skills

With the bulk of the interaction within Starbase 118 being based in the world of text, it is no mystery why we all want to improve our writing skills whenever we can. By learning about the little details that are nestled throughout the English language, we are able to create nothing less than a masterpiece for our crew mates to read. Still, there is no point where improvement is no longer needed; even the best writers will be fast to tell you that learning is a process, not a destination.

As such, finding new avenues of knowledge that can help Fleet members improve their skills so that the entire game improves is quite important. This week, the avenue of learning is located on the Lifehacker blog, where Writing Week takes center stage in their Top 10 Tips for Better Writing. From activities that should be looked at before you begin, to finding the perfect way to end your text, these tips are not only easy to integrate into your writing routine, but they can make a world of difference.

We all love writing, especially in a world as rich and as deep as that created by Gene Roddenberry. Where there are few boundaries, your creativity can take you, and all of your crew mates, to a new level. Make sure that you are ready to join the party by always learning something new and continually improving the one skill we all use most; the writing skill.

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