Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Finding Friday - Skyrim Writing Practice

Specifically for you writers.  I realize it's not Friday.  If it were we wouldn't be searching for it would we?

I wrote some yesterday.  Added a cooking scene to Brandal's intro.

I got home and wanted to continue writing.

I used my laptop, so as to kick it with Jantzen in the living room.  He decided to play Skyrim since we weren't watching a movie.  For some reason, My Box wouldn't sync up with my latest files I'd edited on a different computer... In fact, there was no "Brandal edits.docx" whatsoever.

I'll just watch Skyrim and wait for it to sync.

Watch.  Wait.  Watch.  Wait.  It became obvious the sync wasn't going to happen.  I'd have to go to another computer.  But it was already 11 pm and my rump was tucked nicely on a pillow on the floor between the couch and the futon in the write-friendliest pose you could imagine.

I watched more Skyrim, contemplating my dilemma.
Then I opened Word and just started writing.  Here's what came out.
[It's pretty rough. For the sake of this post, it hasn't been cleaned up]

                “Hold this.”  Mink handed off several random bits of armor and potions to Lydia.

                “I’m sworn to carry your burdens,” she said, not lacking sarcasm in the least. 

It’d be better if she just didn’t speak.  Everything she said irked him. 

                They arrived at the fort.  As predicted, it was overrun with bandits.  The first ran out with a mean looking club, followed by an old brigand with white hair and a wooden shield.  He had a sword but wasn’t quick enough to put it to any use.  Lydia was less than helpful, firing arrows into the group from thirty paces off.

                “Could use a hand here!” Mink shouted, downing a potion.  His mace bounced off the first man’s head, laying him down unceremoniously.  A third joined.  He swung a warhammer nearly taller than himself.  An arrow dropped the old man, leaving only the warhammer to worry about.  Mink dodged, sprang forward, finally managed to trip the bastard then bashed his head in on the way down.  An arrow stuck in the ground next to his foot. 

“Lydia!” But it wasn’t hers.  The shooter hid behind crumbling stone, fumbling with another arrow.  Mink rolled aside, came up around a tree, dashed forward with a yell, just bringing his shield up in time to block the arrow.  Lydia got to the archer first but had no idea what to do with him.  He’d brandished a dagger and was backing her against a tree.  Mink’s mace made a terrific sound against the side of the archer’s face.

                A single swordsman met them inside the fort, shirtless and roaring.  His greatsword swung windmills around the room, scattering chairs and sending Mink diving for cover.  Lydia got a lucky shot with her stolen dagger, exposing one of his ribs with a swipe.  Mink let the sword bounce off his shield, nearly breaking his arm, and stuck his mace in the man’s groin.  The swordsman hunched and Lydia’s dagger thumped into his back.
                The fort was as Mink had expected, rough-hewn wooden furniture - barely more than functional, stale bread, dusty sacks of seed or rice, rusty weapons, poorly tanned furs.  In one room, a large hall with arched wooden supports overhead, was a wide table with a map stretched across.  It had handwriting scrawled here and there, maybe some kind of a plan of attack.  More likely an ambush.  A chest sat tucked away beneath the table.  Mink had Lydia stand at the doorway as he picked the lock.  Inside were Orcish weapons and a pouch full of gold coins.  He took the gold.

 I went back and read this and was a little bit delighted.
No, it has no instrospection, no buildup, no dialogue, no plot, no arc, no romance, and very little setting.  It's action only.  But what it taught me in a matter of five minutes, was immense.
It taught me how to differentiate foes while writing action.
How to account for several characters at once.
That it's ok to mention a shield and it do no good whatsoever.
That we're watching from Mink's POV and we aren't supposed to know what Lydia's doing moment to moment, or what the other bandits are doing or how many are left...

And if an action scene in a video game could show me this, what could I learn from a funny scene in a comedy or a tense scene in a thriller or a scary scene in a horror movie or a romantic scene in a romance?

Have you ever watched TV and attempted to transcribe what you're seeing?  If not I challenge you to.  It's better if it's something you can pause.  If you aren't a TV or movie watcher (or even if you are!) maybe find a window and just write what's happening in the world, filling in the details that aren't forthcoming.  When you can't work on your story in progress, what do YOU write?


  1. All that from Skyrim? Impressive.
    I've never transcribed anything from what I am watching, but it has given me ideas what to watch.
    Progress is good, even if it's not what you intended to write.

    1. Gosh it's an awesome game... If only I had time to play video games myself.

  2. That is awesome, that game really did help me get to writing.

    I have never done that specifically, but one day a while back when I had a cat, I wrote something. I watched it slinking around the house and for some reason thought it would be awesome if dragon's moved like that. So I wrote of a scene about a dragon as if it were the cat slinking about.

    1. That sounds awesome! That's definitely what I'm talking about.

  3. That is a good idea! No, I've never thought to try transcribing a scene as it occurred. It would be a great exercise while watching a horror movie in a scary scene (for me). Awesome idea! And the scene you wrote was good!

    Looking at what Brandon wrote up there, I did once write a teeny little piece about my husband and cat. It was for an assignment where I was supposed to describe someone. It's one of my favorite pieces to this day.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    1. Thank you!
      Yeah, I think things that are a part of our personal lives are the easiest to transcribe to paper. The trick is being so imaginative that we convince our brain we are where we're writing... If that makes any sense.

  4. I'm always inspired by video games, TV and other books! You can't bury your head in the sand, so might as well use all that input as inspiration.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  5. Inspired from Skyrim??? Wow. I've never been inspired by a video game. I think it's because they're inspired by books and movies!

    Very cool.

    One little thing with dialog tags...there's no need to use "shouted" when you ended the dialog with an exclamation point. It's redundant.

    1. There was a time when I agreed with you. Especially referring to tags such as responded, answered, quipped or others that are especially redundant or distracting.
      But I'm in a transition.
      Using "said" would have deflated the exclamation point. Using "said loudly" is a waste of a word. I think the best alternative would have been to remove the tag entirely, informing readers it was him through context alone. And yet I do want characters to be able to 'whine, shriek, cry, mumble, etc.'
      I say all things in moderation.