Tag Archives: Apocalypse Madness

#WriteFriday – July 17th

It’s summertime, so I’m not going to lie – I didn’t get any writing done this Friday. But that was okay – on Wednesday, my brother and I went on our own sort of writing retreat at a provincial park.  I admit, I didn’t spend the entire time writing.  We wandered around for a bit, I went swimming, and ended up reading for a bit (in case you’re wondering, I’m reading The Martian, which is really awesome!)  But I still managed to write a few more NPC’s for my (still untitled) StoryNexus game project.

Then on Saturday, I was hanging out with my brother for a bit again.  I was originally planning on staying home, but it quickly became apparent that if I did, I was going to waste the night playing Hearthstone.  So I went to his place.  Once again, I spent more time reading (because The Martian really is that awesome), but I did get a bit more writing done.  I figured out the name for one of my NPC’s (I wanted a gender-neutral name, and wasn’t able to come up with anything I liked on Wednesday when I didn’t have the help of my laptop).  And then I also planned out what I would be doing next (which is going to be fleshing out some of the stories a bit more before building more NPCs – I know I’ll need a few more, but I’m not quite sure how many yet).  So hopefully I’ll get that stuff figured out this week!

Oh yeah, and my brother and I came up with some ideas for Apocalypse Madness.  I realized that the month’s already halfway over, so I need to get writing something for that blog, too!

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No #WriteFriday June 12th

It’s birthday weekend!  I actually agonized on whether or not to hold to the #WriteFriday tradition, but in the end decided not to: I had too much stuff to do on Friday and chose not to write.

But that was okay, because I made up for it by writing a quick microfiction for Apocalypse Madness today!

I ended up looking through the older quotes, in particular the ones from March-August 2011 which did not have any stories written for them.  I found the June 2011 quote, which was from the Magic card Zombie Scavengers: “Pick a shell upon my shore and put it to your ear. That sound isn’t the sea, but the whispers of the fallen.” Of course, this screamed a City of the Dead story to me; I quickly came up with the idea for “Crushing the Rebellion,” which I do admit is rather similar in ways to last month’s “A Bit of a Waste.”  Even though it’s similar, it’s managed to suggest another story and more characters for the world, which is awesome – that means that City of the Dead has become more of a living setting, similar to Imezza (even though that wasn’t the original goal with it).

That’s all the time I have for writing today though.  I’m hoping that next week I’ll have more time and can get back to working on the StoryNexus Project. 🙂

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Apocalypse Madness

Apocalypse Madness.  I’ve written a few blog posts about it, and about writing stuff for it.  But I thought I would give an actual run-down on what it is and how exactly it works.

I started Apocalypse Madness in August 2008.  At the time I had come across the Icatian Crier Magic card, which had the following as its flavour text: “A thousand years removed from her home, her news of war had lost its context, but not its relevance.”  I remember being blown away by that quote, thinking it had so much story potential.  So I talked to a couple of friends and got them to agree to write stories inspired by that quote.  The idea was that every month, someone would post a new quote, then everyone who contributes to the blog would have to write a story inspired by it.   I didn’t want to be the only one choosing the quotes because I didn’t think that was fair; if it were always me it would probably be the same kinds of quotes that caught my attention. Taking turns posting quotes would make it a more interesting experience for both writers and readers.

During its heyday, Apocalypse Madness had stories of all kinds of lengths, from super short poetry to multi-post epics.  For some reason that I’ve never figured out, the stories tended to have a dark tone.  This was true even when we were writing about the most lighthearted quote we could find.  Check out “Problems,” “A Love Story for All Time,” and the always popular “Explosion” if you want to see what sorts of things everyone was writing.

The blog had a core of about five writer who contributed regularly until 2011, when the blog petered out.  It was in March that the beginning of the end happened: there were five quotes in a row with no stories written for them.  Finally, in August of 2011, I stopped asking people to come up with quotes.  And so Apocalypse Madness died.

But then at the end of 2014, a funny thing happened.  My brother was set to run a workshop for the Northern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW).  And in his bio for that workshop, they listed him as still contributing to Apocalypse Madness.  I spoke with him about it (after making sure he hadn’t actually been writing stuff on Apocalypse Madness for years without me knowing about it), and he didn’t really care that it said that.  But I made the decision at that time to revive the blog.  For one thing, there would at least be fresh stories and content if anyone curious came looking.  And for another thing, Apocalypse Madness was a great excuse to keep me on a writing schedule (this was decided before #WriteFriday came into being, by the way).  Sure, it’s not making me write something daily.  But having a story a month is a great place to start.  And really, there’s no excuse for failing to write some form of a story on this schedule: even if your daily life is too busy, surely you can fit in at least one microfiction a month?

But of course, Apocalypse Madness isn’t really the same without the community.  In its heyday, the authors didn’t just write stories – they also commented on other people’s stories.  When I revived the blog, I told the original core authors about it.  A few of them contributed stories and quotes for the first few months.  But now, just five months in, it’s only me.  But I’m not giving up.  I made writing a story a month on Apocalypse Madness one of my goals for the year (which I am happy to say I am keeping up with).

If you would like to join, leave a comment on this post, or shoot me an email at inkscribbler (at) gmail (dot) com.  This month is actually a great time to start – I made the decision to have no quote for the month of June.  Instead you can write a story inspired by any of the previous quotes!  This is going to happen in December as well.

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#WriteFriday – May 29th

It’s #WriteFriday!  It’s also the end of the month, and that means I need to post a story inspired by this month’s quote to Apocalypse Madness.  Luckily I started a story earlier this week.  That story became “A Bit of a Waste,” which deals with two of the three main NPC’s from the StoryNexus game I’m working on,Caden and Tzalmon.  My original plan was that Caden would be a normal human, rather than the ghostly revenant.  But when I had the idea for this story, it made sense that Caden would be a revenant instead.  It’ll (I hope) add a lot more to the story branches that will center on her.

“A Bit of a Waste” is also the first time I’ve shown off one of the coolest (in my opinion anyway) things about City of the Dead: where zombies come from!  The actual idea (which is from something like 6-12 months ago), is that a zombie and ghost, together are one.  So when you pull the spirit out of someone, their body remains animated but mindless.  Zombies eat brains in an effort to regain what was lost, even though they don’t consciously know what they’re missing.  I renamed the ghosts to “revenants” because City of the Dead is a place where there are lots of spirits kicking around, and I wanted to differentiate these ones from the more natural ghosts that are people who naturally die (their spirits remain until they eventually fade away into nothing).

My plan was to made “A Bit of a Waste” another microfiction.  But it ended up a bit too long for the definition I used last month.  That was mainly because I had a hard time ending this story.  Plus it has some details I really wanted to leave in.  But it comes in at 274 words, which I thought was acceptable.

I’m still not sure what I think of the ending though.  It’s a bit abrupt.  But I didn’t want to spend too much time on it because this story, much like “When Sorry Isn’t Good Enough,” is more of an exploratory piece.  It’s quite possible that details will change as I continue to work on both the setting and my StoryNexus game, so I didn’t want to get stuck agonizing over it.

So once that I posted my May Apocalypse Madness story, I turned my attention to my StoryNexus game.  I’m now at a point where I need to be reading, rather than writing; to that end I read through the StoryNexus Quickstart and Creator Guidelines, before going to play some more with the tools.  I’ll give the Reference Guide a read hopefully later this week

Oh, I also want to note that I made a mistake in terminology – the Always cards are the pinned cards, so they’re going to be the story cards in this game; the Sometimes cards are the ones that appear in the deck, and so they are going to be where the worldbuilding (and grinding, if necessary) will be.

Unfortunately, my internet connection doesn’t appear to be great and certain things in the tool set refused to load (like adding success results to storylets).  So after playing for a bit, I decided to start really planning out some of the stories within my game (on paper, of course – that’s my preferred method for working on early drafts of things).  To that effect, I got the Destiny soundtrack from iTunes, which is going to be my writing music for the rest of the night.

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“The Switch”

April is almost over, so I really needed to get writing for Apocalypse Madness.  I didn’t want to write anything long (especially after the story I wrote for the February quote).  So I did a bit of research into microfiction, and found first this article by David Gaffney, and then this article by Jason Gurley.  With their tips in hand, I started writing.  My resulting story is called “The Switch.”  I know it doesn’t really deal with dreams, but that’s the beauty of Apocalypse Madness: the quotes are just a starting point.

The finished story ended up exactly 150 words, meeting David Gaffney’s recommended length for microfiction.  I tried to keep his other tips in mind as I was writing.  But this was my first conscious attempt at microfiction, so I don’t know how well I succeeded (but feel free to read “The Switch” and let me know how I did in the comments either here or on Apocalypse Madness).

Parts of “The Switch” seemed familiar to me as I was writing them.  Kind of like I’ve written about this stuff before.  So I went looking through previous stories I’ve written on Apocalypse Madness and almost immediately found “The Mirror Traveller.”  Like “The Switch,” “The Mirror Traveller” deals with people switching places with their reflections.

Also, fun fact: the name Toshi is Japanese and apparently means “mirror reflection.”  I thought that was particularly fitting for this story.

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#WriteFriday – March 27th

So #WriteFriday didn’t happen last Friday.  I thought I’d be able to write for a little bit.  But then the contractor who has been fixing the (Death) stairs to my apartment showed up first thing in the morning and told me he was putting the new stairs in.  I got home at lunch to see how things were going and my cat heard me and was freaking out.  I was going to take some boxes to the recycling depot, so the contractor suggested I take Merlin with me.  Once I took him out of the house, I didn’t want to just bring him back right away.  So to give the contractor some time to finish the stairs, I took Merlin on a fun adventure to my mom’s work (which is a cat-friendly environment).  Merlin wandered around like he owned the place for a good hour, and loved all the people who were paying attention to him.  From there I brought him home then had to cook something for a potluck I was going to.

All of that is me basically saying: life happened.  But here I am, ready to write some more.

Today is going to be similarly busy, but barring having to get my cat out of the house, I’ll definitely be writing this afternoon.  As it’s the end of the month, I’ll be focusing on my Apocalypse Madness story for March.  I’ve had a hard time coming up with a story for this month’s quote, so most likely it’s going to be a first (or possibly second) draft of a story going up for me.

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Magic Systems

I’m going to admit, I’m not really a “systems” or “rules” sort of person.  I’ve always preferred a good story, and never really cared about how exactly the magic works.  Which left me in a bit of an awkward spot when I realized that magic is an extremely important component of City of the Dead.  So during this last #WriteFriday, I spent a huge chunk of time trying to think through the magic system of the world.

To that end, I needed some help.  So I went online and found a couple of great articles to get me started.  There were three in particular that I found really helpful:

  1. Janice Hardy’s Do You Believe in Magic? Building a Magic System for Your World
  2. Brandon Sanderson’s First Law
  3. Sanderson’s Second Law

(I also found Sanderson’s Third Law of Magic, but that was after I was done working on City of the Dead for the night).

Sanderson’s First two Laws were great for helping me think through the beginnings of my magic system.  Do I want it to be a soft magic system?  Hard magic?  Somewhere in between?  What will people be able to do with this system?  What are its limitations?  By the end of the night (and with some help from my friend Scott, who let me bounce some ideas off of him), I had a basic system that I was rather happy with.  Of course now, I’m going to have to rethink through some of the setting pieces, which no longer work.

On a related note, that Apocalypse Madness story I wrote for January no longer works either.

Hardy’s article likewise had some great advice for starting off, but didn’t go into as much depth as Sanderson did.  So I definitely recommend starting with Sanderson’s laws.  But once you’re past the initial stuff, Hardy gives you some great questions to think through how magic will work in both your larger world and your story.

If you’ve found any other articles to be helpful when designing magic systems (or have your own tips), please post them in the comments!  I’d love to see what other people have to say on the subject.

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#Write Friday – Feb 27th

It’s #WriteFriday!  I’m getting a later start than last week, so my main priority is to get my February Apocalypse Madness story posted.  Anything more than that is bonus.

To that end, I printed it out during the week.  I’m going to edit it and post it.  Unfortunately I don’t really have time for anything more than that with this story, so it’s going to be a second draft that’s going up.  But that’s ok – Apocalypse Madness is all about hitting the monthly deadline with a story.  And I won’t be posting a first draft, so I’ll be happy!  🙂

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Today is #WriteFriday!  #WriteFriday was started three weeks ago, on the day I posted my City of the Dead story to Apocalypse Madness.  The idea is that every Friday is supposed to be spent writing (or at the very least, you have to write for an hour, as in the case of last Friday when I worked 9-5).

On the first #WriteFriday, I worked on the Apocalypse Madness story, then ended up starting edits on .  On the second one (Feb 6th), I worked on a first draft of a new short story I’m writing (it’s in a notebook).  Last week I was super tired from working all day, but I managed to plan out a story for this month’s Apocalypse Madness quote.

So this week, I’m hoping to write out the Apocalypse Madness story, and type up the other short story (which will mean doing some edits on it). 🙂


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A City of the Dead Short Story

I’m excited to say that I wrote a short story set in my City of the Dead world!  It’s posted as my entry for Apocalypse Madness this month.

City of the Dead was originally envisioned to be the setting for my Storynexus project.  The Storynexus project hasn’t happened, but I’ve kept thinking about that world, particularly while playing on Pinterest.  So while thinking about what to write for this month’s quote, the idea of setting something in City of the Dead seemed perfect, especially since it is the setting I’ve had on my mind lately.

The story I wrote is called “When Sorry Isn’t Good Enough.”  I originally wrote the story a few days ago when I couldn’t sleep.  Today I edited it quite a bit, focussing on making the dialogue flow.  It’s only an early draft, not a highly polished piece because it is sort of exploratory, giving me a chance to see how the setting felt.  I was especially interested in seeing what the Vampire Queen might be like (“the queen” in the story because she doesn’t have a proper name yet).  She’s an essential piece of the setting, so it was interesting to see how she would react in the story.  The whole piece was a lot of fun to play with – I actually discovered as I was writing that there are mages and a mage council in the setting.  I also ended up with Kai, a character who seems to have a lot of story to him.  So all in all, this was a very productive exercise for me.

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