Northwind, The Contributor

Member Since

1/29/2020

Last Activity

12/5/2020 12:21 PM

EXP Points

185

Post Count

195

Storygame Count

1

Duel Stats

0 wins / 2 losses

Order

Architect

Commendations

13

Northwind is professor for various disciplines at various universities in various countries. He is the author of a number of books (although nothing that you would have read) and quite a lot of technical papers. You might have seen reporting about his work in National Geographic, Time and The Wall Street Journal.

He prides himself on a number of technical skills that are almost entirely useless outside his own imagination. These include extinct martial arts, programming languages (both ephemeral and antiquated), quaint webdesign, obscure algebra and the ability to make sense of almost everything

He spends his time on mysterious online sites run by a bunch of weird enthusiasts.

 

Short Stories

Please check out my short stories below:

Recommendations

I really like the following storygames by others authors:

Trophies Earned

Earning 100 Points

Storygames

The Covid Assignment

Decorative Image

It is the end of January 2020. You are a network scientist who is asked to advise on possible responses to Covid-19, a new infectious disease that is just emerging. At this early stage much is till uncertain, but know what needs to be done. Can you get your numbers straight and will others listen to your advice at all?  

I have refrained from political commentary as much as possible and steered around some partisan issues. As a result all characters are purely fictional, and the game needed to be fairly linear. Nevertheless there are important choices and three different endings. 

Play this as a quiz about maths, epidemiology and communication skills. 


North of Night
unpublished

This is a story about leadership and tough choices. It is set in a darkish fantasy world. Lead a spear of legionnaires into neutral territory as they take on a dangerous mission.

There will be a lot of decisions to make and every single one has consequences. Your main character, Willen, is not without flaws, but ultimately he must become a good leader. The story rewards choices that a good leader would make.

Let's get started because, you need to go to jail...


Recent Posts

Miraculous Ladybug Fanfiction! on 12/5/2020 4:26:32 AM

I can't help with content, but ... this may be stating the obvious but keep narrative structure in mind. All memorable stories follow a pattern where complexity increases, rises to challenging levels, then a change occurs that reduces complexity, bringing us almost back to the beginning while some effects of the change persist.

A simple realization of this is the classic seven-part narrative, where the change is driven by the protagonist.If Marinette is your protagonist, i would start thinking what change she can undergo: e.g. becoming more confident, or more cautious, or readjusting her priorities such as realizing the value of friendships.

In a classic story she will undergo the change in response to an extreme crisis of some sort. Think about what scene could effect the change you want to describe. Now you need to construct some narrative leading up to the crisis.

Once that is done you basically have your work cut out for you. In a 7-part narrative your scenes would be:

  • Opening: We see her in her normal life. This is important to establish a baseline. Explain the ground rules of your world, but you can also forshadow the twist, without giving the game away.
  • Hook: Something is happening, it catches our interest. It could be just curiosity at this stage, or a threat on the horizon
  • Early success: We start following the hook up and things go well, we are making progress. This is important to deepen the readers investment in the character.
  • Turn for the worse: Only now do we see the the full scale of the problem, or there is something we overlook. Maybe we got tricked or betrayed and now we are headed into trouble.
  • Crisis/Twist: In the moment of greatest crisis a change occurs in the protagonist and it is this change that allows them to overcome the crisis and emerge victorious.
  • End: It's not over yet. Having survived the crisis we want to enjoy our newfound strength and we also want to see the protagonist go back to their normal lives. On the surface nothing has changed, yet everything has changed.

The above recipe basically gives you awesome fantasy stories. The majority of movies works like this (including everything that Disney has ever produced). Also once you have your plans laid out like this it is pretty clear what needs to go into the early scenes as there is a lot of setting up to do so that the eventual twist does not come out of the blue.

So we have a good story, but not a storygame yet. For a storygame you want to think about alternative endings. There is a temptation to have some 'wrong' choices that lead to quick deaths, but they are usually a let down. Instead you can have multiple endings that follow the same structure as above. For example there could be multiple ways to resolve the crisis, some of which may turn the the protagonist dead or evil (saving your friends, sacrificing yourself for your friends, abandoning your friends to save yourself, turning against your friends to become an evil superhero). Such evil bad endings can also make great experiences if you give them the same attention including the same sort of detailed ending (where the protagonist goes back to their normal life, now cackling softly to themselves).

Ideally we don't decide for an ending not in one big choice, but through a series of seemingly small choices, the proverbial slippery slope


(100 word stories) Just a short thing on the spot on 12/5/2020 3:49:18 AM
Avoiding needless words is important, but in this case I think the 'just' really pulls it's weight. It sends a signal, at least for me. The just is why you get the feeling in the beginning that she is dead. 'What she is dead? But I saw her just last friday!' This 'I saw her last friday' sounds much more casusal, and at least to me does not carry the same connotation.

(100 word stories) Just a short thing on the spot on 12/5/2020 3:45:36 AM
@PerforatedPenguin , I really like your story. This is powerful stuff. Can you do 500 words in that quality as well?

(100 word stories) Just a short thing on the spot on 12/4/2020 4:46:12 PM
I bow my head.

(100 word stories) Just a short thing on the spot on 12/4/2020 4:44:35 PM
Sphinx are fast and cunning, and thirst for blood like lions. The curiosity of cats and men runs in their veins entwined. She riddled me with claws and questions. Did I know the king? I did. Describe him? No. She lunged, called me a liar. All-knowing and all-seeing, yet missing the distinction. What then, I wondered, drives her thirst. Her claws swiped fourth in answer, had he consulted one like her, had someone? This, it struck me, sent me reeling. She stood there, in weakness, a questing mind, knowing all, seeing all secrets of a world utterly devoid. Of Spinx.

Get_Out_Of_Hell.txt on 12/2/2020 8:43:36 AM

You might have them wondering why there is a base there, or what it is guarding to plant the question in the readers mind. In that way it is less surprising but not totally unexpected when the answer hits.

Normally that's another thing that could work well in the beginning, but since you already need to signal the religious dimension in the beginning, it can't be there (a discussion about two topics seems disconnected and you can't connect them without giving the game away.)

So if I would write it they would have a somewhat religious discussion while looking at the plane. Then steal it, see something from the air that prompts a discussion about the purpose of the base. Then land get the big surprise and then end with a proper ending that picks up on the starting dialog.


Get_Out_Of_Hell.txt on 12/2/2020 5:50:55 AM

Ogre's review is hilarious, but don't let this distract you from the point he got across so nicely: Writing is tough. You have a picture in your mind, a pattern of excitement in your neurons, and you want to get other people's brains to see the same picture, their neurons to be excited in the same way. To make it worse you have to do it by making marks on a piece of paper, or in this case, a computer screen.

After you wrote this you probably (hopefully) checked if the writing matched the picture, the pattern of excitation that was on your mind. However this is the wrong question, what you need to proofread for is if the words evoke the right picture in somebody who hasn't the picture in mind yet. Ogre has done a fantastic job at illustrating what may go on in the mind of the reader.

If you think about this writing can seem like an intimidating challenge. How could you ever put down words that cannot be misunderstood? The answer is that you couldn't if there wasn't something more to work with. This extra bit is our shared human experience. In a sense you are already using these shared experiences alot. When you write plane, you don't need to explain that it is a machine used for flying, every reader will roughly know what you are talking about, but only roughly. By dropping in some more words you can control whether the picture that pops up in the reader's mind is a rickety biplane whose canvas wings have been patched numerous times, the new XR155T with it's sleek black body that seems to absorb all light, or maybe the type-C support lifter which only technically becomes a plane once it has reached sufficient altitude to fold out it's wings and rotate thrusters to their horizontal position (see what I did here). Funnily, even stuff that is completely made up (XR155T) can evoke a certain image if you hit the right tone.

The real kicker though is that we actually have shared expectations that apply to every story. For example one such shared expectation is that the protagonist is introduced in the beginning. This is a way of telling the readers brain who to pay attention to. Quite a lot of such expectations exist and if you know them you can work with them to great effect, if you ignore them you will find that your stories fail to achieve the desired effect.

Here is another concrete example: On my first reading I entirely missed the twist in your story (that the base is guarding an entrance to hell). I only really understood it when you pointed it out explicitly in your reply to Ogre. So how can I miss the hole point. First the ending was too quick and too confusing, the story ended before I really had a chance to process. But, I think the deeper more important reason is that my brain wasn't watching for something like this. The reason is that you were not controlling expectations. Basically the first thing you want to make sure in writing is that the reader understands what genre you are in. The genre sets down the ground rules of what can happen and what can't. In a pirate movie people everybody can swing on ropes, in slapstick movie everybody fails when they try. In fantasy a dragon could be hiding behind the next corner, in historical drama not so much. The genre lays down the ground rules of the world, then you can put some more effort in to modify them. But, see what happened, Ogre reads the story as far-future SciFi, I read it as thriller, so we are reading it with completely different expectations. None of these expectations includes Hell, so we aren't watching for this at all, and when it appears it is so implausible that at least my brain decided to ignore the possibility completely.

So what can be done about this? Think what you want to achieve, then think carefully about what bits need to be established beforehand. In your case just describing the plane in more detail in the beginning will set the tone and fix the genre. You want to break the conventions of the genre a bit by having hell show up. This is great. Breaking rules is always good, but to get away with it, it needs to be set up right. So if you want to have hell appear you need to lay the groundwork for this at the start. Perhaps the narrator and Bruce can have a discussion about the afterlife, maybe the narrator is worried that stealing is a sin. Such a dialog has the added benefit of telling us alot about who the characters are.

There is at least one other thing you want to set up in the beginning, can you guess what it is?


Howdy :> on 12/2/2020 4:38:47 AM

Hi welcome, what makes this site great is that, beneath the surface, it is actually a pretty serious writing community. People are excited about writing and care about producing quality. Although this is still part of the internet and hence there is a predictable amount of trash, there are also some impressive stories here.

The stuff about bans is only half joking. I am pretty much a newb here and during my first months I was slightly disconcerted by the rate of bans happening (and being celebrated publicly on the forum). They are due to a certain pattern where some random (invariably 14yo) kid joins, behaves for a day, and then starts posting a lot of short, vacuous posts that quickly become annoying. Since this happens at a high rate, tempers are short and response is swift. The perpetrator in question typically just creates a new account and (also invariably) announces this on the forum. Response is even swifter. After they burn through a bunch accounts over in a day they vanish and then the next person joins and does the exact same thing.

The quick bans and public ridicule can be intimidating, but they keep the site from degenerating into something that nobody here wants. When you know the site is actually open and welcoming and you can speak your mind pretty freely as long as you making an actual contribution. Quality content is greatly valued&emdash;this of course includes good story games but also insightful reviews, and even good forum posts.


how do I change my username? on 12/2/2020 4:06:10 AM
Decisions have consequences ;) ... could be the motto of this site. Anyway, welcome to this weird place!

Get_Out_Of_Hell.txt on 12/1/2020 3:51:18 PM
A short piece is a great opportunity to improve. Try to polish it, see how good you can make it.