Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Virtual Writing?

See what happens when I don’t have a blog challenge? I get fat, sassy, and downright blog lazy. Not that my lack of blogness represents a lapse in writing. I just finished a red-hot novella, SUITE SEDUCTION, and am back at work on A GRAND SEDUCTION. (Gee, that word keeps cropping up in my titles these days.) Also, in preparation for my summer writing “hiatus”(haw haw) I’m in the process of reviving the video game romance soap that spawned my upcoming IMMORAL MAGIC trilogy, CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’. In fact, that’s the topic for today’s blog: “live action writing.”

Ever hear of The Sims? It’s a video game that allows players to create virtual people, build impressive 3-D homes, and watch/guide them through life: jobs, marriage, kids, aspirations, old age. Zzzzzzz. Sorry, did I bore you? Wait, it gets better...especially if you’re an avid reader or writer. A growing number of players have discovered the handy in-game storytelling feature, by which Sims become actors and their environments sets in sagas representing every genre under the sun.

Now, let’s say you’re a writer or reader whose muse or TBR pile took the day (or month) off, and good plots are about as prolific as June bugs in December. Enter the Sims. Load the game, make a random Sim or five, and stick ‘em in a neighborhood. Become a virtual fly on the wall. Allow Sims to interact and move around on Free Will. They manage to do some pretty weird/wacky/funny/disgusting things. Using the game camera, take loads of random snapshots. Develop your keen sense of reader or writer curiosity, and ask yourself what’s going on. Why did the Sim just tell off the strange woman passing by? Why did the thought bubble over his head indicate a longing for romance/food/a shower? Why on Earth did a gypsy fortuneteller just stumble across the lot, shining up her crystal ball? Before long, any reader or writer worth their printer ink may find their Sims have just sprouted the seeds of a good story.

Or say you're a writer already penning your masterpiece, but find yourself stuck on a plot point or character motivation. Create your story in 3-D, then let your Sim character take over for a bit. By being able to dictate certain personality traits, you’d be surprised how spot-on some of their reactions can be. They could help you write yourself out of the corner. Not only that, but it’s a darn fun way to battle the tedium of writer’s block.

While I certainly don’t use Sims to write all (or even many) of my stories, it did form the basis for the above mentioned trilogy of books. It’s a far more useful tool than most folks passing it by on store shelves may think. So the next time you find yourself without a good book to read or write, go play a game. The kids who love to “waste time” with video games may have been taking the literary high road all along.