Archive for June, 2010

Writing A Plot Synopsis – And Learning To Like It

Posted in Stories, writing on June 29, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

Here’s a great way to write a synopsis for your novel without it becoming a nightmare. You can face this piece of work and it can be fun to do. Your synopsis is not just a summary of your plot, it’s also designed to make an editor read your sample chapters and want to see the rest of it. You’re selling your book with your synopsis, just remember that it’s not what’s going on the back of your book’s cover. This will help you produce a synopsis that sticks to the point, without draining the life out of your story.

Thanks to Paul for all his help with this – this is really his idea.

  1. Complete the following sentance for your novel.
    • [Protagonists] stop [antagonists] from [doing bad stuff] by [doing clever stuff].
    • You might not use this in your synopsis, but it will keep you focused on the type of story you’ve written.
  2. “I loved the bit in this book where ______”
    • Make a list of the events in the plot that people talking at the water cooler will talk about once they’ve read your book.
  3. “I loved this book because I like books where_______”
    1. With ______ in them.
    2. Set in _______.
    3. Which talk about ______.
    4. That make me feel _____.
    5. This is about the themes, issues, feelings, settings, etc – anything great that would interest someone – particularly an editor.
  4. Combine #2 and #3 in sentances in narrative order. This gives you a view of your story and, with some tightening up, you now have your synopsis!

I liked this idea because my first pass at a synopsis was six pages. Way too much. This method kept me focused and caught up in the task, fired up about my story and, importantly, it was really good fun to do. Writing should be something you want to do and without the above method I’d be tearing my hair out.

(Yes I realise my head’s shaved. I didn’t mean it literally.)

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Goomba is alarmed, yet intrigued, by your opinion

Posted in Design, Games, Pictures on June 17, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

Podrunner Intervals – Starting to Run for Weight Loss

Posted in Fitness, music on June 14, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

My friend Jo put me onto this.

I’ve been at home for a couple of years, since I finished my last contract role. I’d already put on a couple of stone (oh boy were people right about that happening when you hit 30!) and then last year I quite smoking. That, combined with two years of not moving very much, pushed my weight up to 14 stone. When a relative sent me a picture that he took at a family do, I saw my face and it was really big. I was gobsmacked. I had to do something about it.

So, starting in January I used WiiFit Plus every day. I didn’t lose any weight, but it conditioned my body and helped me recover from two years of atrophy. It also made me more aware of what I was doing, leaving me less inclined to just sit in front of my PC for hours on end, and more mindful of what I was eating. My aerobic fitness improved quite a lot and my metabolism increased so that I was no longer putting on weight, even though I was still eating the same quantity of food. I also started to look much more healthy thanks to me making sure I was getting at least 5 portions of fruit or veg – if not more.

Then, in mid-April, our home gym arrived. I’ve been using the weights twice a week (to be honest it’s been hard to do as often as I want, but I knew it would take a couple of months to work up to being able to workout more often) and I’m noticeably trimmer, I don’t have a huge head anymore and I’ve built up a little muscle tone … but I’ve been losing weight really slowly. (I realise that I’ve built muscle mass and lost body fat, though).

I knew from researching weight loss and fitness that running would be a great way to lose weight and increase my aerobic fitness further, but I’ve had a busy few weeks and so I’ve just been putting off any serious committment to running.

Today, though, I tried my first run with Podrunner Intervals. The workout takes you from a mixture of walking and light running up to being able to run 5K at the end of 9 weeks, using MP3s to guide you, alternating between running and walking over a half hour period. I’ve got to say, the first run was really good – a challenge, but not totally exhausting, and the dance music was definately good enough to listen to and keep pace with.

I know that a lot of people have already heard of Podrunner Intervals, but since it’s not only fantastic but completely free, I thought I’d share it. If you like it, spread the word – DJ Steve Boyett, who produced Podrunner Intervals, encourages it, and I think it’s well worth telling people about.

Thanks to DJ Steve Boyett for producing, and thanks to my friend Jo for putting me on to the workout!

Lego Futurama

Posted in Pictures, scifi on June 10, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

I just had to post the link to this. Awesome does not describe it.

Robot

Posted in Design, Pictures, scifi on June 10, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

I had a bad cold yesterday 😦

I spent the day in bed with hot drinks, cartoons and movies to watch, and my laptop. I thought this image was pretty good for something made on a fuzzy-head day. This was done in Photoshop.

Fun with mirrors … a great idea for creating monsters

Posted in Design, Pictures, scifi on June 7, 2010 by Jim St Ruth

A few years ago I received Zbrush as a birthday present and, whilst I love the program, its free updates and the ever growing number of ways to create and sculpt models, I have to admit that I’m not that brilliant with the software. I’m much better at modelling harder surface objects like cars and other vehicles, the key to which is sketching your ideas out before you start modelling. The trouble with carrying this into creating organic models is that… well, my sketches of them suck. I get too tied down trying to be precise and get flustered because I can’t get my initial idea down quick enough before the idea fades from my mind’s eye.

So, to the idea…

I got a new webcam a few weeks ago after I upgraded to Windows 7: the webcam has loads of image filters that work in real time, things like bloated head, huge nose, huge eyes and plenty of strange AR-type overlays. (I love the pink curls and glasses. So classy.). The best of the filters, for this purpose though, is the mirror effect.

I spent ten minutes infront of the webcam making parts of my head and shoulders disappear, wrapping my hands round my head into strange positions and using a spinning LED toy that I bought from a fair to use as eyes, ears or what ever they looked like. I was pretty impressed at the variety of forms that I came up with for such a small number of props and, after a couple of minutes in photoshop with the brush and pen tool, I came up with some nice results.

Here are a few examples to give you the idea… and a couple of the original mirrored shots to show you the original effects.

Red Star

Posted in Design, Pictures on June 6, 2010 by Jim St Ruth