Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tramps

Collins Land

The grotto was pleasant. The two tramps, Roger and Romeo, had dragged a sofa and a few other commodities inside. With the fireplace in the center, the area looked homey.
Then, Romeo decided to bring a lady tramp to live with them. The altercations became constant. She worked at night, so she was happy not to have to take part in the quarrels.
One day, when she got back home, she found a note from Roger. “I’ll be back in a few decades. Romeo checked out, permanently.”
Roger that, she thought. It worked. She had the grotto all to herself!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Story Waiting to Happen: Hestium (Full Article)



Originally posted at the Virtual Writers, June 5 2015.


It seems only fitting that Hestium should be my choice for the launch of Virtual Writers’ new blog, as it is one of the richest locations for the creation of stories and characters I have ever visited. I first read about Hestium at Honour McMillan’s blog in her post Hestium, Another Tiny Gem in Second Life. Advised that it was a quarter of a sim, I dropped by to do a bit of research and see if there was enough material to use for this monthly column. I immediately realized that Hestium takes the same approach as I do with stories. Start with a question. “Who lives here? That is for you to discover. There are clues to be found”. Who can resist such a challenge?






The whole place took me by surprise. Except for a small plot that is marked private, this rather small area feels like a whole sim. The space is cleverly utilised, and – as we walk around and discover hidden secrets – many ideas for stories come to mind.


In preparing for this column I usually spend quite a bit of time on location. I try to understand the sim from the point of view of its creator. “Wander around and find the stories – they are yours to make and to keep”.

A story is made of many different elements; however, when the characters are powerful, alive, compelling, endearing, obnoxious, or absolutely hateful, magic happens – and Hestium is very particular in the way it offers ideas for characters. We are encouraged to explore every little detail to create the “who” in our story.

While enthusiastically living and breathing Hestium – imagining the life of the explorer with her travel trophies, the apothecary and the artist, even the vendor by the archway – I totally missed the opportunity to write a column about them. As so often happens in Second Life®, the sim began to change to welcome new imaginary residents.

So, without further ado, join me on this journey. Let’s find those new residents who recently decided to make Hestium their home. I’m sure that, when you visit the sim yourself, you’ll find these and many more.

“Welcome to Hestium. Please explore – open doors, enter the village houses, look under the beds and open chests.”

No writer would be able to resist permission to go anywhere and discover clues! Writers are inquisitive by nature. And if you add the question “Who lives here?”, the scenario is set.

I rarely give you a long transcript of the notecards provided by the creators of the sims we visit, however,Boudicca Amat’s words are the best presentation and I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything better!

“What is Hestium? 

It’s a place of refuge for its inhabitants. (…) Who are these people? That is for you to discover. Their homes hold clues to who they might be – sometimes in plain view, sometimes hidden away. Why are they in Hestium? That too is for you to decide. You create their stories. (…)”

On to meeting the characters!


Standing before the first house I come across, waiting to see if there is anyone at home, I notice that this is, most likely, the house of someone who has traveled through the Far East. There is an elegant blend of Chinese objects. The mixture of colors is attention-grabbing, red being one of the strongest.

A cat is sound asleep in front of the fireplace. By its side, I notice a table with a glass top. Visible is a list of guests, probably a page from a registry book. I think that this character will be a retired owner of a hotel in China. There he acquired an exquisite taste in art and elegance.

I venture onto the top floor, a bedroom decorated with beautiful objects brought back with him, a synthesis of sorts of everything he went through, the good and the bad.

I think our character is getting ready to write his biography; a desk and a chair in the corner of the bedroom announce many hours of personal recollections poured onto the page. Outside, in a veranda full of wonderful roses, a wooden chair faces east (how fitting). He comes here to sit and dream.

Before I leave, curiously enough, I notice there is a bird cage in the room, however its door is open and the bird is outside, free. This could tell us a lot about our character.

Choosing characters’ names is more often than not a very personal matter, so I’ll leave their naming to you.


The next house I come across is decorated in a Western antique style, a few Victorian elements standing out. In blacks and grays, it deeply contrasts with the previous one.

A French bulldog stands guard and quickly decides I am friendly enough to allow in. He has probably barked a few commands to his sibling on the upper floor, because I am completely ignored by him; he’s too busy out in the veranda, scrutinizing the horizon, waiting for his owner.

I think this house belongs to a woman. There is a feminine touch in the bedroom, whites and soft pinks, a boudoir and what seems to be a hat box.

As I climb up to the second floor… Oh! Interesting. A piano, mirrors and ballet barres. A ballerina. I don’t think I’ve ever suggested a ballerina as a character before. Let’s see. While I pretend to play the piano (yes, it’s a very generous piano), listening to a string of songs, imagining our ballerina practicing endless motions of repeated movements, always aiming for perfection, I imagine she is at the peak of her career.

When I come back downstairs, my eyes stumble across… How could I have missed it? There’s a white swan on the mantelpiece!

This is what fascinates me about Hestium. Every single detail counts and at each turn, you understand that everything has a purpose.


On to the next house which is slightly more modern in style. A cello leans languidly against a chair. While I play Bach (yes, this cello is also extremely generous), I notice some artwork on the wall. I think we might have a few ideas here both for the story and for the title of our story, dear fellow writer. The quote belongs to Mick Jagger. “Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind.”

Perhaps this is the home of a disillusioned musician, or conductor? Although there are a few feminine elements upstairs, flowers in fragile porcelain tea cups and a vanity mirror with enough light to brighten the darkest of days (and this could be symbolic of the character’s state of mind; his need to be a star again, to feel he’s back in the spotlight), I think this is mostly a masculine setting. The décor and the furniture have very straight lines and everything seems to have been chosen for efficacy, rather than elegance, although, that there is an artistic feeling to many of the objects in the house.

As I come back to the living-room/studio, I notice the photos on the wall. I am not sure, but I could swear they are from Portugal. Perhaps this conductor is an expatriate?


Right across from the conductor’s house, is the home of an inventor; the steampunk work bench is a dead giveaway. Perhaps he’s a bit of a nutcase and astronomy is high in his interests. He has a whole filing cabinet with the most outrageous inventions; I imagine that most of them are fascinating calculations and machinations on how to travel through space.

As I observe the room, I notice that one of the contraptions has something written on it, a message perhaps. It’s rather difficult to read, but I can just about decipher “I am not what you call a civilized man…”. Then further down, “I do not therefore obey its laws and I desire you never to allude to them before me again.” Oh… Well… It does sound slightly dangerous. Could the inventor have a secret? Something from his past?

I tip-toe upstairs, hoping he won’t catch me. The apparently peaceful bedroom, the birds chirping in the balcony, is invaded by the sounds of a train. At first, I think it’s the tiny train on a shelf that is doing that, however, I quickly realize that there’s another floor above; the sound is coming from a miniature train table. This is where our inventor hides away, in this loft. But from what? His wife’s criticisms that he’s always daydreaming? Or from the conductor who holds a growing grudge against him? Could it be the noise or… something significantly more serious? The beginning of a story is paved by questions and more questions!

Finally, I come across the Cat and Mouse Pub. This is where the whole village gathers, I’d say Mondays and Wednesdays (hint, hint; Boudicca, the owner, has a reading event on these days).

The village meets for a lot of chatting and a bit of an argument, too. The retired hotel owner may be nostalgic, but he is perhaps infatuated with the ballerina who only has eyes for her job. The orchestra conductor is also infatuated with the ballerina and he hates the hotel owner, however he has bigger problems with his neighbor, the inventor. The inventor, well, he’s a dreamer and he might be the one asking a very serious question one day, as everyone sits by the fireplace. “What makes a person beautiful?” (click the Chatterbox on the table for other ideas).

This is only a small fraction of what you might find at Hestium. The parcel is packed with such a rich array of details that you could sit here for several months and come up with a story each month without having to ponder too much about it!


My suggestion is to pay attention to every single object, to its location, to its size and color. Each one is an invaluable source of inspiration.

Ah! And remember that “Flintlocks, cudgels, daggers and swords [are] to be handed to the innkeeper for safe-keeping” commands a leaflet on the notice board. Also, no fakirs are allowed. No wonder!

I must say that I seriously doubt I have given enough justice to Hestium and to Boudicca’s creativity. Beyond the houses and the pub, there is much more to visit and draw inspiration from, I assure you. I particularly enjoy the slice of sand with a view to an island, the mystical stone circle and a mysteriously alluring door, half open and hidden in the forest, an entry from another world filled with the characters’ stories, or a passageway to so many new stories, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Hestium.

THE END

A Story Waiting to Happen is a series of monthly articles about sims in the virtual world of Second Life®. The goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. If you write a story prompted by the following post, do consider leaving it in the comments or a link to it. Thank you.


Disclaimer: Virtual Writers and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column, nor do we intend to promote them.

***

Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wave

Raven Lake

Waving energetically didn’t solve her problem. She tried whistling and even throwing stones. Nothing. She lifted the axe from the floor and swung it over her shoulder.
A man approached quickly and tried to take the axe away from her. “What on Earth, lady!” 
“What on Earth?! Just get off my lawn! Don’t you see the sign?!” 
He hadn’t seen it, considering the puzzled look on his face. Well, it was too late now. 
The sign read “Stay off my lawn or I’ll chop your head off.” Yep, getting all those words on such a small sign was a pain.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

At the Relay For Life Silent Art Auction

Today marks the beginning of the week-long (June 20-27) silent art auction organized by the Relay Wizards for Spunky. The auction takes place at the Builders Brewery in the virtual world of Second Life, along many different events like a ball, a poetry slam event and a building event. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. I was invited to take part in this Relay for Life event and I have decided to donate my poem "Found". Thank you to London Junkers for creating the visual background that goes with my words.
If you can, do consider helping. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ounce


An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of wit, they say but Tommy didn’t care. He cracked jokes continuously and annoyed the hell out of everyone. After a night of drinking, Tommy decided to walk back home. He wobbled through the streets until a car pulled over. The next morning, he woke up to a terrible hangover and a huge surprise. Someone had tattooed “STOP!” on his forehead. That was bad enough but when he finally noticed some of his vital organs were missing, it was too late. An ounce, just an ounce, would’ve saved his life… they say.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Story Waiting to Happen: Hestium

Hestium
It seems only fitting that Hestium should be my choice for the launch of Virtual Writers’ new blog, as it is one of the richest locations for the creation of stories and characters I have ever visited. I first read about Hestium at Honour McMillan’s blog in her post Hestium, Another Tiny Gem in Second Life. Advised that it was a quarter of a sim, I dropped by to do a bit of research and see if there was enough material to use for this monthly column. I immediately realized that Hestium takes the same approach as I do with stories. Start with a question. “Who lives here? That is for you to discover. There are clues to be found”. Who can resist such a challenge?

Read More at the Virtual Writers website.

***

Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Try

France Portnawak

The woman held on to the rope. “Try,” roared the man from the dingy boat. Giant waves crashed against the side of the sinking ship and she struggled hard. Her whole life seemed nothing but a drop of nothingness in the overwhelming circumstances she was in. She took a glimpse down and jumped but the boat went down with the wave and she missed it, plunging into the dark cold waters. As she sank, she felt strangely calm. She felt like she was flying and she didn’t fight it. I’ve tried all my life, she thought, now I’m finally free.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cake!

Edloe, Tierra de Fuego, Waterland


When she dropped her cake, a murmur of excitement spread through the room. Miss Perfect had messed up. When she picked up the smashed pieces of cake and tried to put them back together on the plate, everyone chuckled; everyone except him, the stranger with the pierced nose. He walked up to her slowly, sat on the floor and got a few pieces that were still scattered about. “Cake?” he asked the crowd. “No? Your loss.” Since then, once a year, the two of them smash a cake to pieces and ask “Cake? No?” to reply in unison “Your loss!”


This story was written for the 10th Anniversary of Laurence Simon's (Crap Mariner in Second Life) 100 Word Stories Weekly Challenge podcast where he features stories written by himself and other writers. Thank you and Happy Tenth!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Liebster Award, Nominated by Andante Zen!

Andante is a fellow writer whose work I have been following for quite some time. At the moment, he is working on his illustrated online novel The Last Canvas. This is an extremely interesting work, combining several forms of artistic expression.
I have been asked to nominated other fellow bloggers (I'll post their names soon!) and answer a few questions. Here they are.


01- Why do you write?

The best way to answer this question is to quote Isaac Asimov, “I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.” As simple and as complex as that!


02 - What motivates you to write?

The urge to write is always there. I'm an avid reader. I read everything, anything! Other authors' work, of course, but also publicity brochures, ads, newspapers, magazines, online and offline. Curiously enough, my stories are often prompted by visual information. That is one of the reasons why I find the virtual world of Second Life (SL) so interesting for writers. The possibility of drawing inspiration from being immersed in an environment packed with colors, sounds, objects, different ambiances is definitely a plus.


03 - When did you start writing? And blogging?

I have been writing all my life, ever since I managed to master a sentence on a piece of paper! For many years, I wrote bits and pieces, mostly fragments of stories that paved the way to the writer I am today. I started blogging more than ten years ago; it was a diary of thoughts about everyday events. I opened my writing blog in 2012. That's when I started writing full-time.


04 - Does publishing online interfere with your writing process, and how?

It doesn't. I have published a countless number of stories in my blog, short-fiction mostly, and I seem to have been able to follow the path I have planned to tread.


05 - What is your writing process -- do you have a preferred place, hour, a ritual to write?
I usually use a word/phrase prompt and a visual prompt to trigger a story or an episode/chapter within a novel. Having these two elements seems to be more than enough for me to start writing. I usually sit at my desk to write. However, I also choose a location in Second Life to sit my avatar. I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful home in SL with a large variety of ambiances that help bring inspiration for my writing. I don't have a particular time of day to write. My day revolves around writing or anything writing related, whether research or plotting or writing itself.


06 - Do your online readers influence you, and how?

I think they encourage rather than influence me. I'm very lucky to have a few people who read my stories regularly and who always have a positive word to push me forward!


07 - Have social medias changed your writing, and how?

Oh, yes! I think having access to more information, in a faster fashion, is very important. I also think that interacting with other writers helps improve my writing.


08 - What do you do to overcome writer's block?

I write! That's the only way. I write every day, even if it's gibberish and trash. Training your brain to accept that you must write, is the best way to get "unstuck". In SL, I host a weekly writing event (Saturdays, noon SLT/8pm Portugal time) called "500 Word Snatch Challenge". The idea is to write 500 words in 30 minutes. Sometimes that is very easy; other times, not so much. However, the fact that we sit at a table with other fellow writers and try to achieve that goal is another great way to overcome writer's block.


09 - What are you favorite authors -- in Literature, cinema?

So many! I'll choose one that is a big influence, Edgar Allan Poe. He was a tireless writer of mystery and horror tales and is considered the father of detective stories. His puzzling death was never explained and that fact only adds to the aura of intrigue that surrounds this extraordinary author. As to cinema, I love Hitchcock, Cronenberg and the Coen brothers.


10 - Does writing help you in your personal life, and how?

As writers, we often pour onto paper some of our most troublesome concerns. My writing is far from autobiographical; yet, I do see a pinch of whatever is worrying me at the moment here and there in my texts. Writing becomes a way of understanding and coping with reality. So, I think it does.


11- You're free to deliver whatever message you want for whomever reads this.

If you dream of writing and you think you're not good enough, write anyway! Write as much as you can, whenever you can. Write as if your life depended on it. You'll see that your writing will improve and you'll become more confident each day that goes by. If you're a reader, read as much as you can within as many different genres as possible. Although many established writers have no need to interact with their readers (I still think everyone does!), many of the new ones feel that it's important to have some kind of feedback. Encourage them to continue to write, and do give your opinion about the stories. Be constructive, not destructive!

Cheese

Kats Beach

The large group gathered at an Italian restaurant for wine and cheese.
She hated it. She hated the fake smiles, the fake white teeth, the fake everything.
For two excruciating hours, and out of desperation, she chopped cheese in small cubes with a huge knife while everyone pretended to be everyone else’s friend.
At the end of the get-together, the proverbial group photo was taken.
Several years later, she sat down at the same restaurant. She looked at the photo while holding that same huge knife, the one she would get rid of right after finishing the wine… by herself.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Word That Doesn’t Exist

Tierra de Fuego

That word doesn’t exist, Randy thought, suspecting Patrick, his neighbor, to be either under the influence or raving mad.
Raving mad was a good option, considering that Patrick decided to fill his garden with truck tires recently. When asked why he was doing that, Patrick replied it was for the aliens to land safely in his back yard. Randy laughed.
“But where did you hear that word?”
Patrick, the neighbor, replied, “From the aliens.”
Randy would remember this many years later. The mystery word meant hello and it would be the first word Randy had to learn after the invasion.
100 Word Stories

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Milk Wood

The Virtual Troll Convention was highly anticipated by the troll community. The sessions went quite well until a man stood up and started yelling incomprehensible sentences. The trolls were appalled. This was a serious event where they learned new tricks to annoy others in-world. Suddenly, a troll grabbed the man by the collar. “You are destroying our event.” The man calmly ignored the troll and started banning them all, one by one. “I always wanted to do this,” he said, an evil tone in his voice. In fact, he was the owner of the place and the trolls didn’t know!

***

I think this week’s story is easy to understand even if you’re not a resident of a virtual world. However, if you’re not, I can tell you that when you’re the owner of a location in a virtual world, you can ban people from visiting your location by ejecting them and placing them in a ban list. If they try to enter your location again, they’ll get a message informing them that they cannot enter. The trolls got trolled, but some things never change and they got banned too!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fit

Lust

Nothing prepared him for the strenuous race. They told him it would be easy peasy. They lied. They told him to watch out for the spectators who, in their enthusiasm, tended to try to grab the runners; he didn’t see any spectators. Nevertheless, he ran like never before. He knew he’d be the winner. But the finish line was empty. Why? He didn’t understand. Suddenly, he realized that the “Finish” banner was nothing but a clothes line where t-shirts and a few diapers were hanging from. “Damn, I should’ve worn my glasses. This thing of looking handsome is not easy.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Survivor

Betelgeuse 5

“I refuse to sink” read the tattoo on her chest. Decades of wars and narrow escapes turned her into a survivor. Yet, she knew. The capsule injected under her skin was her anchor. 

As a child, she disappeared for a week, to her parents’ frantic despair. When she returned, the stories of strange looking beings with oddly shaped eyes and white skin were hurriedly dismissed. 

When they finally came back for the data in the capsule, she smiled. That was the moment she had lived for. She asked them “take me with you” and they did. She’s over 250 today.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The God of Boredom

H220

Against his will, he had just been promoted from a minor deity to a major god. They told him that people were always bored nowadays, so being the God of Boredom would be good. He knew why he was bored. It was because Patrice, his neighbor, had stolen his favorite book, the one about minor deities. He hated it when people messed around with his things. Could he become the God of Hatred? Noooo! He was stuck with boredom now. That’s why, before promoting anyone, the High Council of Gods should offer options! Free will and all that? Gods… Pfft.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pan

BCC

Frying pan in hand, Linda looked outside. Tony was late; her darling husband who swore to wed her for better or for worse and all that crap, until... She waited for hours and hours.

When Margaret, the owner of the house, arrived, Linda gave her the pan treatment first.

The problem was that Tony had years of experience. He entered the house through the back and… Let’s say Linda’s life suffered a slight rearrangement and there it was… till death do us part.

Frying pan in hand, Tony thought “amazing how easy it was to solve two problems at once”.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pen

Betelgeuse 5

“When we were kids, we had pen-pals. This was when people used pens and paper. To open the mailbox and find a letter from some exotic location was beyond words. Sometimes, we received letters from places we had never heard of. We would dream of going there to meet our new friends!”
The kids looked at their great-grandfather, a puzzled look in their eyes. “Is that why you got stuck up here in Colony800?”
The old man sighed. How could he explain that there had been a life before the Colonies, a life at a place everyone called “the World”?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Story Waiting to Happen

Roche

... at Roche (click for full text).


This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers Inc. website about sims in Second Life that could be the source of inspiration for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!




Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided. 

***

Roche


If there’s one thing we can trust about Second Life is the fact that it is constantly changing.



Many locations we have grown to enjoy and even love have disappeared. As a result, I have deliberately tried to avoid sims that are fairly new in Second Life exactly because I realize that, as I write this column, that sim could simply vanish. Fortunately, there are still a few old-timers that can be visited.

One of them is called Roche. Owned by ddsm2 Mathy, this sim was created many years ago and it has been featured in a countless number of blogs, i.e. of virtual photography and fashion.

And, as happens at sims created with passion by someone with a sharp eye for detail, Roche’s blunt simplicity and open spaced areas offer us very interesting writing possibilities. Without any further ado, let us explore around and find whichever stories this place has in store for us today.

As we arrive, a sign confirms we are at Roche and announces in a rather rusty and cryptic way that we should head east in case we wish to go towards “yesterday”. Finding that rather enigmatic for the beginning of our story, I decide to take you into the present instead, so in the complete opposite direction. Let’s go to the train station. Perhaps we will need to go to “yesterday” later in the story. We’ll see.


It is very clear that in this village live hard working people. The station is alive. Cable reels, barrels, fuel tanks, a few wooden crates, a water tank and a tractor.

On our way towards the entrance, we see flattened cardboard boxes leaning against the wall. A few rice bags are piled on top of each other while three cement bags keep company to two milk cans.

Oh, wait! A hand-truck packed with a number of wooden boxes presents our first interesting clue; one of the boxes says “danger, blasting caps”. Questions start brewing!

It’s 9:40. A train should arrive within the next few minutes. It is then that I notice a warning scribbled on a blackboard hanging to the left of the entrance, right next to the mailbox. Apparently all trains have been cancelled due to some eminent maritime catastrophe.

I wonder if that is the reason why the tickets’ booth seems to have been abandoned in a hurry. Several tickets have been forgotten on the desk and some sort of register book is still open. There’s a radio as well. When I turn it on… Morse code?! Then I hear a few voices speaking in a language I don’t understand. The message is playing on a loop. Odd. I walk inside and notice someone has forgotten a bag. I decide to leave it untouched.

Many details are recorded here as possibilities, as bits and pieces of stories, of settings, of characters. Some will be part of our plots, others will be discarded. So, don’t feel somewhat overwhelmed by this jumble of information. The process of gathering ideas by noticing details in a sim is a lot like sitting in front of a blank page and jotting down random ideas while brainstorming the next story we will write.

Back outside, I spot a makeshift garage. Perhaps there is not much movement and the trainmaster doubles as a mechanic. Someone, whoever it is, does have a cool bike parked next to the gas pump!

I’m suddenly hungry. A stand is selling hotdogs, apparently oblivious to the doomed fate awaiting us all. The vendor smiles; he is used to the promise of tragic events. He believes that a terrible incident of catastrophic proportions could simply be a synonym for someone wishing to take the day-off to spend it with some nice lady somewhere. And he winks, knowingly.


Slightly relieved, I must admit, I try to find out more about the mysterious character(s) of our story waiting to happen. I decide to try the Misaki’s Bakery. The scent of freshly baked bread is irresistible and the coffee, just brewed, is the perfect combination.

I can’t help but noticing that upon opening the door, a bell rings, like in the old days. This is a place created with love. Small details are so important.

While I wait for my coffee and bread, I see a newspaper lying on the counter, the “Second Times”; it states that “speech impediments are the next hottest trend”, according to an expert. Taken aback by this piece of news, I decide that even this detail could be transformed into something useful for the story. One of our characters, perhaps the mechanic/trainmaster will have a lisp.

The owner of the bakery is quite the talkative fellow and I find out that, in fact, the trainmaster and the mechanic are brothers! Their love of anything motorized, including trains, bikes and tractors, had brought them to this remote place more than two decades ago. They had decided to stay after becoming helplessly infatuated by Millie (you’ll decide if this is the right name for your female character when you start writing the story!).


“Millie owns a small farm up the hill, you see,” says the bakery owner. She’s a hard working woman in her mid-thirties. She grows some wheat and raises a few animals as well. The three have become quite inseparable in the past few years, spending hours upon hours by themselves at Millie’s talking the night away.

I suggest that they are friends and friends do enjoy one another’s company. However, that seems not to be the case. A water pump at the back of the farm house had been boarded up and covered with a few rocks. Whenever someone approaches the place, either Millie or one of the men, if Millie is in town visiting relatives, scares unwary visitors away aggressively.

“Whichever the secret the three have, no one else around here knows about it. When asked about that water pump, the three exchange guilty looks amongst themselves and walk away in complete silence to which they would stick for weeks, if not even months,” says the bakery owner.

Curious about this story, I go up to the farm while the place is empty. If there is indeed a secret hidden here, the way it is secured seems quite fragile to me. A few planks and two rocks, two! That is it. Strange.


As I stand at Millie’s farm, overlooking the lake, an eerie feeling invades me. The small fishing shed is empty, a lonely fishing net flowing in the wind. An old row boat sits motionless on the waterbed, strangely motionless. It doesn’t seem to wait for its next fishing trip. It seems… to mark a spot.

A herd of sheep graze peacefully across the lake. A few people sit at the Café and Gallery. The birds chirp merrily. Two ducks swim around, content with how simple life is.

Yet, why do I have the feeling that something terrible has happened? Something only three people know of. Something they have sworn never to tell. Unless…

And this is where I leave you, dear fellow writers. I hand you this mystery, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Roche.


THE END

***

A Story Waiting to Happen is a series of monthly articles about sims in the virtual world of Second Life®. The goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. If you write a story prompted by the following post, do consider leaving it in the comments or a link to it. Thank you.

***

Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Correct/Connect

BCC

The identification of that mysterious liquid recovered from the landing site was correct. At first, no one believed Professor Grant. Then, when the matter started to break and beautiful blue lights fought their way out of the vials, everyone panicked. They called him back to a frantic lab. “What should we do?” they asked. The Professor knew there was nothing to be done. “Seal the base. Let’s hope for the best.” It took them a long time to connect the dots and find a way out. Many were left behind… fatally. However, the blue planet continued to be beautifully blue.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Paint

Cica Ghost - LEA


Bits of paint came off the wall as Tim scratched it with his only nail. All the others had been chopped off by that wretched machine at the factory, along with two-thirds of the fingers they were attached to. That didn’t bother him though. He got used to it. He did miss his thumb. He enjoyed going thumbs-up, for some reason. The remaining intact finger was an index; it was useful for pointing, granted. However, the really big problem was not having a middle finger. He felt like his ability to… express himself had been hopelessly destroyed because of that.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

South

Santaurio

“South...?” the man said, but Peter’s sense of orientation relied much more on pointing and showing the way than cryptic instructions like North or South.
“Thank you,” he replied, trying to look savvy in the secret ways of… finding the way.
He walked aimlessly through white aisles, past the milk and butter shelves, the yogurts and some mysterious small bottles announcing they’d make anyone’s lazy intestines work just fine.
“South, huh? Why is it always so difficult to find someone who can give a clear, objective reply to a clear, objective question? Where are the bodies? It seems simple enough.”

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Trench

Collins Land

Words trenched into the stone. They could be seen clearly, even forty years later. The excitement of revisiting this secret place made him recall the pact of silence with his sister. He knelt to greet her. Her blond hair had grown thin. “I came back.” She smiled continuously, half of her teeth missing. “Yes, they don’t know you’re here. They never will.” As he slid the stone back in place to hide the entrance to the cave, he read those words one last time. “I hate you.” He had written them himself with great effort back when he was ten.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

After

Tierra de Fuego

After dark, evil spirits haunted the town for weeks. “A warning against nuclear tests,” old people said. The Mayor called in all sorts of experts to solve the problem, to no avail. One day, a man showed up, claiming he could end the torture. He had a jar. “It’s magic,” he said. Everyone went home and waited. The next day, the man was gone. Under the jar, a note. “Done.” Inside, dozens of them; they looked like a cross between crickets and fireflies. They were nice to look at, but were they loud. Sometimes, things are simpler than we think.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Strike

Collins Land


Unaware of his demise, Nolan was about to lose everything. His wife Linda, along with her lawyer lover, prepared everything quite thoroughly. “Trust me,” she said. And, foolish as he was, he did. The car, the house, the weekend cottage, everything was gone. However, there was Nikolai. “My darling,” he said, “I’ll take care of it.” Nolan never saw Linda again. The lawyer disappeared. And the properties were magically in Nolan’s name again. “How?” “My darling,” he replied, examining the barrel of his gun, “there’s a monster at the end of everyone’s path. I just happened to be that monster.”

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I've Got Nothing

The Tower by Rebeca Bashly

Two lonely hearts, pulled together by circumstances and pain. They talked and danced. They shared their stories and their moments. They shared the others, the others in their lives who didn’t know they were being shared. They shared and got closer. They got as close as that illusive closeness of nothingness, with nothing but fragments of lives and the excitement of the unknown, of warm familiarity, of love. Loneliness is a high price to pay for the determination of commitment. So, they decided to seize the moment, not caring for anyone else but themselves in a selfish illusion of nearness.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Story Waiting to Happen

Kats Beach

... Kats Beach (click for full text).

This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers Inc. website about sims in Second Life that could be the source of inspiration for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!


UPDATE: It's amazing when someone, especially when a good friend like Qt, feels inspired by something I wrote (that is the purpose of these monthly columns, to inspire!) and adds a bit of inspiration of his own to write a story! Drop by his blog Qt's improbable blog and read Running to the Sea. Enjoy!



Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided.

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Kats Beach

Night time at Kats Beach welcomes us as we arrive to a pleasantly quiet and somewhat melodic seashore. The sound of waves bursting on the sand and the seagulls screeching in the distance invite us to explore.

I, as many others, have been visiting this location for a long time. It is, after several years, a favorite location for photography and fashion bloggers. If you have been following this column, you know that I firmly believe that many sims portrayed for their beauty by photographers and machinima makers alike are also a very good resource for writers.

The owner, Kat Chauveau, states in her profile that she is a passionate educator with a love for professional development and personal insight through innovative and creative experiences in Second Life. Kat also states that her passion is life; that it is important to find something beautiful and stretch our imagination. I fully agree and I think she has done an amazing job with this location.

Considering that February is the month love, I thought exploring Kat’s Beach would be a good option for a love story. So, let’s go for a walk and collect a few ideas for our story waiting to happen.

I decide to take you first along the beach. I spot a few sit-down areas and dance balls. While the shrimping boat bounces against the waves just off shore, I imagine a few couples enjoying the cover of night to exchange secret vows and stolen kisses.

A loud group gathers for a barbeque, interrupting the quietness lovers yearn for, however, no one complains. The boardwalk of wooden planks takes me to a waterfall that signals the entrance to a tunnel, the floor paved with cobblestones and the way dimly lit by wall lamps. Are any of our characters here?


A few market stalls open the path to a small port where the fishing trawler is waiting. Fruit, vegetables and fresh fish draw the attention of a cheeky seagull, especially the fresh fish, flipping its tail, trying to avoid an unavoidable destiny.

Perhaps this will be the story of two lovers. He is a fisherman, who has just arrived from a fishing season several months long. She is waiting for him, back at the village at the top of the hill.

We walk up the stone ramp, and suddenly we have to decide whether to go left or right. Curious about going further up the mountain, I choose to continue to the right. Let’s see if this is a trail we can use for our story. Steep steps made of stone, framed by wooden posts linked by an old rope lead us all the way up to a plateau from where we can see the beach we arrived at earlier. An apple tree and an olive tree, as symbolic as they can be, we imagine, have offered shelter from the merciless sun many hot afternoons during which our female character sat here, longing for her lover to come back. Perhaps this is a good location to inspire a flashback in our story, perhaps a moment to show how they met, how they came together and how a silly argument over something they couldn’t even remember anymore, drove them to make irreversible decisions that led to our male character to go away.


We go back down and up the small ramp, into town. A cozy plaza greets us with a refreshing fountain. Il Messagero, the local newspaper store, offers an array of magazines, books and postcards as well. A newspaper is always an interesting way of conveying a turning point in our plot.

Holding a magazine, I head to the Bar. Yes, a coffee would be good; it’s a bit chilly tonight. As we flip through the pages, the phone rings. The owner covers the mouth of the phone and lowers his voice. It was something about the cargo. I couldn’t quite make what he was saying.

Determined to find our female character, I pay for my coffee and I decide to take you, dear reader, with me to explore farther. That’s when we stumble upon a Libreria, a bookstore. I think we have found where she works. She loves books, she loves giving books away, she loves lending books and she is quite famous in town for not making too much money simply because ultimately she wants people to read and dream.

The restaurant, at the end of the alleyway, looks promising, but as the owner sees me approaching, he closes the door and picks up the phone. These phone calls are slightly suspicious.

I walk left and right, aimlessly, through the narrow streets. Here and there, someone comes to the window to hang some clothes or shake the dust off of a rug. An elderly lady waters her flower pots generously.


Suddenly, I find myself at a central area where a church, with open doors, invites any tired visitor to sit down and rest a bit. Our characters are not particularly religious, I think, but, as it often happens in small villages and towns, the priest becomes a friend and a confident. Perhaps he could be another one of our characters.

This central area also has a Fiori and Piante shop, a flower shop. I think the owner of this shop will also be a character in our story. She is always busy, attending to her flowers, but she sees and hears a lot more than people think. For instance, from the side window of her shop, she sees a strange group of men arriving at the terrace. They sit underneath the pergola, right next to the barrels of fresh wine. While some pretend to busy themselves with the crates filled to the brim with grapes, the others look around anxiously. To the left, they can see the beach and the lighthouse; to the right the port. There is something happening. Could it be that our male character got himself involved in smuggling contraband, in an international net of drug dealers?

I exit the plaza, southbound, through a narrow street and come across a Pizzeria. It smells deliciously. I try to engage in a friendly conversation with the owner, but he soon suspects my intentions are twofold, being nice and finding a bit more about this couple of our story and the mysteriously self-conscious men that populate the town in silence. The owner shrugs and offers me an extra slice of pizza for free. I’m sure that means I should ask no more questions.


As we approach the end of our visit to Kats Beach enriched with the very first ideas for our story, a few characters suggested, a few mysteries put forward and a complex love story as the backdrop of this month’s column, I can honestly say that this sim is utterly fascinating.

Walking through the cobbled streets and getting lost in the twists and turns of an absolutely gorgeous Southern European town, is a strong inspiration for any writer, whether you choose to consider the whole sim or one street only.

I have presented nothing but a small fragment of this location. There’s so much more to see. I invite you to visit the sim and draw inspiration from it, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Kats Beach.

THE END

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A Story Waiting to Happen is a series of monthly articles about sims in the virtual world of Second Life®. The goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. If you write a story prompted by this post, do consider leaving it in the comments or a link to it. Thank you.

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Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.