Get Fezzed

Mucking About

This week I’ve been working on the new Uvirith’s Legacy Website, using it as an opportunity to better get to know WordPress because I have a lot of content for that site ready to go. I’m quite impressed by the Ignite theme, and may switch to it for this site as well—we’ll see. I’m also using a different slide-show plug-in that has touch responsive options, and may switch over my galleries here. It’s been quite an undertaking because I’m editing the content as I convert it into the new format. One thing I wasn’t as good at, half-a-decade ago when I wrote most of it, was brevity. No wonder people asked some of the same questions over and over. It’s not like what I’d written was crystal clear. Hopefully it is now (it’s certainly more searchable in this format). Though there’s still enough information to fill a book. It’s a big mod.

The next bit is TL;DR, but it’s maybe worth a laugh:

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Your Writing Prompt Sucks

My experience with prompts comes from the Flash Fiction Thunderdome on Something Awful. A few years ago, myself and the other two Thunderdome founders looked at the story writing contests and flash fiction threads, all of which petered out due to lack of interest, and figured out to make a contest that didn’t suck. Part of it had to do with the prompts. Other contests had weakass prompts like, “the story must have a character named so-and-so and include a mattress.” How the hell is that supposed to inspire anyone? At best, someone comes up with a story, 100% on their own, and awkwardly tries to wedge in the stupid requirements to fit the contest. That shit is idiotic, and yet it pervades writing contests all over the web.

If you want to prompt someone to write a story rather than a weak scenario, then get to the heart of storytelling: motivation and conflict. Behind motivation and conflict are two questions: how and why. What, who, and where don’t matter as much. Even how isn’t as important as why. I’ve found the best prompts set a scenario and ask the writer to fill in the blanks about how and why it came to be.

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Wagner Spitzer Karikatur (Public Domain)

Great Literary Takedowns: Tolstoy vs. Wagner

I’m currently reading Tolstoy’s scathing indictment of aestheticism in What is Art, his views of which are unpopular to this day because he pretty much hates everything. I’ve been taking notes, so I’ll have more to say on the whole book later. However, I have to share his crotchety-old-man rant about Wagner, because it is hilarious. Tolstoy describes attending a performance of The Ring of Niebelung in 1898 like it was a terrible fever-dream. Here’s his reaction to Act I in all its TL;DR glory:

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Why Participant Ribbons Are Bullshit

I’ve read a lot of gripes about whether or not every kid should get a trophy just for showing up. The defenders talk about how competition divides kids into winners and losers. The detractors talk about how rewarding kids for bare-minimum effort leads to entitlement and failure. Both sides have valid points, but what the self-esteem supporters fail to realize is getting a trophy for doing badly, or fuck-all, does nothing for anyone’s self-esteem save the back-patting school administrators who think they can do the bare-minimum to make every child feel included and call it a day.

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