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What’s With The Microfiction?

Regular visitors here may have noticed a steady stream of microfiction with references to Mastodon and #WritingPrompts. What I’ve been doing is participating in something that happens on Mastodon courtesy of author E.W. Doc Parris. It’s a chance to writing something short and share it with an audience.

What It Going On?

Every day, Doc posts a #VisualWritingPrompt. The image is something he creates using MidJourney. That image is then used as the inspiration for writers to create a microfiction story, in the science fiction genre. The stories are up to 480-ish characters in length, the typical maximum size for a post on most Mastodon instances.

Doc usually sees a half-dozen responses to his visual writing prompt. I’ve not responded to a couple, only because I just couldn’t come up with a story. I also expect that, at times, life will intervene and I will miss one on occasion. But so far, I’ve replied to most of the ones I’ve seen. They always get some kind of community response, typically either a favourite/star as well as a boost/repost.

Why Do It?

I have two motivations for participating. One is the obvious one: to write something every day. But it’s also about trying to find the non-obvious story, to look at an image and think “okay, there’s the obvious thing we’re seeing. But what else could that image represent?” It’s a creative challenge. On one (that will be coming in a few days), Doc observed that all the responses were very dark, despite the image being rather upbeat and cheerful. In my case, I felt that the “happy story” was too obvious, and that finding something darker and more ominous was more of a challenge. Apparently the bulk of the responses that day had the same line of thinking.

But what is the other motivation for posting? It’s to preserve them so they aren’t lost if (more likely when) I move to a different Mastodon instance. I want to make sure that these don’t disappear during the transfer to another server.

Moving In Mastodon

One of the benefits of the Fediverse, of which Mastodon servers are a part, is that you can move yourself to other instances or servers. When I joined Mastodon, I picked the “most obvious” choice, the mastodon.social instance. It was the first, and it’s the biggest. Since I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked, I took the path of least resistance.

But now that I know more about it, I’m thinking that I will move to a server that is closer to the kind of community I think I want to be in. More specifically, I’m probably going to move to the defacto “main server” for Canadians, mstdn.ca. There are a lot of people there that I follow, and that have started to follow me. It seems to make sense.

The problem, though, is that when you move instances, you can only move your followers and following lists, along with the list of followed hashtags, blocks, mutes, and other configuration data. What you can’t move are your posts. Those have to stay behind on the old server. Rather than them simply “fading away”, I felt it best to re-post them here as well.



Recent Writing Adventures

This is just a quick update, to let everyone know that I have a new short story coming in the next few days. I finally finished the first draft, and it now needs some review and polishing. It was quite the journey getting here, though.

A Start Without Structure

The story I just finished isn’t the one I started. My first was an attempt to write without pre-planning the major plot points. I usually like to create a simple outline of the key events in the story, even though they can change as I write. But I like to have a rough roadmap first, and if I’m deviating, I’m doing it because I’ve found a better story. That’s me. Not everyone likes to work that way, and I get that. This time around, I thought I’d try a different approach.

Needless to say, for me, it didn’t really work. The story was wandering off, and even though I’m the one at the keyboard, I couldn’t seem to get it to go anywhere in particular. The thing had a mind of its own. And it wasn’t a very interesting story, at least not to me. I’m going to revisit it in the future. I think there’s an interesting story to tell. I just wasn’t succeeding at telling it.

Round Two, This Time With Structure

So I decided to try a different story, one I had come up with while attempting to write the first one. This time, though, I planned out the basic plot points, and tried to get a sense of the story in advance. Then my job is to fill in those details, and tell the actual story. This time, I ran into two challenges. The first was that the story was much bigger than I thought. Far bigger than a “short story” should reasonably be in my opinion. This was really something big enough for a novella, perhaps an entire novel. Trying to stuff it into a short story wouldn’t do it justice.

The other problem was that I didn’t like how I was telling the story itself. It is a science fiction story, and I wanted to try to tell a story where the speed-of-light delay on high bandwidth communications is an element that impinges on the plot. It wasn’t just that I had a story to explore. I wanted to explore it in the context of some physics limitations, since they would impact how the story unfolded. And the way I started writing this story was going to make it really, really boring. So, a second story started and set aside while I figured out how to tell it properly.

Third Time’s The Charm?

I had a story idea that I have been noodling with for a couple of years now. And I came up with a way that, I think, tells the story, but in a nice, compact form. As written, it is most definitely a short story. Could it be bigger? Perhaps, but I think that it could easily get boring if told the wrong way.

No spoilers. I won’t give away the plot. All I’ll say is that it’s science fiction, and a bit of an experiment in writing at the same time. Stand by, it should be ready shortly.

Hello, World! (Again)

Welcome (again) to Vintrock Studios. I am in the process of altering the direction and vision, and changing the focus from game studio to other types of creative works. That isn’t to say that games of some kind aren’t going to be made. But this is meant as a somewhat different vision. As I continue to build and develop the key relationships, as well as update some of my creative works, I’ll be updating this site.

People who visited here before may notice that the team on the About page is somewhat smaller. With the re-imagining of Vintrock, the team has changed. Specifically, it is currently just me (Geoff). My intention is not to erase the work that Jonathan, Tracy, and Joanne did with me. It was my honour and pleasure to work with them, and we had a good time while we built 3SB. But things change, and rather than let Vintrock just fade away, Jonathan and I decided that one of us would take it over, and use it for something else.  Frankly, the name was too cool to just let it disappear, and after several conversations, Jonathan allowed me to take control of Vintrock and try to build a legacy with the company, albeit different from what we had first envisioned.

In the coming months, I will start to publish some work that I’ve had sitting around for some time, but never put out there for people to read. It will start with short stories and some works I call “vignettes”. My vignettes aren’t really a “story” per se, but are an attempt to experiment with different elements of story telling. This includes elements like dialog, action, suspense, and scene-setting. Some of them may become the kernel for something larger in the future.

While you wait for me to get on with publishing some stories and such, you can read more about Vintrock, as well as me, on the About page. And you can read my tribute to the team that was, our Vintrockers Emeritus.