Writing thoughts: distractions?

A few days ago, I was reading a blog post about writing, and one of the points was to avoid distractions. Today, I was writing again and after being done, I decided to think about how much of that time was actually spent writing. I was not using stopwatch or seriously tracking it (as it would be another distraction and would slow me down even more) but as some guess it should work well.

So, my progress was one chapter. Okay, 90% of it, I’ll need to finish its ending when I think out the details. Anyway, it was around 3000 words and took me something around 4 hours. How much of it was actually spent writing?

There is a bit of time lost when I switch to music player to add something to the playlist (I’ll probably make a blog post about my choice of background music at some point). But the main point is alt-tabbing to internet browser. I rarely prepare any facts I might need in advance and so it often happens that when I need to check something on the internet.

That can be something as simple as spelling or meaning of a word (I verify that by reverse translation and synonyms), something I used several times to make sure I use a word correctly (this is mostly when using a work I’m unlikely to use in daly life).

Most of my time spent not writing while writing is spent tabbed out to wikipedia. There were times when I was checking the usual habitat of a plant or animal just to make sure it is not misplaced.

Today, my search included various articles from felines through rodents and even seagulls as I was writing a chapter where several characters explore tropical rainforest islands. Eventualy it brought me to look up bow fishing (first question I had: is it even possible?), ability of birds to eat and eventually catch fish as well as some searches related to volcanoes (which are present on the islands).

I guess that of the four-ish hours I spent maybe one hour looking up stuff. By the way, capybara meat is supposedly tasty. I chose bow fishing over hunting rodents anyway.

Book review: Soldier Sword

Second book from the series (first book reviewed in my previous post) and just as good. The immersion from first book was regained quickly despite the slower start. Endric tries to learn as much as he can about the things that caused even of the first book but it seems that no one wants him to know much.

The traitor from first book is hiding somewhere with almost no way to lure him out, information about anything that could help him understand is hard to get and if there is one good thing it’s that Endric is getting better in his combat skills. His part in events of the first book earned him a promotion but many think that it’s just because he’s son of the general and respect is something he can’t seem to gain or understand how to get it.

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Book review: Soldier Son

Another book I discovered by browsing lists and recommendations and another That was very good pick. I was reading it before I started this blog but after I finish the second book (at 40% as of writing this) I’ll review the second one and it would feel strange not having the first one posted as well.

First thing to mention is that the description does really good job of not only getting attention but at describing the plot. I might just copy-paste it and be done with this adding a very short comment of my own but I won’t do that.

Shortly said, it had me immersed quite fast. Endric is a problematic young man in situation no one would be in: his father is general, his brother is also much better than him and eventually Endric can get his few friends into troubles as well and wonders why they even stick to him.

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Fantasy thoughts: currency of the realm

While details in this matter are not always needed in books, no hero would probably complete his journey without single coin in his/her pockets unless he would have a great deal of luck, contacts everywhere or just a bunch of questionable techniques to achieve anything.

While my thoughts in this regard were greatly inspired by games, I’ll start this chain of thoughts somewhere else: Harry Potter series, which had a few scenes featuring money: Harry’s first visit to Gringotts’ bank and seeing the stashes of gold, silver and bronze. Draco “buying” his place in quidditch team by his father gifting them Nimbus 2001 brooms. Or the moment where wizards arriving to watch quidditch world cup confuse the local landowners as they want to pay the rent for their tents with their wizarding gold coins instead of GBP or the 1000 galleon reward for winning triwizard tournament. That’s just a few.

Then there are classic mentions like endless gold pouches or just the fact that someone might get upset by losing some money while playing cards and cause a bar brawl. Pirates that tend to be out of gold just as soon as they find a place where they can get some rum.

The original plan was to use nine Pieces of Eight to bind Calypso, but when the first court met the Brethren were, to a one, skint broke. – Joshamee Gibbs, Pirates of the Caribbean: At world’s end

If things happen fast, currencies will probably not be something of an issue but in longer story arc, it could very well happen that a character (especially if he/she is driven out for any reason) will be facing the slowly drained purse in addition to any other hardship. Example could be Inheritance series where Roran is forced to pirate a ship because he (and the Carvahall refugees following him) could not pay the full journey; or the bounty on his head.

Now, full circle back to what I mentioned at first: gaming. Here and there, nostalgic people who enjoyed the hard days of World of Warcraft 1.x (not me, I started in 3.3.5) remember how even 50 gold meant something compared to days now when Blizzard implemented a huge spider mount that costs exactly 2 million gold to give the richest (in game sense) players some way to empty their pockets. The fractions below gold don’t matter any more. Same could be said about Diablo III where the lack of unit below gold causes massive inflation and after some time spent playing the game, any number lower than a million means almost nothing.

In regards to my own writing: a gladiator tournament happens in my story. By the very early phase (pre-first draft thoughts) I was working with placeholder prize money of 50000 gold (damn me for lack of specific currency name). Even in the first draft there was no mention of specific amount, only that the reward is a small fortune, especially for the main character who is on the verge of adulthood.

In that stage of pre-writing thoughts, the weapon he obtains some 10-15 years later was guesstimated to cost around 75000 because of the ingredients needed to forge the very special alloy. Another irony: while these ideas are some 10 years old, it was only a few months ago I had any specific ideas for what the ingredients will be and some weeks ago I finalized the list and still need to decide sources of some.


Mixed up

This is a story of a very strange dream that happened to me a few months ago and that I still remember very well. It led to a decision that I’ll try to avoid reading books from multiple series at once.

A bit of background: it was shortly after I bought my e-reader and there were a few things I wanted to get on. Mostly Eragon/Inheritance series and The Mortal Instruments (mostly to see differences between movie and book). I was also gaming a lot and then all of that stuff mixed up in this weird dream…

I was in Goldshire inn. Those who played World of Warcraft know it’s a tavern of dubious reputation where you can see almost anything. I was one of the ordinary tavern visitors, just minding my tankard of whatever my dream-self was drinking when…

Eragon walked to the bar. Now, that alone would be strange, how did he get to Azeroth? He barely managed to order his drink when another well known character came in: the dark lord, Voldemort himself.

Eragon did not waste time. I have no clue at all what kind of spell he used, but Voldemort was completely obliterated before he even managed to reach for his wand. He did not just die like in the book or disintegrate like in the movie. He was just erased, kind of like Deathwing after being hit by the Dragon soul.

As if nothing happened, Eragon walked outside the tavern, where Sapphira waited and Eragon just started drawing runes on her scales. I only know for sure that one was healing rune and that they were from the Mortal Instruments series.

At that point I woke up. I had lots of weird dreams in past, but this aced it. I sat without move for maybe two minutes having a face that claerly said “what the hell?” before laughing hard. Truth be told, I had hard time not laughing for the rest of the day at least, especially as I told this to my fellow World of Warcraft players.

Two years on the journey

Two years ago, 21.7.2015 (at 9:17 CEST) I started the long journey to put my ideas for a fantasy story together. After a nudge from my fellow World of Warcraft player who told me the truth that there’s no reason to not try, I started writing a sample chapter. Now, two years later, first book is somewhere on transition between alpha and beta version and I decided to reflect a bit on what happened in those two years.

Two years of what I estimate to be much more. I did not give it working name “Project Eternity” for nothing.

From six characters to forty

Of course the number is not exact, but the sample I wrote had only a few of the characters that take part in the story. Some of those that appear in chapter 1 were not created before the moment I actually started writing the chapter (a story I’ll share later). The sample was from somewhere in later part of second book (hard to guess before I get there) and at this point it’s soon about to be dismantled as during writing book one and preparing story of book two I realised I’ll need to change timing of some events.

Anyway, in first book, there’s around forty to forty-five named characters with some more to appear later. And for some, I still lack a name I would be satisfied with even after several changes. It’s my biggest hold-up at this point.

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Book review: Battle mage

This book, as it is usual for my last reads, was another random find. So far it’s the longest book I’ve read this year. Amazon states the length at ~650 pages while goodreads at ~860 which felt closer to the truth. Yet it did not feel too long. The book had me hooked from the start and if there’s one indication how good it was, I was disappointed that I had to delay finishing it by one day due to scheduled World of Warcraft raid.

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Art in the streets

During the previous week, my attention was drawn to a bus that had quite unique graphical design. While there are few that are not using the operator’s typical colors (usually it’s a prototype which was not repainted after testing) or paid advertisement, this one is significantly different.

I’m quite sure that most people saw buses, trains, trams and anything else covered by graffiti without the owner’s consent. This was the opposite case: the bus was intentionally covered by graffiti as part of a cultural event in the city. It was out of order for a week while some modifications were done to preserve the unusual look.


Graffiti-covered bus. In background, two buses in the usual color scheme (yellow stripe indicates low-floor bus)

Unfortunately I did not have time to take more from more angles. Another interesting fact is that the bus was operating on a route that was replacing trams (tram tracks are undergoing repairs) where a noise-cancelling wall is covered by street art for a few years already, replacing the billboards. I consider it better than the mostly unimaginative ads especially as the groups that make decorations for these walls are continuously replacing them with new ones (I believe one or two on each side of the road per year).

Karosa B941E bus specifications (source: Wikipedia)

  • Articulated bus
  • Length/Width/Height: 17,615 m / 2,5 m / 3,165 m
  • Top speed: 70 km/h
  • Manufactured: 335 buses between years 1997 and 2001 (this particular bus in 1999) by Karosa (now Iveco Czech Republic)
  • Capacity: 42 seated + 118 standing passengers

This type of bus (as well as the slightly newer B961 variant as seen in background to the left) is slowly being cycled out and replaced by low-floor or low-entry buses but several are still in use if their technical state allows. These two and their B741 predecessor were significant part of my daily commute for several years. In the last years, they are being replaced by fully low-floor buses.

Art design credit to author. Photo taken by me.

From history to fantasy

It’s a few months ago I have this thought, but I think it’s still a nice one. I was watching a documentary about ancient Rome, which was very well done. It was amazing to see how such a city as organized.

System of aqueducts led water to the city in a way that outdid its era. It had complex system of public life, areas in the city for specific purposes. It had army (legionnaires) that worked like nothing else in that time.

It had me think: a city in fantasy would need to work just as well if it was to be the sprawling metropolis able to house tens of thousands. Yes, some things can be made easier in fantasy worlds by using magic but unless it is to have magic in everything, ancient Rome is perfect example of how a great civilization could work with little technology in the way we know it today.


Today was another of those days when I was writing a bit and something that I had a few times occurred to me again. It’s the moment when I am searching for the word to say something and somehow it comes to my mind even though I did not know I know the word. In reality, I did not even know such a word existed.

This happened to me maybe two or three times before, unfortunately I don’t remember what words they were and at this point I am not willing to scroll through 240000 words of text to find three of them. But I know what it was this time.

I was in the process of describing a frost elemental, which I decided that will look like a mixture of snow and ice, strangely mixed together. And then as I was thinking how to best say that, the word came to my mind.


Wait, does such a word even exists? Seems that it does, because Word did not underline it red as a typo. Okay, step two, Google translate. Check, it seems that such a word really exists. Good.

In case of interest, here goes the elemental’s description as it is now in the very first pre-alpha version. Since the story is still in development, I removed character names from the excerpt.

[name removed] saw various elementals before. He saw earth elementals that looked like dried soil, flame elementals that looked like cooling magma and mistwalkers that looked like a bunch of mist taking on a specific shape. This frost elemental looked like irregular intermingled mixture of ice and snow. It had larger crystals of the same elemental ice he just picked up forming up the base of its limbs, the joints being made of what looked like tough, frozen snow. The torso looked like thin layer of the same ice encasing enormous snowball but [name removed] knew enough about elementals to know that inside this is the creature’s core, a piece of elemental ice with such power it would never melt on its own.

The elemental’s face looked like it was gently sculpted from a snowball and the creature even had something that could vaguely resemble a hair – thin strands of what resembled willow branches covered by thin layer of hoarfrost. Of course, in case of this elemental there was nothing covered, the ice just somehow kept that shape.

Note: mistwalker is what I call a specific kind of air elemental.