Status Report

It’s been a while! I regretfully admit that I’ve all but forgotten about this website and my self-imposed obligation to post monthly. Ah, well. It’s happened before, and it will surely happen again. At least this time, I have a decent excuse.

I’ve been working on a story — an original piece — that’s been on my mind a long time now, but lacked a setting till recently. I know that sounds weird — how can you even conceptualize a story without a setting? Well, I totally can! I had some vague ideas but the vagueness was so vast that it was barely discernible from void. And then, pretty much out of nowhere, I knew how to fill that void; this in turn allowed me to start getting things from my head and onto the page.

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An Exercise in Self-Critique 4

This is the fourth post in the series where I critique the beginnings of my own stories, written long ago, and try to make them better. Here are the previous posts:

The usual method is to look at the first 250 words and examine/edit that excerpt in detail. But today I’ll do something different. I want to talk about some of the material that I cut from Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre, the Mass Effect fanfiction novel I finished last year, and explain why it never made it into the final version.

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Adrift (2012)

This is a very old version of chapter 1 of Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre, the Mass Effect fanfiction novel I finished in 2019, posted here as part of An Exercise in Self-Critique 4. Compare it to the official final version here.


A bright morning in Har Triste on Palaven. He’s standing on the edge of a crater, ankle-deep in the rubble. Where the Subourus Plaza used to be. The buildings around still stand. At angles. Burnt and punctured, shattered windows and naked armature. He can’t remember which war he’s fighting in, but war it is. His planet is under attack, his people suffering. Yet as he looks up at two winding missile tails in the serene yellow sky, he only thinks, it’s beautiful.

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A New Mass Effect Fic: The Precedent

Two years before Eden Prime, Saren enlists Nihlus’s help to get an old friend out of some serious trouble. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. How far will he go to ensure the success and secrecy of his misguided quest?

This is the story I timidly announced some time ago. I’ve been brewing the concept for it since 2013, but only dared try my hand with it now. Writing it was surprisingly smooth and easy (though it did take three months of daily work). It seems I’ve forgotten, again, what a joy it is to write new stories, compared to the struggle of continuing and/or salvaging the old. Despite the dark themes, The Precedent was a breath of fresh air.

Read it here, or on AO3.

Image: I was wrong by PaleCaesar

Sentence Length Colorizer for Microsoft Word

In the image above is a famous quote from Gary Provost’s “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing”. One of them is to avoid stacking sentences of the same length one after another, since that makes for boring reading. Coloring the text based on sentence length is a useful visual tool to help an author or an editor identify such potentially boring passages and revise them. I found several web-based tools that do this (here’s an example) but I don’t much like the mechanics of pasting my text into a browser, possibly many times, as I revise. There might also be some commercial products that offer this service, but I didn’t research that.

Instead, I made my own sentence length colorizer for Microsoft Word, and if you’d like, you can use it too!

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