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Writing is Difficult!

February 8, 2012

Writing is actually not difficult.  The problem I have is that it’s difficult to get started.  Once I do that, then I can just keep on rolling through until it’s done.  Well, assuming I don’t physically get tired, hungry, or have to use the bathroom.  Obstacles!

I’m struggling with the Dark Brotherhood write-up for Clever Musings right now.  With the Thieves Guild, I approached it from a narration angle—I’d tell a story about how I went through the quests.  This was an ill-advised move considering that when I finished, I hadn’t actually done very much criticism.  I was going to wrap the post up by going through point by point and just listing off all the places where the quests failed and where they succeeded.  It was then that I realized, wait, if I had done that from the beginning, then I’d have an entire criticism of the guild the length of an article.  In essence, I’d be writing the criticism twice.  I couldn’t do that, because I had already written both parts.  Worse, Part 1 was already posted by the time I thought of wrapping Part 2 with the point-by-point breakdown.

I vowed to not repeat that mistake with the Dark Brotherhood.  The problem with that is I can’t go through the Brotherhood like that.  One reason for this is that the Brotherhood quests are written so much better.  It uses Skyrim’s mechanics more.  It doesn’t have an awful plot.  Everything works.  Doing a point-by-point breakdown just isn’t possible because there isn’t any room for improvement.  The only option is to approach it from the narration angle.  The other, bigger reason is that my notes are sparse.  These are my complete notes for the Dark Brotherhood:

Muiri’s quest to kill the bandit and the Shatter-shield girl: killing shattershield played out in my favor, with the Windhelm slicer on the prowl. Emergent behavior = good!

Night mother: creepy!
Cicero: annoying
Astrid: uhm. Yay?

Quest line:
Abandoned shack
Random hits
Random hits
Night Mother
Locate Gourmet
Sanctuary attack
Meet with client
Dawnstar Sanctuary

Meanwhile this is an excerpt of my notes on the Thieves Guild:

Bring the evidence to the fence in Solitude, confront him about it and try to get him to talk about Karliah:

The Warehouse connects with Brinewater Grotto. The fence needs to be followed through the warehouse, which is set up for sneaky characters; if the player doesn’t want to confront guards, then they have to stick to the shadows and be careful of when they move and where they go. It’s very well done. Then, Brinewater Grotto is filled with bandits, meaning it’s time for some murder. OR, the player can sneak through the caves and, using barely concealed side passages, avoid confrontation with everyone up to the final bandit that the fence is talking to. This is a quest that requires stealth, knows it requires stealth, and then gives the player the means to get through the areas without confrontation. It rewards good stealth play. It’s challenging and it is FUN. Very gratifying to make it through an area without needing to kill anyone; weird for a Dark Brotherhood assassin to avoid murder, eh?

The difference is night and day!  I could work from my Thieves Guild notes because I wrote down everything about the quests as I played.  For the Dark Brotherhood, I waited until after I was done playing before making any notes.  I was completely perplexed by why I was so inconsistent with my notes when I realized the obvious difference.  And to support the obvious realization are the dates in which the files were created: For the Dark Brotherhood, Nov 12; For the Thieves Guild, Dec 15.  “So what happened?” you may be asking.

The answer is that I got a laptop.  My 360 (the TV, actually) is in a different room than my desktop.  Writing about the Dark Brotherhood while I played just was not possible.  By the time my laptop arrived, I had already completed the Dark Brotherhood’s quests.  Also, I had started the Thieves Guild quests and progressed through them for a bit; the excerpt above is actually the first set of detailed notes in the file!  What happened is that I had progressed up to Honningbrew without a laptop, but then when I encountered the Pointless Mage, I accidentally executed my companion.  I had intended to execute the mage (who was brought to his knees), but the game decided that my companion was my actual target.  So, I rage quit and just didn’t play Skyrim for about a week.  The only reason I picked the game back up again was because I was excited at the prospect of being able to write about the game while I played it.

Here’s the kicker:

I took notes on Gears of War 3 while I played that.  It was a painstaking process of having to pause the game and write things down (physically, in a notebook).  My wrist hurt from all the writing I did.  My back started to hurt because I had to be either hunched over to write on the table, or sit on the floor.  It was awful.  Then, I would take my notebook back to my desktop and transcribe it all, effectively taking notes twice.  It’s the reason I decided I needed a laptop, also.

Funny how things come full circle.

Anyway, I just wrote this because I needed to get the writing juices flowing.  It’s easier to recall and review than it is to create.  It’s my way of dealing with writer’s block.


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