A hub for the "Book of Masks" universe.
"The Book of Masks" : A high school student discovers a grimoire that can make magical disguises.
"The Wandering Stars" : Sequel to "The Book of Masks."
"Student Bodies" : A high school student is turned into a blue goo that can possess people.
For non-WdC Members
"The Book of Masks: Archives" : Dodges the "Servers Busy" barrier!
"The Book of Masks (Abridged)" : Introductory storylines for new readers.
"BoM/TWS Message Forum" : Community for readers of the interactives.
"BoM/TWS/SB Wiki" : Notes and documentation for authors. Spoilers!
9/19 Interactive: "The Actors' Studio"
9/19 Public: "The Actors' Studio"
|I mentioned below that I've been helping out an elderly neighbor. Tomorrow I have to take him on a road trip -- a short one, but it will consume most of the day. That means that tomorrow's BoM chapter will either go up very early or very late. It also means there probably won't be a poll because I probably won't have time to write a new chapter, even if today's poll results are lopsided.
Speaking of which, the choice "Get your dad to force him to give it back" in yesterday's poll was far enough ahead when I woke up that I gambled that it would win (which it did), and wrote a sequel chapter for that choice. So here's today's poll: [Poll completed and deleted.]
And here is today's chapter:
* Interactive: "The Counterfeit Asshole"
* Public: "The Counterfeit Asshole"
|The last Blind Plinko Poll almost ended in a tie at very end. But the choice "Ask your mom what happened to the stuff" was ahead when I woke up this morning, so I took a chance and worked on the sequel to that. It did win at the end, so you get another poll today: "BoM: Blind Plinko (III)"
|This Mad Libs poll thing isn't going to be as fun as it could be if the hidden story is obvious, and the story implied by yesterday's choices was probably pretty easy to guess. So I'm setting myself a challenge: Try twisting the story so that the events are not so easy to guess based on the choices in the poll.
The choices in today's poll hint pretty broadly at what's happened, but I don't think they're as obvious as yesterday's poll choices, and I think I've made a start at setting up some corkscrew twists. We'll see what you make of it, and we'll what you vote for me to make of it.
Last note: Yesterday's poll results skewed early and strongly toward "Seal the mask", so I got a head-start on writing the sequel chapter, and that's why I have a poll for you today. I expect that on some days I won't be able to anticipate the poll results so early, so there will likely be times when the poll shows up every other day instead.
Anyway, today's poll: [Poll completed and deleted]
Also, today's chapters, climaxing in choices which (Hmm!) parallel those in yesterday's poll. Well, this kind of thing typically happens early in a BoM storyline.
Interactive: "Jamming with Javits"
Public: "Jamming with Javits"
|Well, this is something I guess I get to brag about. While I was gone last month, "Book of Masks" took a prize in a site-wide awards competition.
It's called "The Quill Awards" , and I guess it's WdC's equivalent of the Oscars. Lots of categories that you'd expect: Best Short Poem, Best Flash Fiction, Best Short Story, Best Novel, etc. There are also odder categories, like "Best Contest" and "Best Raffle/Auction."
I don't know how it works—in particular, how the nominations or voting goes—but "Book of Masks" was nominated in two categories this year: Best Fantasy or Science Fiction, and Best Campfire, In & Out, or Interactive. I'm immensely flattered just to have been nominated.
But I was absolutely floored to return and find that it actually took the prize in the Interactive category. It has been nominated before in that category, a couple of years ago. But I sure as heck never thought it would ever win.
So, I want to give my thanks to whoever it was that nominated "Book of Masks," and to those who voted to give it the award. I'll dedicate this win to the readers, who have supported and encouraged its madness.
A full list of nominees, and a transcript of the ceremony, is here: "2020 Quill Ceremony notes" .
|As I mentioned yesterday, I did some writing during my hiatus, though it's nothing I'm really excited about. There's no reason not to share it, though, and good reasons why I should. It should help me get back into the saddle.
So here's one of the storylines I tried working on. It was to be for a commission, but the commissioner had to cancel on account of troubles. This is the five-chapter set-up that I wrote, leading up to the commission itself.
It starts with "Five Final Chances" (interactive) / "Five Final Chances" (public). It's an early chapter. Will has made a mask and has gone up to the school looking for a possible victim. Not much happens in today's chapter. When the commissioner mentioned the idea, he threw out a lot of possible victims but left the ultimate choice up to me. Instead lurching directly into my choice, I used this intro chapter to set up all the choices he had suggested.
* * *
As for the Plot Plinko contest I ran the last time I was around here. I am trying to work on that, but the line you guys chose is one of those big, wide-open spaces where almost anything could develop, which makes it hard to focus on. So that's been slow to develop. The situation is similar to the set-up above: Will has made a mask, and he's hung back after school to find someone to test it on. You guys voted that he should try it on a random girl who he spotted inside the tutorial offices.
Since I'm having trouble finding a direction, I'm going to try something a little different. I could write a chapter, post it, and ask you guys to pick a path to pursue—that would be a way of forcing myself to write, while also giving you a voice in how it develops. But I think it might be more interesting if we did it Mad Libs style, though. So instead of posting the chapters, I'm going to post the choices, devoid of context, and ask you to vote for them.
First poll is up now. It's a boring choice—a familiar situation and you can easily guess the events that lead up to it—but it's one that has to be got through before things can get interesting: [Poll completed and deleted.]
|Oh, what a month that was.
So here I am making a blog post again. Am I back? I don't know. I suppose I should start by trying to explain the last month or so.
First of all, I think I was much less ready to return, at the start of May, than I thought I was. I have not had the energy to write, and have felt myself far too easily distracted.
I have also been frustrated by BoM. I couldn't find anything good to write. Even when I found a storyline that I liked, the actual writing went sour on me. I would spend days working up the enthusiasm to write a chapter, and after writing it I would feel bored and impatient with it.
There has also been some real-life distraction. I help out an elderly neighbor by walking his dog, and near the start of May my neighbor fell and broke a bone in his face, so I put in some extra time helping him on account of that. He has also reached the point where he shouldn't be driving -- at least not as far or as often as he has in the past -- so I have been driving him on errands.
These errands don't take a lot of time. But I am a creature of habit, and have trained myself to write between certain hours of the day; other recreation (reading, watching movies, playing games) take up other hours. It was my writing hours that have been most interrupted by the (much more important) task of helping my neighbor, so that's been another disruption, one I've not adapted to yet.
So. Low energy ... lack of enthusiasm ... distractions. These are still in play, so I can't declare that I am back, but I am going to make a conscious effort to revive the WdC habit, at least to the extent of checking in. I do have a dozen or so BoM chapters that I have accumulated during the last six weeks, and I'll start posting them tomorrow, though I'm far from thrilled by them.
To the extent that my readers have been patient and not merely apathetic, I thank you all for it.
|I'm surprised/impressed with you guys. I thought for sure you were going to steer things down the "Teacher" route, which is where we went the last time we had a Plot Plinko. But the vote went pretty decisively for "Grab the girl in the tutorial office."
I guess I'll have to figure out who she is.
|The choice "Keep investigating the book" ("Making a Mask" ) won pretty decisively, as I would have bet. I don't have such a strong intuition about where you guys will want to take it next, though. Vote here: [Poll completed and deleted.]
Remember, you can also vote by sending me GPs through the form at the bottom of the chapter you prefer. If your choice wins, the GPs go GP-voters whose choice lost. If your choice still loses, you get your GPs back, and maybe a dividend.
Poll closes on Wednesday, May 5, at 12:00 PM EDT.
|You know what we haven't had around here in a long time? A poll!
[Poll completed and deleted.]
I have a couple of commission ideas to consider, but while I'm noodling around with them, how about we play a round of Plot Plinko? If you don't remember Plot Plinko, or if you weren't here the last time we played it, here's how it works.
The above link goes to a poll which in turn links to the first two chapters of The Book of Masks. At that poll, any logged-in WdC member can vote for which of the five paths to take. Tomorrow I will post another poll, linking to the chapter that got the most votes in today's poll, where you can vote on which of the next set of choices to take. For instance, if "Keep investigating the book" wins, then tomorrow I'll post a poll linking to "Making a Mask," and you will get to vote on whether to "Keep the book a secret", "Show it to Caleb", or "Show it to someone else." And so on and so forth until we reach a choice whose chapter has not been written yet. That will be the choice which gets a continuation.
Well, maybe. I can only promise to do my best.
This could take quite a while to play out, which is why it's best to play Plot Plinko either during a dead time or while I'm busy with other projects. Like now.
These polls will come with a wrinkle. As explained in the poll itself, you can also lend more weight to your vote by sending me GPs through the chapter that you prefer to see continued. So if you want to see the first choice (Keep investigating the book; "Making a Mask") continued, go to that chapter and send me GPs through the form at the bottom of the chapter. The full mechanics are explained in the poll.
|Okay, I'm caught up on things around here, but I haven't figured out where I'm going to start adding to BoM again—I need to do some more reading back through my various notes. I wouldn't look for new chapters from me until the middle of the week, at least, and maybe not until next weekend.
I've not given upon Civilization VI yet, though, but I'm giving myself a schedule that will strictly limit the amount of playtime I get. Playing that game is like eating potato chips. It's hard to stop, and you feel awful when you finally do.
|It's the start of a new month, which is a good time to get back to work. Besides, I sickened myself with Civilization VI.
Which is fine, which is good. I needed the break anyway, but I'm glad I got into the game. I loved Civilization IV, but no matter how much I played the V iteration, I could never get into it. I just found it tedious and boring. Civilization as a game is famous for "just one more turn" quality of fascination, and for me V had lost it. But once I dug into VI and got a good feel for the new mechanics, I found myself hooked and muttering "just one more turn," like in the old days.
But you all probably don't want to hear about that.
I don't have anything else to share, though. I haven't been writing or even thinking about writing, but I'm ready to do some more, and once I get caught up with what's been going on around here (because except for one or two short visits, I haven't even checked in to WdC) I plan to start working on something. It might be a few days, though, before anything starts turning up story-wise.
|Last chapter of that transitional bit is now up.
I do have some additional chapters written, but I'm going to take a couple of days off, from writing and from posting. March took more out of me than I wanted to admit at the time. Also, I've got a couple of computer games that I haven't played in forever that have been calling to me.
|I've got four new chapters written that I can publish without embarrassing myself, so I'm going to go ahead and post them, even though they are less of a "story start" and more of a "transitional section" to set up some possible stories. Anyway—
Interactive: "The Whole New You"
Public: "The Mash-Up" + "The Offspring of Two Cousins" + "The Whole New You"
—picks up in a place that hasn't been visited in a long time, and it is preceded by two bonus, new-to-the-Archives chapters. The story so far:
Will has discovered a book that can make magic disguises, and he has succeeded in making mask. He has used it on himself, putting a copy of himself into it, but he is intrigued by the book's caution that he can add other faces to the mask before sealing it up to wear. He decides to experiment by adding his cousin Umeko's face to the mask. And what will he do with this hybrid mask? Find out tomorrow!
Interactive: "Life Inside Lucy"
Public: "Life Inside Lucy"
—is the last in the batch I've been publishing. Yeah, that's a nasty cliffhanger, but that's all I've got.
I'm not sure if I'll be back tomorrow with anything new. I used up all my saved material getting to this point, and although I've got two new chapters written, I might want to save them back until I've got at least four or five and can be sure of giving you guys something worthwhile.
|So, I spent the last week of February, and the whole of March, trying to write one short story a day. I didn't make it. I crashed toward the end, and missed five days. But if I include the last week of February as part of March, then I did manage to write a complete story on 31 out of 38 days, and a total of 36 complete short stories. Some I think turned out pretty good. Others ... Well, I'll leave them up, though I'm not too happy with them.
Because the month is over, and because the last week of March had four writing-free holes in it, I'm going to go ahead and post links to the last seven stories I wrote for the challenge:
* * *
Meanwhile, today's BoM chapter—
Interactive: "With Friends Like These"
Public: "With Friends Like These"
—is a stand-alone. Yes, it's only supposed to set up more choices, but there's a bit more content to this one.
|There's five chapters posted today, but they're kind of repetitive with each other, and nothing happens. Collectively, they set up 25 possible choices for Will to pursue as he picks himself a new identity inside Westside:
"Marching to a Different Beat" (Interactive) + "Marching to a Different Beat" (Public)
"Orchestrating a New Plan" (Interactive) + "Orchestrating a New Plan" (Public)
"The Play's the Thing" (Interactive) + "The Play's the Thing" (Public)
"Deal Me In" (Interactive) + "Deal Me In" (Public)
"The Friend of My Friend" (Interactive) + "The Friend of My Friend" (Public)
Tomorrow will also bring multiple postings.
|It's the 28th, so time for another weekly update of the other stories I've been writing this month. There's only six this time, because I've been running out of steam, and I missed a day. "The Resurrection of Meleck-Taos" (written under the joint influence of H. P. Lovecraft and Hammer Pictures) won both a daily contest and a weekly contest, but it's probably the one of this batch I like the least. Oh well. Two others were daily co-winners.