Ask Anna #12: Odds and Orts

This post is a grab bag of the remaining Ask Anna questions. I'm answering them all at once so that I can start fresh with new ones next year. What a journey it's been answering these! I completely trashed my original plan of answering them every other week, so I tried to provide longer responses to make up for it. I'm glad to finally clear the list, though.

Let's do this!

  • What is a "game"?

Everything is a game, if you’re doing it right. Taking out the trash: How many bags can you carry at once without dropping anything? A physics-based game. Eating dinner: How can I consume each of these food items so that my last bite is lasagna and not brussels sprouts? Resource management game. Shopping: How can I find the perfect gift in an under an hour? A quest game. If games are a series of interesting decisions, as Sid Meier says, then you can gamify anything.

Well, almost anything.

  • What do you do all day besides tweet?

 I should probably be insulted by this question. I’m not, though, and that worries me. Anyway, I’ll let you in on a little secret: writers never stop working. Everything we do, everyone we meet, every detail of every day has the potential to be material for our work. We are constantly noting the way people phrase things, how they react, what the subtext of any situation is. If you know a writer, odds are that something of yours ended up in their work. Your laugh, your catchphrases, your family troubles—all raw material for writers. So just because I’m trying out ideas 140 characters at a time doesn’t mean I’m not working.

A busy day at the office.

A busy day at the office.

That brings me to…

  •  When writing for games, what kind of things do you take inspiration from? How much of those really shape your work? I mean, how many of those are highly-influential on your writing?

I look at other games for ideas about how other writers are conveying story information. How are they getting around awkward game mechanics? Have they hit upon an elegant way to deliver information without a lot of text? What are they doing to develop character within the constraints they have? I read for similar reasons. How did this author play with tropes? What literary devices can I transfer to my own work? Same for movies, theater, music, etc. I look at other people’s creative endeavors to see how they told a story within their medium and to find ways around constraints. In terms of subject matter, I take inspiration from the world around me. Not just the media I consume, although I’m often inspired by the work of others, but people and their interactions with the world. And of course, I look at nature, history, and mythology for creative inspiration. I absorb it all. Everything goes in. Everything is raw material. How much weight I give to a particular source depends on what I’m writing. 

Inspiration. I absorb it all. Everything goes in.

Inspiration. I absorb it all. Everything goes in.

  • What’s your favorite color?

Not telling.

  • Well, now I'm curious. What is your favorite color?

Shhhh. No.

  • What IS your favorite color?

The color of secrets.

  • Kirk or Picard?
  • Or Janeway? She's got the coffee.

 Confession time: I’m not a fan of any Star Trek series. Please don’t assassinate me. My brother is a big enough fan for both of us. Thanks to him, I’ve seen a big chunk of all the show’s incarnations. I like them all for different reasons, but none of them gripped me enough to make me a true fan. As far as captains go, I like Janeway. Apparently, she’s got the coffee.

  • How can you love K-Pop when J-Pop is so obviously superior? 

I'm planning a long post to outline in painful detail EXACTLY why Kpop is better. I’ll link it here when it’s up.


UPDATE: After tweeting this post out, I received the following response:

So…yeah. That's all that needs to be said about that. 

  • Who is your favorite bus commute buddy? 

No question about it, my smartphone. ♥

  • What was your all-time most awkward bus commute moment?

Wow, there are so many to choose from. Maybe it was the time that I got thrown into some young Microsoft guy’s lap and it wasn’t remotely the romantic moment that manga and Kdramas have taught me it should be.  Or maybe the time the bus got stuck on the highway for hours and someone pulled out snack fruit. I thought the angry mob would kill him after he banana-stanked up the bus. Or maybe it was how the only two times I saw my Seattle crush on the bus were when I was returning from having dental surgery and my face was numb. Nothing says, “I think you’re cool and I’d like to date you” like uncontrolled drooling from novacained lips. Those are only a few highlights. Riding the bus was a daily adventure. That I don’t miss at all.

  • When will there be a Hudson Hawk 2?
  • Who is your favorite minion?

 I love all my minions equally. Which is to say, in a cruel and offhand manner. Over time, however, some minions have distinguished themselves with remarkable feats of devotion. I have to single out Loremasterkaae,  Archaes8, and Crimson342 as examples of minioning done right. Thanks for your service! You’ve earned one less lashing next year.

I swear, I spoil them.


And that's it. If you 'd like to ask me a question, please submit it through my website or ask me on Twitter (at #AskAnna). Please make sure I haven't already answered it, though.  Question List Here