LeeAnn Adams

The 2016 Blue River Editors’ prize for creative nonfiction went to Chloe Livaudais’ essay “Lazy Eye.”  In her essay, our editors found a mixture of powerful storytelling and craft. Livaudais takes us into memory and, at the same time, weaves a sense of the present in an imperative second person voice. Chloe Livaudais kindly took some time to answer some questions for us.

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Change Seven Magazine

What a rough year 2016 was—the countless deaths of our favoriteauthors, actors, and musicianswars at home and abroadBrexit; not to mention our own mind-boggling political election. We still have books, though, and thank goodness for that. I read all over the literary map for work, school, and pleasure, and have come up with ten novels, broken into three categories, that sustained me this year:

Adult Novels

  1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf, 2016): I listened to Gyasi’s novel via audiobook before I knew about the book’s hype and Gyasi’s growing fan base. Dani Hedlund featured Gyasi’s novel in F(r)iction #5, where I am a junior editor. However, I was reading Homegoing before I knew about the feature. The novel’s characters and strong voice drew me in immediately. The way Gyasi manages time and multiple generations is also rather wonderful.

2. The Gloaming

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Maria Haskins

Another month gone by, another leap into the wealth of excellent speculative short fiction available online. There are so many wonderful websites and zines that publish short fiction these days: support the ones you like. Subscribe, use Patreon, buy single issues… it makes a difference to the sites and zines, and it makes a difference for the writers, too.

Here we go: 11 wondrous speculative fiction stories I read this past month.

Man of the House, by Pamela Ferguson in Daily Science Fiction. “Our man is not producing any energy. There is no electricity to power the house. Nothing works.” This is a fabulous short-short story that is so deceptively simple in its construction, and so completely brilliant. If you want to read a story that demonstrates how you can completely twist a story sideways with one sentence (I actually gasped), then this story is for you.

So…

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Book Review: Video Game Storytelling by Evan Skolnick

video-game-storytelling“I found it to be both interesting and entertaining, using real-life examples taken from very popular movies and games that most people will be readily familiar with. I feel that Evan Skolnick has a lot to share and I really wish I had the opportunity to attend one of his talks. I would recommend Video Game Storytelling to anyone involved in the game development process—or anyone hoping to get into game development.” —Game Vortex

I started with Game Vortex’s quote because I believe I need to shed some positive light on this book. I could see how this book could be extremely helpful to people in the video game industry.

Here is the summary from the Penguin Random House site:

With increasingly sophisticated video games being consumed by an enthusiastic and expanding audience, the pressure is on game developers like never before to deliver exciting stories and engaging characters. With Video Game Storytelling, game writer and producer Evan Skolnick provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide to storytelling basics and how they can be applied at every stage of the development process—by all members of the team. This clear, concise reference pairs relevant examples from top games and other media with a breakdown of the key roles in game development, showing how a team’s shared understanding and application of core storytelling principles can deepen the player experience. Understanding story and why it matters is no longer just for writers or narrative designers. From team leadership to game design and beyond, Skolnick reveals how each member of the development team can do his or her part to help produce gripping, truly memorable narratives that will enhance gameplay and bring today’s savvy gamers back time and time again.

Many game developers care just as much about the story in their games as they do about game mechanics, which I think is smart. However, game developers may not have studied creative writing in school. So creating stories that resonate with their gamer audiences may be difficult to create.

For someone who has studied narrative structure and character building the majority of their life, I found this book to offer nothing new. To be fair, I am not a game developer and I read this book because I was interested in the idea of the subject matter. However, it’s truly a book for beginners as far as the storytelling aspect goes. This doesn’t make it a terrible read. While I didn’t enjoy it, I’m sure others will and have.

Evan Skolnick has worked at companies such as Activision, Lucasfilm, and Marvel. He’s worked on projects such as Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2Spider-Man 3Star Wars 1313, and many others. He’s conducted workshops and spoke to many different video game industry professionals about storytelling techniques.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.