Collaborative Writing Online

Gaming, Uncategorized, Writing

As an undergraduate art major, I used to enjoy writing collaboratively on addventure. It was an early site for authoring hypertext (click-through) fiction where users could add to a story from the character decisions that were left open at the end of a paragraph/chapter. Pretty much like writing a Choose Your Own Adventure book collaboratively.

A few years ago, an online acquaintance of mine named Joakim Johansson started a website called Story Wars. In SW, users are able to author the first chapter of a story which then is open for drafts on the next chapter. Anyone can submit a draft for the next chapter. Once at least two new drafts have been submitted, they are revealed anonymously for the community to vote on. The chapter with the most votes wins and goes on to be the fixed next chapter of the story. And so on.

I also recently found Storium. Storium blends elements of collaborative writing with tabletop roleplaying games, using a card system to develop characters and narrative. Pretty fun stuff.

I was for some time the top writer (in terms of points) on SW, though I’ve dropped off in my presence on the site these days, and I’m beginning to build up some content on Storium.

Join me!

 

 

In Defense of Text

Gaming, Writing

I believe I’ve previously mentioned the terrific documentary Get Lamp by Jason Scott. It looks at the past, present, and future of interactive fiction and text adventure games through interviews with many prominent figures in the history of IF. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in literacy, interactive fiction, puzzles, escape rooms, gaming (tabletop, video, and anything else) and philosophy.

Go ahead and watch 45:50-51:55 and then come back. Go on. Git!

‘Til Death Do Us Bind

Horror, Humor, Writing

So… I’ve never seen any of The Twilight “Saga” movies (don’t you be calling it a saga without hulking Norsemen.) And though I did watch some of its first season, I don’t have much interest in The Walking Dead or its fairly exhausted sub-genre.

I do, however, enjoy speculation and parody, and about four years ago I sat down with an old friend from college and his wife around a kitchen table in Philly, PA and created a hybrid genre I will now call eroto-horror.

I think it’s a lucrative and yet untapped market. Combine elements of the dime-store romance novel and the gore of the zombie apocalypse, and Bob’s yer uncle. We’re just gonna crank the Twilight “aesthetic” up to eleven.

Here’s a ludicrous piece the three of us came up with over some brewskis and alot of chuckles. Strangely, I think there are some folks out there who might be turned on by this kind of thing.

You’ve been warned. It’s so bad it’s good.

Express Stops

Directing, Performance, Playwrighting, Theatre, Uncategorized, Writing

In 2008, I managed a black-box theatre and rehearsal space just off of Times Square. A bit more on that can be found in an earlier post.

 

Theatre4

 

One of the things I just failed to launch was one evening a week where our resident ensemble performed an hour of original short plays and vignettes. “Slice of life in NYC” sort of thing. Short, punchy, experimental stuff. I had written a number of short pieces to try out in the first evening, and would have been joined by some other writer friends of mine in time had it been successful. I wanted to call it Express Stops.

Burnt Njál (Unfinished)

Playwrighting, Writing

The Story of Burnt Njál, or Njál’s Saga is a 13th century Icelandic work of prose that I began adapting into poetic form sometime after working on and performing Shakespeare’s Pericles at the Texas Shakespeare Festival.

Similar to Shakespeare’s epic, I used iambic tetrameter for the prologue/chorus and pentameter for most of the rest. The text I based my adaptation on is George Webbe Dasent’s 1861 English translation of the saga.

I ended up abandoning the project like a sinking Snekkja longship (no money in that kind of piffle) but here’s a look at my progress below.

I rather like the courtship bit between Hrut and Unna; it reminds me of how deeply I was into Shakespeare at the time as it’s very reminiscent (albeit so very much shorter) of his own many wooing scenes, like the one between Petruchio and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew.

(Note: If anyone wishes to use any of the scripts posted here for performance, please do! Just drop me a line to let me know they actually getting some use, and I’d appreciate being acknowledged in some way if the production is more substantial than scene-study work.)

 
371px-njal_saga_-_gunnar_hallgerdr

 

1.1 Prologue

Chorus

In Broadfirth dales our story swells,

Where one by name of Hauskuld dwells.

Of stout and gen’rous heart this man,

And to a feast bids he the land.

His own half-brother Hrut he calls;

A handsome man, and strong, and tall,

Well-skilled in arms and temper mild

A counselor wise, but warrior wild.

This Hrut on brother now attends,

And sits beside him as he bends

His eyes to that same golden prize

which ‘cross the feasting hall now lies:

A daughter, plays amongst the girls,

Her silken hair hung all in curls,

So fair of face and tall of growth,

The pride of father and of host;

Hallgerda named, and mind you now

Remember at this moment how

One brother wise, with vision keen

Does make the future present seen.

How I Came to be Lawfully Wed

Directing, Performance, Playwrighting, Theatre, Writing

In my last year of undergraduate studies, I was introduced to Anton Chekhov when I performed in Wendy Wasserstein’s one-act play The Man in a Case and Michael Frayn’s The Alien Corn: adaptations of two of the many short stories by the prolific Russian writer.

In the following years I continued coming back to his work as actor, director, and playwright in of a revival at my college of that first production, a mounting of Frayn’s The Sneeze and Other Plays at the Warehouse Theatre one summer, Three Sisters in graduate school, a new translation/adaptation of Uncle Vanya with my friend Moti Margolin who also played the title role at The Space in NYC, summer productions with then-current students of my college, and several productions with high school students when I taught in Sydney.

His work is just really good.

After a period of some familiarity, I began to adapt his short stories on my own. Chekhov wrote hundreds of them, and not all have been translated. But from what I was able to find, I was always looking for material to adapt for the stage.

Here is one of the first I adapted.

(Note: If anyone wishes to use any of the scripts posted here for performance, please do! Just drop me a line to let me know they actually getting some use, and I’d appreciate being acknowledged in some way if the production is more substantial than scene-study work.)

 

 

How I Came to be Lawfully Wed

a one-act play adapted by John Knauss

from a short story by Anton Chekhov

 

 

CHARACTERS

IVAN: a young man

ZOE: a young woman

LAPKIN: Ivan’s father

 NADIA: Ivan’s mother

STEPKA: a servant

 

 

A country garden at dusk. The remains of a light dinner are on an outdoor table. IVAN and ZOE sit at opposite ends of the table silently without making eye contact. NADIA and LAPKIN stand off to one side, murmuring to one another in a hushed argument.

LAPKIN: (turning; to IVAN and ZOE) Well! Dinner’s in the belly and the evening grows dark. (to NADIA) Perhaps we should leave these two and take a stroll in the garden, my dear Nadia. As they say, “After lunch: rest. After dinner: walk a mile!”

NADIA: (annoyed with him) Who says that?

LAPKIN: (gives her a dirty look and pulls IVAN aside) Go ahead, my boy! Tell her how much you love her! And that you want to marry her! Quickly, now!

IVAN: (whispering back) But I don’t want to marry her. I don’t have any feelings for her!

LAPKIN: (shaking his fist to heaven) “They gave the naked man a shirt and he said it was too thick!” (to IVAN) No one cares what you want, you idiot!

(LAPKIN gives IVAN an angry stare and exits with NADIA.)

IVAN: (aside) Oh, lord. Here we go.

Cromenthyrn (Unfinished)

Fantasy, Writing

This is the prologue to a fantasy short story I had sketched out and written three and a half chapters for about 6 years ago. Some changing perspectives in life altered the intent and now it lies in a rarely opened folder on my hard drive.

Resurrected for a time, here.

 

PROLOGUE

Autumn came upon the land like the bear coming over the mountain: lumbering and heavy in its great earthen tones with a melancholic lethargy punctuated in stark moments by howl and groan.

A Christmas Harrow (in the Bedville Series)

Bedville Series, Horror, Humor, Thriller, Writing

I began pursuing my undergraduate degree in Studio Arts in 1994 from a well-known conservative evangelical Christian college in the midwest.

In those days of yore, a good friend and I used to write collaboratively, utilizing an early website for hypertext fiction authors called Addventure. It’s staggering to recall that we were using dial-up modems in the dorms back then, and queuing up in the computer labs to get the better connection. Heck, the internet was just in its infancy for us.

Our writing is still there after all these years. My username at the time was The Author.

Anyway. We also used to nip off to a local arcade/bowling alley/pizza joint in the early afternoon when it was virtually empty and do classwork as well as write together in the party room. After graduation, we spent a few years living around the college town and managed to write more together in that time. All up we surely had several dozen stories written, mostly focusing on the absurd, sci-fi, thriller-type scenarios set in places very similar to our quaint evangelical college town populated by characters very similar to people we had known there.

In our stories, we called this town “Bedville”.

Here is one story from that time.

 

ONE

STEVE TRAPPER SLOWED HIS CAR to a crawl and eased it into an empty parking space across from Bedville’s old art supply store.  Christmas wreaths and red ribbon bows were hung from every streetlight and telephone pole, while a soft drift of snow obscured the brick and stone landscape.  An old man clad in black perched on an old cast-iron bench, hands in pockets and white breath billowing out.  Steve eyed the man cautiously as he locked his car door and strode toward a large red brick building across the street.

Rusting Away

Children's Fiction, Writing

This short children’s story is based largely off a collaboration I was part of on Story Wars a few years ago. I did a fair amount of revision as well as adding new content this last month to bring it to its current format. Next step is some illustrations.

 

Chapter One

Charlie woke up in the middle of a field, just as he had the day before.

The sun was rising and the cornstalks tickled his body as they moved in the gentle breeze.

Charlie stretched his tires and blinked his headlights, being careful with the battery power he still had left.

R.I.P. Glassy Sunhaters (Aug 2014 – May 2015)

Writing

I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile now, so here goes.

About a year ago, when purchasing some Fay(ke)-Bans from a counter in Phomn Penh’s Central Market, I reminisced about all my sunglasses of old… how many pairs I have owned, worn, lost, broken… how many stolen by mates, sat on, left on airplanes, fallen from head-perch… and I decided I should really start documenting their lives, no matter how long or short.

Glassy Sunhaters

I bought these at Apex Outfitters before leaving for Guangzhou (the “Miami of China”) because they were brown and only $15. A bit of a step up from $5-$9 gas station shades, these did the job of “leisure lenses” for a time, but the frames are made of that hard plastic that longs to shatter when dropped on pavement from my 189cm height, which is exactly what happened. The lenses hadn’t escaped some scuffing in its average lifespan (If I can hold onto a pair of sunglasses for a year, I’m happy), and the brown color had gradually been scuffed off in places where sweaty ears and nose touched. All in all, these were not so bad for me, and hip enough to endear me with young skater-posers in China. It’s possible to super-glue these boys back into functional shape, so they haven’t hit the bin yet. Perhaps they will reemerge once again in the future atop my head.