So, in keeping with the theme this month of NaNoWriMo, I bring you creative time-wasters!
Okay, so maybe I call them “helpful utilities” when I use them, but, still…
Back in the day, I was much more of a Renaissance man that I am now. I dabbled in all kinds of things not least of which was either writing or programming. And, I tend to live by the dictum that one cannot really learn anything worthwhile without a project or goal. When you combine those things, well, you get some interesting projects.
The first programming language of any real weight I taught myself was Perl. Perl has sometimes been called the duct tape of the internet, because so many system administrators use it to keep old, clanky systems running. That was also the reason I learned it, because I often found myself maintaining old, clanky systems! But, mostly, I used it for my various webpages. Then, of course, came WordPress which ran on a fancy new language called PHP. Naturally, I set about teaching myself PHP.
Well, the projects I used were random generators, primarily to help people who were writing and needed a little help. One of my earliest was a little tool, originally inspired by shareware, that let you randomly come up with what might be in fantasy character’s pockets. If memory serves, the shareware program was developed as a utility for Dungeon Masters in AD&D campaigns that had a lot of thieves who were always wanting to pick the pockets of townsfolk! But, it was fun and useful as an exercise. You can find that one here: Fantasy Pocket “Litter” Generator.
Recently, after adapting that to the new PHP language I was mentioning, I got the idea to extend that idea to a more modern setting and came up with the Random Daily Carry Generator. So, instead of having magic frying pans and enchanted daggers, a character may have an encrypted USB drive and a loaded Glock 21. Just the thing to fill the pockets of random story characters, as needed! Also, this one is still under development a bit, so as I think of things, I’m adding them in. Visit often for new stuff!
And, of course, all those things and more can be found at my old World-Building page at my almost defunct writing site; Fantasist.net.
So, if you’ve hit that first week stumbling block on your NaNoWriMo project, go check these pages out and see if anything helps. But, most of all, have fun!