One post that should probably be two, but it's Saturday morning, and I can't be stuffed doing it twice…
Micro fiction blogging
This morning a school friend whom I still keep in contact with via Facebook, emailed me a collection of her flash fiction. She asked my opinion if it was any good and if she should continue. I enjoyed it, said absolutely she should and suggested she blogged it, rather than relying on social media. I'm a big advocate of owning your platform — but that's a post for another day.
Anyway, she set up a Wix site, and I've left her to it, but the idea of microblogging flash fiction is something I've thought about for a while. Writing flash fiction is a good exercise, and it offers rapid turnout on content for my readers, which is appealing given I take so long to write a book.
It got me thinking about how I'd implement flash fiction from a publishing perspective. Obviously, I have this website, but I'm not sure if it's really optimised for short-form publishing.
I'm tossing up the idea of creating a subdomain and using a static site generator or a very light-weight, flat-file CMS. This would allow me to optimise the site's design for short-form posts, and perhaps theme the site as one would expect from my particular genre.
The key criterion is convenience. If I have to muck around with GIT and deployment scripts, then I'll be less inclined to use it — after all, that's why I migrated from my old static-site generator in the first place. Ideally, I'd write in Ulysses and then deploy directly to a CMS, or export and dump a markdown file to a folder that gets automagically built and deployed. I have a couple of ideas how I'd do this (one with Dropbox+Netlify, the other with Amazon S3+Lambda), but it will cost me the better part of an afternoon to get it running.
Or maybe I'm over-thinking things as usual, and my Scriptorium is just fine. If I use this site, then I can restrict access to my members as I've already done with a couple of novel extracts I published earlier this year.
World Anvil woes
In my previous post, I announced I was pottering away (slowly) on a new fantasy setting. One which, I could play D&D in without polluting the setting I use to write my medieval-inspired grimdark books. I noted in particular that I would partly build the world using World Anvil.
Sigh — I'm already regretting that decision.
First off, let me just say that World Anvil isn't bad, and it has improved since I last reviewed it. Indeed, there's a tonne of features and templates. If you don't know where to start world-building, then I think if you are patient, use the help and video prompts and are prepared to learn and pay, it's a good option.
But…I dunno, I guess I'm a square peg to its round hole. It's not gelling with me at all. I find the UI still to be very cluttered, and concerns aren't well separated. Logging into the service presents you with a news feed, advertising and other World Anvil platform stuff. I don't want somebody else's platform or community.
Even when I tab out of this and open my world, I find the experience of creating, writing and managing content in web forms to be inefficient and distracting. Again, this is on me, for years, I've used file systems for managing content, and dedicated writing apps for drafting. I personally find this far more satisfying and transparent. World Anvil's levels of abstraction, separating me from my content really bother me.
The free tier is minimal, and its UI is saturated with advertising. I'm prepared to pay to remove the adverts, but then I'll tumble down World Anvil's elaborate feature/tier matrix. The Journeyman tier (A$64 a year) is probably enough for me, but that is still quite limited in some key areas (storage, mapping features, exports, family trees). It presents adverts on your rendered world site for visitors unless you pay for the Grandmaster tier (A$166 a year).
So, I don't know if I'll continue on this path of using World Anvil to develop Alashiya. I don't see the value it provides me, given that I don't like the experience it offers at any price — except maybe the Sage tier.
When I started writing this post, I thought I was drafting two separate and unrelated posts. Yet, oddly enough, they've both got me thinking of implementing solutions to these problems I now find myself pondering when I should be writing. How do I publish a micro-fiction blog that's dead-simple to use? How do I to develop, manage and perhaps publish my world-building content?
It's unlikely I'll go to the effort either way since it's time I don't really have. I also question the value of either endeavour. Micro-fiction can probably sit easily within this site, with perhaps just a template tweak. As for the world-building material, my current methods serve me fine, and I'm yet to be convinced if I even need to publish a sanitised version at all. Then again, this is an itch that's unlikely to go away.
So, let me know what you think. Do you want to see me publish flash fiction? Are you happy with it staying within this site, or separated in a subdomain?
Should I persist with World Anvil, even though the service isn't my cup of tea? Do you even care if my D&D side-world project sees the light of day?
As always, members can comment below, while the rest of humanity can find me on Twitter.