09 June 2009

Seventh Sanctum and Randomness

Normally, I get verbose on my posts over at Black Gate. But I’ve had a busy week, the crunch comes down on the last day, and I don’t have time for a long amble through my usual obscura. Today’s entry is short enough that I’m going to just cross-post the whole ding-dang thing here as well: a dash through with a link to one of my favorite “writing experiment” sites.

Seventh Sanctum is a website of randomness. It contains an array of “generators” that can create instant character names, evil organizations, magic weapons, and super-powers. The bulk of the site consists of anime- and RPG-slanted generators, most of which were coded as a “lark,” in the words of the site’s creator. “Roll up a bunch of results. Use them. Make a ton of money. Or use them in a fanfic or an RPG.”

However, I’ve gotten a lot of writing practice ideas from the category of generators under the heading “Writing.” A general heading that covers a number of great randomizers that can hatch up story settings, themes, and “what-if” scenarios. For example, today on Writing Challenges (my favorite of the generators), I pulled out this confluences of different elements for a strange tale: “The story ends during a war. During the story, an organization begins recruiting. The story must have a lost soul in it. The story must involve some oil at the end.” That was enough to keep me scribbling in my composition notebook for at least an hour; and even if I develop a story that doesn’t contain any of those elements, battering the ideas about always develops something of interest I can use later. One of my favorite short stories I wrote in the last year emerged from using Seventh Sanctum’s What-if-Inator. The finished work had almost nothing to do with the original “what-if” from the site, but I probably wouldn’t have started the journey without the push.

Any writer could get a few decent exercises from Seventh Sanctum—maybe even a the start of something more serious—and you can always waste some time with the Humorous Fantasy Classes generator. (I like the “Stripper-Lancer” and “Valkyrie Salesman.” Both might work in a Risus campaign.)

Cross-posted at Black Gate.