Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crafting a Good Yarn, Am I?

I ask myself that question often. Well, I probably already know Bennet's answer to this question, but excuse me while I indulge myself by thinking about it for myself.

Game-wise is one thing.

One of the things I've tried to avoid since becoming one of the hardest working GMs in the world (does anyone else you know run six to twelve events each year for non-regular groups, as well as about a eight to twenty games for his regulars?), is the urge to "go improv." You know, where you walk into a scheduled session and just wing it. Not sure why I don't, because the times that I have, it has gone well-- I swear that I've sold more than a dozen copies of T&T for Flying Buffalo the times I have. But I think it has something to do with the cathartic qualities of writing things out, versus the thrill of being spontaneous, as well as something of a showboat, as a GM.

On the other side of gaming sessions, I have to watch out to not overly push my story on the players. They often do indeed like to improv. Over the last two years, I have been experimenting with forcing the players to improvise just to see the dynamics in a more clear fashion. Alas I have found it, the GM's seeds make a good or bad session for everyone, and not just the biggest ham bone in group.

But at the table, it's still bits and pieces that come out during the course of play, despite pages upon pages of written text. So I've started putting in the image, sometimes image, that I want to describe and then start crafting the tale around that. From emails that I have received for my Elder Tunnel scenarios, this method has seemed to be somewhat successful. I often hear my script is well paced, which is a surprise to me, because I am not paying attention to that as I write these pieces. Mostly I am trying to fill out the world that feel makes my images, and sometimes spiffy game mechanics, coherent. That and fill up a couple pages for the print product. I suppose though the theatrical format facilitates a sense of stage management that isn't actually the intent. Glad I get something right.

Fiction-wise is another.

In the age of the internet and limited social network interfaces, many fiction writers that I know have started to think that anything over two paragraphs is boring and repetitive. I read a friend's "novel in progress" end up yes with 50,ooo words, but at the same time it had 92 chapters. While Kurt Vonnegut or Kathy Acker might think that is good thing, I as a reader could barely get into the ever-shifting pace. In the end, narrative needs a bit more than Point-To-Point mechanics. Still my own 14,ooo worded chapters, often come off as rote to me.

This year I am going to try something new, my Dreaming. Not as plot guides, dreams don't do that well. And the age of mass media imagery TV turning the human subconscious into a flat planet, my dreams just aren't the guide to amazing visions or deep inspiration towards things unknown that they once were. No I am going to use my dreams for guide to finding the emotionality of my characters. This just may be the key towards having characters that surprise me. I hear every fiction writer claim that their plots just fell together and they had no idea what was going to happen next because of those zanny, wild and whacky Out-of-Control characters on the page in front of them. Considering how formula most those authors tend to be, I think they are bullshitting. But I'd like to get more depth into characters, despite the lack of spontaneity in my daily emotions, so perhaps my dreams can help here.

And now to start piecing together "Bigger Than A Breadbox" for A Dark Gathering horror role-playing event, coming up this May in Syracuse, New York.

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