Showing posts with label role-playing games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label role-playing games. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 4

Pens ’n Prose

Pens ’n Prose

I’m always looking for a new, better, kind of pen. Perhaps you’ve heard the quip about the writer who owns enough pens and journals to open their own stationery store. That’s me.

I’ve written about how I began my practice of writing all first drafts longhand as a way to defeat writer’s block. I’m not sure why this works for me, perhaps a different part of the brain is engaged while writing longhand versus typing? Or perhaps it’s simple association: I write my first drafts longhand therefore I feel more comfortable doing so.

As a result, I’m always looking for new and better pens! I’ve tried pricey pens (Montblanc, etc) but find them too heavy. After even 20 or 30 minutes of writing, my hand begins to cramp. Gel pens write well, but I’ve found—while they start off gloriously smooth—the ink jams while the cartridge is less than halfway used. (Grrrrr!)

After years of buying and using just about every kind of pen known to humankind, I’ve found one that is, unambiguously, hands down, my favorite:

I swear to you, I don’t have an affiliate deal with Bic! This is the smoothest writing, most comfortable pen I’ve ever used.

Now, I do realize my love affair with this particular Bic could be the result of some quirk of my temperament. Your taste in pens could be completely different. That said, if you’re at a stationary store, and you have the opportunity to try one out, I encourage you to. 

Well, that’s it for today! An oddly practical blog post, especially if you’re a scribbler, like me, who fills up her journals with rough drafts. (And, yes, this blog post began its life as scribblings in my journal.)

I’ll leave you with a link to something else practical, Joanna Penn’s excellent blog post: Productivity For Writers: 5 Ways To Become More Productive.

Good writing! I’ll see you on Friday.

Photo credit: Original picture: "Miss Omija writing time" by Raheel Shahid, CC BY 2.0.

Monday, February 2

Storium: Collaborative Storytelling

Storium: Collaborative Storytelling

You’ve probably heard of Storium by now. Chuck Wendig, a creator of one of it’s 59 worlds, describes it this way:

“Storium [...] aims to circle back to the old way of telling stories — collaboratively, around a campfire. Except this campfire? It’s digital. This is old-school storytelling given a 21st century upgrade. It’s a story world you can play in. A novel you can live inside.” (Read the rest here: The Storium Kickstarter)

What Is Storium?

Storium is fun! I’m currently playing a few games with writers I’ve met on Google+ and am having a blast. 

My first attempt at playing Storium, at indulging myself on the meat of communal story telling, on the collaborative creation of an imaginary universe, went horribly, devastatingly, wrong. 

I’d just contributed to Storium’s Kickstarter—it was the week after—and was chomping at the bit to try it out. That’s when I made a huge mistake: I joined a group of complete strangers. (I think this is fine if you’ve played a few games and have a grip on how things work, but if you don’t ... well ... “recipe for disaster” comes to mind.)

I don’t think any of us were familiar with how to play, and the narrator—Storium’s version of the dungeon master—made Joseph Stalin look positively huggy feely.

Not fun.

I didn’t give up on Storium, though, and have gone on to have wonderful experiences with it.

I’m sure there are many people who have spent longer enjoying the wonderfully imaginative ecosystems enabled by Storium, but here are my observations. Keep in mind that these come from someone who has always wanted to indulge in role playing games but never before had the opportunity. So, in other words, a complete newbie.

1. Friends are A Good Thing.

Especially if the narrator is brand spanking new and has no more idea how the game works than you do!

If a group of friends go in together and view the first game as a learning experience—if, that is, the group goes in to have fun, help each other, and not worry about winning—then your first experience in Storium is guaranteed to be memorable ... and in a Krispy Kreme kind of way, rather than a day old boiled spinach kind of way.

2. Discover new and previously unsuspected possibilities for your plot.

Storium gives you the chance to prototype characters and plot ideas. Also—and this is probably one of the most awesome things about Storium—other people, the friends you’re playing with, will come up with completely unexpected solutions to the problems you pose. (And if you didn’t anticipate them, chances are your readers won’t, either.)

It’s awesome! And enormously fun.

3. Narrators: Don’t Take It Personally.

With Storium your fellow players will occasionally have the ability to take over a scene; effectively, they elbow you aside and become the narrator. This means they can finish the scene any way they choose.

Sometimes how a scene finishes might not be how you wanted—or needed—it to finish. Relax! You’re the narrator which means you’re the god of the story world you and your friends are traipsing around in. You’ll have plenty of time to do what you want down the road.

4. Keep It Simple

I’ve only recently become a narrator—I was bamboozled into it!—and if I had one piece of advice to pass onto other narrators it would be this: Resist the temptation to plan out every scene in immaculate detail. For the most part this is wasted. Storium is a game. Unexpected, unpredictable, events will happen—that is, after all, half the fun! So rather than plot out every scene as you might in a book ...

a. Have an idea of the theme.

Is this going to be a horror story? Fantasy? Cyberpunk? A space adventure? Urban Fantasy? Storium helps you here by predesigning certain worlds filled with card suggestions. (BTW, for a wonderful article about the mechanics of the game, see: Tell Cool Social Stories Today.) 

b. Have an idea about the outline.

Know how the story begins, what happens in the middle as well as a possible ending or two. (You could have different outcomes depending on how the players chose during the game.)

Most of all, have fun!

One of the benefits of Storium, for me, was that it’s helped make me less self-conscious about my writing.

The snippets you write during gameplay are first drafts, but you get immediate feedback. Not on sentence structure, and so on, but on the story itself.

Thanks for reading! Happy writing.