RP and Storytelling

It’s been close to a year that I fully got into playing Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been a lot less than that since I took up the role as a Dungeon Master.

In this role, I basically give the players a situation, e.g. they are hired as guards by a merchant to escort him and her goods to the next trade city, and they play out tue scenarios as they wish. Of course, this situations are part of modules and hard-cover campaigns so mostly everything is scripted.

As a player, I’ve had really good DMs. They manage to bring the world to life with a couple of words and it’s so easy to imagine everything that’s happening in the scene and round by round. It’s flawless how they can paint so vivid images. As a DM (dungeon master), I know I will never be able to do that.

It’s not like I’m putting myself done or anything. I just know that that’s never going to be me. I won’t be able to paint vivid worlds with the spoken word, I plan to do this through the written world.

Lately, I’ve been hyper aware of how I described an environment/scene to my players. They rely on me for information and it’s my job to provide it to them. This is similar to writing a story. The readers need information, not only to comprehend what’s going on but also to imagine the world you’ve built in your head.

This has helped me in my writing because describing the situation or environment in speech tells me that maybe I’ve forgotten to include sensory details or perhaps one social interaction didn’t go so smoothly.

By taking note on all of this, writing and describing things has gotten easier. I’m aware of what I’m missing and try to include everything I can. Of course, I do this in moderation. Personally, I don’t like to bog down my readers with so much description. I try to only include all the necessary information.

While I haven’t exactly perfected all of this and I have a long way to go, I’m going to keep learning. I believe as a writer that there’s always something new to learn. Perhaps one writing style doesn’t fit a genre or theme. The beauty of it is that I can try new things and figure out what works with the story I want to write.

Advertisements

Working towards the Goal

This week has been full of headaches and too much drama. Valentine’s Day was nice. I stayed home and played WoW (World of Warcraft) with my fianc√©. Granted, running D&D campaigns has been a good hobby and a stress reliever. Playing Savage Worlds (ETU) has also been great too. Come to think of it, I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I just need to remember that there’s more good than bad.

Speaking of good, I learned something very useful. While it is a little embarrassing to say this, I will say it anyways. I finally learned how to make an em dash in Word while only using my keyboard (CTRL+ALT+ -). Somehow, I feel like I should have known this shortcut but didn’t. At least, now I know.

I have also been going through Sarah’s edits of the 8k words I sent her, and it’s been very helpful. One of my goals this year is to send Clan of Ash agents by the summer. While I have more agents to research, I’m looking forward to it.

The rewrite of Crimson Queen is going well. There’s a scene that can go in two different directions and I think I made my decision. I’m going with the easier approach as to why my main character is alive and nobody knows about this. Plus, this approach also adds to the conflict later on and the risk factor goes up. There’s always a present danger of my main character being found out.

While I still have a lot to do, I’m steadily working towards my goal even if it’s a little bit at a time.

 

Progression

After a very long month, I was finally able to sent out my 8k words to Sarah from Lopt & Cropt. At the end of last year, I entered a contest on the blog, A Writer’s Path. I was the winner of said contest and having 8k words edited by a professional was one of the prizes.

Sarah provided a free sample edit before I sent over the 8k words. Thanks to her wonderful feedback, I got a broader feel and sense to my story (Clan of Ash). While I planned to send my 8k words to her immediately after her initial edit of 15-20 pages of my manuscript, I didn’t. Instead, I focused on NaNoWriMo which is where I wrote Clan of Blood, the sequel to Clan of Ash. Let me tell you, that broadened my view of the story even more.

In essence, this caused me to look back at the 8k words I was going to send Sarah. I ended up rewriting almost the entirety of those 8k words with a few exception. I did copy pasted a couple of sentences here and there the plot for those scenes stayed the same. They were just rewritten in a better way. I even discovered a minor plot hole that I fixed right up. That being said, I have to make a couple of more changes down the line but I already have a few ideas on how to remedy that.

Even as I wait for Sarah’s response, my work doesn’t stop. While I didn’t make any new year’s resolution, I did make goals for myself. One of those goals is to completely finish rewriting Crimson Queen. Slowly but surely, I will.

Endings – the First Draft

Writing the ending of a story can be tough. Knowing how the story is going to end is just as tough. There is no clear-cut way to figure how your story is going to end. Maybe you have it all planned out from the start. Maybe you didn’t figure out the ending until halfway through the story. Or maybe, you don’t have any idea how it’s going to end. Sure, there might be ideas floating around in your head but nothing is concrete and that’s okay.

Personally, I don’t usually figure out the ending until I get to the point where I can’t write anymore. Granted, this doesn’t happen to me often. Most often than not, I have some idea of how the novel is going to end.

Now, the good thing about writing the first draft is that nothing has to be perfect. The most important part is that it’s the first draft. This means that there’s going to be many more drafts of the same story. While the concept will stay the same and in some cases it won’t, everything else will change.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll stick with figuring out the ending for the first draft of the story. It’s not a novel just yet because the purpose of the first draft is to simply put the idea down on paper. That way, the idea has finally gotten out of your system and you can focus on writing the actual novel. I would also like to add that this isn’t about writing a satisfied ending.

When writing the ending of the story, what I do is make a list of all the potential ways to resolve the issue/problem/goal that has been the main focus of the story. Making a flow chart of the events leading up to the turning point/climax can be very helpful.

While you might not ever use one or any of those resolutions to the conflict, at least you started thinking about it. The process is to help your brain to think productively and creatively.

Once that list has been formed, try to figure out how to get from point A to point B. What would need to happen for that outcome to occur? It’s good to keep in mind that nothing is concrete. As much as you want the story/ending to be perfect, it won’t be. It’s not meant to be. At least not yet. Start with small steps and then take the bigger steps.¬†Write those multiple endings/solutions and pick one that works . . . for the moment. There’s nothing stopping you from changing it after the first draft.

Even as a last resort, skipping the end is an option too. There is only one story that I skipped the ending. I didn’t necessarily write it out. However, I knew how I wanted the story to end. While this is nitpicking, at least, for me, I knew how it was going to end. It’s what worked for me.

At the end of the day, find what works for you. Every writer is different.

 

Making your Reader Care

“Why should I care about the main character?”

This is a comment I received a few weeks ago on one of my stories. It was for Clan of Ash to be precise. For a while, and even now, the comment still lingers in the back of my head. I’ve read plenty of articles and blogs, over the years, on tips/advice/questions on how to make your readers care. A few of these were:

-Don’t make your character perfect. He/she needs a flaw.

-Make them relatable.

-What does your character want?

-What are the obstacles?

-Is he/she an underdog?

Even then, I never thought that I would be asked that question (why should I care?) It took me by surprised and left me reeling. I’d thought it was clear. But if I really think about it, maybe, I wasn’t as clear as I thought. It was clear to me but not the reader. I set up my main character with an impossible task and he grits his teeth and does because otherwise, they’ll kill him.

One of the most important things I came to realize is, it’s a process. Sure, hooking your readers and making a likable/relatable character at eh beginning is important. However, you have to keep “working” on your character throughout the story. Make your readers worry about them. Make them root for them.

There’s no ‘one way’ to do this. I remember some articles talked about having tension and conflict, twist and turns, in your story helps develop your character. It does and that way, readers see your characters struggle against the odds/ obstacles in order to reach their goal.

The key word is struggle. Nothing in life is ever easy or simple. Characters in stories shouldn’t have it easy. Otherwise, what’s the point of having the story? There would be no story. In essence, that’s what I need to keep in mind. I need to present the problem to the readers and have them “watch” the character try to resolve this problem.

As mentioned above, there’s no clear way to do this. There’s no ‘how-to’ or step-by-step guide. Sometimes, you wing it and try to have it all made sense. Luckily, there are beta readers out there that can point all the stuff you missed.