Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Three storytellers sharing ideas? Oh, the possibilities!

Over the last few weeks two of my good friends have been blogging about world settings.

How to create them.

How to map them out.

Regions and their inhabitants, all as building blocks for storytelling.

Well, now its gone into a whole new area, and we're creating settings together.

We're seasoned RPG players enough to know what each wants to see, what each wants to develop. Each brings his own flare for storytelling and for characterization, naming conventions and style.

We've been roleplaying for so long now it seems only natural that we're sharing ideas. Chris, I think, has been roleplaying the longest. He was playing with his older brother and father, dungeon crawling and temple toppling long before I cracked open my first D&D Red Box.

Chris has an amazing collection of RPG settings and rule books. If he wanted to he could write a grant to house his books for rental in some office space. He organizes an annual RPG convention in San Diego, HyphenCon, a few years in the running now.

Tom is knee deep in anything that suits his fancy.

Just the other day we set up a Facebook group.

Now, from the one group, there are two groups.

After reading the first setting Tom created, originally a Sword & Sorcery realm ruled by desert kings and dueling nomads, the mystical, magical, and mighty elements just blossomed in my head. My imagination kind of went supernova.

Sometimes it's difficult to rein in my imagination. Its provided a wealthy resource of distraction. As a kid I would often be found in my room, quiet, invested, building castles, robots, dragons, starships, whatever with my buckets of Legos could construct.

Guess nothing has really changed since then. I've just exchanged blocks for a keyboard.

I enjoy creating. I enjoy the process of creating. Then we talked about writing short stories.


The floodgate broke like toothpicks buckling against a rushing river.

Over the course of two days I drafted five story summaries. They're basic. Just shells. One of them I'm crafting, gently, as always.

I'm a slow writer. Very slow. Very, very slow...

Writing doesn't come easy. I mold it, work it, edit it probably 10 or 15 times until the story is right.

Drives me crazy that my friends, especially my girlfriend, can crank out an essay in two hours. Me? I need a week to write a 5 pager. She can bang it out in an afternoon. She's been thinking about it, of course, for days. She's going about her days, like Hemingway swinging on his porch, letting his eyes wander from sunset to field, drinking iced tea.

Suddenly, the essay is due. She walks over to the laptop, awakens it, opens Word, and click, click, click. The essay just flows. Does she edit? No. Does she read it aloud? Yes. Just to make sure it flows. But of course it flows. That's her gift. Language comes naturally to her. Like breathing. Like a heart beating.

Me? Takes me a while. Like I'm running up hill. Inhale too fast and I've got to slow down, or even stop.

For me the words conjure the visuals. I'm an artist, remember. I see the words before I hear them. So, when I'm crafting my stories, the visual element is always there, in some form, first.

It's been fun letting my imagination just go hog wild. I have to careful, though. My enthusiasm can be zealous. And I know that zeal can lead to a sudden lack of sleep. It's just the creator in me. I know my limits. Kids, girlfriend, meals, bills... You know. All the things that matter. Some more than others. Daily scheds just can't get tossed out with the trash. But, again, it's about muse management.

Chris posted a flash fiction for the second, sci-fi setting. Great, tight, short short.

Can't wait to see what we cook up next.

I like to call this creative endeavor company fit for crafting.


  1. Thanks for all the compliments, but I don't actually organize Hyphen-Con. Other people from the boards with more time than me do that. I just enjoy the fruits of their labor. :)

  2. Now I'm curious. I started with D&D in 1981. That's how long I have been playing.

    You failed to mention how your zeal and energy transformed my gritty, low-magic setting into one with almost fairy-tale levels of power. And I was glad for it. The setting was very incomplete, and needed something. I don't think it was suitable for S&S.

    The thing I have coming out of my head now, on the other hand...

  3. It's what we do. We tinker until its a world walking with heroes and scheming with villains.

  4. I got my Red Box as a gift for my 12th birthday. That makes me the youngest gamer...