Articles from July 2008

On Message Fiction

History is filled with books that didn’t just tell a story, but taught the culture around them some sort of important lesson. Many writers see this and decide they’re going to do the same, writing stories that are just as much about an Issue as about their main characters.
My advice to people who want to [...]

WALL-E and Exposition

So what can we learn from a story in which the main characters have a vocabulary of six words between them? A lot, apparently. The movie’s writers may want us to question what is human, to look into the idea of love and loyalty and duty, to see the dark path down which consumerism and [...]

Impractical Applications (Oathkeepers)

This week, I got to play around a bit with both beats and character differentiation.
The reason? A trio of spirit-types I call the Oathkeepers. Their names were Arlen, Maharene and Yael, and their jobs were recording oaths, detecting when these oaths were broken, and enforcing them, respectively. Since there was no reason why they’d be [...]

Telling Them Apart

It’s pretty much a narrative imperative; at some point you’re going to have multiple characters in one room, all having a conversation. The difficulty at this point is, of course, making it as clear as possible when different people are talking. How do you make sure they don’t all blend together?
The first trick, and the [...]

The Problem With Speculative Fiction

Warning: The following will be more than mildly ranty.
There is a problem with speculative fiction. And no, I don’t mean that it’s corrupting our children, or that it’s taking us away from the real world, or that it somehow decreases our interest in truly good writing. I find these arguments silly.
The problem of speculative fiction [...]

Introducing the Current

A lot of people find different categories to divide players into. This is one of them, this another, this a third. But there are a few specific player-types that don’t fit into any of these categories, and the Current is perhaps one of the most dangerous.
Under the first category above, she’d be halfway between a [...]


We have to have beginnings. If we don’t, the story will never start.
Yes, we already know that. But despite the need for beginnings, we often have trouble actually figuring out how to write them, for game or story alike.
The gamers, of course, have it worse. Running around Internet message boards devoted to the topic, one [...]

A Good Beat Saves the Song

Kestrel hints at her insecurities while beating on a practice dummy. Hoyt talks politics while conducting tests on the stones he conducts magic with. Tuyet sips tea and works on her reports until her friend’s angst kicks in, then offers a shoulder to cry on. Karasu lets a small wooden ball run up and down [...]

Water, Water

It’s one of the classical elements, and necessary for life. In legend, it has been credited with births and deaths, healing and disasters. It’s been walked through, walked on, and floated over. Through the ages, it has sparked wars and commanded peace, and where it is has determined where life is. And now, it can [...]

Impractical Applications (Digression on a Header Image)

And again, the storyline does not fit with the application. Nor with being written about, unfortunately; while I’ve finally created a mystery storyline that works for my players, I can’t write about that yet because they’re still solving it. (Behold the power of PCs: They get in the way of things that aren’t even in-game!)
So [...]