Articles from May 2009



Narrative Anchors: Keep Characters From Disappearing!

This one’s for Shakespeare. In response to my posts about large casts of characters, she asked about ways to keep characters from being forgotten completely.
I’d already discussed a few ways not to lose track of characters in that post. Writing down information about a character, or otherwise committing it [...]

Dealing With Large Casts of Characters

We all know the story. Having more people makes the world seem bigger. Or the cast started small, but people kept sticking their noses in, and next thing you knew you could fill a football stadium with your characters. Either way, you’ve got a cast problem—there are so [...]

How to Hide Archetype Use

A while back, I wrote about the use of character archetypes in writing and gaming. As I’ve said in that article, they’re useful templates, particularly if you’re in a hurry. But the problem with using the same character template over and over is that, if you’re not careful, you [...]

Genre-Bending the United States Census: Undefined-Fighting Census Listers

Last week, I demonstrated genre-twisting even the most unlikely subjects by getting a suspense plot out of the United States Census. This week, the genre-jump is going to be a bit more extreme.
Once, there was a country, not too different from any of the ones we inhabit. Except for [...]

The Generic Villain on Creating Your Own Nemesis

We all know that for whatever strength the Dark Powers field, Good will counter with its own representatives. Sometimes it’s the direct, targeted “I will destroy evil” types, sometimes it’s the career ‘you dare to cause trouble and I punish you’ types, sometimes it’s something else. If we exist, [...]

Impractical Applications (Miscellaneous Notes)

This wasn’t a very good week for writing things relevant to my current game; I have a few dissectable speeches, but nothing that I feel like sharing offhand, and the rest of the week has been rather chaotic. Busted plumbing tends to do that. Not realizing that the things [...]

Why Shouldn’t It Be Perfect?

One of the greatest human drives is towards perfection. We fuss for hours over our projects, work for weeks on getting that one task or creation just so. The researcher who chases away ‘distractions’, the various ‘zillas that crop up at events like weddings or prom or graduation—they’re looking [...]

What Would You Do Without….

Just about everyone has something that seems like a part of them or their life. It’s pretty much a given; you get so used to an item or a skill, a convenience or a fact about the environment, and next thing you know it’s hard to imagine it not being [...]

Speech-Writing: Four Ways to Connect to an Audience

We all know how popular making speeches can be. Need to inspire your subordinates? Make a speech. Trying to get a belief of yours across to a group of people who haven’t quite come to agree with you? Make a speech. Attempting to demonstrate to your [...]

When Is the Right Time for a Speech?

In-story speeches are practically a literary trope in their own right. In most stories—the more epic, the more likely—you’re going to see someone deliver a massive monologue; even off-the-cuff in games, you occasionally see someone dip into oratory. (Some even stand on a chair or pound on the table [...]