Ravyn Freewrites: You Don’t Have to Build the World First?

I’ve always looked at putting together a story in a fresh new world as starting with the world, getting enough of it together to give yourself ideas, then sticking characters in it, then letting them bounce off each other until you have something approximating a plot. Wasn’t that how all the people with the really [...]

Why I Love Culture as Character

Yesterday, I talked about the idea of culture as character. To say that I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement—one of the things I was thinking, while sitting through the panel that set off yesterday’s riff, was that I keep trying to angle for an RPG of manners. It’s not just one appealing [...]

Culture as a Character

When I was volunteering at Conjecture, there was one panel that I had decided the moment I saw the schedule that I was going to see. I would carefully schedule my break, I would barter time with the other volunteers—but I was going to go to that piece on Fantasy/SF of Manners and Culture as [...]

Why Lack of Straightforwardness Matters

Yesterday, I talked about how almost everyone will look at a character’s job and decide that it’s easier than it actually is, including the character doing the job. Today, I’m going to talk about why that should matter to us, particularly to those of us who write rather than tabletopping.
The first, of course, is characterization—figuring [...]

Why Can’t THEY Do It?

In most settings—story, RPG, whatever—there tends to be at least one powerful, probably ultra-competent character. This isn’t a problem. No, really, I mean that, their existence alone is not a problem. The problem is when you’ve got some sort of Big Problem and for some completely unspecified reason, the powerful/ultra-competent/whatever character is leaving it to [...]

Ravyn Vs. Paranormal Romance: Plotting

In that paranormal romance writing class I was taking, once I’d gotten myself through the travails of trying to figure out why my heroine wasn’t quite as externally interesting as my hero, the next step was plotting. I’m a character-driven creator; plotting a story before I’ve spent a little while hanging out in its characters’ [...]

How Not to Make People Hate Random Encounters

I understand why random encounters exist. They do demonstrate that the world is a living, breathing place, that there are Things Out There that aren’t just Whatever Is Determined By the Local Dungeon; they do very much discourage the fifteen-minute adventuring day; a clever GM can use them to drop a new lead to another [...]

Things You Might Want to Know When Planning An Overland Trip

Though the exact means change up depending on the setting, travel is still a universal in fiction; getting from Point A to Point B, and dealing with the challenges in between, can be an adventure regardless of time, place, or technology level. The biggest staple, particularly in fantasy, is the overland trip: something that it [...]

Fumbling the Consequences

So let’s say you’re doing something episodic. A webcomic, a series of videos, a chapter-by-chapter fanfiction, a long-running RPG plot, whatever. You ended the last one with something big happening—something large, and irreversible, and of great emotional impact, the consequences of which have been set up and firmly established long since. It’s the next segment, [...]

Reprise: Conflict Without Requiring Combat

Originally posted on May 14, 2010. The comments were awesome.
Any time you’ve got two characters opposing each other, there’s bound to be some sort of conflict. How else do you reach a resolution? The thing is, most people think of conflict, and their thoughts immediately flit to physical conflict and the crash [...]