Exercise: Ten Questions

Sometimes, you have a character (or other story element or feature) who just isn’t coming through. Sometimes, you have a person—in your audience, in your game group, wherever—whose take on what you’re doing you just can’t figure out. And sometimes, you can get these two things to cancel out.
In some order, choose yourself a character [...]

Exercise: You Don’t Say!

I stumbled upon (rediscovered?) this exercise looking for a prompt almost two weeks ago. It’s very simple—so of course, it never occurred to me to put it down all the way. Like many of my other exercises, this one is about description and visualization—about getting across what you want to say without saying it directly.
Let’s [...]

Exercise: In Monochrome

This is somewhat similar to my old “driver’s license” exercise, only slightly less restrictive. What it boils down to is this: even if we don’t necessarily all agree on what colors there are and what categories they fit into (this coming from a person who was raised on the Crayola marker spectrum who occasionally gets [...]

Executing Temptation

I talked yesterday about what makes a temptation plot interesting—but while it went into the theory and the meta-game rewards, it didn’t talk near enough about the execution. So let’s talk about what you need to think about when you’re putting together a temptation plot.
The first thing to keep in mind with temptation plots is [...]

The Joys of Temptation

We’re all familiar with the temptation plot—the offer of something important to a character in exchange for some often minor-sounding price—do something she wasn’t supposed to/didn’t want to do, don’t do something she was supposed to/did want to, stand aside for just five minutes at the right time…. yeah. Those. The ones where, regardless of [...]

Reprise: Epic Scenery

Reruns due to Finals Week continue.
Originally posted November 18, 2009.
Into any story, a little epic scenery seems to fall. Okay, not fall exactly. More come crashing down into view at just the right moment to make everyone use it and take the audience’s breath away. Either way, it’s pretty much a staple of stories in [...]

Map, Elaborate, Question: From Characters to World (and Plot!)

Yesterday, I talked about building a world around characters, rather than building enough of a world to mold characters into and moving outward from there. I’ve been toying with this recently, and I’ve found a pretty good sequence for trying to grow outward from one or two characters to a plot and a world.
I start [...]

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 [...]

Guest Post: In Conclusion

This is the last of the UZ guest posts; regular posts will resume Friday night/Saturday morning.
Even as I am dishonest in fiction, so I am dishonest in most forms of composition; most readers will have noticed several narrative techniques that I’ve used in these posts. Not least of these techniques is the [...]

Guest Post: This Part of the Scene is Left Implied Because the Author’s Hands were Busy

UZ’s guest posts continue.
Nothing exposes the comforting lies of fiction more than analysis by the reader, which is why we avoid this as much as we can. One avenue to failure in this respect is to become so absorbed in an idea that you become uncritical of your own work, and [...]