Adventure ideas (Part 5)

1 10 2009

IdeasOne of the most powerful ways of making your ideas real is to use your own experiences

Write what you know

One of the biggest misnomers in writing circles is, ‘write what you know.’ If we truly took the advice at face value, we’d have no fantasy, horror or Sci-Fi to read.

Too often, wannabe writers hear the advice and decide that they’re too ordinary to write – they don’t have the appropriate real-life experiences to work with.

That ignores the opportunities that good research offers.

What you don’t know can often be found out. The better the research, the more comfortable you’ll be in saying that you’re writing what you do know.

Secondly, I agree that certain topics are left best alone if you don’t know about them – or can’t find out about them.  The benefit of fantasy and sci-fi is that what you don’t know, you can often make up. 

But beware an imaginary setting that is so devoid of logic that your players fail to engage.  There should always be a reason for things in your world – however fantastic the concept.

The back-story

As hinted at above, using what you know as part of a back-story can be useful in creating depth and making the story more believable.

Just be sure that ideas that limit your players enjoyment should be confined to the back-story and not form the main plot. 

There is nothing wrong with working in a call centre, but if your campaign is all about a band of heroes that work in a call centre – and the detail is to the nth degree, you may lose your players along the way.

A tactic that’s seldom used correctly in writing of any description is effective brainstorming.

Post-writing blues

Many writers will tell you that the hardest time to come up with ideas is when you’ve just finished writing something.

As a GM is it typical to focus on an adventure to the detriment of research and you feel brain-dead.

Trust me, it could happen to you.

The advice is not to treat it as an affliction. Accept it, and work on it.

Follow this general advice on coming up with ideas.

Write your way out:

  • Maybe you haven’t just finished an adventure, but ideas just won’t come. What should you do?
  • The consistent advice is – write something.
  • Choose a picture or stare out of the window. Pick on a person or an object. Write about it. Just go wild with your imagination.

The aim is not to put the pressure on to come up with the idea for your next campaign but to let your imagination run riot. That said, often this sort of exercise provides the crumb that will eventually lead to the idea that leads to the story that…

Next time out I’ll talk about ways you can actually generate ideas.

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