A while back, I start a series of posts in which I talked about how role-playing games don't transition well to the world of fiction. Then, I started writing my weekly column over at http://www.dragonsbay.co/. In "Stranger Than Fiction," I ramble on about how Game Masters can use various elements of the craft of fiction to enhance their table top role playing games. This got me to thinking, that there are a couple of things that prospective writers of any genre can learn by being Game Masters. I'll touch on the things that I think gaming has helped with my fiction.
#1) Don't be such a control freak. Players in role-playing games do the damnedest things. They go off in directions we never would have expected or planned for. As a Game Master, you just gotta go with the flow. Granted, some GMs will just create situations which force the players back on the proper plot line, but these GMs suck. Sometimes characters take control of themselves while being written and seem to say, "I'd rather find out what happens when I do this." At that point, the writer can either see where it goes, or force the character back onto the original plot line. Brave writers will go along for the adventure of unknown territory.
#2) Dialog. Game Masters have to perform all the characters that surround the players. Sometimes that gets to be a lot of people. To make these other people come alive for the characters, the GM has to come up with some way for the players to recognize when they are talking, especially when more than one of these GM characters is involved in a conversation. Veteran GMs do this by giving their GM characters distinctive voices. Writers should strive for this two.
#3) Don't sweat a first draft hiccup, just keep going. The stories we tell in a gaming setting are perpetually in first draft. If we screw something up, we have to keep going and do our best to incorporate that goof into the game and hope for the best. Some of the coolest twists in games have come from me fixing one of these goofs. Some really cool twists in my stores have come from me not worrying about fixing things in the first draft; however, I still have problems with this one. I'm working on getting better and just pushing through and getting the manuscript finished.
So, to all you prospective writers out there: you could actually learn something about writing and storytelling by getting some friends together and running some games. Besides: it's fun.
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."