Monday, June 26, 2006

Writing is Hard: Hassle Your Heroes

One of the best pieces of storytelling advice I ever got was from an unlikely source: a role-playing game. I think the game was Fading Suns, but regardless, one of the tips it gave for running an effective campaign was to really put the players' characters through the ringer. Do everything short of kill them and they'll love you for it.

Players think they want to breeze through a gaming session just collecting rewards without having to risk anything, but they don't. You give them that and you'll bore the crap out of them. Storytelling is all about risk and excitement.

The indispensable Gail Simone applies this principle to fiction writing in her blog: "How many stories have you read, where in the end, you felt that the writer was pandering to you, giving you exactly what the message boarders say they want, giving you the empty calories of, 'Here, this is what you asked for. I've written it just as requested.'

"...I'm a writer. It's my job to lie and cheat and deceive you. To trick you, to upset you, to make you feel bad at times, to make you dislike the characters we both care about so much. Anyone can give you an X-men issue full of 22 pages of fastball specials and Wolverine killing robots. It takes a writer to have Wolverine do something stupid or awful, and let you feel a little bit of that, and still (hopefully) bring you back."

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails