When Cheryl A. of SD 43 asks you to participate in the annual MACC Writer’s conference for grades 6/7, the only response is to say yes and then figure out how to free your schedule. This year’s all-day event had around 300 students, and 11 authors teaching them the craft.
I talked about one of my favourite subjects–Dungeons and Dragons. As a collaborative storytelling game, it really is the perfect training ground for young writers.
But not all was school and writing and conference. I also stopped into a cafe along the way called, Coffee+Vanilla. If you’re in the Coquitlam/Maillardville area, this is a pretty sweet spot with very good coffee!
Over the next few months, I’ll be running workshops that connect Dungeons and Dragons to writing creatively.
Writing Your Story Dungeons and Dragons-style
Whether you write contemporary tales or fantasy epics, the popular game of Dungeons and Dragons can make you a better writer. See how modern writers have been influenced through creating characters, maps, and collaborative storytelling to work through tough plot points!
At the end of this workshop, you’ll have the tools to say goodbye to writer’s block forever and get that novel written and polished.
What does that mean, exactly?
When I was 14 years old, I ran a weekly D&D game with my friends and had to come up with stories–sometimes on the fly. The purpose of D&D is that you have a storyteller, known as the Dungeon Master, who narrates the story to the players. This includes the setting, plot, and non-essential characters. The players are the ones who tell the Dungeon Master what the essential characters do–and as any writer knows, your characters can often screw up your intentions for the plot.
To create a story as a Dungeon Master, I had to write and create the following things:
(1) A map of the world where the story takes place. (2) Maps of all the towns the characters may visit. (3) Histories of the world and of the towns. Plus, of the spaces the characters may travel between towns. (4) A plot that would get the characters (acted out by the players) to want to go from Point A to Point Z. (5) Sub-plots that those characters would experience along the way. (Points B to Y.) (6) Non-essential characters (played out by me) that would challenge the players. Some are friends, some are foes. Some who are friends, turn out to be foes. Some who are thought to be foes, turn out to be friends (the players had quite a bad turn here when they thought they were rescuing a farmer’s daughter from cultists, only to discover they were freeing an evil werewolf’s daughter from a group of warriors and wizards who could have saved her. Notice the past tense there…) (7) Constant writing and rewriting of the plot week-to-week, and sometimes during the game, when other ideas surface either through the players or through my own ideas.
Those seven steps are essentially what it takes to write a book. And I’ve used this technique to write several books of urban fantasy, apocalypse, and contemporary tales.
I’ve taught workshops before where we played D&D to inspire our stories. I even created my own “Apocalypse Survival” role-playing game for classrooms, which I did for a few years while the apocalypse still seemed like a far-fetched idea.
How about you? Do you use Dungeons and Dragons (or other role-playing games) to inspire your writing? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
It’s been a month and a half since I lost Conan. For awhile, I thought things were getting easier and I started perusing dogs on shelter sites because I miss having a dog around. Then the dreams came.
The first one I was at a party. A friend arrived (I don’t know who), and they brought Conan. In the dream, it turned out that I had given him up to a friend and they were allowing me a visit. I couldn’t stop apologizing to Conan.
The second one I was at a shelter. I was looking at dogs, when I found Conan. In this dream it turned out he wasn’t gone, I’d just accidentally left him at a shelter. I was so happy to find him again.
What these dreams taught me is that I am not really wanting a dog again (yet), I’m wanting Conan again. My searching through adoptable dogs was me looking for one that might be Conan. None of them are.
The above photo is my party of adventurers (I’m the monk ). I’m not sure what connection this has to my dreams about Conan, except that Dungeons and Dragons is a place I go to once a week where I am surrounded by friends who make me smile and help me forget for a bit the world that weighs on me.
I once claimed that Dungeons and Dragons had saved my life when my appendix became infected during a game. Now, dealing with life without Conan, Dungeons and Dragons continues to save me. It allows me to be creative, to escape, and to spend time with a group of friends who make me laugh and smile.
People ask me all the time, “How are you?” and I say, “Fine.” It’s true, I am, because when grief hits again it will do so in a wave when I’m not expecting it. Such as on my way home from work, when I suddenly feel happy about walking Conan when I get home. Or first thing in the morning when I expect to see Conan at the foot of my bed. Or when I vacuum my suite and there are no dog dishes to move out of the way. Ask me then, and I am not fine. For those tiny, fleeting moments, grief takes over.
Grief isn’t always about being sad or depressed. Sometimes, grief is about appreciating the moments that made you happy when the one you lost was still with you. So, when I’m asked, I will say, “I’m fine” and that will be an honest answer. But if you do catch me when I am not fine, just remember that it is a fleeting moment. An important moment. A moment I need.
If you want to help me, grab a set of polyhedron dice, and let’s play a game of Dungeons and Dragons.
Halloween is perhaps my favourite time of year. Partly because it’s an excuse to eat as much candy as I want, but also because I love dressing up as a character. As a writer, I don’t often dress up a someone else’s character, so when I go to parties people have a hard time figuring out who I am supposed to be. “I’m not a character, I’m more of a genre,” I tell them.
I’m not sure who this character is yet, but this was my version of a steampunk-ish zombie hunter. The jacket (detail is completely lost) is Renaissance in style, the shirt pirate, the boots medieval. I found a very cool machete (plastic, but it looked metal) and a toy crossbow that, again, did not look like a toy. For future: black gloves, facial scars and a severed zombie head on my belt would have made this outfit complete.
Friend and cake-maker extraordinaire Carrie also arrived at the party as a zombie hunter (completely unplanned that our costumes would be the same genre). She also arrived with a severed zombie head, which turned out to be a cake.
Halloween Night is now just one more sleep away, so if you’re out and about tomorrow just remember to watch for those dark spaces and howls at the moon. Plus, if you are in the mood for a zombie tale don’t forget that Rise of the One-Eyed King is for sale over at Amazon!