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!
2017 had a pretty rough start for me, but it finished extremely strong. When I look back on the year I feel pretty happy about the accomplishments I have made. I’m almost done my lib tech course, I began learning the ukulele, adopted a dog, took some road trips, wrote a new book, started submitting my work to publishers, and I met a really amazing woman.
Here’s a list of my top 12 events. Some have links to longer blog posts or to other sites of interest.
That time Denise Jaden and Eileen Cook asked me to be a part of their summer signing.
9. Digital Services Tech at Richmond Public Library.
That time a part of my job was to create a digitization station for digitizing VHS, LPs, and cassettes. (It now does SO MUCH MORE!)
10. Chosen to be a part of the literacy quilt.
The quilt was 50 feet from my station, and it still took me weeks and weeks to notice I was on it. In fact, it was a patron who asked, “Are you the James McCann that’s on the literacy quilt?” And then when the quilt travelled to another library, I got an email from a coworker who realized I was the author of one of her favourite books as a teen.
11. Family came to visit.
My sister and mom came in July, and my nephew came in September. We took many road trips together and had an absolute blast.
I’m pretty excited about attending this conference again this year! Not only does it mean a roadtrip to Kamloops, but I also get to meet some fantastic authors both of the professional and aspiring kind.