Focus Change: RPG & Reviews

I’ve written about writing, I’ve written about comic books, I’ve done one product review, I’ve written about RPGs.

I seem to gain the most followers on Twitter from the RPG community.

I get the most page views on the sole product review I did.

Reviews and RPGs are not the direction I want to go, but this is the direction that my readers are telling me to go in. Savvy business guy that I am, I know that if want to grow my readership I need to go where the numbers are urging me to go.

From this point forward, the focus of the blog will be on tabletop RPGs and reviews of new products. For RPG content, look for original adventures (particularly one-page dungeons). I will likely review new RPG content as well, combining the two new focal points.

For product reviews, I’m up to suggestions. Please leave any in the comments section below. I’m looking mainly for products that writers would find interesting or useful. I’m a slow reader so book reviews probably aren’t the best idea.

Fan Fiction: Can it Work for Me?

E.L. James is somewhat of an oddity: she appears to have “made it” as a novelist by writing fan fiction.

I started out by writing fan fiction. When I was in eighth grade, I wrote a sprawling, meandering “novel” (it was something like 50 handwritten loose leaf sheets of paper and it was divided in to four “books”, each shorter than the previous). It was first person, so of course the main character was a self-insert. The “love interest” was the girl I was crushing on at the time, and it was otherwise the plot of the TV series “Captain N: the Game Master.”

That never went anywhere, and I’ve lost the manuscript (thank God; I’m sure I would be mortified that I ever wrote anything like it). I’ve continued to write fan fiction, with my more recent endeavors here. But I’ve never made any money from it.

No one has.

Until E.L. James.

Continue reading “Fan Fiction: Can it Work for Me?”

Characters from the past: HINATA UKIYO

When I decided to try to build a self-publishing empire, my immediate idea was a series of novellas similar in style to the Marvel Cinematic Universe starring my own cast of comic-book-like superheroes. Creating that cast proved to be a bit of a challenge.

And then it hit me. I didn’t have to start fresh. I had already thought up a couple of characters that would fit the bill! All I have to do is retool them a little bit. Make them more “adult” than the twelve year old me would have made them.

So I thought some fun blog posts about Then and Now would be interesting as I gear up to release the first of this exciting series. Continue reading “Characters from the past: HINATA UKIYO”

Making the Stakes Personal

Most of the gatekeepers into entertainment and publishing can shut down every pitch with a single question: “Why should I care?”

You have a suave superspy who can keep his head in any situation put through the paces and escape death numerous times. That’s nice. Why should we follow him for 300 pages?

If he fails in his mission, capitalism in the West will be destroyed and the landscape of world finance turned on its end (GoldenEye). Or maybe humanity will be wiped off the planet by a sinister bioengineered plague (Moonraker). Or the United States will lose the space race to the Soviet Union (Dr. No).

None of those stakes are memorable, though. If I hadn’t included the name of the movie, would you have been able to figure out which Bond film I was talking about? Probably not. As big a 007 fan as I am, I couldn’t actually explain what was at stake in either The Living Daylights or Octopussy, films I’ve seen a half-dozen or more times each.

So how do we as writers make the stakes truly memorable? I can answer that by looking at two video games in the Final Fantasy series. Continue reading “Making the Stakes Personal”

The Five-Room Dungeon: A Framework for Roleplaying Games

The more I study how to tell stories, the more I discover that there are formulas to everything.  That isn’t to say that the writer adds nothing; but it is to say that there are things that work, and things that don’t.

In his book Screenplay, Syd Field introduces the Three Act Structure.  Act I is the setup, Act II is the conflict, and Act III is the resolution.  At the beginning of Act II is a point that that thrusts the heretofore resistant hero into the story.  In the middle is a point where the hero stops reacting to the antagonist and starts to take the fight directly to him.  At the end of Act II is a point of no return, where all the cards are on the table and now it is time for the final battle.  Which is, of course, the subject of Act III.

All movies work like that.

Which, as an infrequent Dungeon Master, makes wonder: is there a formula for writing an RPG adventure? Continue reading “The Five-Room Dungeon: A Framework for Roleplaying Games”