Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Story Writing, Part 1: Storming the Brain

For the upcoming module from bouncyRock Entertainment, our writers’ first task was to come up with the story premise, from which the plot, setting, and characters were eventually created. The initial story development involved Dirtywick, Anduraga, and me. Eventually, we were joined by Indira Lightfoot, as well as a couple of other writers who later bowed out because of real-life commitments. One of these writers was ScarlettThorne, whom I feel deserves to be listed in our credits. ScarlettThorne created an intriguing non-player character that we will be using in our module. (Thanks for your contribution, ScarlettThorne, and best of luck in all your endeavors.)

As may be guessed, having several minds trying to bring the story together was tough. Each of us had our own ideas on where to take the story, and since we had never worked together on a story prior to this, we had difficulties trying to develop it. I won’t go into all the details of what happened at our meetings. Instead, I’ll discuss the techniques and concepts that worked well for us over three blog posts, of which this is the first. These may be of interest to those who would like to learn more about creating stories, particularly those who need to do so in a collaborative setting.

To decide on our story premise (in other words, the general idea of what the story is about), Dirtywick, Anduraga, and I agreed to hold a brainstorming session. We gave ourselves twenty minutes to generate as many ideas as we could, during which no idea would be criticized. We allowed ourselves to suggest any idea, even those that were deliberately silly, in the hope that these may lead to better ones. Afterward, we voted on three of the ideas that we liked best. We then picked the idea that was chosen by most of us. In case of a tie, we’d find a way to break it somehow. Our lead writer could choose which idea he liked most. We could also nominate whoever seemed to be the most impartial among us to break the tie. Alternatively, we could simply discuss the ideas that we had at that point and eventually come to an agreement.

Later, we used brainstorming to get us out of any form of writers’ block, whether while hammering out the plot or deciding on the module title. We’ve found it to be an effective technique to use during our group discussions, but only when we were stuck in a rut. Otherwise, it's better to let the flow of our discussions take us along its natural course.

No comments: