Monday, December 2, 2013

Coming Back to Write

Ozzie's comment yesterday about the possibility that I wouldn't be coming back was a fair one, from his perspective or indeed anyone who doesn't personally know me. Given the circumstances going on around me when I left, the chatter, the apparent exhaustion I probably had conveyed and the fact that I was sick a lot in October, that's a fair conclusion. When mixed in with this being the internet, and the habit people have of saying, "I'm just going to take a time out" and then NEVER coming back ... I have to admit I'd conclude that I had finally bowed out.

I was exhausted; I think everyone gets there sooner or later. I wasn't exhausted with writing, though ... and as I've said, writing is a slow sinking in the cool water of a country stream on a hot day; its shucking off all the gear and accouterments and posturing to false gods, feeling restful and content, knowing my place the world. I've said this before, too: there are bloggers here who happen to enjoy role playing who are prepared to write about it. I am a writer who would write anyway ... this just happens to be the content I enjoy writing about. As long as I have a brain and a means to interface with a computer or some other recording means, I will never stop writing.

So when I say I'm resting, I actually mean that. I'm resting. I'll get around to not resting soon enough, and start posting again.

I don't know if the month was all that enlightening from the internet/blogging perspective. I did miss the feedback; I did miss scratching out every thought that hit me on a particular day. I sort of lost the motivation after the first week ... there were a lot of ideas that hit me in the beginning, particularly with the book and just generally feeling on fire. Those around me reported my curious, alive nature, since for about two weeks I could not STOP talking about everything. It was very cool. About the 17th I hit a bit of a wall, however, in formulating the chapter - the first chapter - about the art of presentation and convictions regarding how players should be motivated and allowed to adapt to the changing circumstance of the game. I had trouble organizing my thoughts, and wound up rewriting the chapter four times in an effort to finally nail down both the voice and the organization of my ideas. The rest of the book, then, sort of limped home after the twenty fifth ... I wouldn't call it "done" so much as "written" ... but I have plenty of time to polish all that. I admit, as I found myself writing tens of thousands of words up to the 17th, the November novel writing month ideal did prey on me ... and I did decide I would "finish" the book before the end of the month. Which I did.

Like most NNWM books, however, it is laughable to call it 'finished' ... it is finished like a house-shell with a room that yet needs the wiring, the plumbing and a whole lot of other interior work done.

I can, however, list the chapter headings, to give an idea of the book's concept. Since I keep coming up with ways to embellish the content within these headings, these chapters will need sub-chapters; the first chapter, at present (I'm calling it second draft), is 11,000 words, or 44 pages ... and it's definitely going to be longer when I hack through it again.

I do think this is a comprehensive list, however. I doubt very much I will feel the need to create a new chapter past these:

Preface

The Art of Presentation - recognizing player motivations, the nature of players, the needs of players, providing opportunity and encouraging ability, motivating your players and twisting the theatricality of the game.

Managing Yourself as DM - awareness, stress, the decision-making process, perception, comprehension and projection, mental simulations, distractions, checking yourself and organizing, training your mental strengths.

Managing Players - player comprehension, dissection of the character, understanding player decision making, party stress and response, player triggers, intra-party disputes, 'bad' players vs. 'good' players, improving player comprehension and enjoyment.

The Creative Process - determining the system and nature of your world, free associating ideas, DM and player objectives, settling on a satisfactory campaign idea.

The Design Process - function vs. behavior vs. structure, initiating a setting, play-testing the setting, player response and user tolerance, redesign, setting inventory; blocking, chapter organization and compartmental setting design

An Example of Setting - step by step implementation of the described design formula.

Aesthetics - finishing and polishing your presentation, attention to detail.

D&D and the Real World - a frank discussion of the usefulness of role-play generated skills and their practical application to vocations and careers in the real world.

Conclusion.

That's a lot. Some of the above is written, at present, only as a series of gun shot notes, quickly overviewing what needs to be written ... and in fact there's nothing of the Example of Setting written at all (but it is only plugging the formula of the design process into a working example). But I don't think any of the readers here will doubt that I can tackle the subjects one by one and give a good account of them; the hard part was knowing WHAT to write and HOW to write it ... and I think I have that down.

I'm sorry to say, this is going to be obsessive for awhile, and I'll be writing often about the book and how its going. Hope the reader doesn't get bored.

1 comment:

ESR said...

Alexis,

Well, I for one am interested in what you have to say. Having DM'ed for about as long as you, but probably not as intensely, I have likely done a lot of what you highlight "off the cuff", but certainly not with structured thought and consistency.

I hope your book (which I will buy - sign me up for the early release) will touch on how to BE that DM, and to develop the habits, the mindset, and the prep structure that's required. I've always felt that there's too much for the DM to know and look up "in the moment", so it's more that I have to pre-think, prepare specifically as possible, and pre-create. Again, those skills are limited to personal experience, and somehow DMs have not been sitting around tables, talking about how they DM - they only sit around with players that are usually too grateful for constructive criticism. And so few DMs care enough about their skills to be self-critical, nevermind take criticism from others!

Anyway, thanks for tackling the project - it's long overdue... by someone.