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Author Topic: Questions one might ask themselves  (Read 1632 times)

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Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Questions one might ask themselves
« on: January 14, 2009, 07:34:22 AM »
This is not a rant. This is a gentle suggestion is all :)

Questions one might ask themselves before taking on a story.

1. Do I understand the plot and where it may go?
2. Do I understand my character, as well as the co-writer's?
3. Can I meet this commitment, how many other stories am I involved in?
4. Is there an understanding between the parties how quickly or slowly this story will move along?
5. If applicable, do I understand how this story would end? Is there a clear end game concept?

There may be more questions.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 07:55:18 AM by Zamdrist »

Offline Aeval

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2009, 07:37:37 AM »
Great questions, Zamdrist. I would as you a question about the LAST question:
"do I understand how this story would end? Is there a clear end game concept?"

Sometimes, doesn't this change as the rp changes?

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2009, 07:41:56 AM »
Well... I don't wish to counter you (that much), but I think, that IF one really has a developed plot and merely seeks a counterpart, these are questions one SHOULD ask the counterpart and clear these matters, for both of the sides' sakes.

My opinion. ;)

Offline Moondazed

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Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2009, 07:45:04 AM »
It's good to establish what your expectations are of a writing partner, but some people prefer not to plan out every detail from the start, instead just letting things go where they may :)  I think one of the first questions asked should be, "What are you expectations of this story?" or "Do you want to begin with a fully defined storyline now or start with an idea and see what develops?".

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2009, 07:46:19 AM »
Great questions, Zamdrist. I would as you a question about the LAST question:
"do I understand how this story would end? Is there a clear end game concept?"

Sometimes, doesn't this change as the rp changes?


Firstly, I've been nothing but happy with our interactions. I know you didn't reply to this because you thought there might be, I just want to emphasis that. :)

True, it can change, often does I imagine. Still, I think there should be some conception of an end game, if for no other reason than to encourage a finality to the story/game. I just think its a good practice so that stories just go on, and on. Unless of course that is the expectation from the beginning, than that is different.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2009, 07:49:17 AM »
It's good to establish what your expectations are of a writing partner, but some people prefer not to plan out every detail from the start, instead just letting things go where they may :)  I think one of the first questions asked should be, "What are you expectations of this story?" or "Do you want to begin with a fully defined storyline now or start with an idea and see what develops?".

I think we agree, I would just say that no, you need not plan out every detail but lay out a rough plan of what the beginning/middle/end of the story might look like. If it is open ended, than great, communicate that too. But if its open ended with no clear structure the story/game will eventually drift, as will the players.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 07:53:04 AM »
Well... I don't wish to counter you (that much), but I think, that IF one really has a developed plot and merely seeks a counterpart, these are questions one SHOULD ask the counterpart and clear these matters, for both of the sides' sakes.

My opinion. ;)

I would agree with that, the onus is largely on the principal writer, the person who came up with the idea and started the thread.

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2009, 07:58:00 AM »
I would agree with that, the onus is largely on the principal writer, the person who came up with the idea and started the thread.

I think merely because the person wrote the plot, most probably put a lot of thoughts, groundwork (possibly) and time, thus quite naturally has certain expectations. So, I think it's only fair to alert the person, who came later to the storyline, of those and make sure, that (s)he is willing to meet it, understands the mantinels and is comfortable with not trespassing. Otherwise it's not gonna be fun for either and that doesn't meet the genearal idea we are all here for. :D

So in short it could translate as... "Make sure of your partner's interests, for the sole purpose your own selfish interests are going to be satisfied." ;D
« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 07:59:30 AM by jouzinka »

Offline Moondazed

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Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 07:59:32 AM »
I think we agree, I would just say that no, you need not plan out every detail but lay out a rough plan of what the beginning/middle/end of the story might look like. If it is open ended, than great, communicate that too. But if its open ended with no clear structure the story/game will eventually drift, as will the players.

I suspect there are many here who would disagree with your opinion regarding open-ended stories.  It's more accurate to say that for YOU, stories that are open-ended with no clear structure don't work, don't you? :)

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2009, 08:03:35 AM »
I suspect there are many here who would disagree with your opinion regarding open-ended stories.  It's more accurate to say that for YOU, stories that are open-ended with no clear structure don't work, don't you? :)

Perhaps I have not made myself clear.

I wouldn't suggest that stories cannot be open ended. I would only suggest that if indeed they are open ended, that you communicate that concept.

If indeed the story has a rough end game in mind, that too should be communicated.

I'm not suggesting people only write stories that have a pre-ordained ending.

Offline Moondazed

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Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2009, 08:05:26 AM »
If it is open ended, than great, communicate that too. But if its open ended with no clear structure the story/game will eventually drift, as will the players.

I understood the above to indicate that you think that type of game will eventually drift.  If you meant that it will drift unless that intent is clearly communicated then I misunderstood.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2009, 08:10:18 AM »
I understood the above to indicate that you think that type of game will eventually drift.  If you meant that it will drift unless that intent is clearly communicated then I misunderstood.

Sure, that is my opinion, games with no communicated structure will drift.

Additionally though, in number five I began with if applicable.

Feel free to take my opinions as they are, opinions or suggestions. Gentle I think I called them.

:)

Offline Maeven

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2009, 08:15:18 AM »
I'll just sorta throw my two cents in...

I've had and do have games with no clear path and with a clear structure.

To be perfectly honest, the ones where the plot is completely laid out from beginning to end... can sometimes feel a little hollow to me. Like I'm just going through the motions, writing 'what's already there' so to speak. 

When my partner and I don't know where things are going and we plan as we go... it makes it feel more like I'm actually living that story rather than telling it. 

Does that make sense?

Offline Haibane

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2009, 06:01:18 PM »
Strangely enough, in almost all my games I deliberately do not wish to answer such questions and in fact could not in many cases. The only one I always ask myself and answer is #3. Even then I sometimes get that wrong, and in my experience many members here do too, even with the best intentions, because none of us has a crystal ball and cannot know that next week a family member might be taken ill and all your games may grind to a halt for a month...

My gaming style means I am mostly uninterested in the rest ;)

In fact trying to measure, quantify, plot and pre-plan a RP is something like being in the army. Wasn't it an ancient military tactician who wrote "a plan, no matter how well concieved, never survives first contact with the enemy", in our case it's "a role-playing plot or plan lasts only as long as the first post by a player other than the planner".

I wouldn't suggest that stories cannot be open ended. I would only suggest that if indeed they are open ended, that you communicate that concept.
Who was that scientist or philosopher who posited that the simple act of observing an experiment could affect it's outcome? I feel something like that applies here, or maybe it's the self-fulfilling prophecy I'm thinking of... if you tell players a game (note: I do not write stories on E, I play games. I think I am in a minority in thinking this way ;) ) has an open ending, that may affect how they play the game and so affect its structure and style. Not telling them anything could allow them to role-play more freely.

Quote
If indeed the story has a rough end game in mind, that too should be communicated.
Ouch. Are you suggesting telling the player(s) how the game will end? Or how you want it to end? And ruin the surprise? That sounds like the word scripted to me which where I come from in role-playing is a Very Bad Thing Indeed. ;)

I'm not having a go at you, Zamquist, and I am treating his rather lightly. But I am in disagreement with pretty much everything you've suggested  :D
« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 06:19:45 PM by Haibane »

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2009, 09:13:55 PM »

In fact trying to measure, quantify, plot and pre-plan a RP is something like being in the army. Wasn't it an ancient military tactician who wrote "a plan, no matter how well concieved, never survives first contact with the enemy", in our case it's "a role-playing plot or plan lasts only as long as the first post by a player other than the planner".


To that I would only say, that the same military strategist would still go to war with a plan even knowing it would likely need adjusting or thrown out completely soon after the onset. To not plan at all would be foolish. But alas, we risk getting off topic parsing words on this particular subject.


Ouch. Are you suggesting telling the player(s) how the game will end? Or how you want it to end? And ruin the surprise? That sounds like the word scripted to me which where I come from in role-playing is a Very Bad Thing Indeed. ;)

I'm not having a go at you, Zamquist, and I am treating his rather lightly. But I am in disagreement with pretty much everything you've suggested  :D

No, I wouldn't suggest people know ahead of time how exactly the story would end. I would only suggest (keyword here, suggest) that there could be any number of endings, and that by drafting a rough (again, keyword here, rough) outline you give yourself and the co-writer a framework to bring the story to a satisfying and ultimate conclusion, and hence, can move on to play more games.

I agree, there's a fine line here, and it may not fit all scenarios. If these suggestions don't apply to your games or style of writing, well then, they don't apply to your games or style of writing :)

As for the other four suggestions (see a theme here?), I think it is fair to have a base expectation before you begin, while always keeping in mind that RL issues arise and could change. Again, the idea is to have a starting place.

Offline Haibane

Re: Questions one might ask themselves
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2009, 04:47:04 AM »
Oh, yes, armies go to war with plans, but what you seem to be suggesting is they draw up the peace treaty before they send in the first soldier, and that's what I'm disagreeing with.

It would be interesting to do a survey of games on E and ask every member how many games have you started? Then, how many of them came to a proper conclusion?

I bet you the ratio of games ending satisfactorily would be down in the area of less than 1%.

Almost everybody plans a lot, almost every game fails after a few pages. Planning an ending may be OK but I see it as rather pointless as 99.5% of the time you'll never get there. I have been in 'quick' games that had a definite time window of one weekend which, six months later ended because the players could not keep up a satisfactory posting rate. And this was meant to be a 'quickie'. Since joining E in mid-June, I have played in a total of 36 games with 10 more that did not get beyond the discussion stage. How many of those reached an ending? Not one.

I don't ever plan beyond a basic premise as I know it's a waste of time. As a game goes on I 'grow' it. I flesh out the universe it's in and firm up the supporting backstory but this is a purely dynamic process, proceeding as the game proceeds and never getting ahead of it by very much. The current group game I'm running started out as one single idea from a friend, I took that and threw a few more ideas at it then it has continuously swelled up like a growing pumpkin over a couple of months, but I never do more than plan a scene or two ahead or think up a scene some distance ahead that would be nice. I don't see the point as players can walk out on you at a moment's notice even when a game is going well.

I have become very cynical about this, can you tell?

So, no, I don't agree with you. *hugs*