Good morning, fellow imaginers, and welcome to another edition of the YJBLiterary blog! I am going to be cracking down on my editing this coming week with the hope of sending out my manuscript to my editor shortly. It’s been a busy month as usual, however, I wanted to make sure I spent some time reaching out to all of my loyal followers! I had a hard time coming up with a topic for this week until I had my weekly game night last evening. I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends for over a year now, performing my role as the official Dungeon Master, and each week we get together to unwind and play. During my author talk at the library, I actually referenced the game as one of my main sources of inspiration when it comes to writing, and today I want to give you all a few reasons behind why I feel authors should embrace this amazing game.
- World building
As a DM, it is my job to create a fully realized fantasy world that the players can believe in. This includes designing maps, a pantheon, political systems, flora/fauna, and many more aspects that I directly utilize when writing my novels. While my current Metamorph series takes place on Earth, there are many things I need to address in my books that relate to my world design exercises in D&D. For instance, how does the government feel about metamorphs and how are they treated? Where do metamorphs get their powers from? How does their very existence affect people’s view of God and evolution? What is the financial status and cost of running The Academy? What does Island X even look like? These are just some examples of the things I had to develop which I would never have even considered had I not had my experiences with world building in D&D.
- Character development
Developing characters in this fictional world can be challenging. I never know how long they will last in the campaign, or the level of impact that they will have in the long run, however, I have to make sure that they have a chance to be a complete character, regardless. This means that they’ll require a well rounded background and motives. They need to be distinct in their own way and have something worth getting to know them for. As the story goes along, they need to evolve alongside the events. Stagnant characters, or ones who fail to grow with the changes of the world, are hard to relate to and hardly worth following. Each event should impact them, even if it is only a subtle change.
- Plot development
As the characters develop, so should the plot. Twists and turns are a must in any great adventure, and the proper progression of a storyline should be enforced if you are to engage both your readers and your D&D players. The story needs a hook, something to bait the characters into completing the quest, and steadily raise the stakes with each major event. There should be highs and lows with emotional costs that keep your audience coming back for more. The ending doesn’t need to be a happy one, but it should feel both satisfying and well-earned.
- Real-time feedback
This is a major advantage to playing D&D for me compared to playing video games or having beta readers sample my books. While weaving my story, I can visually witness the reactions of my audience and how they would react to certain situations. I present them with situations and scenarios in the game that force them to play and react based on their unique characters. I get to see their decisions in real time and listen to their reasoning as they go through their actions. This is incredibly useful as when I write my novels I can relate to and reference similar situations that I’ve run in my campaigns, writing my novels in a more realistic manner.
Above all else, D&D fosters creativity in a way other games simply cannot. As a DM, I have to create scenarios on the fly based on the player’s decisions. This could be completely different than what I had originally planned or stray entirely off the beaten path, however, I use those moments to stretch my creative muscles and come up with an alternate outcome. This was something I struggled with initially, the desire to railroad my players and force the outcomes I wanted was a habit that I had to learn to overcome. Likewise, when I write, there are times when I must stray away from what I originally intended in order to create a better product, one that will truly carry my unique voice and vision. It’s taught me to let go and not obsess over control and to let the story write itself instead. It’s a difficult lesson to learn but can be game-changing once mastered. Now, I can’t wait to see how my players can “mess up” my campaign and how I will have to adapt the story to give them the adventure they truly want to hear.
Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you this weekend. I hope I’ve managed to piqued your interest in my favorite game and convinced you to give it a go. I promise you won’t regret it and will be amazed at the friendships it can develop. The creative gains alone are worth the time, believe me. Until next time, keep imagining!