Thursday, July 8, 2010

Storyteller: The Burning Van: When Your Adventure Gets Away From You

I was part of the Storyteller team at our local LARP for awhile. There were 4 or 5 of us trying to manage a game that at the time was over 100 players on a busy night, so things had the potential to get out of hand pretty quick. Not only were we outnumbered, but we were each running our own plotlines. One of the more memorable occasions I was called outside to help with a scene, and for some reason I wasn’t wearing shoes, I can’t remember why. So I’m hustling down the stairs and out the door to help these players, who of course needed help right now, and the first thing they tell me is, “We want to know about the burning van.”

To which my response was, “What burning van?”

It wasn’t my plot, so I had no idea what was going on, and it wasn’t something we’d discussed during the ST meeting. I couldn’t help them, and I had to track down who could so the characters could get on with their story.

In a first draft, it’s easy to let your plot get away from you. Maybe you’re fixated on throwing bigger, stronger ninjas at your characters until they find themselves in a situation you can’t get them out of. Maybe you’re being attacked by plot bunnies who are demanding you throw in weresharks, even though your story is nowhere near water. Maybe you’ve created so much conflict between your hero and heroine that there’s no way in hell they’re going to get in the same bed—hell, even the same room.

If you hit a wall, or a burning van, in your first draft, you can find a way around it. Take a deep breath, and remember that this is what first drafts are for. You can always cut the weresharks later. Also, this is why critique partners are so important. They’re like your Storyteller team, there to help you create an engaging story that your readers will want to get lost in. A good crit partner will tell you, “Dude, no weresharks. Seriously.” Even if you’re still in the plotting stage, having someone to bounce ideas off of can be extremely helpful. (I have much <3 for BFF Diana. She’s considering writing a companion post for this about what kind of questions a crit partner should ask, so let’s hope she does.)

Short post, huh? Next week I’m talking ways to make your characters suffer through epic fails. Until then, just say no to weresharks.

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