Collective Story Telling


I’ve talked about my very first role-playing group on the blog before and how important they have been to my writing journey.  I have a group of friends, most of them fellow fiction writers, who I play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with every other week.  We’ve been playing for a couple years now.  We all met through NaNoWriMo, and the woman who wanted to try out being a DM (that’s a Dungeon Master, who runs the game) mentioned at a write-in that she had trouble finding players.  Most of the write-in attendees were interested, and some of us brought a friend or spouse, so that’s how the original group got started.  It was nine players originally, which was way too large, especially for two or two and a half hour sessions on a weeknight.

She broke us into two groups and we went off in different directions in search of answers to the same mystery.  She brought us all back together for an epic battle at the end on a Saturday afternoon.  Over all it was an incredibly fun game.  She ran another game with a smaller total number of players (max 6) so my husband and I volunteered to step back and not play that one.  Partially because I couldn’t play every week, and I liked the Adventure Guild idea we were talking about for off-weeks better.

Adventure Guild has been very fun.  We’re all taking turns being the DM and we’re developing the world as we go along.  We decided the original characters from the first adventure she ran, would be the founders of the guild and the current guild master was the protégé of our original ranger, which explains why he’s so deadpan as well as why he sometimes just doesn’t care and sends us off into horribly dangerous things.

I’ve taken a bit of a leading role in instigating and planning for Adventure Guild.  I made the original two primary NPCs for the guild (the guild master and a sort of den mother type who runs the tavern part).  I’ve picked out what city it’s in and where we are (we’re very loosely based in the Forgotten Realms universe).  At some point before our next session I’m going to come up with a good name for the guild.

What I like best about role-playing games with friends, and our Adventure Guild campaign in particular, is that it’s a form of collective storytelling.  I get to tell the story of my character.  The DM gets to build a story around the player characters and we all collectively get to build the story that unfolds.  Sometimes players will do what the DM expects, and sometimes not.  When they don’t do what I expect is sometimes the most fun for me as a DM.

This kind of collective storytelling can be very helpful for me as a writer.  I can see where someone else reacts differently to the situation in front of us.  I can put players into a situation similar to one in a book I’m working on and see what happens.  It’s just as fun for me as a player, when I’m trying to really inhabit the character I’ve built and react as he/she/they would react, rather than how I would.

My particular group laughs a lot while we play.  Ridiculous things happen and sometimes it’s just too funny.  We also have a great time being together and enjoying the game together.  It’s something I’ve really come to value over the past couple years.  I missed having a group that got together regularly for some form of gaming or socializing, and this has given me that social space again.

When I don’t have social interaction with someone (work colleagues, friends, even just cashiers while running errands) I can get a little weird and it tends to dry up my ability to write.  Making sure I have that social time is important, for my writing and my mental health.  Being able to incorporate it into my writing by practicing collective storytelling just makes it that much more useful.

I’d love to hear about how others incorporate their social activities into their writing life, whether it’s as directly as I do through role-playing games, or more indirectly.  Where does your energy to create come from?  Is it all internal, or is some of yours external like mine?


Image Prompt 036 Response: Melon Pope and College Friends


I chose the image of the impromptu sculpture at a wedding for my twenty-minute sprint.


Melon Pope and College Friends:

Jacob leaned back in his chair and smiled as he watched his friends having a blast on the dance floor.  It had been months since they’d all seen each other, and he’d enjoyed the chance to talk over dinner and before the wedding.  He’d managed to twist his ankle hiking two weeks before, so dancing wasn’t in the cards tonight, but the music was good, and everyone was having a good time.

“You aren’t getting all maudlin over here by yourself are you?” Kyle asked as he settled in the seat beside Jacob. Continue reading

The Hands that Mold: Mathew


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about Mathew.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember me mentioning Matt before.  He was part of my very first Role Playing Game (RPG) group, which I talked about in a previous The Hand that Mold post.  You might also remember him if you’ve read my book.  This is the Mathew that I mention in the dedications and by the end of this post you’ll have a better idea of why I plan to dedicate each and every book to him. Continue reading

The Hands that Mold: Manda


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about Manda.

I met Manda when I was in graduate school. I was working on an MA in English at the time. Her husband was in my program, and started the semester after me. We met on Halloween at the English Grad Student gathering to celebrate the holiday by dressing up and going bar hopping.

I don’t usually drink, especially out in public, because I can get really flirty and don’t much care who I’m flirting with, which isn’t necessarily the safest situation in the world. So before we left for the bars, I warned Manda and her husband that I might end up flirting with Manda that night, because I flirted when I drank, and I tended to flirt with girls because it was safer for me, especially if they were girls in the group I was with.

I made quite the first impression, huh? Continue reading

The Hands that Mold: My First RPG Group


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about my very first RPG group. (That’s Role Playing Game group for the non-Geek among you.)

I met them when I was a sophomore in high school. Half of them were members of the marching band, like I was, so I knew them by sight before school even started. It wasn’t for another six months, in December, that I actually got to know most of them.

I’d spent most of the past six months depressed, because we’d just moved and I had no friends yet. So when a fellow flute player (we’ll call her “T” for the purposes of this discussion) asked me to come to her house after school to play a role playing game with her brother and his friends, I happily accepted. I might finally have made a friend at school, and she was inviting me to meet her other friends. Continue reading