Game to Narrative (pt 3)

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You’ve had several sessions, and you have the transcripts.  Heck, you’ve even begun smoothing out the rough edges in the transcripts, making it flow like a well written tale.

You only have one problem.  It reads like a grocery list of wonderful short stories, not as a unified tale.

No worries, there friend!  That’s what we’ll be talking about today.

To get started, make sure you have both of your “hats” handy – the Story master hat, and your writer hat.  You know what has happened in each session, and perhaps you even helped your players level up their characters.  We’ve already touched on how to make those transitions as smooth as possible, now it is time to make the big picture flow just as smoothly.

If you are one of the story masters who does a brief recap of a previous session, you have all the tools you need at your disposal.  If you are not, then put on your story master’s hat and briefly recap what happened on a spare sheet or two.

Now, with the recap in hand, and your ideas for this session in mind, look at how the two sections match up.  It could be that you left off with the group heading toward town, and your picking up with the group in town.  That’s a good transition point right there.  But, how long did they travel to get from A to B?  Or, is this the “next day”?  You don’t have to take up much room in the narrative for the transition, but you do want to help the readers make the jump without getting lost.  Something like “The next day the party…” or if it was longer you could use something like “The party traveled without incident until….”  That way you can advance the time and the story smoothly.

Try to vary how you shift between chapters or sessions, so you can avoid the boring repetition of a grocery list feel to your chapters.  I’ve read a few that actually did just hop you from point A to point B on the time line.  Using this occasionally is fine, just make sure to set up for it, or you are going to completely lose your readers unless you are writing in a journal or diary style.  (Someone want to do me a favor and remind me what this is called?)

Also, changing chapters is a great place to change view points.  If your sessions have members that come and go, so you don’t always have the same cast to work with, you can take advantage of this in your writing as well.   Just be prepared with your notes to keep track of your time line.  The image below is an example of how you might do so:

Image courtesy of:

In this case, I’d use the red dots to indicate the days the entire cast was present, the blue dots to indicate when most of the cast is present, and the green dots to indicate where you insert purely fabricated filler to get things from one dot to the next.

The other thing that often crops up in game based stories is the feel of the story being quest driven.  This is not a bad thing, but you should consider how you are presenting the story.  Personally, if the quests flow properly from one to the next, I enjoy quest driven stories just as much as a fully character driven story.  What we’ve talked about in this series for character growth can be adapted to work with quest or environmental growth as well.

When I say environmental growth, this can be something along the lines of moving from an area it is easy to live off the land to areas where such tactics aren’t as easy, or to move from a village into a city.  You could also start taking the characters between planets, realms, or belief systems.  Basically, where in a character driven story, the characters must adapt themselves to events and learn, in quest based stories the characters must learn how to overcome the next big baddie on the list.  Quest based stories will almost always have a definite beginning, middle, and end.  So pacing is extremely important.

Now that I’ve talked your ear off, I’m going to let you go to experiment with what we’ve discussed.

Happy writing everyone!



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