We read books written by authors we look up to for advice and pointers, attend seminars and webinars hoping to find that small key to fully unlock our ability, and we are constantly trying to find ways to simplify our process. There are a great many tools out there, and some of them are a bit unorthodox. Today, I am going to share with you one of my favorite activities and hobbies that has helped my writing in ways I never imagined.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG), please allow for this simplified explanation. A TTRPG is a game in which a group of players create a character based on the world the game takes place (known as a PC), and is lead on an adventure by a Gamemaster (known as a GM) through what we call the “theater of the mind”. Then, by the use of a series of dice rolls, the actions of the PC’s are determined to be achieved or failed.
Now, what if I told you playing these games was not only fun, but the entire process would help you beyond belief in your writing? Might give it a chance in the case, right? Well, here is the reason you should give it a try.
As writers and authors, we are all constantly trying to find ways to fine-tune our craft.
It should come as no surprise, right along with the importance of plot to a story, is the significance of character development. RPG’s give you a unique environment to not only create a wide range of characters, but to also become those characters during the gaming session. You act out their behavior, think their thoughts, and most of all, are an active part in their growth over time. By actually becoming the character you created, you have an insight beyond the simple imagining and writing that we as authors typically do.
Since I have discovered the TTRPG world, though I don’t play as much as I would like, the things I have learned from my experiences have been monumental in the character development in my writing. The perspective you gain from role-playing characters deepens your take on how your characters develop through your story. You learn to see through their eyes, feel their emotions, and most importantly, understand how they grow as a character in relation to a plot or storyline.
We have seen how being a player can help you as a writer, now let’s take a look at how running a game as a Gamemaster helps even more.
In the TTRPG world, the Gamemaster is the man behind the curtain. The GM not only runs the game, they create the story and encounters for the PC’s. In terms we as writers can understand, they are the master story-teller. Through the process of the game, they adapt an overall plot forward while ensuring the actual story is that of the players. I find there has been no better way to learn how to write a story and ensure the characters remain the most important aspect of your book.
In case you are interested in taking a look at what TTRPG’s are like before jumping in on a game, here are some of my favorite places and groups to watch. I hope you have enjoyed this article and as always, I hope to hear back from you about what you think.
Lost Initiative - https://www.twitch.tv/lostinitiativeshow
Is It My Turn Yet? - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw4FJEK0-n3elQYdJSU6p1A
Actuations Incorporated - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTlOYZOU1HGEqgb2XetyBBQ
James M. Patrick is the author of Ashes Will Fall, Rudy’s Rangers and the upcoming short story series Vega: Orc Slayer February 2018. This former soldier turned contractor currently works in Baghdad, Iraq and calls Stuart, Florida home.
James is highly active on social media and you can follow him on his Facebook Author Page and Fan Group; Twitter; or find the latest information on current and future projects at TheJamesPatrick.com