Friday, December 13, 2013

Story Game - Having Fun, Looking for Game Testers

I have been rolling a story a day since I posted the "Let's Play" post.  As of this writing, that's 21 story situations, including the one I rolled for that post.

I haven't been playing full out and writing stories from them (yet), just rolling numbers, filling out the forms and doing enough brainstorming to test whether I can come up with a viable idea that interests me.

The goal here was to:

  • Test the game, see what needs adjusting.  (And nearly all of it does need adjusting.)
  • See how much fun I can have with it.  (Which is "lots.")

But the surprise is how well it has been working as a creativity tool.  It's actually working.  For work.

This game has been great in helping me come up with viable, robust ideas that excite me -- and this even though this is not really my main genre.  If I needed to become a pulp writer who turned out a novelette or novella a week, this game certainly does give me the material.  At least half of these stories excite me.  All of them, so far, are something I could write with reasonable interest. (They are books I would be interested in reading, anyway.)

The game really wasn't intended to be that kind of production tool, though, and I have no idea if this flavor of Romantic Suspense is of any commercial value.  But you know, there are two parts to productivity.  One is marketability, but the other is enjoying what you are doing enough to keep doing it.

I still have two big questions:

Will it work for other genres and types of stories?

What I have found so far is that the stories it generates vary.  Some of them really seem more suited to Romantic Comedy (no mystery or suspense) and others seem especially suited to Mystery Suspense with a romantic subplot.

Also, a big part of the Woman in Jeopardy suspsense story has to do with where the plot goes.  And if you choose not to head for a Happily Ever After ending, you could have an outright thriller on your hands. (And sometimes even with an HEA ending.)

So even though I think this Situation/Character Structure part of the game should be changed for other genres and types of story.... I also think that it's easy enough to simply do that in the plotting end.

The biggest problem, though, is that this game really is suited for stand alone stories.  Not for series.  That is, I can't use it to come up with a murder plot for George and Karla or even Mick and Casey.  (At least, not yet.  I've got ideas I'm working on for that....)

This makes it great for short stories, though.  And it also is surprisingly good for coming up with... the first book in a series.  I have learned this the hard way.  As I write In Flight, I find myself thinking "Oh, that would be a fun continuing character.... Oh, and that would work for a series...."  (Like I need yet another series.  I don't think so...)

Will it work for other people?

If other people do as I do and adjust the game to suit their tastes and needs, sure, it could work for them.  But could this be a package?  An actual game or workbook that people could use to have fun, develop skills and develop stories?  I mean, would the game I'm writing work for people who don't want to write their own game?

I honestly don't know yet.  I would like to publish it.  I think it could at least be fun.  In the meantime, I'm still testing.

I would like to find some people who would be interested in playing with it.  I'd send a pdf (and maybe an ebook version) of the updated forms and wheels/lists.  I wouldn't require anybody to do anything in particular with it -- just play with it and let me know what parts are fun or productive, and which parts are frustrating (or which you simply ignore).

If you're interested, email my cat, maudecat at, with a header that says Game Tester, and when things are ready, I'll send the materials out.

In the meantime, I will likely post an update on Sunday (the 15th) but then not again until January 3 -- when I'll begin a the Plotting section of the game.

See you in the funny papers.

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