This Saturday, the 3rd of June, I’m returning to the Nerd East convention in Durham. I’ll be moderating a panel with some other very exciting authors. Here’s the announcement from the organisers….
We’re hugely excited to announce an incredible author panel for this year’s Nerd East – perhaps our best literary event ever!
In honour of the event’s theme, the topic is:
“How has roleplay influenced your writing?”
Our panellists: Juliet E McKenna is the author of fantasy series The Tales of Einarinn, The Aldabreshin Compass, The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution and The Hadrumal Crisis, as well as other standalone books and stories. R. A. Smith is author of paranormal fantasy series The Grenshall Manor Chronicles, with two books published so far and a third in the works. Jeannette Ng‘s first novel, Under The Pendulum Sun, is a story of missionaries in fairyland and is due to be published in October.
Our moderator is Andrew Knighton, a freelance writer and author of short stories and novels ranging across science fiction, fantasy, steampunk and historical fiction.
All four have backgrounds in roleplay and gaming of varying kinds, and we hope you’ll be as keen as we are to hear their insights on this subject and, I suspect, many others!
The convention timetable is filling up, but there’s still room for more…. If you’d be interest in trading, speaking or running an event, get in touch – http://nerdeast.org.uk/contact-us/ !
Back in May, I heard fellow fantasy writer R A Smith talk about conflict in games and stories at Nerd East in Durham. Here are a few notes from that talk – really more of a relaxed chat with the audience – that I found useful:
The protagonist is either the lens for the trouble around them or, more often, the person going out and causing the trouble.
They never start by just wandering the world, their intentions just a blank sheet – they need to have an objective.
When talking about conflict in roleplay games we often start by thinking about fighting, as that’s what the characters are statted for.
Jim Butcher writes good blog posts on writing. He recommends focusing on the story question – what’s the book about? what’s driving the main plot?
When it happens, fighting should progress the story in some way.
How characters behave in a fight shows their personality – for example, do they disregard civilians?
Character and anticipation are important. This is why professional wrestling is successful – the draw is the soap opera element that makes fans anticipate each match in advance.
The Princess Bride has great storytelling fight scenes – for example the early fight between Wesley and Inigo Montoya, showing their motivations and styles.
Preparing to head back to Durham for the Nerd East convention has me feeling all nostalgic. I lived and studied there for seven years in total, and though I didn’t do much writing it has really shaped me as a writer. Joining the live roleplay society got me back into fantasy and science fiction in a big way, as well as giving me lots of great friends and character ideas. My first published story was in the university Science Fiction and Fantasy Society’s in-house fanzine, and won me a week’s worth of calories in chocolate form.
And as always, there were the lessons that weren’t directly writing related but have proved useful. I learned to work with others creating plots through LRP, as well as finding out how much chainmail weighs. I gained the confidence to put my stories and other creations out there. I watched a wide range of science fiction and fantasy films, making me better informed about the genres. And where else but a university game of killer could I have experienced what it’s like to stake out someone’s house? (I mean aside from the mob.)
Often the things we label as distractions provide useful lessons. Sure, that’s less true of all the time I spent drinking in the Student Union bar, but then I never needed my dignity all that much.
Or my liver.
If you’re in north east England then you can hear me talk on this more, as well as enjoying a day of geekery and gaming, on 30 May at Nerd East.
No Writing Excuses exercise from me this week, as I’m spending the time preparing to teach some writing instead. In an act that is either terrifying hubris or putting my money where mouth is, I’ve volunteered to give a talk and run a writing workshop at Nerd East, a convention in north-east England on 30 May. This is a return to my old turf of Durham, so my talk will be on what my experiences there taught me as a writer. The workshop is on using seven point story structure to develop a plot, because this struck me as the most practical thing I could do.
If you live near Durham, or are just looking for a fun convention to attend, then I recommend checking out Nerd East. It’ll be a lot of fun.
* * *
On a different topic, the first two volumes of my Epiphany Club series of steampunk adventure stories are now up on Amazon, Smashwords and other ebook stores. The first volume, Guns and Guano,is free, so why not go give it a read?