Story Design: The Duel

STORY DESIGN DUELHave you ever wanted more story in your roleplaying game stories?

What you’re about to read isn’t a story unto itself. It’s not a finely polished tabletop roleplaying game adventure. It’s a template for a particular kind of story. It goes over the three-act structure for that plot type, and covers what has to happen in the beginning, the middle, and the end. It explains the sorts of things that you need to prepare before you start developing the story, and the things that you need to craft and develop after you’ve got the blueprint for your specific story put together. This book is designed to help you plan how to tell a rivalry story effectively, with the least amount of work possible. Because it’s all about story, it is system-agnostic and useable with any genre or setting.

While this is a complete book unto itself, it’s also based on concepts explored in Story Structure for Writers and Roleplayers, also published by Dancing Light Press.  It’s a big book that goes into greater detail on how to get the most out of the three-act structure, as well as developing a three-phase series (campaign, if you prefer) with a clear beginning, middle, and end. If you want to use your favorite roleplaying game system to tell stories with more depth than kill monster, get treasure, repeat (not that there’s anything wrong with that), it is worth looking into.


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We all know that stories need a beginning, a middle, and an end. Hero goes on quest, hero faces obstacles, hero completes quest. Lovers fall in love, antagonist keeps lovers apart, lovers end up together. Things beyond the protagonist’s control change, the protagonist faces adversity, the protagonist learns to adapt and achieves greatness. On that basic structure writers and storytellers throughout the ages have woven variations and created masterpieces. We keep coming back to the same foundations today for one very good reason: those structures are versatile and continue to work.

This book will help you to leverage basic story structure and use it to your advantage. You’ll be able to say what you want while keeping your audience engaged. The three-act structure and its variations will be discussed in detail, along ways this structure can be expanded beyond a single story and into a series or campaign. In the end, you’ll have new tools in your storytelling toolbox, along with the knowledge of how and when to use them in your own creative works.

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Talking About Writing Isn’t Writing

Dancing Lights Press

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”

-E. L. Doctorow

I feel like I spend too much time writing essays, or blog posts, or whatever you want to define these little daily missives as. This week I added posting regular updates on the Dancing Lights Press site to my regimen as well, to keep people informed about works-in-progress and try to build a little bit of buzz around them. In the back of my head, I have the late, great Edgar Lawrence there telling me to stop talking about what I’m going to do and just f’n do it. Not in those words; I’m paraphrasing.

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Creative Expression versus Your Public Face


Creative Expression versus Your Public Face

A long time ago, I figured out that I can’t write about myself when I’m in certain mental states. It doesn’t matter if it’s on this page, on social media, or in the journal on my desk. If I’m upset, or depressed, or suffering from anxiety, it comes out as crazy-person word-salad. Usually it ends up containing at least one thought that I regret later, either because I didn’t mean it, or it wasn’t politic, or because it makes me sound as if I’m completely unhinged. You need to weight your need for creative expression, the desire to scream what’s bothering you out into the ether, versus the potential damage you’ll do to your public face.

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