How to Write a Story Hour (by el-remmen) - Page 2




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  1. #11
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    Right on , e-r. Wisdom from one who knows. Thank you for sharing all that goodness.

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  • #12
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    Great article.

    As a DM and (sometimes) aspiring story hour writer, it's good to know what to consider before sitting down and writing one. This article has given me much to chew on.
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    This is great advice.

    Let me add the few lessons I've learned from my one month of storyhour writing last year.

    Here are the things that broke my back:


    -Proofreading

    I'm a sloppy writer. My spelling is bad, wether in german (native) or english (nonative). I'm also lazy. Back then I was also impatatient. Given the choice between extended proofreading and just posting the storyhour when it's ready, I chose the second. I bet many readers where turned of by my lack of editing.


    -Lack of feedback

    By views between updates, I had about 5 faithfull readers. That's actually enough for me to see a sense writing a storyhour. But none ever commented, except for one of my players. That player was also the only player to care.


    -Commitment

    I found, without proofreading, I could spit out a decently written update in about an hour. One session was between two and three updates. The amount of writing I could easily handle in the effort it took. The same goes for proofreading. However, what I needed was the actual willingness to commit to the SH writing. I've found SH writing doesn't really take work, but a great deal of time commitment.


    -The game folded

    Not much more to say. At some point there was a massive shift in the PC groups alignment and style that, combined with the dark tone of the setting, took the game into a direction I wasn't fond enough of to continue DMing it.


    -Lack of documentation

    I'm terrible at notekeeping and further, as DM my attention was far to spend on actual gaming to keep notes. My players didn't keep any notes either. When writing, there where many times I wished we had players that kept quote and battle logs. I know the one battlelog a player did for a battle helped me immensely.


    -I got behind

    Once the session I was writing was not the last one played anymore, the downsides quickly begann sloping upwards.


    The lessons it see in that are:

    Only start up if willing to commit to the writing. By my observation, if a game is played weekly, it takes at least 30 minutes per day to keep it up to date. Believe me, you want to keep as up to date as possible. Not being destroys your motivation.

    Secure support in your group. If you have player (or a DM) interested in a SH and willing to help, this will propably wastly improve your chances to have a successful SH. Your players can keep logs for you, proofread for you, motivate you and pimp your SH.



    I myself am pretty sure that I'm not going to write a traditional SH (ongoing, steady acount of a game), though I might pursue an alternate model once I have a regular group again.

  • #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsillanabor
    What would you (plural you-anyone can answer) consider an ideal post length? I have had comments from my players reading my Story Hour (Pimpage-it is in the sig) that some of my posts are simply too intimidatingly long.
    el-remmen and I think similarly on this one. When I first started working on the story hour, I went to Piratecat's thread, found I post that I thought was just on the long side, copied it into Word and ran wordcount.

    It was about 1,100 words.

    So I decided my posts should be between 900 and 1000 words. Much shorter than that and you run the risk of putting up updates that don't actually advance the story. A lot longer, and I think it becomes easy to alienate the reader who just wants to pop in for a quick read.
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    I'd add one item to el-remmen's list:

    Find a voice.
    By that I mean find a particular narrative style that works for you and stick with it. It doesn't have to be a character's viewpoint, just a consistent way of describing the action. Don't jump from present-tense to past-tense in the same paragraph. Don't write one entry in an archaic formal style and the next in modern colloquialisms. If you don't use metagame descriptions (spell and feat names, for example), then avoid them all the time, not just some of the time.

    I agree that regular updates are essential. Any time I don't do an update within two days of the session I start finding it more and more difficult to get started. Once you fall behind it's really difficult to get caught up again.

    I'd also recommend something I started doing after I'd been writing (and reading) story hours for a while: keep each paragraph short. You don't want readers to lose the narrative by getting bogged down in a long paragraph. It's like taking a breath to pause between sentences. Keep that in mind when choosing when to start a new paragraph.

    I find it interesting that many folks here describe doing daily updates of their story hours. I suppose in part that's due to the fact that so many story hours are done in a third-person narrative form and are trying to include everything that happened in the session. Since I'm not trying to do that with my story hours, I can do an update immediately after the latest session. We also don't play weekly in most of our campaigns, which gives me more time between sessions to tweak my posts. I haven't received much feedback on my story hours, though, so I don't know if my longer posts are agreeable to most readers.
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    Here's my two bits. When writing battle scenes (and I say this from experience), try not to write as if it's happening round-by-round. Make it flow. So what if some detail, like Joe the Cleric casts Shield of Faith, gets omitted? Does that factoid contribute significantly to the story? Also, use descriptive speech rather than game-speak, ie...I think "The balor grabbed his skull and screamed in fear and pain as he was bombarded by visions of the holy warrior before him driving a searing blade through his heart, imparting upon him a death he had not yet experienced," sounds a whole-lot better than, "then the psion manifested Recall Death on the balor." I may be branded a heretic here, but my one beef about Salvatore's writing is the seemingly endless battle scenes. They should be part of the story, not THE story. If the fight was relatively easy during your game session, don't detail it. A simple, "The kobolds were shocked when the cadre of heavily armed adventurers burst into the room. In a matter of moments, their surprise turned to blind terror as they fell before the whirling blades of the heroes," will do nicely.

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    Great post, El.

    If I might add a bit of my own wisdom, humble though it may be.

    Pick a Snazzy Title

    I know this may not seem like a big deal, but it is what will draw folks in to begin with. After that its up to the material. I mean, who hasn't clicked at least once to see what Barsoomcore's Wild Stewardess Action! is all about? I know I have.

    So think about that when your starting a new storyhour, and instead of going with "Age of Worms" (of which there are at least a dozen) go with "Teen Anime Porn Stars vs. The Slimy Serpents of Doom!" or something like that. I guarnatee people will check you out for the title alone.

    BD

  • #18
    Quote Originally Posted by spyscribe
    el-remmen and I think similarly on this one. When I first started working on the story hour, I went to Piratecat's thread, found I post that I thought was just on the long side, copied it into Word and ran wordcount.

    It was about 1,100 words.

    So I decided my posts should be between 900 and 1000 words. Much shorter than that and you run the risk of putting up updates that don't actually advance the story. A lot longer, and I think it becomes easy to alienate the reader who just wants to pop in for a quick read.
    Just did the same thing with my Story Hour. First post was over 1700, another was over 2300!

    Maybe I should do some reshuffling of posts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsillanabor
    What would you (plural you-anyone can answer) consider an ideal post length? I have had comments from my players reading my Story Hour (Pimpage-it is in the sig) that some of my posts are simply too intimidatingly long.
    I typically like to write in the 1,000 - 2,000 word length. In my Story Hour that is the vast majority of what you'll find (except at the beginning ... I was trying to do too much. Grrrrr.) Even at the beginning I tried to keep it around 3,000 words. But that was too long. By post 11 the posts are much shorter and much more manageable.

    I like posts in the 1,000 - 2,000 range for two reasons:

    1. I can crank that out in under an hour. That means it doesn't kill an entire afternoon/evening. So I feel like doing it more often and thus allows regular updating.

    2. I can proofread it in about 20 - 30 minutes. Thus, when it is posted the product is simply much better. The proofreading doesn't take as long, so I feel like proofreading more often, too.

    For me, 1,000 - 2,000 words is the sweet spot. Everyone else is different. I think what is most important is that you find a length that you enjoy typing. Because at the beginning the readership is going to be few. Do what you feel natural and you'll stick with it. If you stick with it, you'll get readers who stick with you.

    Writing here is much more about the writer than the audience. It's not-for-profit. It's for pleasure. With thousands of members and even more lurkers that come here ... you'll find your few who like what feel natural for you. You'll be happy, and they'll be happy. And that's what SH writing is all about!
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  • #20
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    The advice given is fine and dandy but its not for everyone.

    I used to get REALLY upset about the popularity of some people here and their SH. I put in a lot of work into mine and the campaign it is based on but I have no fan base. Why? Because the reasons I am writing are different from theirs. I am sharing ideas as much as my story.

    I am not perfect and I don't pretend to be. The storyhours I do I do for myself. This thread is ....irking me. I have said it. Now everyone can smash and trash me.


    Reading this, it appears the only WORTHY storyhours are ones that fit a specific style. Not true. Not true at all.

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