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


megamania said:
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.

I don’t think El-Remmen was making any kind of judgment about which types of storyhours are “worthy”. He is simply giving some advice based on his own experiences. While not every storyhour fits the mold he is describing, I would say a large majority of them do, and when giving general advice it’s best to speak to the general majority.

My own storyhours aren’t the type El is describing (they’re 100% fiction and not based on an actual game), but I was still able to take away quite a bit of good advice from his post.


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megamania said:
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.

What reasons are those? I write my story hour because I enjoy writing and it helps bring my campaign to life more for my players. I didn't start on this thread with a fan base. I just started posting a story, mainly for my players. Others read it, apparently liked it, and that's that. I have never read one of your story hours, because in point of fact, I've never read any other story hours. Why? Because I'm spending too much #@$% time writing my own! ;)


I also don't think el-remmen only pimps the kind of Story Hour he writes himself. I mean, two of the most popular SHs, Sagiro's and Piratecat's, are quite dissimilar in style. Still, he touches upon a few salient points.

When I began writing my Story Hour, I thought it would be a writing project on the side. I wish! It's loads of work. If I, like JollyDoc, didn't want the SH in order to enhance game atmosphere and provide my players with a way to remember what happened months ago, I likely would have quit by now. Things I do that deviate from what el-remmen does:

I include scenes the players don't experience first-hand at the table. Since my SH is updated to be current, I take care not to spoil too much, but there is a behind-the-scenes theme going on.

I deviate in style. Generally, I write in the way that is most comfortable to me, but I experiment for single updates. For example, I once wrote an update like a screenplay.

I don't use too much gamespeak. I write the Story Hour as much as a fictional text as possible. So I don't go round-by-round, and I also rarely employ D&D vocabulary like Power Attack or the specific names of spells (but I use latin names for arcane spells and prayers for divine ones). I try to abstract the combat even more, so that the hit point mechanic doesn't shine through too clearly. My shorter updates are about 1,800 words long, the usual length is 3,000+ words, though.

In order to generate comments, I offered guest spots in my campaign and Story Hour. One commentator will be chosen and get a full NPC write-up and will play a role in the current adventure.

In keeping with el-remmens tips, I offer PDF versions of our campaign complete with extras like handouts, maps, etc. I sometimes add what music I played in a specific scene, but I tend to forget that detail.

So I'm investing quite some time in my SH, and I find this has helped me gather a group of trusted readers despite the comparable smallness of the German board I frequent. But it's a lot of work, and if we didn't meet just once a month or less, I doubt I'd be able to put it all in and keep the quality up. So do what you think is best for your Story Hour, and keep in mind that there are a lot of SH's going on (especially here), and it's always an investment to read one. Heck, I only read two SHs, and I'm glad they don't update more often.

As for pimping: here's the current SH (I use a new thread for each chapter), and here's a link to the previous ones. Keep in mind these are German, though.
Stadt in Ketten I: Basar des Lebens
Stadt in Ketten II: Flutzeit
Stadt in Ketten III: Zenith der Nacht
Stadt in Ketten IV: Willkommen im Dämonenschlund
Stadt in Ketten V: Die Prüfung des Rauchenden Auges


First Post
Tsillanabor said:
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. :heh:
As megamania reminds us, it's good to take all of this with a grain of salt. Do what works for you.

(And for the record, my updates have gotten longer as they've become less frequent, now usually between 1,500 and 2,000 words.)


Moderator Emeritus
Having started to write up the first installment of my upcoming story hour, i was reminded of something that was easy to forget after working on "Out of the Frying Pan" for 5+ years - and it is something a little more positive than a couple of points in the original post.

And that is: It does get easier.

I have been really struggling with the writing of the first session of the game, and I realized that this is because I do not yet have a good sense of the characters and their voices, motivations and quirks - and I do not know for certain yet what direction the game will be going - so setting tone is a little more difficult - as is figuring out what is important to focus on, etc. . . Additionally, I am having a hard to finding a compromise between using too much exposition and leaving the reader in the dark totally as regards to the context of the characters' lives and what brings them to this moment where we first meet them.

Looking back now that I have had this reminder of the difficulties of the early days of a story hour, I recall that if you can get over that burn-out hump that comes sooner or later and persevere, it can get easier as they situations and characters become more familiar.
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Moderator Emeritus
I know I have a link to this in my sig, but having just re-read it in the process of tagging some old threads I thought it might be worth bumping it for newer story hour authors looking for advice.

Peace. :cool:


Awesome advice there. Wish i had read that before i started my Masks story hour! Talk about an investment of time, wow. Yeah, it has been a massive project, probably more intensive than actually running the campaign. But i wouldn't have done it if i didn't enjoy it. I do wonder how many readers there are though. Enworld definitely caters to fantasy-lovers.

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