Non-Gaming Resources For Game Masters: Resources on Screen Writing

You are going to get tired of me writing it, saying it, dancing about it but here it comes; RPG’s are not stories. They are games that have many story-like pieces. Often they have many commonalities with stories and story telling but they aren’t quite the same. We would do well to figure out where the two overlap and try to utilize tools that have proven to be powerful in the arena of story telling, when it makes sense and is effective. The most consumed form of story for the last century has been stories told on the movie screen and TV screen. Some games purport to be trying to emulate the experience of the cinema. I have come across several resources on screen writing recently and I want to share with you why I think they may be of value to a game master.

Something I’ve learned about screen writers is that the most succesful ones have a very craftsman like attitude about what they do. There are techniques. There are tools. There are materials. In the right combinations by a skilled practitioner, these produce emotionally charged magic. In the hands of the novice, they produce forgetable or laughable results. A lot of fiction writers, literary fiction writers in particular, are far more precious about what they do, they are artists after all. Screen writers are mercenaries. Hired guns looking to get paid. They are pro’s and the best of them make what the rest of us would call “art” but they call a “project.” When screen writers write or talk about their craft, often they offer useful techniques that I get some value from.

Particularly useful are their ideas about what makes a good character, what makes for a good villain, conflict and pacing. These aren’t 1 to 1 carry over but there is lot of overlap and it is a useful set of concepts that can be applied.  There are tons of videos on YouTube, articles, books and even seminars and courses. (on Udemy and elsewhere)

I highly recommend checking some of these out if you are looking for other perspectives about how stories are told and how to put the pieces of story into your games.

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