Q&A: Writing [Character]; Media Tie-ins [Games]
For our first entry in this ongoing series, we chose both an old question from interviews [adapted] and a new one from those recently submitted by readers. We’ll try to keep things mixed up that way as often as we can. This will likely lead to further expansion and reorganization of the site’s FAQs when we have time. The title of each Q&A article will reflect the topic(s) addressed and possibly where they will be filed under old and new headings in the FAQs.
- How do you find the correct motivators for your characters and how important an aspect is this in your writing? *
Character motivation is everything. You cannot tell a believable story without the characters’ own choices and subsequent actions driving it. All decisions that real people make are based on their own psychology and experience. It’s somewhat linked to the “nature vs. nurture” question, and the real answer is that it’s both. So it is with characters.
You have to know your characters as people with lives rather than as existing in a vacuum outside of time and space. If you don’t, the motivators you discover are not the character’s but your own.
It takes us a year or more to get from the first notes for “story-making” to the finished “story-telling” as a book on the shelf, but we know the characters so well that they are almost alive to us. We know the choices they would make… most of the time.
But once in a while one of us will look at a scene the other has sketched out and say something like, “Oh, Leesil wouldn’t do that,” and then we make changes together to move the story toward its goals. This situation doesn’t come up often anymore. But it also happens that one of us will write something for a character and hear Leesil, Magiere, Chap, Wynn, etc. butt in immediately with an outraged objection. This may mean a scene, or even a whole thread inside one or more (sub)plots, needs a closer look before they are satisfied. Yes, we listen to the characters, for it is their story we are telling.
Occasionally, we do argue back with them. In some of those instances we’re really just trying to avoid all that extra work. We lose those arguments, of course. You might think Magiere and Leesil are the worst ones in this, but Chap and Wynn can be very obstinate… and those two little know-it-alls are real pains.
* Based on material from an interview in Alien Online, 7/2005
- Are there any resources available for your books’ world that could be used in FRPG (Fantasy Role-Playing Games)? If not, will there be any in the future?
Both of us enjoyed a bit of FRPG in our younger days, but that was many years back. These days, we stick to a few fantasy board & card games in our limited spare time. And no, nothing we write is based in an FRPG setting. That being said…
At present, we keep a lot of notes in files on our household network concerning the culture, geography, politics, etc. for our world's many regions, nations, and peoples. But these are not the same as what is necessary for a “world” or “campaign” guidebook written for FRPG. A lot of what we write is now based on intimate familiarity with the world of the Noble Dead Saga, which in some ways goes back to before we even started writing S1B1: Dhampir. Compared to what's in our notes, databases, and the books themselves, that's a lot.
To put all of that into a structured reference volume, statistically adaptable to varied FRPG systems, would be quite a task. Then there's the problem of knowing how to do this. It’s a special type of technical writing.
Most of the better game-world reference volumes are written by people with the knowledge and ability to do so. Even if we hired someone with that skill set and experience, the project would take too much time away from our focus on writing more books. And then there are the legal and licensing issues to address for such a “tie-in” product.
So at this time, we have to say that no reference volume may ever be developed unless a professional game company approaches us with such a goal. We’re sorry, but we must devote our time and energy to the stories.
That’s all for now, but you can watch for the next Q&A article in another week. Until then, thanks for stopping by and many thanks for your interest in our tales.