Roleplaying for Writing

Image under CC-BY license from Thomas Dippel
As those of you who frequent Protagonize may know, roleplaying can be a valuable tool for writing stories that have a larger number of characters. With a single author taking on the role of one of the characters, you can give each one a much stronger sense of having their own voice and personality.

However, roleplaying doesn’t just stop at the writers desk, roleplaying games are a huge industry both on the tabletop and in the computer game industry. Tabletop games in particular are built specifically for telling stories together, with some games making story telling the primary focus (as opposed to combat and tactics, that also make up a large portion of some RPGs). With both kinds of roleplaying ultimately being about telling stories, you shouldn’t be surprised that there are a lot of roleplaying games and tools out there which can really help serve you as a writer – and are just fun to play too!

Chuck Wendig, a writer and gamer makes a good case for why writers should play roleplaying games. This blog post is more about the specific games and tools from roleplaying I’ve found useful and why, but any game and any roleplaying utility can be useful to writers, so I encourage you to get involved with the hobby!

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“Writing About Magic,” a book review

Rayne Hall - Fantasy Horror Author - Portrait by Fawnheart
If you are a writer of fantasy, or plan on writing fantasy, having a grasp on magic is necessary to tell a convincing story. Magical systems must make sense, and to contribute to the plot of a story must not be a quick and easy solution to every problem the protagonist faces. Rayne Hall’s how-to eBook, “Writing About Magic,” is a great starting place for those unsure about the workings of magic in fiction. It is also somewhat useful to those more experienced with writing about magic, though more as a refresher and reference than as a guide. The eBook is part of a larger series of how-to guides titled “Writer’s Craft.”

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Plotting, Planning, Probably Perspiring

NaNoWriMo 2013!It’s that time of year again! Those of us in the northern hemisphere are searching for scarves, wrapping our hands around hot beverages, and pretending we’re dragons with each warm breath. Those in the southern hemisphere are… I’m not too sure what goes on down there, could someone fill me in? I’ll just assume the Australian crowd is busy avoiding spiders and drop bears as usual.

Whatever the weather in your part of the world, October brings a challenge to all writers: preparing for National Novel Writing Month! For those of you unaware, NaNoWriMo is a month-long marathon of novel writing held each November. Anyone can win this race, and many people do! Your only competitor is yourself, and simply finishing a 50,000 word story of some sort qualifies you for a nifty badge. (“Simply” might not be the best choice of adverb. I’m open to suggestions on that one.)

Most of the fun is over on the NaNoWriMo website, but that’s not to say you should abandon Protagonize on November 1st!

The official Protagonize NaNo group is dusting itself off in preparation, and offers lots to this year’s participants. You can find a writing buddy to keep you on track, get advice on preparing for your NaNo Novel, and maybe even get some inspiration if you become stuck along the way. Many authors also choose to post their novels-in-progress on Protagonize.

So, how prepared are you for this year? Will you be obsessively world building until midnight on October 31st, sugar-high on Halloween candy? Or are you going in blind with nothing but a few notes on a dirty napkin? Let us know how you’re doing in the comments!

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

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Protagonize, Spam, and You

Spammy word cloudBODY GET HEALTHY.

What fun phrases do you see? This word cloud was generated from the spam text of several dozen advertising profiles on Protagonize. Did you know our community attracted spammers? Whether or not you did, here’s a quick guide to “Protagonize, Spam, and You.”

What is spam?

Simply put, “spam” is any undesirable and unavoidable content on the internet. The name refers to the well known processed meat product, but we can track its current meaning back to a Monty Python skit. The more you know!

Alright, but what does spam look like on Protagonize?

Most often, spam on Protagonize comes in the form of advertising profiles. They’ll generally have paragraphs of nonsensical text containing buzzwords and catchphrases (to trigger search results) as well as a link to the website or product they are promoting. Sometimes these fake accounts will post a “story” containing the same gibberish.

However, spam can also come in the form of repetitive comments or direct messages to our users. A common example is someone asking half of Protagonize to add them on some social network, to forward them a manuscript for publication, or critique something they would like published. The last example can be tricky, since sometimes people are just desperate to have their work read and aren’t trying to generate spam.

So what do I do if I come across spam or a spammer?

Report it! One of the options when you report a user or content is “Spam or Advertising Material.” Any report you make will be sent to the moderators for review.

That said, the moderation team is usually pretty good at weeding out spam accounts before anyone else notices them. We’ll typically delete about a dozen spam profiles each week, though it isn’t unheard of to delete that many in a single day! But on the off chance we’re in the middle of writing a new chapter and you come across some spam, report it and we’ll delete it when we have the chance.

And that’s it!

If you have any other questions not answered here, you can ask them in the comments or send a direct message to one of the moderators.

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A Home for Every Orphan

A Home for Every Orphan

You might already know that Protagonize has it’s own Pub, but did you know there’s a Protagonize orphanage, too? There is! Sort of.

Stores with only one chapter, the root, are known as orphans. You can look at all the orphaned stories when browsing by story type.

Just like their namesakes, Protagonize orphans are in need of a little love. Adding chapters to an orphan is often a great way to meet new authors, get your name out in the Protagonize community, and participate in collaborative writing. Even if the story doesn’t end up going anywhere, it’s always nice to see a chapter or two added to one’s work.

But what if you want to see an orphaned story completed?

Well, you might be interested in the Collaborative Writing Contest! We’ll be taking an orphaned story and challenging the participants in the contest to write on chapter each in chain fashion. There will be a small panel of expert judges who will review and critique each chapter, eventually selecting the three top contestants. These three will then submit a final chapter to be voted on by all the contestants and judges to determine the ending! Exciting, eh?

And what’s a contest without a prize? In addition to the pride of winning the first ever Collaborative Writing Contest, the winner will be able to participate in the next contest as a judge, where the orphaned work is one of their own!

For details on signing up and the contest structure, please visit the official contest group page.

Photo courtesy of opensourceway on Flickr.

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