The Secret Power Behind Storytelling

People ask where I get my ideas. Sometimes I can say, sometimes I can’t. I can say where I learned storytelling, though.

I learned it from role playing.

This article mentions how many authors got their start through role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. It’s pretty nifty.

I got involved in role playing relatively late in life – most people seem to start in high school or a little before. I also got involved through a very unorthodox person: my at-the-time girlfriend! Usually it’s the boys dragging the women to the sessions!

But from the very first session I played, I was caught. I remember getting up and acting out a sword fight I had against another player while the other players were stuck in the muck fighting off a horde of zombies. It was dramatic. It was fun. It was instantly addictive in a good way. That dungeon master knew how to put together a fun story.

And then I tried to run a campaign.

And failed miserably.

Well, I don’t know if I failed miserably, but it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. So many story ideas! But… I ran it all wrong. I tried for a second time… and that one just disintegrated.

And then a friend lent me a book: Dungeon Master Secrets 3.0. And that next year, my friends were kind enough to allow me to try again in a very different setting. Instead of Dungeons and Dragons I ran Mage: The Ascension. It was a modern-day setting using magic in very creative ways.

And… it worked.

Role playing taught me how to construct a good story. It taught me how to use characters well. How to interact with the players to create an engaging narrative.

So, for that old girlfriend, thank you for inviting me. For that DM, thank you for letting me play that first time. The experience quite literally changed my life.

And now, though I get to role play rarely, I still tell stories, and it’s so much fun. And the stories are richer for my time as a role player.

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