Fic This.

By | October 1, 2009

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The players of Bricu and Tarquin act like real writers and get wasted on cheap ass beer.

As we have said countless times, RP has more to do with interaction than solo production. Our clever readers may ask, “But Bricu, isn’t the process of writing Fic a solo activity?” The really clever readers respond:

“Writing is not a solitary process.”

Let’s face it, even when planning how you are going to do heroic/terrible thing to your fellow gamers (or their primary place of RP), at some point, Fic will be written to fill in the gaps that occur given this style of RP. The Fic maybe a background story on a particular NPC, or a spruced up chatlog from a previous nights RP. The Fic may even be a piece written as part of a Forum challenge, character development exercise, an email/IM exchange or prop used by the PCs (such as the torn page of a journal from a key character). Whatever the nature and role of the Fic, someone is going to have to write it. This Fic isn’t just going to be written to exist in your notebook. No, this Fic is going to be read by the rest of your RP circle.

If you, dear reader, are anything like me, then this is a terrifying realization.

Despite years of writing intensive courses, hundreds of reports for court and a fairly consistent blogging hobby, the process of Fic scares me. The writing I am used to is usually a form of non-fiction. But writing Fic is as close as I am ever going to get to writing creative fiction. It is one thing to write a report that is thorough and easy to comprehend. It is another thing entirely to show off your creations–your stories based around your characters–to your friends.

At first, I dealt with my anxieties by self-deprecating humor. I thought I was being a completely modern hipster, laughing at my self and my nerdy ways. Turns out that I was also laughing at the people I game with. That isn’t what I intended. I still play WoW because of these people. I have become extremely close to some of the people I have met through WoW, and the last thing I would ever want to do is to hurt their feelings. I had to find a different way to write and share fic without being an asshole to the people that matter to me. Here are two of the ways I’ve learned to Fic.

  • Write the Damn Fic

  • You might think this is an obvious point, but I have done some almost scientific observations of my Fic writing behavior. Of the time I am supposed to be writing, only 1/10 of that time is actually writing something. The breakdown is as follows:

  • I spend about a 1/4 of the time I’m supposed to be writing “tweaking” my MP3 play list.
  • I spend another 1/4 researching my Fic assignment.
  • I spend the rest of that time (2/5s for those of you doing the math at home) editing (read deleting) what I just typed
  • This is wickedly inefficient. The goal is to Write then Edit. Sure, Bruce Springsteen can write and edit at the same time–but he’s the Boss. There can be only one Boss. The rest of us have to Write then edit.

    Because I am not the boss, I have two techniques I use to Write then Edit. The first is to do something Threnn does: I cut text out and paste it into a separate document. This way, I keep what I have written even if it is no longer on my page.

    The other method–something I am trying on this work trip–is to hand write everything. I bought a small notebook and a decent pen and started writing. If I don’t like a line, I try to limit myself to one scratch out through the center of the offending line. This way, even though I have technically edited while writing, I still have words on the page. Words that I can see, rewrite and play with until I am happy with them.

  • Share the Writing

  • Again, this seems fairly self-evident. You are writing fic that is going to be shared with the RP circle. Before this RP makes its grand debut on your guild or realm forum, have someone else you trust go over it. In other words:

  • Get an editor
  • Before you share your work with the entire circle, getting another pair of eyes to look at the Fic can make a huge difference. Have your friend critique not just for grammar and style, but for content. Someone who knows the voices of the other characters may have additional insights that you either didn’t know or didn’t convey properly. An editor can even help clarify bits of complicated Lore or help you stay true to internal continuity–those stories already written by other guildies.

    The hard part here is actually listening to what they have to say to you. If your friend says, “this doesn’t make sense” then listen to their concerns. It could be you need to change verb tense or stay with a consistent point of view. It could be that the scene you wrote, while perfectly executed in your head, is missing a connection for your readers. You do not have complete control over what you readers take away from your text. But you can give your readers a pretty clear path to follow.

    But editing is not just supposed to be all, “Fix this.” Editing also includes compliments. Some of us, myself included, cannot take a compliment well. We dismiss what we write for any number of reasons. When we give our Fic over to someone to edit we should listen to everything they have to say, especially the compliments.

    Writing Fic is just as collaborative as RP. It is just slightly more demanding that traditional MMO RP or table top RP. In Fic we still figure out how our characters solve particular dilemmas, get into wonderfully graphic fights, finish long quest chains and discover something new about our game world. Our platform just happens to be a word processor, not the game client. The loot table from Fic, however, is so much more rewarding than anything dropped in an encounter. The pretty purple pixels you get or the shiny new mount is incredibly fun, but the story you craft cannot be nerfed in the next game patch nor will it be made obsolete when the next big expansion drops.

    As always, I am interested in hearing how other people write their Fic. Please, fill us in on your writing process, how you edit your fic or what you listen to while writing! Please share! See, I’ve got this other story I’m working on and I need a push in the right direction…


    3 Comments

    Sorcha on October 1, 2009 at 8:40 pm.

    “the story you craft cannot be nerfed in the next game patch nor will it be made obsolete when the next big expansion drops.”

    Tell that to my gnome warlock who just completed a long, complicated bit of fic/RP about why she has to stay in warlock school and cannot become a priest.

    Bricu on October 1, 2009 at 11:42 pm.

    Dear Sorcha’s Gnome:

    Sorcha asked me to tell you why your fic cannot be nerfed, even though in 3.0 you can become a priest.

    I don’t know the details of your growth and decision of why you cannot become a priest; however, people backtrack and revisit decisions all the time. Being told that you cannot become a priest NOW does not mean that shortly after launch you can secretly begin training in the Priesthood. Does that detract from your Fic? I don’t believe it does. It does show how things can change. Even for gnomes who want to be priests.

    Rollandren on October 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm.

    There is one key thing that is often overlooked. Do NOT look at the whole project you are working on when you are starting to work. This is especially true when you start writing larger pieces, short stories and such. Some look at the big picture is necessary, but staring at it too long tends to unhinge your mind and make you lose focus on where it needs to be, the scene in front of you. Breaking the project into smaller chunks also makes it far more manageable from a time standpoint.

    Personally, I tend to gladly write down an SFD (with due credit to Ann Lamont) the first night I’m writing a scene. I go to sleep, then the next time I’m writing I look at it after I’ve completely cleared my mind of the clutter built up from the previous night. Then I end up changing most of what was in said first draft.

    It seems redundant, but it truly makes your piece better than if you did it all in one go. Most pieces I write tend to go through several revisions after this, sometimes after getting edits from someone else. It’s a fact that’s lost on most people that the vast majority of writing is spent revising something you’ve already written.