FICTION WRITING OPTIONS, PITFALLS                                   
And Marketing of Online communities      

 

An anatomy, taxonomy and failure analysis of collaborative badfic, in life context
The Tail Wags the Dog
  Greasy kid stuff
                     “Never mistake movement for action...
a rocking horse moves; a race horse charges towards a goal.”                     
                 ― Johnnie Dent Jr. 

We're lost, but we're making good time."  — Yogi Berra

 

 

 

 

 

Q. What is Interactivity anyway? 

A. Interactivity is one of the most effective ways of engaging site visitors even into The Economies of Online Cooperation wherein:

...as remarkable as the products of online cooperation and collaboration have been, it may be that for the most part we have been picking the “lowest hanging fruit” – supplying interesting digital goods that can be provided by single individuals while ignoring duller, more complex, but no less useful public goods. I do not mean to slight the benefits that online interaction has brought, and further advances in hardware, software, and connectivity may reduce the cost of producing public goods still further and create new “low-hanging fruit.” Nevertheless, it is crucial to avoid an empty-headed extrapolation from current success to utopian visions of fully cooperative communities.
 
[Low-Hanging Fruit, noun. An actual or only deceptively perceived excellent short-term opportunity.]

-All to often unripe and burdensome-

...and, given such blithely ersatz, mediocre and shabby satisfice, resignation to making do with unaware incompetence, worse, as we shall discover, where lurk the deadly stumbling blocks to optimal learning and growth, the snares of TOTALITARIAN INTERACTIVITY, bogus alternatives, behaviorally structured options and protocols imposed so as to seem free and at one with the user's own thought process, impoverished of real decision or responsibility, are hardly exclusive to the Internet or even automation in general, but the sheer irrelevance of age old spectacle, illusions to be consumed. 

And precisely such is one of the major problems even in sustaining serious conversation online at all! The helplessness beyond what has been so rightly decried as the behaviorally structured bogus alternatives of TOTALITARIAN INTERACTIVITY masquerading as the dubious free choice of one's own already presumably somewhat uncritical thinking, and the demand only for the lowest hanging fruit of online interaction instead of any savvy quality human remote collaboration.

 

Q. What is Instant Messaging?

A. Chat or Instant Messaging usually refers to real time text communication, private one to one or often in groups, even though now a days real time voice communication Online is a common option, not to mention via telephone. And the wild popularity, vapidity and notorious moronic semi-literacy of text chat vapid small talk, surely qualifies as the least palatable or nutritious of low hanging fruit!

Either the effort at communication is taxing or else the difficulty of both keeping pace and spewing forth anything even semi-intelligible typically reduces the exchange to a moron level. This is simply because, especially if one is no speed typist, the perfectly Orwellian dumb-down medium of real time text chat embodies the very worst of all possible worlds, with neither the spontaneity and and non verbal cues of face to face encounters, video conferencing or whatever ordinary real time voice communications, nor the time and facility to compose ones thoughts as in asynchronous text communication via email or electronic message posting boards. Text chat, Instant Messaging, is entirely unfit for any use beyond as originally intended, the quick reminder or brief interruption.

Unfortunately, instant messaging, real time text chat is often an integral component of many other Online interactions, particularly computer mediated RPG of one sort or another, and other thereby even further impoverished online role-play.

 

Q. What is the crucial importance of posting conventions?

A. Quality interactivity online generally still depends upon asynchronous text communication, private or public response to previous private or public messages by others, often excerpted or quoted for context.

The revolutionary quick turn around of electronic asynchronous text communication makes unprecedented actual conversation in typed correspondence possible!

But for any in depth exchange or Dialectic, a very important aspect of quoting never to be underestimated, is how the quotes should indicate what sections or points of a message that any given remark replies to. Often there may be certain response to some sections or points of a message, and distinct other responses to about other sections or points even of the same message. And it will be crucial to see, readily, which response pertains to which point, in order to make much sense of any of it.

And the best way to convey all contextual connections clearly and distinctly, is to quote a little bit, interject some comments, quote some more, and then interject some comments specifically to that as well, and so on. Each answer in turn, follows the same method, and an entire written conversation unfolds, point by point, iteration by iteration.

Quotes should be indicated, automatically, by your email software or service, by a character at the beginning of each line, usually a '>' (greater than) sign or chevron, the right angle bracket or right brocket, in bare plain text, or by a blue bar in html that supports colors, sizes and fonts, etc.. or on some forums, by a range of different indications such indentation of the text. Thus, with each iteration, another such indicator is added at the beginning of the line, so that chronological order as well as intended sequitur will always be clearly indicated as the conversation proceeds.

These principles of the quoting conventions handed down from Usenet, even back from the days of Arpanet, are still applicable in any mode of asynchronous text communication, electronic forums, message posting boards, list servers, egroups, and email, etc. and allow the end user to meaningfully participate in the structuring of interaction, rather than finding oneself thereby manipulated, enslaved or hamstrung.

The advantages of Usenet’s quoting conventions
correctly and with proper attribution
or: What do you mean "my reply is upside-down" ?
Bottom vs. top posting and quotation style on Usenet
Writing Conversation: Analysis of email Speech Events
 

PS. Also please always be sure to include citation of the full URL web address, a clickable hyperlink to any discrete materials or resources on the Web as ever comes to be referenced in discussion. 

 

Q. What is an Online writing community? 

A. An Online writing community is the electronic interaction of different people (some engaged in writing activity and discussion, and other spectators "lurking"), to keep visitors to the sight returning to participate in public and private asynchronous text communication, reading and respond to new contributions, story additions, revisions, and modifications, and electronic message bulletin board discussion posts. 

There are reading communities for the appreciation of various literature or Media. And there are also communities centered upon writing as an activity. Some writing communities simply exchange comment upon the work of individual participants, and others actually feature writing collaboration. While on yet other forums, writers, successful or aspiring, simply talk shop.

But all this is strictly definition from cultural interaction, with no mind to any particular goals ever put forth, priorities and motivations beyond that, all of which vary widely from person to person.

Indeed, more serious Online writer's groups are distinguished by the exchange of candid critique as the entire point of seeking useful comment in the first place, while, to the opposite extreme, in many other frankly phony Online writer's groups, all such is anathema, the expectation, one way or another, being of only the exchange of unconditional praise and encouragement, stroking, or unfocussed conversation listening, reverentially, to an authoritative speaker. And sometimes people post to various Online forums to advertise seeking out prospective writing partners according to their own needs as they best perceive them. 

And this is why partnerships and communities, Online or Offline,  for writing or anything else, like any other successful relationship or immediate social networks, may be best facilitated by personality profiling and matching for compatibility. Speaking of lofty Utopian visions from lowering ever more bountiful metaphorical branches such as bear more and better proverbial fruit, the function as proposed of future interaction on the frontiers of advanced automated Sociometry.  

Because user satisfaction may very much depend not only upon the ease of use, flexibility, and structure of the website and tools, but also upon the flexibility and sophisticated transparency of hither to rigid and controlling computerized mediation, and then upon human factors including compatibility of interactivity partners, expectations in common, and good forum moderation. Or to put it another way, avoiding incompatible interactivity partners, cross purposes, and dispensing with heavy handed forum moderation

Reading and writing communities may also subdivide for particular genres, interests and other preferences, which will also be subject of profiling on the frontiers of advanced automated Sociometry. Genres ranging from Historical Romance and Comedy to Action-Adventure, not to mention Science Fiction and fanfic, as in the demo collaborative writing communities here on this website.

 

Q. If the open ongoing common projects showcased here are only a partial demo, then how is the proposed webpromotion in it's entirety conceived? 

A. Click here to read the proposal

 

Q. What is the importance of honestly bad writing? 

A. Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.
There is no shame in being a beginner.

The Online writer's brainstorming community on this website is intended to challenge anyone even up to the most accomplished authors and also to accommodate any one down to the least developed beginner, even no matter how naively badBut any such real progress towards relevance may be categorized as residing just above and beyond the easy seduction of the low hanging fruit or most minimal aspiration, instead demanding extended reach and effort, and even then, with something of a bite to the immature palate.

In short, one way or another, one must write badly to start with, in order to ever learn to write well. 

More over, it will always be a measure of dissatisfaction that motivates and guides the ongoing further progress even of the most accomplished writing master, let alone the beginner or rankest armature. And what is required for just such enduring dissatisfaction is, first of all, the challenge of an at all difficult writing standard or motivated goals ever put forth, and a tolerance in order to actually harness insecurity productively as real life motivation to creativity that is sometimes called creative tension.

Thus, honestly bad writing is crucial, even indispensable, developmentally, as is any vision whatsoever, ambitious enough for the risk of failure.

All too often, one of the greatest sore points, but nevertheless most crucial of criticism remains the fundamentals of fiction writingIt is no accident that a FAQ on fiction writing fundamentals, an How-To, accompanies a FAQ concerned with the importance of the free exchange of critical thinking in writing collaboration

 

Remember the time honored maxim:
Writing is rewriting
,
helpful INVOLVEMENT, ongoing rounds of editing and revision of prose, one's own or for anyone else,
and never a waste of time!    
 

Less is more: "Leave out the bits that people just skip ahead."  — Elmore Leonard

 
Come late and leave early. Edit!  In the immortal words of Alfred Hitchcock:  "Drama is life with the dull parts cut out." An efficient scene should be entered as late in the action as possible, and then transition to the next scene just as soon as everything crucial is revealed or has transpired. Otherwise, there had better be any purpose either in building up before hand or lingering on afterward. Whatever motivation establishing conflict on every level with pathos in fight scenes needs must come before hand and even such crucial exposition and background information as the terrain is best established immediately before a chase sequence, usually lacking dialogue unless it's short and clipped.
 
“I'm sorry. If I’d more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
-Marcus T. Cicero

 

 

Q. What is the obstacle of belabored obsessional self-indulgent writing? 

“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one you have.”  Van Oech

A. First of all, "Writing comes more easily if you have something to say." to quote Sholem Asch. True self expression, not the self indulgence of silly obsession, bogus validation by phony self definition. Indeed, true artistic integrity often means cleaving to the more difficult challenge, far from being being half-assed, lackadaisical or indifferent. And the best criticism no mater how harsh and frank, nevertheless seeks to fathom and to abet genuine authorial intent.

Naively bad fiction tends to be utterly childish, bereft of plausibility, specificity, theme, coherence and especially of characterization even remotely convincing or motivated despite superficial details, if any, however extraneous, nor concept whatsoever of pacing or direction; daydreaming faithfully transcribed, driven by the desire of imagination to transcend experience but falling into the trap of self indulgent failure of evocation from inner life, exemplifying the classic Zen mischief, the irrelevance of repetition, partaking not of lost bygone inspiration: Alas, you had to be there. And, as will be seen, the same principle may readily apply in shared experience including imaginative exchange no less than private inner life, hence to collective authorial ineptitude no less than individual.

Creativity, however inspired, is well known actually to benefit optimally from the limitation, definition and focus provided by pertinent relevant knowledge and skill to whatever purpose in mind. But entrenched ignorance engenders arbitrarily stifled creativity together with a deadly lack of productive focus.

Any genuine, relevant and abiding interest, talent or proficiency entails the desire and expectation of improvement over time. But Narcissistic wanna-be writers inexpert in anything except whatever their own personal or shared assumptions and idiosyncrasies, and who are not merely naively bad, but who have culturally absorbed or simply confabulated actual techniques of atrocious writing,  can be tenacious in their insipid mimesis of entrenched irrelevance, and actively hostile to improvement. 

Such is the peril of a stagnant reactionary normative closed system of thinking such as is characterized by the dishonesty of immersion and fixation in doubtless inner conflicted superficial triviality, focus shifted from the external results to be achieved or produced, to a rut of inner life, accruing naught but status quo bereft of relevant purpose, increasingly fixated if anything, only with the refinement of inner forms and procedures.

And a few such over all categories of travesty, as well as some better alternatives, are catalogued here in this very FAQ concerning the various known collaborative writing formats. 

Such is the self satisfied sheer fantasy of writing, the entrenched denial in the empty mimesis of writing, rather than actually doing it or even merely pretending, harmlessly. Because genuine authorship must certainly be concerned with the end product without endlessly lying to oneself and then co-validating. Growth emerging from the most ingeniously bad writing must focus, first of all, upon ongoing improvement of that output, however initially execrable

Anything worth doing is worth the learning curve of doing it badly, first, requiring of the author themselves the real true to life character development entailed in any dawning awareness and concern with what one creates, not merely enamor with the act, or worse, false enactment, mimesis of creation and the dead end fantasy of only going endlessly through the motions of solemn and empty pompous pretense, the motivation for which and obstacle to creativity being introversion, insecurity and entrenched denial, often reinforced by group validation, insularity and hostility to change.

Of course, by all means, it should be acknowledged, most emphatically, that there are also many who at least are honest about writing as entirely diversionary, and well entertained, even with little regard what so ever for the output at all, much less it's readable quality. 

Thus, nor can such take criticism badly, having little false expectation to begin with. For such is to seek out a care free pass time, not a self absorbed and cult-like co-validating delusion. 

Indeed, the notably successful Prosebush Collaborative Fiction Community was created by cheerfully inept and openly half-assed writing dilatants, overbooked Yuppies without the spare time and drive required for any actual growth in fiction writing proficiency, for the express purpose of facilitating the sheer diversion of hurried and indifferently unskilled and uninspired fiction writing, Online. 

With so wide a range of writing temperament and purpose, online writing communities must vary to meet the range very different needs. One shudders to think that even pompous obsessional self-indulgent writing can be, is, and, from a marketing and compatibility standpoint, even perhaps should be, frequently pandered to. 

But the demo forums on this site, of unfinished fiction, by contrast, does seek to encourage writers to care at all about the fiction writing fundamentals, and to brainstorm collaboratively, which is a powerful tool of creative flow that is ultimately perhaps the most entertaining way to socialize with one's pants on

 

Beware the cult of the amateur!

Indeed, it is one thing to strive to raise literacy from merely a learning facility to an at all competent actively creative facility for the masses, and quite another to level the playing field and lower the bar in order to pretentiously elevate utterly unimaginative soon forgotten ubiquitous and gravely illiterate pabulum. There has been true accomplishment even in the most amateur arena of fiction writing, namely: fanfic, worthy of celebration and memory, and then there is the riptide of interchangeable sycophantic ejaculation and reach around, often supported by entire well organized social networks and some truly impressive webgraphic representation! Sturgeon's law states the ninety-five percent of everything is crap! How true. Alas, that applies even for the very filters that ought cultivate quality and bring it to light rather than actively ruling it out.
 
Q. What are the common dangers of poorly defined irrelevant obsession with unquestioned arbitrary procedure?
malagenda:
second degree pipedream and dishonestly heteronymous taboo upon agenda discussion  
 
Beware of Skilled Incompetence, dishonestly gutless executives marshalling information Inductively, and thus avoiding any relevant productive outcome of controversy or conflict on any level, and never changing the course of action, ever bending to malagenda and the predisposition to heteronymous Cohesion-Norms of Groupthink teamtraps!
 
Reframing denotes the alteration of the context or representation of a problem. Reframing sympathetically and insightfully for greater relevance facilitates creative problem solving, while typical domineering bureaucratic reframing for increased irrelevance or to ulterior agenda amounts to obsessive and obnoxious sabotage.

 

“Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight." Thomas Carlyle

 
"Never confuse movement with action." Ernest Hemingway
 
"... a rocking horse moves; a race horse charges towards a goal.” ― Johnnie Dent Jr

 

“We're lost, but we're making good time."  — Yogi Berra

 

A. The substance beyond mere form, resides in dynamic and flexible social engineering principles, honest personal autonomy, good sportsmanship and responsible values of rational democratic progress are systematic doubt, hope in the honest embrace of fallibility and tolerance for uncertainty, substantive discourse, debate of disputes, criticism without punishment and no insult taken, free inquiry into problems openly and publicly without fear of punishment, indeed, imagination, open unfounded speculation about different case scenarios pursuant to any number of varied and different proposed measures, without need of conforming or in any way limiting said speculations to any accepted quasi-official position.

The very values and aptitudes ever fostered in brainstorming fiction!

And all pursuant to experiment, trial and error, the vital opportunity for all manner of ongoing reevaluation and revision, open ended correction of mistakes and improvement at all levels, piecemeal, without bloodshed, violence or even strife as such.

Indeed, a key feature of serious conversation is agenda. Moving from the abstract and general, to the concrete and particular, characteristics of agenda are questioning open endedness, the practice of criticism and controversy, strategic planning into expanding collaborative action. Agenda is therefore taboo. In any bureaucracy, especially as in any way influenced by or affiliated to what passes for education, if call to agenda cannot simply be ignored or condemned, they will typically be countered with call for compromise in the name of convention and sensitivity, all amounting to the heteronymous annihilation of all the aforementioned responsible and liberating characteristics of agenda.

For happiness, Epicurus espoused freedom, friendship and thought. Indeed: Happy people talk more seriously together, freely, and with less small talk. Because otherwise, to quote Olmstead: “After all is said and done, much is said and little is done.” And to quote Benjamin Disraeli: "Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”  Indeed, one feature of serious conversation is agenda. Moving from the abstract and general, to the concrete and particular, characteristics of agenda are questioning open endedness, the practice of criticism and controversy, strategic planning into expanding collaborative action. Agenda is therefore taboo. In any bureaucracy, especially as in any way influenced by or affiliated to what passes for education, if calls to agenda cannot simply be ignored or condemned, they will typically be countered with call for compromise in the name of convention and sensitivity, all amounting to the heteronymous annihilation of all the aforementioned responsible and liberating characteristics of agenda.

But the aimless lack of any genuine agenda, agenda always meaning by necessity an agenda always open to question and scrutiny, undermines many a professed motivating goals ever put forth, individual or collective. With foresight and due diligence, there can be management by agenda, with not only clear objectives identified, but also the required actions to reach those objectives then carried out, indeed, foreseeable problems and opportunities anticipated and the means to respond prepared and standing by well in advance. All far more efficient and less stressful than management by crisis, the examination and response to problems only after they arise insistently and can no longer be ignored, nevertheless perhaps better than no management at all.

But even no management at all is still far better than Malagenda outright: 

Such is the peril of a stagnant reactionary normative closed system, focus shifted from the external results to be achieved or produced, to the processes created within; status quo bereft of relevant purpose, increasingly fixated if anything, only with the refinement of internal forms and procedures, concentrating on whatever pointless technical matters rather than any real strategic concerns, much less whatever crucial logistics.

Perhaps worst among pipedreaming malagenas, are Moralism and Utopism, being the doctrine that responsibility is impossible save in the lights of perfect (or justified) knowledge of whatever ultimate truth and/or towards whatever ultimate good (to which of course, the ends ever justify the means), responsibility is impossible. Thus by promising the impossible and the unnecessary, do high-minded scoundrels ever evade even the most minimum and ordinary of obligations and pedestrian expectations of minimal responsibility to which private citizens, service providers and public officials are held accountable under democratic civility and the rule of law.. -By entirely removing responsibility from foreseeable consequence, into a realm of perfect and pure abstraction. Such mad and dangerous Utopist thinking remains entirely distinct from what is simply Utopian merely in terms of even laudably embracing high ideals or altruistic ambitions without the madness of Utopist ideology.  

But case in point for creative writing of fiction: the true agenda for fiction writing is generally defined in the elements of stories, the fundamentals of the fiction writing craft or not at all. Because whatever projects envisaged and  undertaken, in print or media of whatever sort, will first hinge upon the quality of the writing. While the very finest performances have actually overcome outright bad writing, that never holds even for the very highest production values.

In the alternative, setting one decision or task and then simply moving on to the next without so much as a backward glance, gives some groups of people the predictability and false satisfaction of getting pointless make work done, feigning unity by speaking and doing everything homogeneously. But such flagrant abrogation of responsibility rules out responsibility and interest, namely, critical, autonomous, active engagement in interesting problems, from which derives all flexibility, cogent criticism, error checking, inspiration, competency and creativity. Or there are more overt do-nothings,
pandering to collective paralysis by the sugar coated sham of bogus emotional support so vexing to any serious aspiring writer in search for substantive feedback of genuine critique.

Indeed, originality, creativity, competence and quality are often proportional to ongoing revision, both the radical overhaul and in attention to detail, polish. Especially as regards fiction writing collaboration in particular, the more linear the process, the more soullessly hack or just mindlessly incompetent and the less inspired, creative and proficient the result, *even though, the end product, a story with beginning, middle and end, usually does need to be linear in that respect just of coherence*. Such is the prevailing malaise of control freaks, helpless toadyism, co-validation, over self-estimation, unaware relative incompetence, inflexibility, tendency towards fixation, denial and the fear of individual dissent and unsettling instability, even in any sheer creative discourse for art's sake, such as fiction writing, let alone actual practical decision making and planning action. All far too serious, yet not serious enough.

And there are worse things, such as Instant Messenger culture and the growing impatient rejection of literacy and any effort at depth and coherence whatsoever and, even worse still, the sheer unrestrained irrelevant hostility of the deplorable practice of flaming, all malicious noise and no signal, often vented by Sadistic bullies at any vulnerable targets of opportunity, but also no less often directed against any attempt whatsoever at responsible criticism and creativity. Hence, the identification of conflict on any level, even controversy with strife tends to be self-fulfillingly hostile. Likewise, any passive hostile refusal to cooperate at all with dissenters renders self-fulfilling the notion that dissent undermines cooperation completely.

Often the problem stemming from any misconceived need for any declared firm foundation whatsoever, begins with the autocratic unveiling and hyping of a weak, hack, arbitrary ultra-derivative, formulaic and clichéd series premise that must be adhered to dictatorially, rather than first being properly developed into anything more interesting and compelling. Alas, such an initial concept in it's relative simplicity, might even be helpful only first presented as an unfounded provisional starting point open to extensive and radical ongoing revision. In short, the flaw already by Act One, unaddressed, is "Act Zero". And, anyhow, under such conditions, the individual stories will tend to be no less prosaic at best, or much more competent. But even if they are, that will be despite, not because, of whatever initial premise or concept, not to mention the working environment.

All these are faults common to so many of the variant procedures of collaboration, all so vastly inferior to free-wheeling brainstorming and related creativity techniques, because the constraints of Conformism aimed only at social cohesion arbitrarily as top priority, tend to be so vastly inferior to those of informed Critical Preference including the fundamentals, the discipline of the fiction writing craft.

Creativity, however inspired, is well known actually to benefit optimally from the limitation, definition and focus provided by pertinent relevant knowledge and skill to whatever purpose in mind. But entrenched ignorance engenders arbitrarily stifled creativity together with a deadly lack of constructive focus.

"History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." — Abba Eban

 

Q. What malagenda currently most threatens Science Fiction Fandom?

A. Science Fiction is by very nature expansive and broad in it's scope of exploration. Indeed, by comparison, Asimov hilariously denounced the mainstream as "quaint!" But is the proverbial shoe now somehow migrated onto the other metaphorical foot?

Many people tend to define themselves by their habits and affiliations. And Science Fiction Fandom is a fan subculture and community of interest in Science Fiction and related fields, existing in support of such affiliation of common preference and concern, with a history and tradition. Fandom expresses itself socially by Fanac (amateur creative activity), but principally by communication, fanzine publication and gathering, fan clubs and particularly regular Cons, conventions.

Now, when it comes, for example, to the plays of Shakespeare, there never been any great divide between letters and media. Shakespeare's famous plays where always intended for performance, and so, in the modern era, fine movie adaptations have proceeded as a matter of common sense. The organic connection has remained too obvious to bear mention!

Alas, as an example of badly defined malagenda indeed! in every other context, there has always been a tendency, however silly, towards cultural tension between letters and folk and later pop culture, between literature and whatever popular media. And this very monist mentality at it's most hostile, has long and catastrophically misguided the campaign for Science Fiction literacy.

Never mind that great authors are myth and media savvy, or that notable TV and film makers and are highly literate. And, while there is certainly also by far nastier discord as well in Fandom,  it is readily apparent as the "book Nazis" grow ever more snobbish, successive generations of Science Fiction media aficionados will only grow ever more blithely illiterate. Even the Worldcon, the once massive annual World Science Fiction convention, is consciously downsizing while Animecon, a major Science Fiction media convention, attendance swells and throngs, the Animecon convention committee facing the challenge and making their own bone-headed mistakes, reinventing the wheel, simply because they didn't even know about the old hands, as at Worldcon, to consult for long expertise in running conventions! Thus, by their very insularity and cavalier divisiveness, those most accomplished and respected abrogate their seniority in the community, needlessly and foolishly.

Another sad truth is that paperback books, kept in steady supply and quick rotation on the wire racks at retail outlets, are thereby pressed into as vast a wasteland of sheer pabulum as ever was TV Land. And so, beyond the great classics of Science Fiction, exactly what sort of living culture do the literary snobs defend? Why, one should hope, likewise, the diamonds amid the effluence, in accordance with Sturgeons Law. (That, not by any means just pulp Science Fiction, but 95% of everything is utter shit!) Indeed, as snobbish convention downsizing, infighting and outfighting ensue, the much vaunted literary programming, rather than becoming in any way somehow rarified or elevated by any vaunted purge from whatever media fringe distraction, actually declines sharply in intellect, quality and vitality, instead  fawning on the best seller list and headlining cheap shot star authors. How, then, shall the best of the realm of letters ever be promoted out from obscurity and brought to light even for whatever tightest "truefan" core group, much less for any well deserved wider Fandom or general audience?

Never mind inane SMOFs (the so called Secret Masters of Fandom, deeply involved and entrenched in running the major established conventions) patting themselves on the back for having discovered Buffy ('Buffy the Vampire Slayer', Joss Whedon's highly popular and successful television offering of unusual subtly and invention). Leave us not overlook the significance of Anime (or Japanimation, a broad range of animated fare from Japan), the output of a foreign modern culture that has succeeded where we have failed here in the West, in cultivating channels to market colorful Science Fiction and Fantasy more diversely.

The future outlook of Fandom is decidedly bleak in the hands of chronically profligate and snobbish conservatives who typically spurn any meaningful conservation. Because living culture is known and understood to depend upon population. Hence, rather than splintering ever further, if a bridge will not be quickly reforged, if not to bring the masses and young back from whatever specialized fringes into a broader range of interests of some sort of center in Fandom and well informed appreciation of Science Fiction, in al of it's breadth, scope and manifestation, even by bringing the mountain to Mohamed, by such a stunning reversal of decades of practice, as to actually establish broad, strong and dynamically appealing Science Fiction literary programming even and especially at Animecon and the like, then Fandom is committing a cozy suicide, busy SMOFs bureaucratically erecting institutions to be as reviled, forgotten and neglected as public school, likewise dooming the transmission of education and undermining any hope of the preservation of culture.

Just in case anyone still cares.  

 

Q. What are the pros and cons
                             of "Rounders" and branching Cyberfiction? 

A. "Rounders" and Cyberfiction tend to be less about working closely in tandem than about simply taking turns. 

A Writer's Round Table Round Robin, or "add-on story," had better be light and simple enough for inspired off-the-cuff response. 

Indeed, some variants limit the length of a post, even to a single line or word, and the frequency of posts, within a given interval of time, typically, a day. Just to keep the the interaction simple, brisk and challenging. 

Because any complexity will require overbearing editorial foresight that will tend to kill spontaneity. -And without actually making the work any more coherent, just anally retentive yet without purposeful direction, poorly planned if at all. Not unless criticism is solicited and valued, story editing and revision actually permitted and facilitated. Otherwise, Rounders/add-on stories are the epitome of mindless tradition, each word once writ, forever cast in stone, failing to evolve.  Or else, at the other extreme, some online peer groups actually seem to treat Rounders/add-on stories much as chat rooms, dropping and entirely forgetting all plot logic and continuity as they go!  Either way, meaning, motivation and characterization are typically spurned by the wayside.

By distinction, Cyberfictions, in any range and variety of genres and interests, are interactive stories, such that readers, Online, can freely choose their own path through the narrative, and can also add their own passages, either freely choosing or creating alternative plot directions or sellecting which character to follow or author through the same continuity.

Also consider The Mahoney Project and peruse the listing of interactive story CGI scripts.

Cyberfiction branching story's can make for an entertaining Online community writing pass time. But for any sort of quality output, likewise, they also can't get too deep, and, even so, the best ones, such as Curt Siffert's Storysprawl, facilitate extensive consultation and rewriting of the chapters and even modifying their interconnection for the sake of continuity revision and plot development. The software has also been adapted for use by one of the majors,.

The medium of the wiki, traditionally employed for continually evolving, refined and updated publicly shared information resources online, also encourages collective rewriting, even for add-on fanfic. The wiki has even given rise to the open source novel. And without version and change tracking, just the opposite to slapdash add-on chapters immutably writ forever in stone, the open source novel, may be said to be writ in sand, subject to whim of one and all. Indeed, "the medium is the message!"

And formal education is ever in search of "foundation," so called, to put a stop to just that!

A scholastic variant of the add-on story is iAdventure, wherein an online team literary and background research process is emphasized, aimed at problem solving and decision making within the context of the story to overcome obstacles and mitigate plot complication, precedes the authorship of branching chapters. While giving lip service to creativity and self directed study, iAdventure offers educators the opportunity to contrive even somewhat RPG like puzzles to lead and completely plan to death any learning experience, and help crush individual initiative for yet another generation.

The salient lesson is that even though a finished plot must generally be linear, in the activity of fiction writing the process of plotting probably should not be.

Rather, it is best to arrange and rearrange the story components one has, in order to then understand the implications and fill in the blanks, perhaps by brainstorming.

Editing is everything! And any effective impediment thereto, is, indeed, procedurally deadly to any prose, let alone fiction. Nor, indeed, has anyone truly vested heart and soul that never struggled with continual rewrites, regardless how unduly touchy as the most half-baked and trifling dilettantes can get, at once too serious and yet not serious enough.

As with any whatever mode of collaboration, to whatever extent that participation is allowed or encouraged to the public at large, especially Online, Cyberfiction optionally be practiced as copylefted Open Source Fiction unless all rights of participants are simply surrendered to the forum host for legal convenience. But Rounders/add-on stories on posting forums, however, are seldom so mindful, one way or the other.

 

Q. What is "writing by committee"? 

A. In the words of Toni Morison: “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”  As Eve Tushnet points out in Eros and Education, even sexual passion is but an expression of Eros, more than the quest for completion and transformation, the oft frustrated desire for connection, for union with alien difference that must inevitably come into conflict on every level, with any Xenophobic dread of the vulnerability entailed.

But "A union in which one partner [or unloved idea] is not vulnerable is an invasion; if neither partner submits, it is an armed truce. [And] Neither of these experiences frees us from the tyranny [and intrinsic loneliness of self involved banality and cliché]." 

"Writing by committee" is a derision applied to bureaucratic domineering phobic and stifling consensus procedures (another stagnant reactionary normative closed system, focus shifted from the external results to be achieved or produced, to the processes created within; status quo bereft of relevant purpose, increasingly fixated if anything, only with the refinement of internal forms and procedures), particularly in script writing, by jaded hack pros or vapid adulating fanboy wanna-bees alike. The most inept of which may also include or incorporate standard autocratic editorial selection processes or even routine sweatshop piece work of one kind or another! The end result of which may be the blandest and silliest common denominator rather the most improved and spiciest mix. A frustrating experience for creative people, also shortchanging any audience or readership. -Much as all this may perversely appeal to entirely different social needs and priorities, for which creative autonomy is so eagerly sacrificed. 

In fairness, it only makes sense to emulate the practices of the successful. But successful at what? Tasteless and callow imitation of sweatshops grinding out pabulum only generates imitation pabulum! And a defective substandard imitation at that, unless even the minimal prerequisite skill sets of professionalism are at all considered, much less literary quality. On the contrary, far better to inspire the novice writer is to know and recognize sheer crap for what it is and to hope, surely, that I can author better than such sheer crap!

And to that end, the open and ongoing Online workshops at this site are not on any schedule, nor committed to any marketing target, only to the glorious freedom and dedication of writing for it's own sake, practicing, improving and learning our craft. We should ever be so lucky to meet with such professional opportunity as may entail ever confronting "real world" demands, target demographics, schedules and deadlines! In the meantime, why (either blithe suppositionally or in excruciatingly researched detail!) simulate or reinvent the proverbial "rat race"? 

Surely, such is magical thinking to motivate that sort of mindless imitation, bringing to mind the Cargo Cults and Voguing! Or why else put the cart so far before the horse? First be a writer! Otherwise, what is the point? 

Frankly, real professional writers, to begin with, may become tiresome enough talking shop all the time about selling manuscripts. nevertheless, they certainly know the difference between the creative process and the biz! -Let alone the realities and fantasies either thereof. 

 

Q. But without any sort of structure?
                  And where does action ever emerge from discourse? 
 
A. First of all, what is meant here by "action" and why is it important?
                  Fiction writing, after all, is discourse and not action. 

However, it may be added that in such collaboration that proceeds out of brainstorming, the authors need only kick a document back and forth until it steadily becomes more finished. For writing, especially fiction, that well suffices. And needless structure only becomes stifling. 

By contrast, even proposal writing for such more complicated undertakings as entrepreneurial early stage business start-ups and initiatives of political activism do very badly need operational structure. And ignoring or denying that need dooms even bold inspiration into pipe dream. For even great visions may remain still born for want of crucial logistical expertise. 

Creativity, however inspired, is well known actually to benefit optimally from the limitation, definition and focus provided by pertinent relevant knowledge and skill to whatever purpose in mind. But entrenched ignorance engenders arbitrarily stifled creativity together with a deadly lack of constructive focus.

All in all, grandiose organizational structure is easiest when least needful. Meanwhile the only freedom of imagination that comes to such megalomania is just wishful thinking and denial, rather than creativity and problem solving.  For such are closed systems, status quo bereft of relevant purpose, increasingly concerned if anything, only with the refinement of their own internal forms and processes, concentrating on whatever pointless technical matters rather than any real strategic concerns, much less whatever crucial logistics.

Although, certainly, any concrete planning and action must pass beyond the scope of brainstorming alone, in an integrative open system, continually reinventing it's own form and processes in the pursuit of it's purpose relevant to the outside world.

 

Q. What is so wrong with simply taking polls to make collective decisions in fiction writing? 

A. One ubiquitous misapplication of Online forum technology to blithely inept writing by consensus committee has been the practice of electoral process in polls on options in the creation of new series concepts. And this offers a distressing civics lesson well illustrating the very failures of politics among the uneducated and uninformed politicians and voters such as continually refuel frustrated and disgusted perennial antidemocratic sentiment. 

Because, usually the very questions are arbitrary and pointless, and the suggestions unimaginative. But even, however rarely, when dealing with decisions of any importance, or in fiction writing, questions of dramatic moment, and, wonder of wonder, in any sensible plot or premise context, nevertheless discussion to the point still tends to be pointless expression of position and preference without reason or explanation, that remain genially arbitrary for wont of critical thinking grasping whatever principles to formulate any relevant or meaningful agenda, as, for example in the context of writing, those of drama in fiction. In other words, another example of how pro forma democracy will so often be rendered meaningless and futile, sans any focus upon whatever real valid issues and meaningful debate in terms thereupon, in this case any question of what might be more dramatic and why, so crucial to informing any more meaningful discourse. Of a system eclipsing it's own purpose, the rise of internal agenda instead of any motivating external goals ever put forth.  

Indeed, that is exactly why an able chairperson or facilitator, or in fiction some manner of appropriate supporting character, actually works to help keep minority views alive. -Exactly in order to forestall just such premature consensus. Controversies dramatize change meaningfully, often making a critical difference even in life–altering decisions in reality no less than in mere creative difference or in drama

But the unperturbed geniality often yearned for by lamentably so many  is simply antithetical to the vigor, clash and fire of inspiration so crucial to any sort of creative proficiency, not to mention true democracy.

Because the substance beyond mere form, the dynamic and flexible social engineering principles, personal autonomy, good sportsmanship and responsible values of rational democratic progress are systematic doubt, hope in the honest embrace of fallibility and tolerance for uncertainty, substantive discourse, debate of disputes, criticism without punishment and no insult taken, free inquiry into problems openly and publicly without fear of punishment, indeed, imagination, open unfounded speculation about different case scenarios pursuant to any number of varied and different proposed measures, without need of conforming or in any way limiting said speculations to any accepted quasi-official position.

The very values and aptitudes ever fostered in brainstorming fiction!

And all pursuant to experiment, trial and error, the vital opportunity for all manner of ongoing reevaluation and revision, open ended correction of mistakes and improvement at all levels, piecemeal, without bloodshed, violence or even strife as such.

     In short, what may be most fastidiously omitted, first and foremost,
                                                                                                 is Visioning to sharpen the focus

Such is the peril of a stagnant reactionary normative closed system, focus shifted from the external results to be achieved or produced, to the processes created within; status quo bereft of relevant purpose, increasingly fixated if anything, only with the refinement of internal forms and procedures, concentrating on whatever pointless technical matters rather than any real strategic concerns, much less whatever crucial logistics.

There is also the pitfall of putting the proverbial cart far before the metaphorical horse! Indeed, is every detail, premise unfolding? No, not at all. Rather it will more often be better to fill the details as the needs of the plot become clear. Writing is rewriting, ongoing revision. and never a waste of time!  

Alas, quality output and taste cannot be a priority in simply pandering to such a market of social expectation in blithely pointless rejection of relevance, in any context, let alone writing communities, particularly. In the alternative, however, there may also be implementation strategies to facilitate challenge and learning for the improvement of attitudes and awareness in a range of interactions.

To that application, personal growth and improved judgment is a hoped for benefit of usage of  future interaction on the frontiers of advanced automated Sociometry  that may even prove more competitive than currently feasible compromises and trade-offs. Indeed, questionnaires and advice, from the longitudinal data, may prove the more useful, in fiction writing as with other topics, when the cutting edge and democratizing future interaction on the frontiers of advanced automated Sociometry will become available. 

 

Q. What are the pitfalls in basing fanfic writing upon 'Star Trek' technical manuals and such the like?  

A. If even the coolest FX are no substitute for capable fiction writing, then neither are novelty blue prints!  See what I mean, fan-boy?

Real Science is of more substance and should be of concern in the writing Science Fiction than silly bogus picayune Treknology. They make that stuff up as ever needed, at Paramount, and so can we for Star Trek: The Ship of Fools. Just so long as the central points remain plausibly consistent. Real science, on the other hand, is generally far more worthy of actually cleaving to. 

 

Q. So, just what is it that differentiates timeless themes from deadly clichés? 

A. Browse: Star Trek Stinkers and Fear of Commitment 

                   
Q. What are the fundamental built in traps and limitations
of RPG and video gaming?  
 
Misguided simulation and the need for refocus.
Application and misapplication of role-play. Reinventing the wrong wheel and doing it badly.

SLOW CHILDRENA. Fantasy Role Playing Games and diversions are missing the mark where Improv has gone before. - How and why.

The istory system: "A set of mechanics which result in an aesthetically pleasing emergent storyline has not yet been designed, but I believe the use of plot-level simulation in a simulated game world could result in the emergence of unauthored stories." But not yet. Neither for individual nor tandem play.

The demands of RPG game play are the utilization of player characters streamlined to purpose, like unto the game tokens and figurines from whence they sprung in bastardization from impersonal table top war gaming, and likewise offering direct opportunity for player-strategy. While simulationism facilitates player character interaction within setting, with capabilities, outcomes, behavior patterns, and so forth, each to reinforce immersive experience for all, pandering to whatever vicarious satisfactions of triumph, daring do, treasure and wonders to behold.

Now, one might naively suppose that surely the excitement of strategy, daring do, together with the logic of meticulous detail in a realm of wonders, ought to make for a strong story, exactly as these factors will be involving for participation in game play. And yet nothing could be further from the truth! So, why does this recipe for drama which still seems so promising to it's legions of adherents fail so miserably? Because the hypothesis is patently false. And so, the relevant values of drama take short shrift, rejected, neglected and smothered by pandering to typically meaningless RPG mechanics mindless masturbation and empty complexity without real depth.

Perhaps all of this even embodies some sort of Narcissistic Conformist breakdown and revolt against the meaningful relationship needs expressed in drama and enacted in more spontaneous and relevant purposeful social interaction. Indeed, immersion and devious strategy are likewise the entire immersive involvement offered in soulless social climbing. Love is all you need! -Whatever love really means. But you'll never find it in a fist full of polyhedra dice. Getting laid is tough enough already. Get a life! And you can start by finding a better slacker hobby. FoolQuest.com is here to help!

Playing pretend, LARP, cosplay, role-play portrayal or contrived behavior in character is often attendant upon costume masquerade, dressing the part from fiction, fantasy and historical and quasi-historical recreation ranging from the fully scripted reenactments to improvisational alter egos and diversions in character, but also forensics, archeological reconstruction, simulation, enactment and field experimentation.

However, whereas all serious investigation one way or another engages in learning from true drama and what may amount to psychological and literary depth, by delving and connecting more profoundly to reality via method acting from memory and imagination and/or by immersion into situation, those most involved  purely in such diversions socially, may often risk huge material and inner personal investment in becoming too serious and yet not serious enough, as with any other over blown fetish, what begins as a medium of affection becoming obsessive and complacent, co-validated introversion, often melodramatic irrelevant mimesis, refinement of pointless fundamentals, increasingly isolated fanboy otaku nerdy esoteric passing time, if one comes to ignore or trivialize that which is meaningful and significant, neglecting and rejecting every need and values that motivate capable drama in plot and style. -All or any of which can certainly be at all reclaimed and reincorporated, intentionally, if only the sheer futility is first acknowledged and confronted, productive conflict, relevant controversy, embraced on every level and without undue reactionary hostility to criticism.

Indeed, as with virtually any other human endeavor, just the opposite overriding if ulterior concern may be social interaction in and of itself, all else seen as facilitation thereof, ranging from social purpose and ideology, the most cynical advantages of popularity and networking at any cost to the true values of involvement, love and friendship. But here the greater good may be best served open consideration and design, no less.

One way or another, RPG resolves action via consistency to fantasy quasi-simulation with the purpose of immersive experience. But immersion in crap!

RPG is quintessential reinvention of the proverbial wheel, and largely anal retentive to boot, indeed, the wrong wheel, so to speak, being inappropriately bastardized from impersonal table top war gaming mechanics, role-play that has already been done better by far at the Improv.

RPGs beginning with the original, 'Dungeons & Dragons,' are among the games one way or another structured to produce story-like effects. Any game involves players in pursuit of some challenge, making decisions and managing resources in order to overcome whatever obstacles in order to achieve whatever motivating goals ever put forth. But RPG, despite the most elaborate superficial game mechanics, the bastardized legacy evolved from table top war gaming, is, more importantly, play and pretending with role-play, all quite distinct from games. Just as the cinematic is the wrong metaphor in video games, the bastardized military simulation in RPG is another wrong metaphor.

To this day, RPG either more elegantly provides, or else utterly belabors, structure for game play, leaving the shared essentials of dimensioned fiction and the lessons of real psychological simulation as an after thought. -How people often make their most important decisions with their heart but only then rationalize intellectually.

All games are to some extent cooperative, within the rules that define whatever the game and whatever motivating goals ever put forth. Indeed, some games, such as freestyle footbag/hackysack even to the proficiency of becoming dance like, aren't even competitive at all. Or, more properly, such may be said to be adversarial only against an abstraction, a common challenge (such as skillfully keeping a beanbag aloft hands free) rather than any living or simulated opponent. But in RPG, conflict, such as it is, exists largely in the context of fiction, dramatic or simulated, between fictional characters rather than the actual participant role-players. For, indeed, in actuality said RPG participants, the players and game master, cooperate in pretend-play, not just on observation of game rules and boundaries, pretending, constructing and maintaining whatever fantasy.

The diverting fantasy of various role-play has often entailed the adoption of any sort of pretend alter ego, even the commitment to an ongoing or reoccurring persona as an aspect of whatever sort of continuing narrative enactment or fictively contexted ongoing social life.

Alas, all guaranteeing precious little more than mental masturbation and anal retention. Indeed, beyond the wearisome distraction of whatever sheer immersive detail only for it's own sake, bastardized mindless fundamentals, participants may typically be left somewhat to their own devices. Such is the Inductivist Epistemological and Methodological falsity of ever broader volumes of data without relevant filtration, to which all manner of amateur amusement simulation is often so pointlessly overwhelmed.

The highly evolved human social intelligence is an appetite fulfilled by intellectual and emotional participation in the unfolding of human character and relations over time.

Surely we have all heard of Maslow's famous pyramidal hierarchy of human needs, starting from the foundation of immediate survival for ongoing security all the way up to the apex of self realization. One problem is the tendency to fastidiously secure, obtain and then safeguard, needs, each in order of the most fundamental, rather than to optimize over all. And this may obtain, as well, in the finest discriminations no less than the broadest differences, and in parallel. Indeed, even the appetites of highly evolved human social intelligence appear to follow their own parallel hierarchy, beginning from the most desperately lonely human contact at all, then any sense of security and stability, all the way up to real intimacy, even the sharing of self realization and meaning in the deepest sense. And the yearning for such true acceptance as to be quested for residing at the apex, often contends, at every step, with the barriers of insecure conditionality intended, first, to assure stability at any cost.

Culture and the arts often tend even to bypass the biologically motivated goals (which though never actually put forth, instinct has evolved to satisfy), instead to stimulate directly, rather than by at all triggering any pragmatically or practically useful or advantageous behavior. Indeed, human interaction need have no motivating goals ever put forth beyond the appetite for company, and failing that, news and fiction often serve the function of simulated gossip. Any other real content whatsoever at all, in either social interaction or whatever media output, varies widely.

Indeed, RPG Fantasy Role Playing Games serve as a very torrential font of imaginary gossip! My character did this or that, amazing, a funny story, you had to be there! Or then again, just perhaps, better not. Ho Hum...

Unlike simple play pretending, the challenge of any game is defined by it's limitations, restrictions or rules, in reaching whatever motivating goals ever put forth. The interaction of video games and also RPG offer various advantages of illusory more vivid involvement for the end user. But this often comes at a sacrifice to the real richness of content let alone any sort of meaningful purpose. Regardless that the interaction of video games is preprogrammed, narrowly defined and simulated, while the interaction of RPG is, indeed, social, but also somewhat narrowly defined. Obviously, plot in video games can only be included by way of various devices of narrative packaging. But it is a mistake to assume that RPG is all that much better suited to drama than video games, simply because RPG technically supports more player responses and information. Indeed, such extensively guided improvisation and the insidious limitation of continually channeled responses of RPG and the immersive illusion of active participation, no less then that of the video game can easily become the very epitome of dumbing-down via rigid TOTALITARIAN INTERACTIVITY, bogus alternatives, externally structured choices and protocols imposed so as to seem at one with the participant's own free thought process, indeed the very hallmark of party politics and ideologically constrained activism that except as restricted to single salient issues looses all genuine relevance. Monotony stands in place of real coherence.

Because, even if more narrowly but far more conveniently automated for us in video games, ultimately, the game play simulation of RPG, so elaborately bastardized from passionlessly impersonal table top war gaming, is an overbearing mechanical routine for all participants, a cumbersome witless failed reduction to heartless and soulless engineering challenges for game design and play, such as must ultimately must detract from higher level cognitive skills of unique construction, integration of ideas into new knowledge or synthesis, imagination and creativity. Thereby, RPG typically fails at application of principles, intelligently, and functions so poorly in bringing to bear any desirable constraints of competent plotting and drama, devoid also of insight whatsoever into motivated scenework.

In short, RPG begins by entirely missing the point! And they just don't get it. RPG resolves action via consistency to fantasy quasi-simulation with the purpose of immersive experience. But immersion in crap!

RPG is more of an hindrance than a help to creativity, and any creative results at all come despite RPG more than by way thereof. The RPG design and play approach is a typical insular group process insidiously diverting effort and attention from learning and growth pertinent to any facet of the outside world. Every successful outreach only demonstrates that outsiders can still learn and then move on, unlike die hard adherents.

Any rare meaningful purpose in RPG beyond sheer diversion, like unto the the typical plotline of videogame cinematic envelope, is usually educational, didactic and even somewhat contrived, whatever unsubtle object game theory cautionary, moral or lesson plan to be demonstrated and social skills cultivated in simulated team training exercise. All only as beneficial as whatever point or insight in the first place. Simulation, like narrative, is only an information vehicle, unless actual sociological experiment is contrived. But, in RPG, all such purposeful application, meager and impoverished as may be, tends to be neglected in favor of the superficiality of fundamentals, parts of the system in disregard of the whole, hence even more impoverished. Alas, just such arbitrary complexity guarantees neither meaning nor depth

Any sort of serious simulation and modeling, for whatever that might be worth, must be expected to remain somewhat the exception because of the difficulty and required expertise. Especially given the unclear priorities if RPG. Beyond hobbyism, gaming and simulation, no less than Improv and role-play, are also deployed in a vast range of experimentation, study of and application to teaching, learning, training, consultation, and research, also reenactment and even Future Studies; the expanding interdisciplinary fields of simulation, computerized or live experimental, gaming, modeling, debriefing, game design, experiential learning, and related methodologies. -Even play in the purest sense of fairly spontaneous activity and pretend undertaken only for whatever it's own joy.

But within the isolation of the RPG ghetto, all such preexisting bodies of knowledge and practice must either be entirely ignored except if ever as sporadically independently reinvented, however well or badly.

Progress in video game design has often been in the areas of interface and presentation or production values, with fiction content and background sort of tacked on, while progress in the design in RPG has likewise has sought escape from anal retention of interminable arbitrary refinement of internal forms and procedures, especially cumbersome combat systems and clichéd archetypes, via whatever more intelligent improvement of richer engagement and even ever more sophisticated and elaborately reasoned, researched and detailed World Building, in rejection of previous and somewhat myopic and rigid paradigms. And yet all such striving still misses the crucial and true central issue entering only implicitly and as something of an after thought and clumsy belabored reinvention of the wheel, the real creative social essence that needs rediscovery in the worthy traditions of improvisational role-play, not to mention the fundamentals of the fiction writing craft, by which ever at all to liberate such relentlessly hidebound minds as of all those confirmed nerds, from the perpetual adolescence of the RPG literary ghetto.

Indeed, even fiction writers engaged in world building, still know how to write or else must learn.

Creativity, however inspired, is well known actually to benefit optimally from the limitation, definition and focus provided by pertinent relevant knowledge and skill to whatever purpose in mind. But entrenched ignorance engenders arbitrarily stifled creativity together with a deadly lack of constructive focus. Case in point, RPG still strives for relevance, but so blithely missing the obvious and relegating Improv to an after thought, looses also as much of the real point of role-play, of acting, let alone fiction writing, and hence so painfully reinvents the wheel so very badly instead of simply redeploying any of these existing disciplines and tapping into readily available bodies of knowledge, which is what they must do should they ever at long last truly become committed towards growth. For the evolution of RPG design has been a labor of love upon which designers, game masters and players have lavished (cynics might say: squandered) so much time and concentration.

Drama in game play after all:

Out there in TV land our heroes struggle and contend but ultimately unite in the face of adversity, while here in the real world we languish and despair under a veritable epidemic of bored and lonely alienation. Many hit TV dramas pander and mock us, serving up vicarious experience not merely of stimulating adventure and discovery, but in some context of profoundly close relationships or situations that so many of us are very badly missing. Indeed, It is the simulated freedom, challenge and achievement in competence and mastery, together with social connection, that explains the addictiveness of multiplayer videogames for so many. And all such realization should be received as a call to action for urgent real-lifestyle changes. Real life drama must either advance or falter. After all, how would our heroic avatars rise to the challenge? 

The obstacle towards the elicitation of player engagement, particularly for purposes of what passes for education,  is that of frustration and boredom. According to 'The ambiguity of play'  by Brian Sutton-Smith (1997) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, challenge is moderated by seven rhetorics of play by which the self and the action are connected: progress, fate, power, identity (character), imaginary, frivolous and self. Progress in successful completion of individual challenges in succession and even reinforced by learning, growth and better understanding and motivation or power to confront challenges, perhaps in the form of knowledge, ability, artifacts. Or the intervention of fate or dumb luck can bring success closer within reach. For much as in life, fate itself loons large both in drama and game play, as much as skill and ability. Story and game play both serve to connect such elements. Identity rhetorics or characterization serves to bring challenges into areas of familiarity, competence and motivating importance. Cultural sensitivity and notions of relevance begin to fall into this domain. Fantasy of the imaginary transforms challenges and even redefines the abilities of the protagonist, transporting abstract problems into dramatic setting and situation in scenarios intertwining in series of challenges into dramatic narrative of conflict over genuine personal issues beyond only task mastery or competence and performance, of reflection versus impulse, violence versus morality.

 

 

 

 

 

Q. What are shared worlds and world building? 

A. !

 

Q. What is actually wrong with the misapplication of Fantasy Role Playing quasi-simulation games, systems and similar diversions, as a procedure for cranking out fiction? 

A. Answers to this burning question generally subdivide into a number of related issues:

Originally, popular Role Playing Game systems such as 'Dungeons and Dragons' emerged as a outgrowth of amateur table top wargaming and simulations, as, with the growing popularity of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, mass interests began to shift from actual military history to Epic High Fantasy, leading, in turn, to the innovation of playing single individual warriors in small parties of fighting characters or, actually, originally, single figurines or playing pieces, instead of marching vast simulated armies.

The new form, RPG, is now expanded and adapted in it's scope to embrace an ever widening range of genres and broader treatment of interaction beyond simulated combat, including as in the ever popular murder mystery parties, discovery and problem solving. But the evolution of RPG remains hampered by is roots in the mechanistic paradigm of amateur table top wargaming and simulations, now bereft of it's original and purposeful connection to reality, the conduct of war, military operations, strategy and logistics.

No less, writing fiction well, even collaboratively, must be purposeful, not just arbitrarily social. Because fiction, unlike RPG, is axiomatic, Philosophical and memetic, preserving and transmitting inspiration into a vicarious recapitulation by future readership or viewing or listening audience. Reading fiction is not interactive, but intersubjective.

No more than a train can jump its tracks or skip its stops, neither can any well crafted work of fiction over leap its story line or skip its major reversals. By contrast, all outcomes of RPG left open are determined by game play, partly in the sense of a game with rules, of skill or chance or sometimes in LARP, which is Live RPG, actually incorporating mock combat as sports, as derived from historical recreation, and partly pretend-play.

RPG generally boils down to plotlessness in aimless quest of plot, hence generally such a failure as a creative writing process, an end to which RPG was never initially really intended or designed to serve. Ever in any degree overcoming these fatal dramatic limitations of the RPG medium is no mean feat, neither of the players nor the game master.

Sturgeon's Law certainly applies. Because easily at least 99% is utter crap!

Strictly speaking, where would Gollum's epic inner struggles in 'Lord of the Rings,' or any other dire  choices and dimensioned characterization, ever really figure into the superficial and simplistic picayune detail, thud and blunder of 'Dungeons and Dragons?' The usual reply is that all such is the province of role play, left to the player's own devices and imagination.

Indeed! To this day, RPG either more elegantly provides, or else utterly belabors, structure for game play, leaving the shared essentials of dimensioned fiction and the lessons of real psychological simulation as an after thought. -How people often make their most important decisions with their heart but only then rationalize intellectually. Hence, Problem Solving and Justification are reciprocal functions, and one must be shaped to rationalize the other, with integrity or else into hypocrisy. The inner journey must match the outer journey, beginning from the Emotional Disturbance that is is internal corollary to it's trigger, the out-of-whack event, or vice versa.

The maxim oft quoted is "role-play, not roll play." Meaning that the player projecting oneself into character and situation will be the more edifying and productive than obsessive focusing upon minutiae, game mechanics and the throw of the dice, wherein RPG resolves action via consistency to fantasy quasi-simulation with the purpose of immersive experience. But immersion in crap!

However, for all such purpose, a better procedure has long predated RPG. Because, no matter how unscripted, improvisational scenework, in all it's repertoire of technique, instead, actively seeks drama as an explicit priority, never hampered by any obsessive soul destroying game play mechanics derived from impersonal table top war gaming in the first place.

Now that the limitations of focus upon minutiae and mechanics have been reached, RPG is once again reinventing the wheel, whereas it would be better and easier, instead, to return to source and study improvisational scenework, a long and well respected approach to learning acting, perhaps even recruiting at all qualified drama teachers or axring coaches.

Additionally, for real discovery, LARP may also profit from also returning to serious simulation in the social sciences and forensics, but perhaps even howsoever speculatively.

Sans the crucial scenework of Improv to foster any deeper role-play, any plot or dramatic structure however constrained by the medium, to be had at all in the better RPGs, generally needs to be thought out before hand and even then perhaps surreptitiously controlled by the Game Master, no less than in fiction, even the Interactive Fiction of adventure video or text games. For all of it's strangulating complex rules and formulae, in whatever redeployment or application as a tool to fiction writing, the playing systems of RPG are nevertheless also lacking in the true discipline of the fiction writing craft. Fiction crafting, revision and editing, much like history, endures as is an exercise in hindsight and even "God's eye" organized and interpretive perspective almost from outside of time. Indeed, story crafting has been likened unto the design of a maze, for, at some point in the process, the author must know where the entrance and exit are to be, not to mention the twists and turns along the way

Indeed, even traditional oral storytellers, seemingly improvising, often actually expertly draw upon a repertoire of stock plotlines and themes in the 6 Easy Steps to Telling Great Bedtime Stories and fairyyales.
 
Likewise, those writers who actually can do less correcting on paper or on screen, often have only worked out that much more in their heads before hand. 
 
Indeed, Artificial Intelligence employing Case Based Reasoning, enabling retention, revision and reuse of solutions to minor plot variables, may soon be able to allow local adaptation in a way reminiscent to that done by traditional oral storytellers, wherein a story can be minimally altered by the narrator to allow for audience preferences, while preserving the structural and tonal quality of the story.

However, any other imposition of structure, arbitrarily, is no less vapid than wandering senselessly. Indeed, another lamentable obsessive amateur consensus committee practice in particular can only be described as routine sweatshop piece-work, completion of story collaboration by simply assigning passages according to some sort of decidedly uninspired outline along with no less interchangeable settings to individual participants in a deadly clichéd and inept dullardly "paint by numbers" process as might by an RPG Game Master and/or the actions and dialogue of  however cardboard, inconsistent and unbelievable characters as would be figurines and tokens to an RPG player, even taking turns as would participants in those over blown "Rounders". 

Whereas, forsooth, one certainty endures, verily, by no known Arcanum, that no mortal who ever has writ anything endurable to read employs anything like unto the above travesty of writing process, not even the writers of the best adaptations of 'Advanced Dungeons & Dragons' most diligent and respectful of their source material.

Indeed, professional writing assignments, division of labor in publishing or the media, will tend to be based, one way or another, on a publishing schedule in turn determined by whatever market needs, not just any arbitrary discipline simply for it's own sake.

And under such conditions of professional publication or media, what raises art above just commercial product or empty pandering is any sort of genuine respect for whatever readers or viewers, in turn inculcating the self respect of a discerning audience to help encourage and reinforce any demand for quality.

Neither the cynicism of hack nor the mass supportive following for anything better exist outside of any sort of a market or audience. In whatever purely amateur realm, there remain the snares of self-indulgence vs. the salvation by inner critical pride which makes higher demands upon the self in order to recognize and protect real inspired creativity from the dangers of inept banality. And that is why good writing circles of whatever sort must be critical and substantive unlike the useless phony support groups gushing with praise or else erupting into blistering flaming should anyone dare so much as step out of line!  

There are, of course, also serious writing collaborators who divide up the scenes and work separately. However, they know what they are doing and why. Because they have discussed and plotted out the story to some degree before hand. Perhaps even brainstorming. More over, at some point, document sharing ensues, where in they will rewrite each other's scenes, back and forth. 
 
And there may be far more elaborate, rigorous and sophisticated specialist division of labor of behind-the-scenes teamwork in writing popular novels.
 
Comic books are also, likewise, often co-authored in some variant or other of the Plot Script / Page Script or  Marvel style, where in the full plot is more simply broken down by page or groups of pages, in somewhat less detail, leaving the artist more creative freedom to construct the layouts than in a Full Script complete with descriptions and dialogue (or DC style) let alone any sort of a screenplay, so that the caption text and dialogue for the word balloons is added in last by the writer for the letterer then to insert appropriately, only after the penciled art is penciled by the penciler. And only after all of that is done do the inker and the colorist, each in turn, finish the pages to make them print ready.

No matter, the writing fundamentals, including plot and motivation, remain the fore most integrative principle, and the point is that playing RPG was simply never intended as a fiction writing tool or system! Such is a distortion that remains beneath even the most desultory and sheer dilettantery.

Because the needs of Role Playing Games, to whit, playability, are markedly different from those of fiction and the writing craft. RPG system playing simply neither automatically nor necessarily at all in and of itself function as as story plotting or much else to do with capable fiction writingRPG remains a transitory experience of durational real time interaction, thus intrinsically hampered in such writing fundamentals and advantages of sharp time-binding self consciousness and perception as plotline.

Literary value and good motivation in well crafted RPG is always commendable. Because interminable thud and blunder combat simulation is just such an anal retentive crushing bore! nevertheless, engaging playability remains the priority for any good RPG, over any sort of quality dramatic structure as manifest in any sort of end product. 

As in theatre, even with audience participation, that which is authored and orchestrated in RPG needs to be somewhat contrived in order to pull it off, while that which is truly improvised may tend to be somewhat stilted and fragmented, even shallow,  in retrospect.  

Far beyond the out and out endless Byzantine diplomacy and intrigue which so absorbs the typical true die hard RPG enthusiast, the true height of originally that can at all be hoped for may only come from players filled with the sheer perversity and determination to actually subvert whatever pat plotlines contrived by the Game Master, eschewing interminable go-along get-along consensus building.

RPG, however literate, remains simply another form than fiction, and a distinct market niche, each with it's own needs and intrinsic values. The immediacy of RPG poses a more Zen challenge of evocation during the immediate interactive game play. 

In short, RPG, even LARP, Live Action Role Playing, even when it may actually deserve any such seemingly pretentious appellation as Interactive Literature, as applied purely for the sake of entertainment, is still more akin to audience participation theatre, but without the play or the stage. And, likewise, it's all about creating an experience. 

For the playability of standard RPG, output is not even a consideration. Unlike Improv or participatory sociological simulation, RPG comes risk free. And, as the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained, that is, beyond the thing in and of itself. 

Take notes from RPG, and what remains is often somewhat vapid, no matter how vivid the play. As hopeless as trying to swim in the same flowing river twice! What has past can only be replenished, never recaptured. That is why no one bothers to videotape RPG the way they do Improv.  

In summation, "Rounders"  have their charm and creativity only within their practical limitations, but not with any unwieldy mythos. While RPG systems are not fiction writing methods at all. And the structure offered by whatever anal "paint by numbers" approach thereby derived, actually combines the worst of all possible worlds and simply does not replace the effort and writing discipline, but only suppresses creativity and spontaneity that must come from the exchange of ideas, not their uniformity. Such writing methods derivative from the playing of RPG are deluded fantasy, merely the pretense, sheer mindless mimesis, the social and psychological role- playing of authorship, not the real intent, concentration, behavior, deeds or accomplishment. 

Much of the problem comes from RPG's tradition of obsession with detail for it's own sake, inherent in anal retentive fantasy combat simulation. RPG resolves action via consistency to fantasy quasi-simulation with the purpose of immersive experience. But immersion in crap!  And so, attempts to redeploy RPG playing method as a story generation or collaborative writing method not only abandons the writing discipline into uncaring willfully deluded ineptitude, but in it's place accepts such anal retentive constraint and hierarchical control as to crush all spontaneity and kill any real creativity.

For not only must "Act Zero" be adequately well crafted no less than in fiction in order to establish initial problems, situations and conflict on every level, but unless anything compelling happens (with whatever and as much or as little guidance and coaxing as that may require) in any sort of RPG, LARP, simulation or Improv, there won't be much of a story to tell afterwards.

Indeed, a strategy game in play seldom actually authors a compelling thriller, and a successful LARP, purely by entertainment criteria, may only offer a more active way of experiencing precontrived conflict, or more often, precontrived game theory deadlock. For,  via experimental trial and error (and rationalizing fictional background details aside), the simpler and more readily accessible and less dedicated and non-hardcore LARPS are actually evolving to become like unto somewhat simplified Improv games or role-play, but even so, just as an entertainment or diversion, seldom if ever a serious playwriting tool.

The truly experimental by definition will not reliably sustain quality output and so must embrace risk without offended denial. Otherwise that leaves either the skillfully contrived or the anal and inept. No matter the techniques or approach, fiction writing, like photography, remains easy to do at all, but hard to do well. 

In their domineering unaware incompetent hack obsession, team fiction writing practices derived Online from RPG systems and overblown Rounders manage at the same time, both to dispense utterly with any capable discipline and to completely kill creative spontaneity.

For, such are closed systems, status quo bereft of relevant purpose, increasingly concerned if anything, only with the refinement of it's own internal forms and processes.

Whatever creative value to be derived from RPG, especially as applies to output at all and not just the event or experience in and of itself, must come, as the saying goes, from role-play, not roll-play.

 
Q. Is there any hope whatsoever for game play
                   as systematic procedure of fiction writing?

A. The istory system is to be "A set of mechanics which result in an aesthetically pleasing emergent storyline has not yet been designed, but I believe the use of plot-level simulation in a simulated game world could result in the emergence of unauthored stories." But not yet. Neither for individual nor tandem play.

Whereas, a conventional interactive story, even deployed as the backbone for RPG, and however ostensibly nonlinear, has already been plotted so that simulationism and however seemingly spontaneous story generation are thereby constrained.

In such application RPG is no more than a medium of presentation for interactive storytelling.

 

So, is there any better paradigm than game play
                   for any systematic procedure of fiction writing?

 

 
FICTION KIT
By the application of time and project management theory to fiction writing with a unique emphasis regarding differing viewpoints upon relationships, changing emotion and perception thereof, complete with affect associations and triggers in setting, mood and props, so as to parallel the objective and subjective persons of narrative, Charles Clerc provides a formidable array of worksheets actually seeking to chart and quantify subjective and intersubjective motivated character growth in plotting fiction.
 
Clearly, time and project management makes for a far more suitable, practical and practicable paradigm to fiction writing, than RPG, said being an inappropriate irrelevant superficial shallow and cumbersome bastardization of impersonal and competitive table top war gaming.
 
Hither to, attempt has been made to systematically quantify character motivation of goals as put forth for action/adventure game play of story-like events as in plot, but until Fictionkit, not the character interaction and reciprocal influence of emotion, expression and perception or attribution of motivation by and of characters to one another.

All more nuanced "feminine/Oriental, with no thought whatsoever to simulation of physical interaction at all, let alone combat, but only dramatic derivation of conflict, the character stats and charts of FICTION KIT are emotional and motivated, relational and social rather than dealing in ability and allegiance, while objects and places, props and setting, likewise, are sensory motivating memory triggers instead of vessels of wealth and power or deathtrap obstacle courses, respectively.

 

But what about adaptation for systematizing or formalizing role play
                          or even simulation video gaming with interaction of intelligent agents?

The
FICTION KIT requisite project binders for fiction writing, in adaptation to role play gaming, would thereby transcend standard role play gaming paraphernalia, becoming first person diaries, character study and psychological profiles of each player character. At long last, systematic fantasy role play less cumbersome and extraneous that would not only better target and befit serious and competent Improv scenework, but actually facilitate and include any truly dramatic writing collaboration exercise of any even remotely meaningful value or nature.

But reduction to an however girly simulationism for true game play might require individual motivating
character affect stats secret to each player, all the while generating numerically quantifiable clues to collect, thereby to formulate the all important subjective impressions of another's feelings, actual or in character, indeed, that much more like the real life courtship ambiguity and miscommunication.
 
The result might emerge as a sort of simulated poker game of fictional emotion for whatever stakes. Impediments to expression and communication may even be contrived in the scenario, however melodramatically, quickly descending into absurd bathos and self parody. Because RPG simulationism can never rise to the complexity and flexibility of cutting edge intelligent agent design.
 
And so much for Literary seriousness...
 
 
TheatriX
The poverty of RPG simulationism is that of stubborn neglect born, in turn, from the outgrowth of RPG game mechanics physical emphasis upon World Building. And even though fantasy human interaction is still the central focus of game play, nevertheless, the result remains human interaction neither very well simulated nor dramatically investigated, even if ever not excessively bogged down in detailed rules of dice throw, combat and so forth.
 
How little any of this matters depends entirely upon the various personal vicarious goals of game play as ever put forth. Drama, however, can never be achieved as an after thought. Drama can only be as top priority. Self deluded, then, remains the mimesis of RPG play as fiction generator.
 
Yet there is hope, even given insistence upon the form of a game, for there remain systems such as simsoc for guiding sociological simulation, games of Psychodrama, and even the likes of the obscure TheatriX system with it's rules of plotting instead of randomization and the usual RPG game mechanics of quasi-simulation, actually succeeded first of all in at all making a collaborative game of fulfilling the hither to neglected and rejected needs and values that motivate capable drama in plot and style, plausibly, in order then better to focus more intently upon any sort of Improvisational scenework.
 
TheatriX is specifically designed to better motivate and fulfill collaborative story telling. Traditional RPG resolves action via number crunching mindless consistency to fantasy quasi-simulation with the purpose of immersive experience. But immersion in crap! Whereas, rather than simply leaving the fame master to "cheat" in favor of more interesting possible story developments, in drama-based games such as TheatriX openly resolve action mainly via plot requirements in context of player character description, decisively abandoning mindless consistency to fantasy quasi-simulation and immersion once and for all.
 
Resolution flowcharts base outcomes on ability, plot significance, tension and pacing. "Drama points" are earned for player characters by involvement in worsening complications and subplots, while ongoing revision as needed is even facilitated by way of flashbacks and other such devices. Indeed, any character special ability must come only at the cost of some unresolved back-story.
 
And so, there may even be hope...

 

Q. What is "breaking down the fourth wall?"

A. Breaking down the proverbial "fourth wall," that metaphorical membrane between the stage and the audience, means howsoever to contrive an experience in any way more immediate and less removed in order thereby to involve and engage the audience all the more in whatever willing suspension of disbelief. Such is the real forgotten point of immersion.

And there are many techniques:

Much like unto musical jam sessions, there are long standing theatrical traditions such as the commedia dell' arte, with a range of improvisational variation and development though limited every definite predetermined structure to maintain interactive coordination between the troop of performers, incidentally with successful application to videogames.

Many secondary works revisit a previous story from the POV of different characters, and branching cyberfiction even allows the reader or writer to select which character to follow or author through the same continuity. And, likewise, there are a range of performance pieces, sometimes known as hyperdrama or also including various dinner theatre events, allowing voyeuristic audience members, instead of remaining seated, to follow about any of the different actors moving and interacting through a larger setting or location, wherein all characters are said to be onstage the entire time, the entire cast of players continually interacting throughout the onsite location.

"We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else."

- 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead' by Tom Stoppard

 

Q. What is role-play?

There are no small parts, only small actors.”  — Konstantin Stanislavsky

A. As, so sayeth the bard: "all the world's a stage," a role, most generally, may refer to any conceivable function, purpose, effect, POV, or particular involvement, in a larger system, of any conceivable participant, component or subsystem, a social rôle (being a set of connected behaviors, as conceptualized under whatever social situation, with rights, obligations, expectations under generally unspoken consensus defining behavior appropriate or inappropriate), or a performer's unique interpretative performance, mimesis or acting, in fictional character, scripted or extemporaneously, indeed, of any diversion or occupation of oneself in supposition and pretence, let alone deceit, imposture or even bad faith. Role models are personal influences, figures of success that others identify with and warmly turn to in admiration and for an example in order to emulate, for confidence, validation, socialization, cherished values and strategy in hopes of overcoming obstacles. For a rôle may also indicate an emotional state expressed, a motivated goal as ever put forth or function as represented by another, but even as all such may Existentially or manipulatively serve and conceal an ulterior agenda, however downright pathological. Therefore role-models must be selected with care.

Indeed, the rôles that people play in life, from which derive one's POV, generally refer, not only to purpose and responsibility or else to various irresponsible headgames, but to all the entire range of the various different ways in which we relate, interpersonally and also social positions and interactions, negotiated and renegotiated, beginning with family and extending to status and function in any other social context of church, state, school, work or recreation.

 

 Headgames  

Except from a somewhat Existential POV from character role, on acting out,
Role-play generally denotes the deliberate but unscripted play acting of a role, performance, mimesis, or behavior in accordance with whatever fictional or otherwise somehow contrived specified function, identity or characterization, even such as may be in whatever sense different from any part of one's actual role, position, identity or even true best dharma in reality. Most any dramatic story plot hinges upon a premise, events prior to the opening, belonging to "Act Zero". Hence, to build up  dramatic tension,  and for anything to happen in a scene, a situation, a problem with motivation and conflict on every level remains indispensable. And, likewise, best for prompting role-play, is the graphing or predefinition of a prior relationship web and history interconnecting the cast of characters, especially handy for spawning diversionary red herrings indispensable as complication for the ever popular murder mystery parties. By contrast, any sheer catalytic interaction between strangers even upon first meeting, may present a more difficult challenge of insight.

Or, as a way of tapping those deeper, hidden motivations for a character's eventual objectives and actions, putting one’s self in the shoes of another person and imagining how that individual would feel about things, award-winning screen writer the late Steve Tesich described his story development process as one in which he began even by keeping a veritable journal of interior monologues and rumblings or character diatribes for an imagined or real individual, articulating those all-important attitudes or positions that characters feel towards their given circumstances, towards other characters, or towards themselves trying to sort out their various problems. -The rants that we all conduct in our imaginations, even of all that we never quite bring ourselves to say to someone’s face.

Acting technique is a repertoire of carefully reproduced expression, be they subtle and accurate or stylized and perhaps somewhat larger than life, conveyed to an audience in order to illicit in others the desired response, while the principle of Method Acting is that associated emotions can be recalled or imagined by recreating or inventing the actions associated thereto, and thence is key to the actor authenticity, identification and emersion into character. Either way, acting may be either reduced to the stimulus-response of Behaviorism, or expanded into the dramatic exploration of motivated characterization.

 

Now what we've all been waiting for...
Q. What is erotic role-play?

                                                                               A. In whatever context, however therapeutic or entertainment, morbid obsessional denial or open and courageous expression, from the intensely private, close interpersonal, social or actually public and even voyeuristic, erotic role-play generally refers to the intentional and even self-conscious play acting of a role, living out or simply pretending sex fantasy, fun, risqué flirtation or sexual foreplay, performance or behavior, especially during a sexual encounter and in order to evoke a sexual fantasy in oneself and/or one's partner(s) and in accordance with whatever fictional or otherwise somehow contrived specified function or characterization, even such as may be in whatever sense different from one's role, persona or personality at all, day to day, typically even displaying or exploring such motivations as may usually remain submerged and go unexpressed.

Fantasies harbored or enacted range from the most general of roles, especially of power positions or relations, in the most detailed scenarios and situations, perhaps even as typical of pornography or even drawing from real life. 

For example, the meek in pretend-play become demanding or the aggressive feign hesitance and vulnerability. And then there are the more elaborate specific stock characters and interactions, props and all, for eroticization of anything and everything what and howsoever conceivable, and ranging from the most rarified romantic courtship and high chivalry to action adventure, arcane rites, rituals, steamy smoldering passion, voracious ravishment, taboo and forbidden deviance, playing doctor, dress-up and celebrity fairytales, etc. and, of course, the ever popular and trendy fetish fantasy pretend-play of bondage and domination or even hardcore Sadomasochistic mimesis.

But is this art? -Or, for that matter, even adroit pandering, passable smut? Or, indeed, must not the similar tradeoffs for playability at the expense of quality output obtain much as with RPG? -no less pretentious masturbation, after all... 

Indeed, Activist Sex Workers valiantly struggle in the name of downtrodden prostitution, not merely for most crucial social franchise, even their former legendary glory of Babylon and the most sacred, but legitimacy as thespians in the delicacy of humoring their clientele, after all. Yet what may most readily be achieved and accrued in any such conceit, however, may well only be to compound the ignominy of prostitution with the notorious damn pretentiousness of actors! In truth, participatory contact sports and spectator exhibitions are seldom truly interchangeable, even in sex industry

Surely, it all boils down returning to that same begged and burning question...

 

Q. How does Improv liberate creativity? 

A. Unscripted Improv seeks more effective responsiveness to audience feedback, even interaction and extemporaneous creative improvisation with audience feed back, input, suggestions, prompts, and even participation, culminating in the thrill of surprise from however merely transitory talented and quick witted ad-lib comedic interpolation and one upmanship shtick or the true unfolding of sustained and genuinely intuitive spontaneity and brilliant creativity, even an opportune path to shaping one's own role and destiny among others by thinking on one's feet.

For Improv is a state or condition of play, activity for it's own sake, wherein the unknown event, unexpected situation or relationship can be explored and discovered simultaneously by actor and audience. But improvisational theatre is hit or miss. Sometimes it reaches inspiration, and other times it falls flat. It's all about the risk! 

Indeed, Improv, unlike RPG, generally has a live audience onsite for feedback to the players. Also, capable Improv, if it's dramatic rather than comedic, may tend to focus on the role-play of character motivated vignettes or even a a string of such vignettes, over time, with a predetermined plot and dramatic structure of sorts. And there might well be a competent director or drama coach to guide and instigate and not just a Game Master merely serving as quasi-author and referee. 

Dialogue driven plot: Improv originated with the Theater Games of Viola Spolin and even makes use of role-play as a playwriting tool especially for scenework, for writing scenes, one might even say: An agreeable pod story joint authorship technique, for finding new direction or just for fleshing out the details. But there can and should be be retakes along the way and editing afterwards, not just stream of consciousness then forever set in stone.

Chivalry and the Knights of Improv explains the nature and importance of collaboration in improvisational theatre. Most important of all, Improvisational acting, no matter how ever little is plotted in advance, none the less is driven by dramatic motivated characterization, traditionally neglected and impoverished in the ubiquitous empty pedantic banality of RPG, bastardized from the impersonal mechanics of table top war gaming.

Active Reading tip: In case of incomplete comprehension, Improv, actually pretend, play-act understanding and then explain, either to another or to yourself, out loud, silently in your own mind or most productively, in writing.

 

Techniques of  Active Reading no less than of Effective Active Listening, are reading such as involves active cognition and comprehension, indeed, reading with purpose.

 

Often we understand more than we think! Note what does and what else does not make sense. Subtext clues:: Consider context and background. Articulate questions as to whatever remains unclear. And whenever you find yourself still really getting stuck, just mark or note the section and take a much needed breather. 

 

 

 

Linked Improv resources:

         JUSTICE 4 NONE
 
         performance formats
 
          Reincarnation
 
Lists of Games Played  on  the
Improv TV game show

            WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?

    the near complete guide
    Popular Games on "Whose Line"
          Two more that ought to be:  
                    Happy Fun Die  
                    Hungarian Brainstorming 
          Vote for your favorite!

 

 
 
Related concepts to Improv include
      Psychodrama and Dramatherapy, also Sociodrama:
 
Where Psychodrama in general, creates and presents dramas shaped by an individual's unique experience, Dramatherapy in specific, discovers within more generic archetypal scenes, each our own stories, beliefs and desires.
 
Psychodrama, a therapeutic discipline which uses action methods, sociometry, role training, and group dynamics to facilitate constructive change in the lives of participants, was developed by an Austrian Psychiatrist, Jacob Moreno. Moreno, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, maintained that people would voice their true feelings about what they had experienced if they were given the opportunity to act these feelings out within a group as a means of finding new response to old situations or adequate response to a new situations. The therapist meanwhile interprets and clarifies the enactments as they unfold.
 
  • definition FAQ introduction discipline handbook
  •  
    Dramatherapy, one of several branches of art therapy, evolved from the experience and research of psychotherapists, teachers and theater professionals who recognized that alternatives to traditional verbal therapies were useful to permit clients to confront, explore and work through problems and emotional difficulties, is a creative, clinical therapy with its roots in drama and theatre, making use of such familiar techniques as role-play, voice work, myth, ritual, storytelling, improv, role-play, mime, movement, storytelling, masks, puppetry, Theater Games and scripts, movement and objects being used expressively even without words to explore almost much the same problems as in conventional psychotherapy, likewise dealing with past hurts and present difficulties, by encouraging their expression, with esthetic distance, meaning enough theatrical willing suspension of disbelief, but without so much emotional involvement as to utterly inhibit.

    Drama Therapy - an Overview • Jason's Games & ExercisesCreative Drama

    Sociodrama is a creative application of improvisational Psychodrama for the discovery of alternatives in dealing with problems in issues of interaction within groups.

                  Definition Outline  FAQ

     

     
     

    The Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) is the over-arching title proffered to the ensemble of techniques and approaches to theatre pioneered by the Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal, wherein the common element of the various branches thereof, is that all seek to deploy the power of theatre as a force for change available to everyone, particularly anyone howsoever under oppression. The audience might even suggest different actions to carry out on-stage in an attempt to change the outcome, options in real life for similar situations. And the arenas of TO application range from the classroom to the council chamber, the union meeting to the therapeutic group, from the development charity to the homeless shelter.

         Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed
     
    Forum Theatre thoughts techniques  Joker Runs Wild

               Videogames of the Oppressed [condensed] [unabridged]

     

     

    In simulated societies or simsoc, role-play finds prognostic application of game theory among futuring methods of scenario planning to futurology.

    Along with an expanding range computer simulations, some manner of improv/ LARP, Live Action Role Playing,  at it's most contrived, is certainly nothing new in pedagogical demonstration, training exercises, and also well established under whatever controlled conditions as simulated society or social science simulation mimesis, even those notorious experiments, even such as where participants are subjected to situational forces, sometimes even unawares, thereby to illicit the most candid responses and uncontaminated results, or less formally as practical jokes just to test peoples reactions in the field, such that in the private sector may be adapted as publicity stunts just to raise profile.

    For example, in retrospect, all of the sleazy Jim Crow chicanery first in obstruction of election monitoring and then in interference with the independent recount in Ohio, where all brazen, blatant and highly predictable moves, and might well have been subject to prognosis in advance, only given an adequately well designed, conducted and updated ongoing LARP, Live Action Role Play participatory simulation, in order then to continually forward resultant possible scenarios first to the Democrat election monitors and then the Green recount team. Counter tactics might also have been planned, tested and recommended in advance, as well.

    In an alternate history, just perhaps, a somewhat better, more dramatic and public resistance to thwart George W. Bush's second stolen presidential term, might have been mounted as a result.

     

    Q. Is Surrealism truly "as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table"? 

    A. The Surreal is even dreamlike, the unreal expressed via fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions, fantastical, to horrific or even humorous effect, in art, fiction and parable.

    "The surrealist use of games, like that of art and literature, is primarily focused on the subversion of premeditation and rational constraints, but in addition it is also a subversion of the artist's ego with the potential for revealing the Marvelous heavily relying on the release of collective creativity." 

    Bandages are for the wombs   Rampant Lady Bunny (1497 CE)

        Techniques for working from Random Stimuli

                Anti-structure

                     Surreal Zen

     

    Q. Narrative and interactivity remain distinct.
               How  then, can narrative and interactivity,
                           game play and story, ever truly be combined,
                                                                      and to what effect?

    A. One way to combine narrative and interactivity is to incorporate interactivity into narrative, to incorporate narrative into interactivity, or, in truth, simply to package either within the other. The result is often poor narrative as pretext for interactivity, and conspicuously limited interactivity to fit narrative, either bounded and hamstrung by the other. Any true redeeming justification of either interaction or it's defining constraint, is a matter of the quality of game play, a separate consideration entirely. Even though the boundaries of interaction are expanded by ever more sophisticated simulation, nevertheless, even with computers, never mind fists full of polyhedra dice, something far more essential is required in order to revive narrative. -Not just any interaction, but drama giving rise to motivated plot.

    Another way to combine narrative and interactivity is via interaction guided by narrative, or: plotted. Indeed, many interactions including such as
    scenework, are one way or another guided by narrative, or, in a word, scripted, in any degree, in one sense or another. Indeed, the audience feedback guided improvisational shtick from repertoire of commedia dell arte has shown itself well adaptable to preprogrammed computerized interactive narrative.

      •

    Improv is a more flexible mode of interaction guided by narrative that can, indeed, ever effectively contribute to interactive generation of narrative, story crafting in collaboration. But, otherwise, incorporation of narrative and interactivity, either into the other, simply will never achieve motivated dramatic plot nor ever find much meaning.

    The only true dramatic interaction remains life itself, or not. Indeed, even life's dramas still require proper motivation to overcome obstacles, lest the plot wander and run thin.
     
    Play is defined as whatever activity or interactivity, real or pretend, undertaken howsoever merely for it's own joy. Games, competitive or cooperative, zero sum or non zero sum, are defined both by their winning conditions or motivating goals as ever put forth and by their limitations, unless, that is, reality and the motivating goals ever put forth together do not generate restriction enough, intrinsically. Writing fiction well is such a goal, and the intrinsic restrictions, in so far as they are known, are best described in the body of knowledge of all entailed in such a challenge, in other words, the techniques of competent fiction writing. Another dimension of any game play is whether any given phase or aspect of game play be solitary or social. And the same applies to the effort of writing fiction. And so, what other restrictions are needful?
     
    Yet another way to combine narrative and interactivity is the interactive generation of narrative, yes, fiction writing in collaboration. Needless rules only distract and detract from the real challenge of putting our heads together and writing well! Indeed, even the traditional solitariness of writing is a needless restriction to creativity. Certainly, any rules of narrative games that come into conflict on every level with the fundamentals of fiction writing, not to mention the best means of optimizing creativity and collaboration, are needless and inevitably frustrating obstacle to any purpose or motivated goals ever put forth of genuine fiction writing. But, again, such is the aggravation encountered in any personal quest for excellence, work or play regardless, in the normative death throws coming towards the terminal end of The Lifecycle of Social Systems.

     

    Q. How does collaborative brainstorming overcome writer's block?

    The Internet facilitates writing community in a way that Media and Print cannot. But what are best and most neglected procedural options?  

    A. to come join in! 

     

     

    Fiction Brainstorm
           creativity resources

    Copyright 2001 -  2015 by Aaron Agassi