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Back from Gen Con

by Jonathan 0 Comments
On My Wishlist for 2009

On My Wishlist for 2009

When I was 13, I had a subscription to Dragon magazine (now available only with an online subscription). I would pore over the pages endlessly, wondering about all the cool stuff I saw in there from ads for Bandersnatch Leathers dice bag to gaming conventions. Gen Con was the mack daddy of gaming cons (and still is). So, 26 years later, I finally went.

It was awesome.

I mean that in so many respects – the amount of people, the number of people who liked to dress in costume, the amount of gaming opportunities, the myriad ways to dump cash.

My goal was simple – game as much as possible. I had hoped to play some regular Dungeons and Dragons, but I did not sign up in advance and they were pretty well filled up. I changed my approach and made every effort to play games that I hadn’t played before. I wound up playing Aerodrome 1.1, Game of Thrones Card Game, Chaos Marauders, Last Night on Earth, Call of Cthulhu 6th edition and Age of Conan. I also got an overview of Android from Fantasy Flight Games.

I spent most of my time at the Aerodrome table because I could get in pretty easily (the guys running the show were very nice and enthusiastic about newcomers) and the people playing were fun to be around.

I also spent a good bit of time hovering around the Fantasy Flight Games exhibitions because I think they do such a good job from great production values to game mechanics. Although I did not get to play Android, it looks pretty cool. They had a couple of games of Android going during the convention with a running time of about 5 hours. It looked complex, but in a good, conspiracy theory layered over murder mystery kind of way.

If nothing else, Gen Con was great for getting my gaming fix. I’ve already marked it on my calendar for next year. I didn’t write nearly as much as I thought I would, but I have no regrets about taking a little break to explore fantasy settings in a different way.

What Makes a Good Story?

Amazing freehand art by Gao Guangyan

Amazing freehand art by Gao Guangyan

Drifting through the ether of the interwebs, I’ve come across numerous accounts of what makes a good story. Here. Here. And here, for example. Commentors weave common answers related to plot, characterization, diction and so forth into the ongoing discussion. Along with techniques, style and the story itself, the reader’s predilections also determine what makes a good story. Those who devour mysteries have different criteria than consumers of inspirational writing whose criteria differ from fans of pulp fiction. And that’s okay. In fact, it is better than okay. I think that’s the part I love about reading. I have a pretty good handle on what I like – characters that surprise, world building with depth of time and geography, action, to name a few – but I also find that my willingness to try new works in different genres is exciting in its own right.

I commented earlier in Writing Standards, my post about my perception that it can be difficult to feel like your writing, your story, is different from others when you start using the conventional wisdoms of writing as your guide more than the story itself. I’ve read thrillers by many different authors and, after a while, they do start to run together. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading those, it just means I just don’t hunger for those kinds of books like I do for books such as Blade of Tyshalle, or Game of Thrones, or The Darkness that Comes Before. And there it is: I like fantasy of the epic sort. So not only do I need a good story, but also I need a certain elements that resonate long after I’ve finished the book. What makes a good story for you, the reader?

Though I’ve run off on a bit of a tangent here, my takeaway as a writer is to keep the audience in mind (in this case, it’s me). If I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, then my ideal reader probably won’t either.

What I Did Last Night

by Jonathan 6 Comments
Grab your boiled leather and prepare for intrigue.

Grab your boiled leather and prepare for intrigue.

My brother and his wife came over and the four of us delved into A Game of Thrones board game. This was the second time we played since I got it for Christmas. The rules take a while to get down, but once we got rolling, good stuff. If you like games, especially ones with a little meat on the bones, check this out.