So, let’s just jump right into it. As I browse my publishing/writing news and tips, I keep running across opinion pieces about the decline of sci-fi books. Not in movies, or video games as we’ve seen, just books. Apparently we scifi authors have run out of ideas. I’ve heard that fantasy is outselling science fiction 3:1.
In wondering about that, I began to wonder too, about not just books but ideas in general. Hollywood is running out of them. They’re hiding this fact by remaking classics, and retelling super hero stories. But I think we’re getting the sense that the creativity is dwindling a bit.
It is not that surprising. With the increase in technology everything is happening faster. We’re reading too fast. We’re downloading movies, and TV shows too fast, there’s very little downtime in between our need for entertainment and getting it. That means we’ve got to put out content faster and well, we’re seeing the result of that.
As a writer are you finding that you’re having that trouble too? Searching for a way to make your idea unique? Is it even possible anymore? I mean, c’mon, they say there’s nothing new under the sun right?
Well, I say, which Sun? In what galaxy are you referring to? The challenges are getting bigger, more is being demanded of our imaginations and the quality of work, to which I think we need all reply: challenge accepted.
We need not only more scifi novels, but novels that aren’t afraid to genre blend, break the rules, and that are bursting with the kind of imagination and creativity readers are longing for. I also, have a suggestion for bringing this about, and its called text based, free form roleplay.
Here’s what I learned about Vasco Terenzio after I wrote the Ascension, without filling out one of those boring, 100 question character worksheets, as I put him inside the world of the Synarchy RPG:
Vasco prefers tea over coffee (green with mint, occasionally English breakfast) and likes lollipops. He’s a reformed smoker. He takes after his grandfather in his secret enjoyment of teaching. Often, he teaches classes at the Alcyone orphanage. He plays angry birds, civilization 5, and especially loves the kind of music that came out of Harlem in the late 1920s and 30s (he is a reincarnated version of Stefano after all). He likes making an entrance; it’s just ingrained in him. He’ll take the helicopter to Phoenix Isle, or the SVT Sec Island instead of the ferry. He doesn’t understand why men sleep with their socks on, and has realized he really hates shaving.
Roleplay is a gaming world for writers. It is an arena where all us wordsmithy, storytellers can come together and write off each other. It’s similar to the kind of creativity that leaks out of writer rooms on TV shows. Or when a director, and a script writer, and the cinematographer get together to make movie magic. More often than not, we don’t have that with books. Our editors are different. Writing is a solitary venture. Don’t get me wrong, we authors are good at it alone. We’ve proven that. But there is an underutilized tool at our disposal that might just help pull us into a new kind of inspiration.
Roleplay goes a bit beyond the writers group critiques. It allows us to just, go with it. To just let our imagination flow, to let our character say this, do that, start this storyline, then literally interact with it. It becomes this living, breathing thing and oh my gods the ideas that can explode from a night of RP will make your brain hurt. I have learned so much about my characters every time they’re put in a situation I had no idea would come about, it just did.
And it’s not just for us professional wordsmiths. Text based RPG is a place for anyone who wants to tell a story and share it with someone else in real time. Maybe you don’t have time to write a book, but you can certainly start a storyline. It’s a chance to actually be our heroes, or villains and to meet someone else’s. And for our readers, it holds this magical ability to be a place where they could possibly interact with the characters they’ve read about, or write with the authors they love reading.
The world is changing at break neck speed. Those never been done before ideas are out there, and our imaginations can carry us. The picture becomes much more unique when we’re allowed to add our vision to someone else’s canvass. Now we’re really looking at things differently. Now we’re wondering how does my character react to that? What would he really do if faced with this? Then we can take what we’ve learned and craft it into our novels.
Ready to get started Wordsmiths? Excellent. Contact me, and let’s play chess with our imaginations. C’mon, how much fun is that?