“As in fiction, I have a particular fondness for flawed and unlikeable characters. In writing “Lost Tomb of the Bitchin’ Chimera,” I tried to meet the players and their characters halfway, and to leave them plenty of room to make mistakes and inspire each other. That’s the fun, and it’s not entirely dissimilar from what I hope to accomplish in my fiction as well.”
I spoke with Lawrence Schick (aka Lawrence Ellsworth) about working for Gary Gygax in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, writing one of that game’s most famous adventures, world building, writing for video games, and, now, translating several million words of Dumas.
“My first writing job was working for Gary Gygax on material for Dungeons & Dragons:I revised his work and that of his friends, who got all the plum assignments in the early days, and wrote some stuff of my own. The most important thing you learn working on story games is to approach everything as a collaboration, with the players as your collaborators. I can’t emphasize this enough. You’re not writing a story, you’re creating the background and narrative tools and materials that others will use to tell a story among themselves, a story that doesn’t really exist until they tell it. It’s like writing horn charts for jazz, music that really only exists when the musicians play it, hearing each other and riffing in collaboration. When you write a scenario for a role-playing game, you’re creating a structure that others will extemporize upon to create their personal version of the narrative. So you have to leave room for their contributions, including enough pointers to help them shape the story because they’re not professional storytellers.”
My interview with Amber Sparks, about her new story collection And I Do Not Forgive You, is up at Untoward. Please give it a read.
“I started writing these pieces, my revenges, I called them, and they only existed for me to pour all of myself and my sorrow and all my other useless feelings into. And then I looked at them, and I liked them, and I started thinking that perhaps other people could use these, too, that catharsis could be something others might want through fiction, too. Better living through short stories.”