I have this story I am trying to tell in Star Wars: The Old Republic. It involves my Legacy. It is not only a story, it is a Saga. It has a beginning, a vague middle, and an end. It is, for all intents and purposes, a writing exercise brought on by an MMORPG’s brilliant tool to tie all of your characters together exactly how they want you to.
There is an issue. I am on a role playing server.
Why is this an issue? It would normally be a boon: this sort of creativity and thought process put into one’s characters and alternate characters is applauded on a role play server, where as on a Normal or Player Vs Player server, it would be completely dismissed. However, the issue lies here: The Saga, in and of itself, is non-collaborative. Stories involving a set of one player’s characters interacting only among themselves is non-collaborative.
This is where the writer has to let-go, and the storyteller has to step in and take over.
Semantics? No. A writer would write the story from start to finish without any collaborative input and role play pieces from other players, which may make the story go completely sideways - making the end that I have carefully planned out completely turn on its end and not happen. The writer in this situation would throw up their hands, draw lines through the document and re-write bits until things turned out the way they wished for it to go.
A writer would ret-con collaborative role play input from other characters - ie: things that happened in game, things that could change the course of the Saga completely - to fit their own ends. Writers write their story. Writers have control. Writers are tailors. They create to fit their own ends.
A storyteller, on the other hand, would create the story as they saw fit, and allow for the role play to take place. Should in-character input take the story in an unforseen direction, the storyteller would mold the story to fit that direction. Making adjustments where they needed to go. They may attempt to make the ending which they envisioned work within the new parameters the story has taken on with the events which have transpired, but should it no longer fit - the events have happened. A new ending must be made. Storytellers are Impressionists. They create the story’s landscape in their own vision.
I am working on several projects at the moment. Some of them are Writer projects for long term and short term goals (personal projects and those for others), and one of them (the Saga story) I have finally taken the perspective of Storyteller. I will have to put on the hat of Game Master when it comes to the writing of said story; allow the Saga to progress organically through role play; and write the results in the Saga’s own narrative voice.
Writers can tell stories about their characters, as things that have happened, but in the project I am taking on, to create a Saga story about things that are currently happening: Present tense happening with past tense narrative voice, I have to reorganize my thinking. We have to reorganize our thinking when we write about our role play.
Our characters may not always go the way we wish them to progress. It may not be that they never reach their long-term goals or wishes, it may just be a temporary roadblock. However, these things are not terminal ends to role play. They are sometimes opportunities for new and interesting ways to explore our characters’ psyches. Different ways to write about our characters. Different aspects to role play with others.
So when we write about our characters, our stories, our sagas, or in our characters’ journals, think: Am I writing? Or am I storytelling? For the same character you could be doing both. As role play is organic and the story changes, so must we change our perspective.
As a wise penguin once said: Slide.