The SolAARium: Discuss the craft of writing - Alphabetical Index in the 1st Post

May 8, 2004
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Great list LD I am already using it for one of my AARs.
 
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Wow thank you very much for that wonderful list. I hada similar one but it did not contain anywhere near as many useful thinsg as yours Looking back I wonder how I ever wrote without it.
 

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I thought I might put forward a new topic since it has been some time since one has been brought up for discussion.

Judge wrote about the lengthening of AARs in the most recent issue of the gazette. He wondered why that may be, and the idea was echoed in the feedback thread. Director even suggested it might make for an interesting AARticle, and I do not disagree. Perhaps a discussion on such might provide some very decent research material for such an AARticle.

I have to say that I think AARs are getting longer because people are trying to do much more with them. I certainly do not wish to get back on the topic of story vs. gameplay, but I think the idea that an AAR is somewhat more interesting if there are fleshed out characters, a more complicated plot and some fascinating twists and turns adds to the overall enjoyment.

I feel more and more writAARs are finding that to be the case. In fact, take a look at LD's most recent contribution to this thread. His character sheets offer the exact kind of guide to assist in helping flesh out those people that inhabit your story. Obviously he is on a somewhat higher plateau when it comes to writing, but I think we have all begun to think more about those types of things, and thus it has a welcome addition to our writing tools.

In fact our newer membAARs are coming on board thinking that way, and thus the sheer richness of new tales boggles the mind. I have thought for some time that Paradox games offer a wonderful guide to both teaching in terms of history as well as providing a wonderful template for writing historical fiction, but I really must admit that I had no idea there were so many others that felt the same way, and were able to do it so well.

Further, the recent question involving copyright issues and what is publishable suggests that more and more membAARs are thinking of that very thing. It is something to be careful of, to be sure.

We should all keep in mind that the bulk of our writAARs are not, in fact, professionals, but that most of us are amatuers hoping to gain assiatnce in perfecting a craft. Thus the importance of feedback. But also, there are many that would like to take what is learned and turn it into something more palatable to the general public. This would explain why some tales are getting longer, I would think.

Further, Judge suggested, some begin not quite realizing where the story will take them. I know I am a slight victim of that. I had a brilliant story laid out (and still brewing in my mind) but the amount of research to do has become somewhat overwhelming. I certainly do not suggest this is wrong. Only that it seems I am not the only one.

I am curious to see what others think of this trend. What do you think causes the length in storytelling? What is to be gained from it? What is to be lost? How do we, as a group, continue to encourage such, while at the same time reminding ourselves of what we are capable of doing here and what should be left to the realm of actual publishable material?

I do not wish to stifle anyone's creativity, by any means. Just throwing some random thoughts out there. I personally love the richness and in depth coverage many of the AARs of this forum offer me. It is why I return day after day. Just throwing the subject out there. The floor is open.
 
May 8, 2004
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The increase in size is most certainly due to an increase in the expection of readers. If reader was see say one of Farq.'s AAR and then a basic log style they will be inclined to read Farq.'s. Thus when they go to write an AAR they raise the bar for length and content. It is easy to see the changes that have occured in the writing of AARs over time. Plots have become complex, pictures are now exploited, and beutiful descriptions of charectors are to be found. These asspects drive a stories length to a new level. I recently heard of a writAARer that acctually deleted his story, because he planned to base a book upon it. When a forum has content like that within it I bieleve we it has nearly if not already reached the peak length for AARs.
 

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There is (or was) a term in software development called 'second system syndrome'. If the first project you write is fresh, innovative, clever, fast and elegant, the second is almost certain to be none of those things. The urge to add functions (whether for marketing or just 'coolth') combines with the desire to get in all the things you had to leave out of the first one plus a healthy dose of hubris, and the end result is bloat.

We hear praise and prizes given to works with depth of characters, intricate plots, meticulous historical research and we want to have that praise (and prize) for our own work. If Smith adds a bedroom onto his house, Jones will add a bedroom and remodel the kitchen. If Jones buys a new lawnmower, Smith has to get a bigger one.

AARs are getting longer because authors need room for all the improvements they want to cram into their stories. I will suggest that there is a higher level of craft which allows an author to evoke vivid people, places and events in fewer words, but this art isn't rewarded much these days. The short-story is dead, overrun by trilogies of novels. Even these are now overflowing into four, five and more books - trilogies of trilogies! Look at George Lucas, who took one very clever film and pumped it with enough water and hot air to serve up eight more.


The practical consequences of this are huge. New readers are less likely to pick up a monster AAR of 25+ pages (I include my own work here). Current readers may find it difficult to commit to a story arc that takes literally seasons and years to tell (I include my own work here, too). Our readership is struggling to find the time to read the volume - the flood! - of AARs that fill the forum. How can you pick up a new work when you're already reading ten or twelve - and have been reading them for months - and will be reading them for a year to come? How many authors can seriously say that they are ready, willing and able to commit the time and resources to a work that may span a year of real life?

How many times can you think of that an author - or a reader, Thank You Merrick - had to stop and recap or answer questions from readers who can't remember who did what to whom and why? They can't remember because the action took place six months ago in real life and because they've read parts of twenty AAR's in the meantime!


My own attempt at a shorter form was a flop. Not that there was no good writing in 'Bremen' - some of my better stuff is in there, I think - but because I couldn't keep it short! The writing may be good and the story interesting, but the experiment failed. The essays got longer and longer - then went to multiple parts - then longer still.

I admire authors like Storey, who can excerpt an interesting slice from a longer game and not feel compelled to write out the whole 400 years. I applaud Bismarck and Stroph1 and Lord Durham, who showed us how to write short, accessable episodes. Farquharson's (sp?) 'Other Great White Blob' is a TERRIFIC set of short stories in the style of Kipling's 'Jungle Book'.

So I am calling for a return - where appropriate - to short, tight stories. I am calling for authors to write up the interesting bits and let the rest go. I am calling for writers who can turn out an essay, a short-story, an episode! Certainly there will still be room for authors who can write a novel!
 

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In my (ever humble) opinion, almost any style of AAR has a place, provided it has readers. Even the (occasionally) reviled log-style is usual for analysing the play of the game.

Looking at the three AARs I've completed or put time in on (these being the ones I'm most familar with), my first AAR (Victoria-New England) was broken into sections based on the Presdential elections. Each section has a few smaller scenes from that Presidential term. There was no attempt to cover each thing that happened. This ended up being a short AAR, in large part due to a corrupted save game.

My second AAR (Victoria-Manhattan) covered almost every major event in the game in a story style. I had three main characters, and everything revolved around them. This also ended up being rather short, due to the quick extinction of Manhattan.

My third on-going AAR (Victoria-Ireland) is a windbag of an AAR; all story, no game yet, and several characters. It will end up being very long (if I finish it). But I warned the readers at the outset that this would be the case. And I think that's the key.

Let your readers know from the start what they're in for. If you're writing a 25 page novella, everyone who wants to follow it can, and those that want a log style can move on.

My final statement is this: write what you want, but make sure your readers know what they're getting.
 

unmerged(10971)

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I'm usually short and concise. See "God Save the CzAAR" or "The Story of Aragón", where decade-spanning posts are the rule rather than the exception. But now I'm working on "The Trees of Autumn", where after the thread reaches three pages I'm still only a half-year in... :wacko:

I agree with Voshkod. You'll get readers no matter what. There's an audience for just about everything. Though personally, I prefer shorter AARs, because I don't have that much time to read.
 

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Hmmmmm. Perhaps I was not clear; perhaps I was not heard.

I was not intending to argue in favor of one story style, type or length as being superior to others. I was trying to encourage authors to look at other forms. I do think there is a tendency for authors to assume that their story must be told in chronological order, must span all 400 years and must be a novel in size and scope.

What I am in favor of is experimentation. I think everyone who has worked on a full-length AAR has - sooner or later - wearied of the burden. Having an immense, powerful empire is gratifying, but it can quickly become boring. Why write about these years? Why not experiment with a series of short stories, write about the interesting people, or just an excerpt of the exciting times?

I think there is a real tendency for long, complex AARs to intimidate new readers. In fact, I know that to be true - despite the reported excellence of the Free Company series, I've never read it. I look at the size of the previous books and just never start. Would a shorter AAR draw more readers than a long one if they were equally well written? I think it's a legitimate question.



Here's another topic. How much is too much? The board is, of course, run by Paradox and I have no doubt the moderators would step in if something truly gross or obscene were posted. But before we get to that point, where do you draw the line? Sex? Violence? Profanity? Deficit spending? Vomit? Incest? Homosexuality? Explicit gore and grue? Monstrosity? Rape? Bodily fluids? Spandex? Hatchetwork? Nudity? Death of children? Murderous children? Obesity? Handicaps and birth defects? What else?

I will stipulate in advance that it is all in the treatment - that great writers can skate 'closer to the edge' than lesser talents - and I am NOT suggesting that we set some standard for propriety. I'm just asking what - for you - constitutes 'too much', as an author and as a reader. Have you pushed your limits yet?

Oh - one more thing. Let's try to avoid arguments of the 'all-x-kind-of-people-are-evil' sort and confine ourselves to talking about how these uncomfortable topics can effectively be used in our writing... or can't.

As Mark Twain once supposedly said, 'If angry, count to ten. If very angry, swear.' Are there times when only profanity - or sex, or extreme violence, or something truly gross - will do? Just how 'realistic' do we want a battle scene to be, anyway? And would you take your story there if the story required it?
 

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It's good to see the SolAARium still up and running. And I'm glad my thread subscription still works.


Hmm, let's see, where to begin? First, I agree with you Director with regards to style and format. Yes, not everything needs to be a "War and Peace" caliber AAR. In fact, a long time ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing a very short AAR written entirely in verse (Backpack's The Devil Went Down to Georgia). It had a farily decent readership, and why shouldn't it? It was short, easy to read, and told the tale in a new and fun way. It didn't even take itself too seriously, which is something all of us could keep in mind while writing. (Sometimes, just having fun with the writing, as opposed to getting all riled up about it, is the way to go.)

The other end of the spectrum are projects like the Free Company, as you mentioned. As much of a commitment that someone like LD put into organizing and planning (not counting the zillions of other contributors who committed to it!), you can bet its a major commitment to be a reader of such an AAR. I was involved for a period of time as a contributor, and I didn't even get to read all of the back story that led up to the part I was involved in! (Heck, it took some time to get through the material that people were posting while I was posting as well. Good stuff to be sure, but a ton to go through.) Considering the time that people have to spend on the 500 things in their life, it is asking alot of them to read something that big, no matter how good it is.

To be honest, there is a place for all different styles. I would be kinda sad to see all the large projects disappear. (I know you're not saying this, Director, but bear with me.) I would also consider it remiss if all the short projects went away as well. What I think everyone should keep in mind is that the episodic format of writing on this forum provides you with multiple ways of telling a story. You can write it as a novel, play, series of short stories, soap opera (the cliffhanger method works great for readership!), TV show format, poetry, or even something I haven't mentioned.


To address the "what is too much" in an AAR, I can give a VERY simple answer. If you wish to include violence, incest, rape, arson, or deficit spending in your AAR, ask yourself this: Does it contribute to the plot and/or characters? If it doesn't, then don't include it. For those paying attention, that's the same question you should ask yourself about anything when it comes to writing, as including unnecessary junk = bad writing.

Generally, if someone is doing their job correctly, then the inclusion of such horrific images is a way to deal with the dark side of human existence.

Of course, that's not a very practical guide, is it? Not really, but its worth mentioning. For practicality's sake, I follow this general rule in my own AAR stuff on the forum: If the material in a post might be objectionable due to its graphic nature, I will pre-post a warning and give the post an "R" rating. I've only had to do this once, mind you, and my readers thought I was overreacting just a bit. However, considering that these forums are Paradox's, and not mine, I feel its prudent to be a bit more restrained than I might otherwise be, not because Paradox will censor me like a bunch of Nazis (they have never done so, as far as I can tell), but because I don't feel this is the place to test the boundaries of human darkness fully.
 

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Director, thanks for keeping these discussions going. You brought up some really good issues and tough questions.

I agree that there is no particular need to tell a story in chronological order. I have followed chronological order in my AARs, mostly because it seemed more natural that way. But there is one exception. In my Khazak Horde AAR I presented the first century or so in order, but then the rest of the AAR was presented according to major themes -- separate short stories, you might say. I thought that approach worked pretty well for that particular AAR. Still, I believe that chronological order would be better most of the time, at least for me, just because of the way I arrange and organize things in my mind.

The other issue you brought up is a lot tougher, in my opinion. I agree with Secret Master that it should be up to the authors' conceptions of their ideas whether R or even X rated material enhances the story or not. Still, as a reader, I must admit that I am a conservative, prudish person. I am generally turned off by graphic horror, occult, or sex scenes, no matter how well written they may be. But I understand that many other readers have much different tastes. I can accept that.
 

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Some good answers so far. I never assumed Director meant one style was preferable to another. In fact, I think forum wide, we all have been quite adamant about not suggesting such. There is simply no reason to stifle any one style as each offers a different area in which to grow, both as a game player and as a writer.

I think the level of experimentation that the forum allows, and has thus far followed, has been extraordinary. True, the bulk of stories right now tend to go for the chronological narrative, but SM is completely right that they are episodic and thus allow for experimentation (even with one AAR) of different styles. I know my badly in need of an update Into the West is attempting to tell a flashback style. It has me moving around time periods, though still chronologically, but attempting to get back to where I started. I sit many a day and wonder how much time is too much to let pass? Is it OK to let two sections span 10 years and then two others of equal length span only two months, or weeks even? But that's my own experiment.

I guess my take would be each would have to determine what level they want to write on, what level they can right on and what do they want to experiment with in the process of doing that. Which leads to the second question. I don't think anything is "too much" but there are certainly some things that may straddle a line. I think SM said it well that it should be somehow germane to the tale being told. To include sex or graphic horror just for the sake of it really accomplishes nothing other than to try and disturb sensibilities. But if done well and further, done to advance the story in a certain way, it can be most effective and certainly be appropriate. Though I might suggest a disclaimer as SM has done, and I know MrT has done in the past as well.
 

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In my opinion, graphic sex and violence don't have much of a place in this sort of writing. Such things are more titillating, or more horrifying, if the reader is allowed to imagine them. That's not to say that some sex and violence isn't useful; descriptions of battles would seem somewhat clinical without that latter, for example.

Foul language, on the other hand, can be very useful if not overused. A generally well mannered character uttering the four-letter word most recently made famous by the US Vice President, for example, could be very powerful. In my Manhattan AAR, I was torn for a bit as to whether one character, a brusque fighting Irishman, would call another, an intellectual Jew, something like "a dirty Jew." Coming from the Irishman's mouth, and given the time period (1860), it certainly would not have been out of place. But I was afraid people might attribute the attitude to the author, and not to the character. In the end I ommitted it. One can imagine other situations (say a CSA AAR) where the use of certain racial epithets might be almost expected. But should the author use them?

As for style and nature of AARs, I've never tried to argue that "longer is better." I always fall back on the rule of the masses: the audience will decide what they enjoy. Humorous world conquests seem to be very popular, for example (Ebbesen generally, Rustican's Risk AAR). Feedback to the longer AARs seems to have dropped off, as Lord Durham has noted. My current AAR is a longer one, and the feedback has been positive but sparse. That doesn't particularly bother me; I'm using the AAR was a writing exercise to improve my own skills. Reader feedback is a bonus.

V.
 

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Limits. Personally as far as 'ordinary' violence is concerned I'm pretty much relaxed.

In terms of sex, I admit it, I'm a prude. I find reading anything too suggestive to be slightly off-putting, and there are one or two aars I don't read simply because they have made me feel uncomfortable. Unsurprisingly it is an area I barely approach in my own writings. I do a fair bit of squriming in the average film in the cinema too ;)

For things more extreme scenes then I am far more hesitant,as a reader and a writer. For example, I think done well a torture scene can be highly effective, if it has a point that can only effectively be made in that setting. Otherwise I think it can be as, if not more effective, to have the torture take place off-stage so to speak.

Generally I think that is an important consideation to bear in mind, not so much does the scene have a point. Often they do. Rather, can that point be made more effective by not detailing it for the reader? Imagine is at its most fertile when it is restrained as little as possible, and the art of writing is at least partly about being able to let readers take part in the story through their own imaginings.

I think this can be done very effectively with the romantic scenes as well. Fade to black is not simply something to do when matters get too delicate, but a device to be utilised to enrich the readers experience.

Saying all that, in relation particularly to violence a very "matter of fact" approach sometimes would allow me to write about things I otherwise would not, by strangely not writing about them. If something is matter of fact it is not dwelt on. It is noted, and then discarded. The reader knows something terrible is going on, and then repeat as above. I think a reader's imagination is going to be far better than I at detailing the horrible/wonderful.

Just my ha'penny piece ;)
 

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I wanted to touch on the idea of "length" once again. In my zest to contribute earlier today (while at work) I admit I did not allow myself enough time to truly think about the issue. I would have left it alone save for my current quest of reading SM's Noble Lives. One of the things that has struck me most about it is the abilty he has to compress, if you will, the amount of imformation he presents in each post. Granted, some are longer than others, but he has an uncanny ability to express what needs to be said, and in high literary fashion, in a few paragraphs. Things that might take me several to get across.

I suppose it has much to do with the level of writer a person is, and this most likely contributes to the length of certain AARs out there. Not to suggest we have many bad writers and only a few good ones, but that, as I've suggested before, we are a group of aspiring writers which indicates that there is much to still be learned (if it ever is.) Thus, in trying to get across all the infromation (exposition, foreshadowing, development, etc.), we expend an immense ammount of time perhaps "flowering" our language.

What I mean by that is we all might begin to experiment with the "less is more" theory. In fact, this goes along with what stnylan has suggested regarding what is crossing the line. What we do not see may very well be just as powerful, if no moreso, than what we do if we allow the reader to create it for themself. I suppose it can also be part of the "show rather than tell" theory. This was a wonderful bit of information in an earlier discussion that I still struggle with in my own work.

So, if you take the idea that we are trying to include more and more interesting writing in each installment, and then equate that over 400 years for an EUII AAR (for example), by the time we are done, we are left with 30 to 50 pages of 25 posts per page (with comments included of course.) I suppose it's one more argument for trying to find a smaller time frame to write about. It was something that MrT was rather adament about - he would never try to write another 400 year AAR again. It was simply too dauting to him as a writer. Imagine what it must be to the reader.

I think it would be fascinating to see what a number of people could do with pulling say 10 to 20 years out of an EUII game and writing about it. But then of course, we already have one game that plays for less than ten. And HoIers still are able to put together immense amount of material for their work. Perhaps in that game - take one battle and describe it from start to finish. You would be surprised at how many pages that might fill up by itself.

Anyway, this is getting long itself, so I'll stop. But it was one more thought that I had on the topic at hand. Great ideas bandied about, by the way. I love that the SolAARium still gets some action from time to time!
 

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Mymy this has certainly sprung to live :)

A lot of topics :) so little time.....


Lenght of AARs, well a lot have been said that is both correct and true, but it still comes down to taste and stamina :p

Looking at my own experience it is very difficult to keep a long novel like AAR fresh, especially if you run out of steam half way. My own Slow AAR have lost most readers as it dragged on, and more importantly, I have contributed to that by dragging it on.. as the story lost momentum it became harder and harder writing a new installment that fit in with the rest, and even harder for the readers to keep up.

That is the main bane of all long novel style AARs as I see it, long installments far apart is a virtual killer for these stories. I have in time abandoned such great stories as Gluttonic Knights over this. In fact SM have been the only one who has maintained some reading, though greatly aided by more referals to his story than anyone else.

I think the trick to that feat, apart from marvelous writing, is to keep a feeling of selfcontained posts, despite the long absence the series of posts fighting the naval battle seems fresh, and can without troulbe be read without reading hte story from the start. Each segment is so self contained and includes so many tidbits of information from the past that you can easily keep up.

A way to battle this is to keep the story detacjed from the game, look at Norgs recently reviewed story, and my own HoI AAR, they do not follow the game very closely, nor do they expect the reader to understand the game mechanics or follow the plot rigorisly.


Now the other topic is a little harder, there are two takes on this, the litteray and the board or forum issue.

Put simply this is a family board, and any gore or sex should be readabale by the parents of a 11 year old US girl!

I know the line is hard to draw, and I have myself used the warning caption in a post as well as indirectly allowed a few more than borderline AARs, mostly from not getting to them soon enough :(

We have however also had to trim several public displays in such areas as the waterholes, so from a Mod perspective Sex and Violence is not a good thing.


Litterarily speaking I find that implied Sex and Violence often works much better than graphic displays. The one time I did use a more descriptive approach it was done to create a very special mood and intimate and nice feeling, so that I could interrupt it with a declaration of war :)

In retro I could have been more subtle and less descriptive, but at the time it seemed the best way to show the deep intimacy between man and wife, and then have it interrrupted and send of to war (which is still raging btw in the story :p)

V
 

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Well, normally I wouldn't spend a lot of time discussing my own writing here (plenty of time for that in my own thread :) ), but since V and coz brought up it up, I might as well try and explain the way in which I continue with my rather lengthy story.

First, I think it is very important that every post do a few critical things. Every post must advance the plot, it must provide added insight into at least one character, it must connect with a previous post, and it must connect with a future post. Allow me to explain in detail. (Warning! Verbosity Alert! Danger! Lengthy post ahead!)

1) Advancing the plot: Basically, something must happen during the post, and it must be something directly related to the story. This is just a detailed version of "Every post should add to the story", but its trickier than it might seem at first. Advancing the plot does not mean chronologically moving the story ahead. A flashback can advance the plot just as much as a a regular scene. A side story about some minor character can also do the same thing. The key is to NOT post purely information segments where nothing really happens. (Note: This is why I use Historical Extracts for infomration stuff. My readers might need the information, but I don't clutter up the actual story with it.) It's ok if there is not alot going on, but SOMETHING must happen. Note that it is ok if what is really happening is not immediately obvious to your readers. If your readers trust you, you can get away with seemingly innocuous posts that turn out later on to have been advancing the plot forward. (Note: There were some segments in my writing that readers found a bit odd until future parts were posted and they went back and saw how it was moving forward in the story. Of course, this is something to be done sparinginly.) This is a time honored tradition is movies as well. The movie Fight Club gives us plenty of this "sneaky" plot advancement.

2) Insight into a character: Your characters should always be doing things and saying things that shed more light on who they are. It's not enough to just advance the plot; your characters have to "advance" as well. In every post, a little more of at least one character should be revealed. Alternatively, a character might begin to change in a post. These revelations and changes don't have to be dramatic. In fact, pacing the revelations and changes out over several posts is the key in longer writing. If you reveal everything in one sitting, you don't have alot to do in future segments, do you? If a character is completely static, he will get boring over the long haul. Also, having characters interacting with other characters is a sure way to getting this done. This is why I often employ pairings of characters. Makes revelation of character and change flow more naturally from the pen, err, keyboard.

3) Connecting with a previous post: This sounds easy. Just make sure the action follows from one post to the next, right? Well, yes, but its more complicated than that in longer writing. If you are doing a work that will cover 200 years of history, you MUST tie it all together. And tying it all together means more than just going from post to post. "Historical" events that happened a long time ago in the story will be referenced by characters in the present day, even if only casually. Characters also have memories, so if they are 60, and you were writing about them since they were 20, you have to constnatly reference old material. This isn't boring; this is actually a way to kep readers fresh and involved. Your readers will recognize and appreciate the occassional references to things they read before. It gives them a sense of belonging to the work. As such, a post can connect to a previous post, but that previous post may be 200 or so post ago. That's just fine, and it gives your readers a reason to remember all sorts of things that happened in the past.

Now, for those wondering, how does an initial post connect with a previous post? The answer is to provide a false background for it to reference. Even if you haven't written it, these characters have pasts and memories, so fill in some gaps. The same goes if you are starting something new with characters who won't know immediately what's been going on in previous posts.

4) Connecting with a future post: Just as a post must connect with the post, it must connect with the future. Of course, you probably haven't written the future posts yet, but that doesn't mean you can't connect with the, as yet, unwritten future. Connecting with the future usually involves leaving a "hook" of some sort at the end of a post. Basically, you leave some unifinished business for the characters. This fits well with advancing the story. You advance it, but not too far. The best examples of this on TV are, of course, Soap Operas (I have no idea what you Europeans call them). Of course, you don't have to be as dramatic as they are (and you probably shouldn't be, most of the time). But by suggesting something that will happen in the future, your readers have a reason to come back. And YOU have a reason to keep writing. This is a rule I'm not always so good at following when I am in the middle of a story, but I get better about it when I get towards the climax.

While I've advertised these rules as useful for lengthy writing, there is no reason they can't be used for shorter works to. The format of the forum dictates an episodic style. As such, we must fully exploit the advantages of such an arrangement.

Another minor consideration for those who even think about attempting a long work. Just because you want to write a full length novel covering 400 years of history doesn't mean you have to write just one story. Breaking it up into smaller story chunks is probably the best way to do things (unless you're doing a collaberative project. Then all bets are off). As LD and MrT found during the course of their lengthy projects, readers here are not very tolerant of single lengthy stories. This is not some sort of failing in the readers, nor is it a failing in the writers. I think it is a natural consequence of how this format of writing works. I may be misquoting, but I think it was Peter Ebesen (whose name I never can spell properly :) ) who mentioned that if he wanted to read a full length novel, he'd go buy one and sit down and read it. Most folks here only have limited time for reading, and it's asking a lot of them to stare at a computer screen for hours on end to read things off a website. It is the truly rare and dedicated fan who prints up his/her favorite AARs and marches off to read them for hours after work. (By the way, such a fan is well worth keeping around and being cordial to, as they tend to keep very good track of what you've done.) Heck, in my hey day of reading, I was only able to because while I was at work, there was no real work for me to be doing most of the time. The point is that bite sized story chunks are more accessible to the average reader than lengthy novel style writing. Neither is better, but there are consequences for choosing either style.
 

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All well and good SM, but you fail to explain one crucial point :)

Why, despite all those interconnecting posts, can you still pick it up and read it despite a what 8 months absence? Even if it was left in the middle of a side plot, and not even at a natural break between two different ministories?

V
 

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Valdemar said:
All well and good SM, but you fail to explain one crucial point :)

Why, despite all those interconnecting posts, can you still pick it up and read it despite a what 8 months absence? Even if it was left in the middle of a side plot, and not even at a natural break between two different ministories?

V

Well, that's really very simple to answer.

Err, well, it should be. I'm sure I have the answer here somewhere.

<looks sheepish>

Ok, the truth is I don't have a clue. I didn't even think I would pick back up with it again until a fan spotted me on the CK forum and posted in my AAR. After looking over my notes, I figured the least I could do was give it a go. I spent a week re-reading the vast majority of it, collected my thoughts (I remembered just about everything I was planning to do with the stories) and started writing. What suprised me was that more than one reader mentioned that they had no trouble picking right back up with it. I figured everyone would have to go back and re-read previous parts just to get back up to speed.

I take it as a huge compliment that my readers were both ready and willing pick right back up with the story AND that they had no problems doing so. I guess I am doing something right; what that exactly is, though, I couldn't tell you. I will have to think this over a bit and see what I can theorize.

Any thoughts on your end?
 

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Here's one for you...

I've read numerous posts over the years that have generally been less than complementary about the instruction manuals that were included with EU, EU2, HoI, Vicky and CK games. Sooooooooooo:

If you were going to sit down and write a manual for an upcoming Paradox game, what sort of style would you use? Knowing what you know about Paradox's tendency to improve upon the game after release, what sort of information would you include and/or exclude? How would you tackle the project?

I asked this in the CK forum a little while ago, but figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask here as well.
 

Valdemar

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Chris, it is even more relevant here, this is the place for the art of writing :p Such a manual would have to be a work of fiction, because you'll never be able to gather the actual details of the game mechanics, and in some instance not even the larger concpets as they are bound to be changed to some degree. For some games like CK the change is eminient, but even for sequels like EU2 the difference btw 1,01 and 1,08 is huge on the conceptual side.

I know that doesn't help much, but I think your starting point would be the simple and utter facts that follow any PE game, what does the mouse do here and there, how are the overall screen outlay to be understood. And then only add the details of the effects of what say a slider does in the last moment :)

SM, the shamefull truth is that I never read your story from the top, I picked it up by accident when the current dual plots started due to a naval question you asked somewhere, on galleys and scandinavia :) And STILL I can understand what goes on when you restarted it :eek:

V