Monday, September 25, 2017

Adventure Writing Contest (even more!!!)

Someone wrote to me about the upcoming Adventure Writing Contest I'm organizing to help promote my recent guidebook - Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss.

Curious about my judging criteria for this $500 contest?  Here you go!

If you have a question about writing and submitting a scenario, please ask.  Same address as the one for submissions:

Hello Venger,

I'm definitely interested in your adventure writing contest.  I've several scenarios in mind, and I've bought and read through your adventure writing pdf.  I do like and appreciate the story DNA approaching the text but I think I'm missing out on something that makes me hesitate before I begin.  That being is that I'm unsure as to the structure.  What should a 5-7 page entry to you look like?  Should this be more of an outline looking document, or 7 pages of flavor text?  Should I include any unique game mechanics to the adventure besides narrative? 

I guess I'm asking about industry standards as well as your contest criteria.  I've always wanted to be a published GM and just don;t know how to start getting it out of my head and onto the page.

Much thanks,

-- Dungeon Dude

I know what's in my head when I think of a 5-7 page scenario.  However, that's not necessarily what I want.  I definitely like being pleasantly surprised.  In a way, the adventure will resemble the author/GM.  Roleplaying is a personal art form.  The ingredients are there, but everything comes from the people involved, the creators... the designer who wrote the scenario, the GM, and the players.  If you're writing and running an adventure you made, then two-thirds of that puzzle is coming from you.  If you only write the adventure, then one-third of it is yours.

But to answer your question of what is in my head, here's a basic outline that I'd start with if I were writing my own...

  • A single paragraph introducing yourself and/or the adventure you've written.  Give us a taste of what's in store...
  • No more than three paragraphs of story, background, and adventure set-up.
  • At least three scenes (each scene should take up between a half and a full page).
  • At least one moment that happens between scenes (this shouldn't take more than half a page to describe).
  • Provide anything special that goes along with the adventure wherever you think it should go (in order to help the GM).  I'm referring to a new race, new profession, starship details, random table, NPC write-up, magic item description, new spell, hover-tank movement rules, etc.
  • A paragraph or two that either provides an ending or concluding remarks containing ideas for what might come next.

In other words, it should not be 5-7 pages of "flavor text," unless flavor text includes compelling conflicts.  But I don't want to see many mechanics or lengthy stat blocks.  This is not an extended math problem, but an adventure!  

Nor should it resemble an outline.  An outline is basically giving the GM homework.  You want to do the GM's homework for him (that's why he's shelling out $ in the first place).  Don't constrict him with a railroad situation (anything where the text states that the players must do this or this definitely happens to the players no matter what they do).  You should also provide blank spaces for the GM (and occasionally the players) to fill in their own ideas.

Sometimes, you've got to write crappy stuff before you can write good stuff.  I had to get it out of my system, so maybe you do, too.  Start writing and keep writing!  Submit what turns out great and burn those bastards that will only embarrass you down the road (hello there, Empire of Satanis).

Good luck,


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