This week over on Words Mean Stuff I have a post on taking time to ponder. Over here at Forever Mountain, I’m presenting an example of why you should stop to ponder.
Back in the bad old days (Ok, last week…), I had the idea to put a role-playing encounter up for this week’s post. Well, obviously I didn’t do that because you’re reading this post instead.
On the surface, the idea seemed simple. I’m working on games and books, so I’ll throw up a little encounter that helps readers and players get the flavor of my world. It was a good idea. It still is a good idea. But, when you dig deeper, it’s a bigger project than it seemed. At least it is if I want a quality product.
Sure, I could have just dove in, cranked out an encounter and threw it up here. But the result would be crap. Don’t get me wrong, I can create a good encounter. But I want to present an encounter that represents my world and motivates people to read and (gasp!) buy my stuff.
My world isn’t crap. I don’t want my readers buying crap. So, I worked out a plan and I’ll be putting out something better; something that I’m actually pleased with and that will get the results I want. And that ain’t crap…
So, let’s get on with it and look at the reasons you’re reading this post instead of an encounter this week…
Understanding the scope
Creating the encounter would be relatively quick and easy. As a GM, I create encounters on the fly all the time. But this will not be an on the fly, scrap together encounter. It’s a planned encounter that represents my world. Not just that, it’s going to be a published encounter too.
For a published encounter, I want a decent-looking map. I’m not just drawing something on a terrain grid and dragging out a few minis here. I need a drawn-out map to communicate the idea of the encounter to other game masters. And, since this is supposed to be a professional blog, it might be a good idea to have a decent-looking map, not just a scanned copy of a first draft hand-sketch.
I also have to consider what happens if somebody likes the encounter. I’d be thrilled to get feedback from people who’ve played the encounter.
Playing the encounter from the blog post could get unwieldy. And, I’d like to hear good things about the encounter and genuine issues people ran into; not that playing it from a blog post is unwieldy (I already guessed that). So, I should have it available in a downloadable and readable/printable format.
It’s easy enough to do a PDF. That’s readable and printable. But where do I store it? Where can the reader/player download it?
Well, I could set it up on my website (I still might). But it might be better to set it up at Drivethrurpg. If I set it up there, I can send the people from my blog over to download it (either free or pay what you want!) and I can get exposure to people who don’t read my blog. That sounds like a good idea.
By the way… If I’m doing a downloadable PDF, that means copies of this thing may float around even if I pull the blog post down. That means it’s a good idea to make sure my spelling/punctuation/grammar/formatting/‘quality assurance stuff’ is up to par, in addition to making sure that the map looks fantastic.
Oy… Back to the map. Now I need to make it really look good and make sure that I have copyright to the image for commercial purposes. It’s time to learn to draw, pay somebody, or make sure I’m using a software package that allows me to use the image commercially.
And of course, I have to make sure my copyright, the DnD 5th edition OGL copyright, and all those other legal bits are done correctly. (Not to mention any other art and that sort of thing).
So, thinking all of this over. Yeah, I’m still doing it. But it’s a lot more than just ‘whipping up an encounter’. And doing it all right might take more than a week!
Ensuring the quality
The encounter is definitely more than just a throw together for my campaign. I should treat it as a real publication.
It’s going to be more than a make up on the fly.
It’s going to be more than something in my notes.
It’s going to be more than just a blog post.
That means applying a higher editing and production standard.
I’ll do all the spelling and language check stuff I’d do on a blog post. But I’ll also do multi-draft editing. I’ll be following the revision process I would for a book or print article.
And that means I need some test readers (and in this case, test players). Who should I get to do that? Playing it with my group is like reading through my own story. I need other eyes. So, I’m thinking about other GMs I know and who I can ask to read/play through it without me actually being there.
I should also ask a couple artist/GMs I know about the maps and what they think of them.
Even if I don’t have the names before the maps and text are finished, knowing up front that they’re going through the process can be helpful.
Getting the results you want
Initially, the encounter was going to be a blog post. I’ll get that, eventually.
I also intended the encounter to represent my world. That makes it more than just a blog post. It’s marketing material for other work (Some characters are already slated to appear in another product…).
Sure, I could just throw something together and have a post. But that’s not what I want. I want more than just a post.
This encounter will be a lasting artifact, a teaser/marketing item, a chance to get feedback on the constructs in my world, a chance to work with a new outlet/vender, and even a chance to make a little money (hey it’s a publicity thing, but if I put it up as ‘pay what you want’ (and why not…?) I could see a little cash come in). What I really want from the encounter is for people to be interested in, even intrigued with, my world. I want them to want more.
If I’d just stayed where I started, if I hadn’t really thought it all over, I would have a crappy little blog post that I’ll take down in a few months because it’s embarrassing. Because I took the time to think about it, and because I’ll put the work in to get it, I’ll have a multi-platform marketing piece that expands my audience, interests people in my fictional world (where my games and books happen), and maybe even a little soda money on the side. What a deal!
Yes, it will take work. But because I took the time to think about that work, I can make the project bigger, better, and more successful than the initial idea. I can make it something really worth doing. And all because I took some time to think instead of just throwing something out there.
Well, dear reader, my office dragon is telling me there’s more work to do; my editor (ogre?) is telling me that 1300 words are too many for a 750-word post; and my wife really wants to be picked up from work. So, I’d better leave off for now.
Take the time to do the thinking and planning. Do the work to make your writing really great. And, I’ll see you next post.