Monday, July 14, 2008

Storytelling Assignment: Your Own Story

For next session we are to write and prepare to tell a story of our own. It is supposed to be a story about us, featuring us, or a friend, a relative, a family story. I wonder if I could use one or some of my dad's stories about George the Squirrel. Probably not, since I'm supposed to write the story myself. But maybe I could do a story in the style of George? That's just one idea.

Our professor gave us several prompts. Many of them sparked memories that would make for great stories, I think.

I'll have to give this assignment some thought. There are so many possible stories about myself and others that I could tell, and I want to pick the best one.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Creative Writing Prompt #46

Writing prompt #46: In 200 words, describe a hot day

Attempt #1: fiction. 212 words.
It’s the kind of heat that sticks to you like the tar softening in the streets. The humid, damp, soaking grip of Minnesota summer. Sure, it’s not as hot as summers further south, but like we say, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

But what I’m really thinking right now is who the hell gets married outside in this kind of weather? What bride says “I want to wilt in the sun front of my friends and family”? At least she gets to wear white – she doesn’t care if they talk – the groom is wearing a black wool suit. I don’t know if I pity him more for having to suffer through the heat or the years to come.

Dark, solid, heavy rainclouds taunt us from the edge of the horizon. The relief that rain would bring is far away, and “just skirting around the metro area.” I hate weathermen. I swear if you just put them outside to do the forecast on days like this their pretty little plastic smiles would melt and drip down their face.

It’s too hot to be this angry. I fan myself with the wedding program, dreaming of the indoor, open-bar, reception. “Two gin and tonics, please.” I can already tasty the icy pine tree.

Attempt #2: embellished non-fiction. 203 words.
We were gathered around the great bonfire in our full uniforms. Each Boy Scout adorned with his merit badge sash, proudly displaying his accomplishes. The ripples of the lake lapping at the shore just beyond the clearing were the only sounds. We, the newest initiates into the Order of the Arrow, had sworn ourselves to silence for the duration of our induction weekend. Now that weekend was coming to a close.

Our fellow scouts, senior members of the Order, had taken on the traditional garb of American Indian tribes from our region and marched slowly past the many concentric rings of initiates towards the raging flames.

My uniform clung to me tightly, stuck in place by the glue that was the sheets of sweat pouring out of my body after digging post holes and building fences in the blazing sun. As I stared into the fire I couldn’t help wondering what it felt like to pass out from heat stroke. What it would look like to others as I dropped to my knees. What it might feel like when my head started to spin and I barely managed to get my arms in front of my face before it collided with the ground.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Storytelling Essay

I'm taking a storytelling course. For one of the assignments I need to write an essay. I need to brainstorm a bit, so I'll do it here.

The topic of the essay is "storytelling" in the broadest sense. We can write on anything related to storytelling. I think I want to write about storytelling as it appears in my life.

What does that mean? Well, storytelling mostly shows up in my life in two forms: jokes and RPGs. How do I turn that into an essay?

I suppose I could compare telling stories to telling jokes. The selection, learning, and telling processes are pretty much identical. Jokes are (usually) just short stories with (hopefully) humorous punch lines as the endings. Each joke can be changed and retold in the teller's own way. There are good joke tellers and bad ones.

RPGs are where it gets a little tougher for me. To me an RPG is a collaborative, participatory, storytelling or story performance event. The Game Master (GM) selects a story and learns it, then begins telling the story to the players. But as the game progresses control of the story and the role of storyteller passes to different people at different times.

In some ways it is similar to when a Storyteller has audience members participate in the telling of a story. For example, in "Who's in Rabbit's House?" the storyteller can have several audience members take on the roles of the animals who come along to help Rabbit. In an RPG, the players are invited to take on the roles of characters in the story. However, there is a major difference. In "Who's in Rabbit's House" the participating audience members do not get to choose how their animals help, or decide that they don't want to help. In an RPG, the players and their characters have a much stronger and more direct impact on how the story develops and changes.

Looking back two paragraphs I see a great essay thesis: “an RPG is a collaborative, participatory, storytelling or story performance event.” To make it a complete essay I should probably touch on topics like: how is it similar to and different than a “traditional” storytelling event? How can RPGs be used in story hours? What purpose can they serve?

Hmm… do I really want to discuss the purpose of RPGs outside of entertainment?

Where was I? Right… RPGs as collaborative storytelling.
  • Storytelling in my life = Jokes & Collaborative
    • Jokes since a young age
      • Family - witty, one-liners, groaners
      • Earl - the story joke
    • Collaborative Stories
      • "Choose Your Own Adventure" with Dad
      • Play/imagination
    • RPGs
  • Jokes as short tales
    • Selection is the same: audience, language, content
    • Learning is the same: learn episodes, memorize only important phrases
    • Telling is the same: can be good/bad, make it your own
  • RPGs as collaborative telling
    • Selection is the same
    • Learning is the same
      • Learn episodes, don't memorize - things will change
    • Telling is similar with variations
      • Similarities
        • Set the mood, keep players interested
        • Can be formal, informal, telling, or performance
        • Need to plan for "event": ups, downs, tension and release, etc.
      • Differences
        • Level of participation is greater in RPG
        • RPG. Game. The purpose is mostly entertainment, escape.
  • How to use participatory collaborative stories?
    • [[refer to textbook]]

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Prize Pictures

See previous post for explanation.

I win!

I got my prize on Monday! The leatherbound copy of Trail of Cthulhu.

"You are the first, and hence have boasting rights.
-Simon Rogers"

Yeah! The first!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The other night I had a very powerful, enjoyable, and distinctly Lovecraftian dream.

I was driving with my girlfriend, brother, and cousin, around an underground parking ramp looking for a spot. Up ahead I saw a sign which simply read "He!" with an arrow pointing into a dark alcove.

I knew exactly what "He!" meant. It was for Hastur. He who shall not be named. I knew it was an art show featured works by artists influenced, inspired, and affected by The King in Yellow.

I turned and parked and led our group into that dimly lit alcove to a glass door beyond which the gallery stood waiting. Inside it was simply a long hallway that bent at right angles, winding around like a maze. Every inch of every wall was covered with fancifully framed fantastic paintings with images of the Tattered King, the city of Carcossa, the Lake of Hali, Aldebarran, Taurus, the Hyades.

It was thrilling, exciting, amazing. I was ecstatic. My companions were less that pleased. My girlfriend seemed impatient, my brother was bored, and my cousin gibbered madly in a corner.

That was about when I woke up.