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BRodgers
28 May 2003, 10:41 AM
This is actuially a post I made in on of my other threads, but since it's getting little feedback (Thanks IJ! ) I decided it's important enough to deserve it's own thread:

What does it take to get folks interested in campaign driven fiction? Is good fiction enough? How do you bring new readers on board and ask them to invest the time it takes to read 20-30 pages of fiction? Is it better to also offer fiction in .doc format so folks can more easily download something and read it at their leisure?

I really am curious..and I'm sure many other webmasters are as well...such as IJ Thompson (webmaster of the excellent Elrood Sector)and others who invest a lot of time on the fiction on their site and really try to get the community involved in the epic story of their campaign.

How important is it that the site supports the characters? Do images really help when you read the fiction to visualize whats going on? What could be added to better enhance the experience?

Any input would be appreciated, as we webmasters are trying our best(and spending LOTS of our own free time) to get you, the SWRPG community, interested in what we are doing.

Come on folks! Lets hear those thoughts!

Thanks!


:)

scottyboy
28 May 2003, 11:02 AM
Well <b>Bob</b>, just my personal take on it...

I think that art for the "fiction" REALLY helps make it more enjoyable. Maybe just some pics of different scenes throughout the campaign or story. Especially since you're the author and the artist! Knowing that, I think it would make it very interesting to see exactly how the author sees the different scenes and characters in his mind.

Also, I think that stats make it very good for the community too. I mean, you don't have to give out your personal character's stats if you don't want to. But maybe like a vehicle or an NPC or something, here and there. Mostly all of the people who are going to be reading this, are SW-RPG players as well. You give them some stats that they can use in their campaign and they'll be that much more happy.

Like I said, just my take on the question! Hope this helped.

BRodgers
28 May 2003, 11:10 AM
Definitely!

Thanks Scott! Any feedback helps...and I think you are right about the artwork...it is interesting to see how the writer sees the scene...etc.

I'm very lucky in that Elfgirl is also an "on site" artist for Raptor Squad...so it's great to see how she envisions the fiction as well.

farr0095
28 May 2003, 11:47 AM
BRodgers, I think that the story is more important. Most of the time in a sourcebook, I'm looknig for story ideas to work off of, or the backstories that were left untold. I think that's a huge benefit of teh "Secrets of" series. If so inclined, I think that giving us a side story to read about a NPC involved in the fan fiction is really cool. The same idea was used by WotC early on in the SWRPG run with the "What's his story?" contests.

Artwork is huge. I've often spent too much time doing artwork for a campaign and had it ignored, but that's not the same for fiction. I'm not looking for a comic book, but occassional scenes help to add great flavor to a story.

Stats are minor. I'm really tired of seeing stats for main characters of the movies, because they're never going to show up in my campaigns. But from fan fiction, I might use the supporting characters. More often than not, however, I just need more info about who they are, as they're not going to engage in combat with my PCs or diplomatic negotiations that require rolls.

But to me, to get me involved, the story has to be told in a simple to follow manner. I personally prefer a standard style of writing. If the stories are put forth as journals, that can be cool, but I get confused when tenses and points of view change without clear explanation. The story has to get me involved in it, much as the professional books do. I have trouble controlling myself while reading the newest novel, despite my best intentions to savor it. The stories wrap me up in them and get my mind racing, often thinking "How can I use this idea in my campaign's future?"

Best wishes to all you fan fic writers!

Jedi_Staailis
28 May 2003, 12:54 PM
For me, good fiction is the beginning and end of what makes me want to read it. While artwork can be nice (I've never had a problem doing my own stats, so that doesn't help me much), if I can't fight my way through bad grammar, poor pacing (a huge problem with fan fiction), and flat characters, then artwork and stats aren't going to save it. (Glancing through the fiction on your site, it looks like you've avoided the major pitfalls. *Writes "Raptor Squad" on Mental To Read List*).

As for format, I generally read fan fiction online, but on occasion I'll attempt to print it. Word format isn't critical, but it helps, especially if the story is spread over several pages, or worse, if those pages use HTML formatting that doesn't copy well to Word.

I don't mind character journals, so long as they're written well. Simple adventure summaries of what happened are, quite frankly, really boring. It might help your players refresh their memories about what happened last session (meaning they deserve a space on websites) but to an outside reader they have no energy.

That said, regardless of quality, I'm very appreciative of fan fiction writers. I've never enjoyed writing, and my only talent in writing is heavily analytical, so I can't contribute. But I enjoy reading it. :)

BRodgers
29 May 2003, 06:56 AM
Originally posted by Jedi_Staailis
(Glancing through the fiction on your site, it looks like you've avoided the major pitfalls. *Writes "Raptor Squad" on Mental To Read List*).


Hey! thanks for the complement Jedi_Staailis !!!

I try to make the fiction on the RS site as entertaining as possible. I know it's a bit daunting to hit a site and see 10-20 pieces of fiction staring at you...that's why we try to present the personalities and locations in "easy to digest" capules throughout the site...that way someone can spend thirty minutes looking at the characters & artwork and have a pretty good foundation when they decide to tackle the fiction.

I know from experience IJ , the webmaster of the Elrood Sector has done the same thing. It was very helpful to me to read up on his characters before I got into the fiction (which is excellent BTW).

I tend to stay away from the "journal" or "log" formats of writing. When done properly they can be really entertaining...but when they are done poorly I can't make it through the first few sentances.

Mostly, I just stick to the third person POV...works better for me and it gives me a chance to jump into the heads of the characters and give various insights and thoughts. When you are writing fiction based off of a real life game session, it's important to convey the sentiments, attitude and atmosphere that existed at the table..otherwise you are just wasting everyones time.


:D

farr0095
29 May 2003, 07:16 AM
BRodgers, I would like to add another comment that has been sparked by my reading the first eight of the Raptor Squad chronicals. The published format is definately important. Personally, I find the white text on black background much more difficult to read than black on white. I believe you have some red on black additionally, also more difficult to read from my point of view. Now, this has no impact on whether I like the story or if I'll keep reading, but it does impact my decision to read in the first place. Just a thought.

BRodgers
29 May 2003, 07:37 AM
farr0095 ,

Thanks for the feedback! It is (obviously) important that you guys are able to read what I'm putting up.

I've actually thought about changing it to black on white scheme before but was worried about throwing off our site's "color scheme".

The good news is that I will be shortly providing All fiction in the current HTML and .Doc formats . That way you guys can download the fiction and enjoy it at your leisure (even on a white background!).

;)

Thanks again!

farr0095
29 May 2003, 07:45 AM
BRodgers, a yellow-orange on black, I've found, is easier to read than white-on-black, and allows the color scheme to continue, more or less. Also, while it's great to hear that your fiction will be made available to download, I hope you continue to offer it online, for those who are unable or unwilling to download it. Secondarily, since fewer people have the option to modify PDF files and the better portability of PDFs to multiple operating systems, have you thought about PDF instead of .doc?

BRodgers
29 May 2003, 07:58 AM
Originally posted by farr0095
BRodgers, a yellow-orange on black, I've found, is easier to read than white-on-black, and allows the color scheme to continue, more or less. Also, while it's great to hear that your fiction will be made available to download, I hope you continue to offer it online, for those who are unable or unwilling to download it. Have you thought about PDF instead of .doc?

Yellow on black? Sounds like a plan! Thanks farr0095!

In answer to your two questions...Yes, we will continue to offer the Raptor Squad fiction online as long as I am producing it. I totally understand if someone has more time to just pop it up during work and read it asthe day goes along as opposed to dowloading it and checking it out.

As far as PDF..I would like to eventually try to convert all of the fiction to PDF but I simply dont have the know-how. For right now the .doc format is simply easier for me.

However, thats not to say that at some point in the future you wont be seeing PDF formatted RS fiction.

Again, thanks! Your feedback has really helped me and given me some things to think about!

:D

farr0095
29 May 2003, 08:06 AM
The font that I use for my site with a black background is the color: #FFCC00

You can see an example here (http://www.tc.umn.edu/~farr0095/xen/index.php).

And if you need help putting them into PDF, give me a holler.

elfgirl1973
29 May 2003, 08:11 AM
I really loved the idea of putting Raptor Squad's gamelogs into a fiction format when Bob first told me about it. The first few gamelogs are pretty much cut and dry with only a smattering of dialogue. All the adventures published so far are before I joined the group, and the first few gamelogs are okay to read, but since Bob started putting them in fiction format, I just love reading them. They're so much more entertaining, especially for someone who wasn't at the table for that game. The first few gamelogs were....informative. The fiction-based stuff is really fun! And I LOVE the covers that Bob comes up with! An added bonus!

Oh, and on the topic in general : no matter what format a writer chooses to use, I always enjoy seeing a few pieces of artwork. A little eye candy sprinkled in does tend to peak my interest.

BRodgers
29 May 2003, 08:15 AM
Excellent!

I really appreciate the feedback and advice farr0095!

I love the color you are using...it gives it a very "Star Wars-y" feel.

I'll commence to changing the log color tonight. And I'm sure I'll be contacting you soon about the PDF.

Thanks!!!

:D :D

ij thompson
29 May 2003, 09:55 AM
Great comments, all. As Bob mentioned, this is of just as much interest to me!

In the interest of whetting your appetite for making PDFs, Bob, I've included here a link to a sneak preview of the Tales of the Freespirit, print version. It doesn't have a cover or credits page yet, and I'll probably make sure it's complete (all 25 episodes) before I formally publish it, but it can give you a good idea of the fun to be had with PDFs.

And for anyone who hasn't read the Tales yet... enjoy!!! :D

http://starwars-rpg.net/elrood-sector/totf-vol1.pdf

(p.s: there's even some art by Bob Rodgers in there! ;) )

BRodgers
29 May 2003, 10:38 AM
Hey! Looking sharp, IJ!

I really like the layout...you've done a fantastic job of integrating the look of your site into the PDF..not a small feat! Very well done.

Only wish that BRodgers art was a little (A LOT) more polished though! Ah well, no worries, you have all of the great work by Shadowdeep and Amada Price to balance the scales I figure.

:D

ij thompson
29 May 2003, 10:45 AM
Actually, I got those pics from you back in the days before I knew how to handle a picture! So they've been shrunk, and probably re-compressed a number of times in the past. If you still have the originals, I'd be happy to replace 'em!

Incidentally, the artists included here are:

Allan Whincup and Dave Myatt (Jawa Force)
Amanda Price (SWAG)
Bob Rodgers (SWAG)

BRodgers
4 June 2003, 11:09 AM
Cool IJ! , I'll see if I can scare em up and maybe clean em up a little.

Thanks forthe responses everyone...now I have another topic/question:

Length!

What is the general consensus on the length of campaign site fiction? Does it even matter as long as the story is exciting and reads well?

The reason I ask is because I just recently completed the first installment of a three part story arc that will be showing up on the
Raptor Squad site.

It currently weighs in at 40 pages- roughly 19,000 words.

I realize something like this may be quite daunting, but here are some points to consider:

1) It introduces new characters and is the beginning of an important phase of the game (story).

2) I edited it time and again and I quite simply can't cut anything out without the fiction coming off as "choppy" or "incomplete".

3)Finally, I had a complete BLAST in writing it! I mean I really had a good time and I'm very pleased with how it has turned out.

So my question is. What to do? I realize something of this length might scare folks off, but for those who are real fan fiction fans and who love a good story, 40 pages may seem like a drop in the bucket.

Or, should I sacrifice my "art" and "creativity" by dicing it into small easy to digest capsules for those who want a quick fix? Sure, they might dig it but I would hate serving it up in that fashion.

Or finally, should I offer "Cliff's Notes" versions and the full length version for all interested parties?

To be honest, I'm leaning towards throwing caution to the wind and writing as much as I want for however many pages it takes (which at this rate will make the entire story arc weigh in around 100 typed single spaced pages).


Would now be a good time to advise anyone interested in the Raptor Squad adventures to go back and start reading the early fiction now?



:D

Anyway! Lets hear those thoughts!!!!!!

Thanks!!!!!!

Jedi_Staailis
4 June 2003, 11:34 AM
However long it takes to tell your story. :) In my mind, forty pages is not daunting at all. I mean, honestly, how long does it take a person to read forty pages? An hour and a half at the very most?


Or, should I sacrifice my "art" and "creativity" by dicing it into small easy to digest capsules for those who want a quick fix? Sure, they might dig it but I would hate serving it up in that fashion.
You're the artist, you tell the story your way. Especially since you're not doing this for profit, you might as well not compromise to try to please everyone. Focus on enjoying what you write, and you'll attract readers who like your style of presenting the story.


Or finally, should I offer "Cliff's Notes" versions and the full length version for all interested parties?
Cliff's Notes are for lazy students. Fan fiction readers have higher standards!

BRodgers
4 June 2003, 11:47 AM
Originally posted by Jedi_Staailis

Cliff's Notes are for lazy students. Fan fiction readers have higher standards!

LOL! Too TRUE Jedi_Staailis !!!!!

In fact, I had a Teacher/Football Coach named Mr. Berg who taught a few of my classes. If he found you with a copy of a Cliffs Notes in his class..BOOM! Into the trash it went! No arguments, no compromises!

My GM and a few of the Raptor Squad players had him as a teacher as well....they know what Im talking about!

:D

Snowtiger
11 June 2003, 10:40 AM
Colors wise I've found that Gray/Silver on black works as well.

With yellow-on-black, I'd go for Burly Wood(#DEB887, a kind of soft brown), Goldenrod(#DAA520, brownish yellow) or Pale Goldenrod(#EEE8AA), as pure yellow on black isn't my favorite combo.

BRodgers
11 June 2003, 10:42 AM
Thanks for the input Snowtiger!

So...any thoughts on the fiction itself?

:)

Snowtiger
11 June 2003, 12:51 PM
Yep, I find it amusing that some writers incorporate real-world stuff(such as movies, foodstuffs and others) into their Star Wars fanfics, a couple of days ago I was reading a fanfic where an elderly Anakin Skywalker(the story happens in an alternate timeline, where Luke had saved his father from dying on the second Deathstar, and asked Leia to help him nurse him back into health without the armor), sat in front of a vidboard watching a vid, of which the writer had hid some clear things into the dialogue between Luke and Anakin, which indicated that the vid was an "old" movie called "Titanic"(however the author didn't use the name in any way).

Perhaps the author was trying to keep the story moored into the past somehow, and it turned out good, except that a portion of the text was missing just before the spot where it happened.

The story was "Of burdens and Choices" and it can be found inwww.theforce.net's (http://www.theforce.net) fanfic archive.

ij thompson
11 June 2003, 12:56 PM
Uhhh... wha?

farr0095
11 June 2003, 01:24 PM
Originally posted by BRodgers
It currently weighs in at [B]40 pages- roughly 19,000 words.


Give us everything you've got. If people want to skim or not read it all, it's their loss. If you're worried about size of downloads, split it into chapters and make each chapter a download. But please don't keep it from us.

And oh yeah, if you're going to add artwork (please do!), a PDF will be best. Again I'll offer my help.

BRodgers
11 June 2003, 07:50 PM
Cool!

Thanks for the support faar0095 !

In fact I recently learned that Mac OSX has a way you can save word docs as PDF files....without an extensive amount of coding or know-how..so hopefully soon I'll be posting all fiction in html, doc and pdf files....

Oh, and you can always count on Raptor Squad to make with the pretty pictures to go along with the fiction...and I dont mind saying that we have some realy great stuff up on deck from our own Elfgirl for the upcoming fiction logs!

:D