If you didn’t know, I’m a total geek. I have dice with more than six sides which I use to play games other than Craps or Monopoly. I have a small collection of metal miniatures which I use to represent characters in imaginary worlds and several shelves of books filled with fantastic illustrations and copious rules about precisely how those little figures move around their imaginary space. I own a phaser, a communicator and a tricorder (none work, damnit.) And I have a forest of dead tree spirals and binders with the details of dozens of full fledged imaginary worlds that have blossomed and died in my spare time.
I’m closer to 40 than 20 and I’m still playing make believe. Crazy, eh?
I never understood why I couldn’t let that go – never until I began writing. That’s what all of this led up to. Where else do all the great stories come from if not from slightly nutty people such as myself putting them on paper for everyone to see?
This past weekend, I embarked on a journey into a new world. A collaborative exercise where a bunch of us writerly types got together and envisioned a fantasy realm to rival Middle Earth. (Alright, well, none of us are writing or own languages…yet.) We gathered at my dining room table (a space that has seen more dice than cutlery) and broke out a free PDF, Dawn of Worlds.
Dawn of Worlds was thrown together by imagination junkies like myself and is a game of sorts which has the sole purpose of producing a collaborative world. Weighing in at a dozen or so pages, it’s a very quick read with the only requirements being some paper, something to write with and a couple of six-sided dice (the Monopoly kind that everyone has.)
The way it works is each player takes a turn describing a new feature about this world – terrain, climate, fantastic races, or world changing events. They have a point total to spend which they receive by rolling two dice. These points dictate just how much description they can add during their turn. Pretty soon, you are weaving your details with the others at the table into a solid, amazing history.
As one of the participants later pointed out, in a single afternoon, through collaborative effort, we were able to build a very detailed world in a fraction of the time it would take one person. Plus, the variation that having multiple minds at the table (five to be exact) brought to the world almost assured we would have something unique. On top of that, it was amazing fun.
Later on, I might share some details or perhaps even write a few stories about this new land, but for now, it’s still a work in progress. I’d highly recommend this type of brain storming session for any writer.