Medium Matters

How you tell a story can be easily overlooked, but it is easily the most important thing to consider as a writer.

A few weeks ago, I recorded an audio post with two fellow editors at OAR, talking about the effects of role-playing games and tabletops. These past few weeks since, I’ve spent hour after hour of my time playing even more games and thinking about the ones I’ve played in the past. Being keen to analysis of many things, I started to question things.

Would these games be different as novels? Would these pieces of short fiction be different if they were illustrated? What other ways could these stories be told that would make them even better than they already are?

Now, I never went into detail about my experience with the game, Dread, in the audio post. ( Warning to anyone who wants to play the game; most of the post ahead will include spoilers for the Dread scenario “13”.)

In that game of Dread, I was playing a young girl named Charlie. She was 12 years old, lived a sheltered life, and had no idea how to handle a haunted mansion with rooms that shifted locations. She couldn’t handle any of that, let alone a cat-like, ceiling-crawling monster. For the first half hour of this game, Charlie and I had both been lead to believe that this creature was out to kill the team.

Melissa KleinHad it been a short story, the audience could have been screaming the truth at me. He’s not out to kill you! Don’t stab him, but that was exactly what I did. The tension that the game created turned my paranoia into a specific action: one that ended up killing my most powerful ally in the fiction of the game.

Playing off that tension is the entire point of the game.

I thought, for a long time, how much differently that tale could have been told in a different medium. As a writer, you have to consider scenarios. How could these scenes be written more effectively? How might the audience be reading this? Could they read this a lot differently than I do?

How you tell a story can be easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Keep in mind what your medium can do for you as a writer, because you have a great deal of control over what the audience will interpret. Use that to your advantage.

Bring the world to life without having to throw in a Jenga tower.

– Melissa Klein

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