ljlee: (dance_muzi)
[personal profile] ljlee posting in [community profile] go_write
A lot of us spend time working on the practice and theory of fiction-writing. But are there skills that don't have to do directly with fiction writing that are nontheless helpful? I've heard of art being useful to writers, for instance, and a musician I know is guided by her musical skills and inspirations when writing. I know another writer who's also an actor, and have heard anecdotally of actors making good writers. Andrew Robinson, who played Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, wrote the novel A Stitch in Time about his character's background that I found wonderfully moving and evocative, not to mention great world-building of Cardassia. I can see a direct connection there between the two skillsets since acting is about expressing characters, like much of writing is.

While I am not an actor, I found my experience playing and running roleplaying games highly useful for understanding characters and keeping track of storylines in my writing projects. Roleplaying has also given me a perspective of stories not as something that comes from me but from the characters' own motivations and interests. When it comes down to it I have to inhabit these characters and play them, an ethos that I apply to writing as well.

Are there non-writing skills or experiences that you find useful for writing? Have you observed others using different skillsets when writing?

Date: 2016-05-03 03:45 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
I have not slept enough to answer this usefully but I observe that the subject says public but the little lock icon says not.

Date: 2016-05-03 03:48 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
Ah. Gotcha.

Date: 2016-05-03 06:05 pm (UTC)
inkdust: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkdust
Hah, my instant thought when I read the first paragraph was "playing D&D"...then I hit the second. I've noticed a particular symbiosis lately, as my D&D group has gotten deeper into character stories and I've been having frequent talks with another friend about story and character creation that easily extrapolates beyond games. In fact, he made the point recently that a roleplaying game would be a beneficial experience for a lot of people in society-at-large, and I felt silly when I realized I hadn't considered that roleplaying and that sort of exercise in empathy would be a new experience for many people. That's strange to me, when I'm practicing it every day.

I'm not sure I can think of any universal skills or experiences at the moment (beyond the mundane ones like time management), but in terms of skills that can be helpful depending on what you want to write, I would put foreign language on my list. Certainly for anyone interested in fantasy worldbuilding with language. And I actually suspect that my familiarity with French and German has a positive influence on my word choices and syntax in English, but I can't really back that up because it's not very conscious.

This is a good question, I hope to read more answers.

Date: 2016-05-03 11:01 pm (UTC)
lizbee: Jinora holds a book, looking disdainful (LoK: Jinora will make no such promises)
From: [personal profile] lizbee
I've never done it myself, but a friend developed her dialogue and plotting skills doing online text-based role play, mostly fandom based. It also taught her a lot about collaboration, with the result that she has a bunch of successful YA trilogies written with co-authors, but has yet to make her solo debut.

Date: 2016-05-04 03:27 am (UTC)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lookingforoctober
I think all skills are useful for writing. Especially creative skills, but it also doesn't hurt to have a good grounding in some field or some activity or some anything if you end up wanting to write about it (or even if you don't, you may be able to translate the experience sideways somehow).

On the other hand, no skill translates exactly, and your comment about roleplaying reminds me that I pretty much consider roleplaying to be the opposite of fiction writing in a lot of ways. (Probably because I do quite a bit of both of them, so the differences start to stand out.) I do agree that it's good for developing certain writing skills (especially voice), but it frequently seems to me that the things you have to tell a collaborator are completely different from the things you have to tell a reader, so in that way roleplay writing comes out totally different. And often the amount of tension I want in a game is different from what I want in a story.

Of course, this might have a lot to do with the specific form of roleplaying I do, or what I want out of roleplaying as opposed to writing.

And it does make me think about writing a lot, when I'm roleplaying.

Date: 2016-05-04 06:11 pm (UTC)
inkdust: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkdust
I'm inclined to agree with you about written roleplay, but only from observation because I haven't done it myself. It seems like a different mode, and actually easy to form bad habits if translated to fiction. My experience with roleplay has just been around the table, without actual writing involved, and that, I think, brings good things to the page later.

Date: 2016-05-05 02:01 am (UTC)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lookingforoctober
Yeah, when I started to get into writing fiction more seriously, there was a lot I had to unlearn, and it was sort of bewildering to me, because it was all stuff that had worked quite well before.

But I think that it did eventually promote an awareness of what I'm doing that's good for both roleplaying and fiction writing, and that might have been hard to develop otherwise, without the contrast.

But yes, I've done tabletop too, and it is pretty different from the kind of written roleplaying I currently do, and have done predominantly. It's hard for me to say anything generally, because I never GMed and I really only played with one group, but there's a lot more emphasis on plot in tabletop, I think, and characters acting on the situation (as opposed to characters simply reacting to a situation).

Date: 2016-05-09 02:33 am (UTC)
inkdust: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkdust
"Characters acting on the situation," that's a good way of putting it. And probably one reason I'm finding the experience helpful - I think it's more difficult for me to plot for acting in addition to reacting. My game has become more character-focused as we've developed them, but that process has also been unusual for me in the extent to which my development of the character has been prompted by plot events, rather than the other way around. And unusual tends to lead to good things in writing.

Date: 2016-05-05 10:02 pm (UTC)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lookingforoctober
Well, like [personal profile] inkdust pointed out, there's a difference between taking something that isn't written to writing, and writing with different purposes. It sounds like maybe your roleplaying fiction had a similar purpose to just plain fiction, since it wasn't directly interactive or interactive during the writing process itself, if I understand correctly?

I suppose I could see that. At least for tabletop, with all the numbers for the tech inclined to use (and abuse).

Date: 2016-05-05 01:22 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jazzyjj
A bit late in replying here, but I think role playing is a great skill indeed. That's part of what I do for my job, when we go out on our Disability-Awareness Trainings. It's a lot of fun, but to be honest I'm getting a bit sick and tired of the way we do it. But that's another story. I think another skill that lends itself well to my writing is my knowledge of accessibility. I will fully admit to not knowing everything there is to know about it, but I'd say I know a good deal. I've posted a few entries in my journal having to do with accessibility.

Date: 2016-05-05 02:31 pm (UTC)
jae: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jae
Personally, I think the most important skill for a fiction writer to have that doesn't directly have to do with writing is empathy. Being able to really put yourself into the perspective of someone who is not you and perhaps not very much like you at all is crucial to writing well-rounded characters. (And yes, to some extent that's an innate ability that people have or don't have, but it's also a skill that can be developed. Even if you're good at it.)

-J

Date: 2016-05-05 11:23 pm (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
COMBO BREAKER!

I'm not going to talk about ropleplaying, I'm going to go super weird and talk about a board game.

Specifically, 7Wonders.

It's got several ways to win points: money, war, science, trade, building the Wonder... so there are many different ways to win. Seeing how various strategies lead to victory (or not!) is super illuminating, because it depends not only on what you do but on what your neighbours do and what cards you have. It's a great way to get a concrete feel for how various economic systems can work with each other and how distribution of ressources can change both your strategy and how you develop your society.

Also, it's super fun!

Date: 2016-05-09 02:36 am (UTC)
inkdust: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkdust
Ooh, new game I want to play.

Date: 2016-05-09 09:53 pm (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
Definitely play! It's my favourite game.

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