Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GME as Plot Generator

I enjoy writing, and have been writing here and there since grade school.  After college I decided to revolutionize modern American fiction and set the literary world on fire.  I settled for publication in a few fanzines and gave it up.  Did I mention I don't have much of a frustration tolerance?  Also what has all this got to do with the GME?

I'm in the final stages of preparing an e-book for self publication on  I hope to have it up before the Christmas shopping season, when everyone gets a new Kindle and wants to try out inexpensive e-books.  But even as I work out the details of this novel, it's time to get started on the next book in the series.  The aforementioned low frustration tolerance makes plotting a new novel from scratch a stop and start experience.  However, the GME came to the rescue.

My experiences with the story generating capabilities of the GME really got me excited about its possibilities.  In the text of the Mythic PDF, mention is made that the Fate Chart could be used for writing.  The story outlining section of the the Mythic Variations PDF helped show me how the Fate Chart could work with writing.  I decided that I had nothing to lose by testing out these suggestions.

I had an advantage in that characters and relationships carry over from the first book.  But I left that book with a fairly open future.  So I set about drafting a plot outline starting with these characters and a simple premise.  This is a story set in Viking Age Norway.  The starting thread is that the main character has a conflict with his neighboring "kingdom."   So the main story thread is that war with a neighboring king must be settled one way or the other. Once this is worked out, the story will be finished.

There are three viewpoint characters for the novel.  So I made each one a "PC" when it was their viewpoint scene.  I listed out "NPCs" for each VP character, which could include other VP characters (A and B are both VP characters; but when it's B's scene then A becomes an NPC, etc).   Then I listed out threads for each PC, being careful that each thread start with a verb (Save the princess; Find the treasure, etc).  Once these lists were prepared, I had everything ready for randomization when required.  I added and subtracted NPCs and threads after every scene just like running a regular RPG.

I really didn't know where to start.  So I got things going with a random event.  That led to one idea which lead to others.  Before I knew it, a complex story full of twists and turns evolved.  I used chaos factors, and tried to keep these consistent with each VP character.  Though honestly, a chaos factor over 5 starts to generate strange things.  I used straight GME rules for the first two thirds of the plot.  By the end, I had a solid handle on how I wanted the story to go and just dropped the GME.

Overall this was an easy way to generate a plot.  It honestly was like playing a game, just no rules and no character record sheets.  I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do when I started.  But now I have a much better picture, and it took a little less than two weeks to complete it.  After writing thirty pages and 16,000 words, I can say I have the basics of a draft in hand.  Now the hard part of writing begins.  There's no guarantee that any of this outlining will survive the first draft.  But at least I'm not starting out without a destination in mind.

If you are a writer, I definitely recommend investigating how Mythic's GME can help you either generate story ideas or embellish an existing story.


  1. Thanks for this great post Jerry! =)

    You brought up some interesting ideas that I haven't thought of, e.g. when going from one viewpoint character to another, a PC could (temporary) become a NPC.

    When having multiple characters living their lifes in parallel (and not always in the same party/group), all the PCs probably need their own personal Chaos factor, which you seem to have been using in your writing/playing. I miss this in the Mythic GME ruleset. What are your thoughts in this matter?

  2. Mats, In my situation I was shifting viewpoints a lot and sometimes even physical locations and times. So the chaos factor was not a constant thing for all characters. For one, things were in control where for another things were going out of control.

    I also figured that one character might be another character's NPC. When Character A had a scene with Character B, then B was the NCP. But once I was looking at the story from B's viewpoint, A became an NPC. There's no reason A would stop interacting with B just because it's not A's scene.

    None of that was in the GME. I just did it on my own as it made sense. By the end of my outline, however, I wasn't using GME too much. I wanted it to go a certain way. So I just consulted it for inspiration.

    I will say the GME prevented any sort of writer's block during the idea generation stage. I wish it could be used in the actual writing as well!

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jerry. I will bring those into my GME playing/writing exercises.

    Best regards,