Story Weavers

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 25 April 2010

I've always had a soft-spot in my heart for story tellers. I grew up on stories. My parents are quite imaginative people and they shared that ability with my brother and I. Many a summer weekend was spent camping, fishing and hiking. We would build "bows" out of sticks and yarn, "boats" from bark, twigs and seaweed, and forts from couches, chairs and blankets. Everything was possible. Sure, sometimes it might seem pretty silly to an outside observer, but to us, these things became real.

With these tools, my brother and I would tell epic stories. Our swing set often became the sole means of crossing a fast moving river or a stream of magma. Other times, it became a military training ground. A rope tied to the top of the slide let us "climb" when we were too young just to run up it. The double-seated swing became a space ship that we could make move faster by our ability to move it faster. A few packs full of supplies and some water guns made us into soldiers. Many a war was fought in our backyard. We created our own games and just had a ton of fun.

While we always were readers, as we got older, our appetites became insatiable. The town library became our favorite destination of choice. By this time, my brother had discovered D&D. Some of his friends had the books. He read them and then did his best to invent his own version of the game. So many of our excursions involved looking through books of ancient and medieval weaponry for interesting ideas to add to his game. My time was spent on a variety of subjects, everything from Native American culture to the geography of Africa to Greco-Roman myth to how to dress well. I still haven't figured out that last one. However, I spent less and less time writing stories during this time, even though I wrote a lot. I just didn't think I was as creative as my brother and so much pressure was on me to do well in school so I could get into a good college. It was bit of a difficult trade-off to make but I did succeed in getting into a wonderful school, Dartmouth College.

As for many geeks, college was a magical experience for me. One my favorite random experiences occurred relatively early in my college career in the basement of a fraternity. I've romanticized it a bit by this point, but a stranger appeared one weekend. I could tell that he was not used to chatting up random strangers, particularly girls, but we somehow hit it off. Pretty soon he was telling me all sorts of fantastic stories. Instantly, I was smitten. I spent most of the night listening to whatever stories he was willing to share until sleep's sweet lullaby wore down my will. Unfortunately, this was in the time before Facebook and I quickly lost touch with the stranger in the tavern. It was a while before I was able to surround myself with my own band of storytellers, but eventually I joined a coed fraternity and met a wonderful bard who became my husband.

While I gained this vast reservoir of other people's stories, I never felt comfortable with my own. Part of it is that every time I write, I put a bit of my soul into it whether it's the story line or word choice. Even today, sharing what I write is a bit of an intimate act, a baring of my soul. This anxiety was further amplified by the feeling that I could never organize a story the way the professionals do. I lacked a framework for my stories, something I never needed as a child when things were just about having fun and something that is hard to understand with a blank sheet of paper in front of you. This is where starting to play D&D comes in. Sharing my experiences, good and bad, serious and silly, have given me a bit of my confidence back. But beyond that, being able to study and interact with a ton of great people has increased my knowledge both of writing and game design and has helped me get a feel for this strange land I find myself in.

Often I hear that people are afraid to take the leap, just as I was. I think this sort of leap is something that seems to be much simpler to do as a child, where play is an acceptable activity and there is so much less to lose. But the truth is that all of us need some play time and we automatically lose when we bottle away those parts of us. So, please, don't let fear hold you back. Find a group of close friends, get some good food and beverages, and go for it! You have nothing to lose except your fear.


Every character you make and every game you play creates a new world for you to explore and a new book to be written. Even if the words never splash upon a page within your life time, you've already created something unique and that only you can. Keep up the good work.

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