Storytelling

Repairing Unbelievable Story Elements

In my last two posts I discussed the importance of belief, and how setting audience expectations are crucial to maintaining it. But setting expectations requires planning ahead. For episodic stories in particular, it’s impossible to plan for everything: An actor on a show could suddenly … read more »

Maintaining Belief During Fantastical Stories

In the film version of The Return of the King, Gollum falls into the lava and slowly sinks. But as it turns out, lava is much too heavy for people to sink into. Gollum should have remained on the surface and burst into flame instead. A science columnist made a point of this inaccuracy. Read more »

Three GM-less Games for Your Roleplaying Group

Most roleplaying games have a very slow start. A game master must do hours of prep work, and players must build complicated characters. That makes it difficult to change plans on the fly, or to add a friend that doesn’t know the rules system. Fortunately, … read more »

Why Should Fiction Be Believable?

People argue that critics shouldn’t complain about the realism of fictional stories, either because it’s hypocritical to critique just one thing, or because fictional stories don’t need to be realistic. It’s not real — so what if it’s technically incorrect? Read more »

How to Talk About Dark Stories

Games of Thrones is dark; Disney’s Cinderella is not. Few would disagree, and many could choose confidently between them without knowing more. That’s why it’s practical to make recommendations based on how dark a story is. It’s easy to gauge, and many people have a … read more »

Five Unrealistic Character Traits

Storytellers want to have their cake and eat it too, even if the cake is absolute perfection, and the eating is relatable flaws. The inevitable result of trying to have it both ways is a character that defies human nature. These characters have traits that … read more »