How Dungeons & Dragons Can Improve Your Screenwriting

Found on the interwebs, a writing trick that not only makes sense, it also embodies that much misunderstood TV term, “high concept.”

This TVWriter™ minion is telling you straight from the, um, well, the place where most people have their hearts but I’m too snarky to admit it, the following info is gold. Way to go, Beverly Peders and WeScreenplay.Com.

by Beverly Peders

Recently I’ve helped a friend create a homebrew Call of Cthulhu campaign, which is a pen and paper roleplay like Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) only in Lovecraft’s world of Elder Gods. She handled most of the story since I don’t have much experience with either H. P. Lovecraft’s work or pen and paper role plays while I helped create props and a cipher-based language for her.

Seeing the behind-the-scenes work of a Dungeon or Game Master intrigued me. The construct of these campaigns doesn’t stray too far from what creating an interactive story like a video game would be. The only difference is that this seems like an incredible resource for writers to use as a tool for creating their own worlds and stories.

Here are just a few things you can improve by approaching your story with the mind of a Dungeon Master:

Character Construction

First off, every story needs characters. Every character gets split up into races, classes, etc. and are awarded points for their attributes (strength, charisma, etc) depending on what the character would realistically have. The specifics aren’t important, what’s important to note is that characters must be completely understood. Think to the strict formula Lajos Egri had for character development (see Building Characters with Lajos Egri). You have to know your character(s) inside and out. It is important to know that they are an entire individual.

While it may be time-consuming to create a complete character from scratch, that’s why there are D&D character sheets that ask the basic questions. You could use Lajos Egri’s formula if you like that better. Try not to let the statistics get to you, after all, this is meant to be a tool, not a game (unless you want to get some buddies together to role play your story idea – which doesn’t sound half bad!). However, think of what questions those statistics may bring to your mind. If this character has low constitution, is this because of a childhood sickness that affected their immune system? What does this mean about how your character reacts to certain problems in the future…?

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