Work in progress: The Dresden Files

So as part of the role-play game I’ve been playing for the last year or so, I’ve been writing my own stories based in the game world – I’ve put a few on here in the Creative Writing tab under the “Dresden” tag if you want a sample. But I was ranting earlier in the year about writing 30,000 words, and I also included the writing as part of my audit. So basically, I’ve done quite a lot of…well, I was calling it ‘useless’ writing as I’ll never be able to use it for anything, but really it’s good practise.

However, as the game’s starting to wind down – we’ve reached Teh End Of Teh Worldz where everything is going to hell, probably including our characters, so I decided to have a sort-out in preparation for archiving. (And, me being me, I ended up writing some more. Ho hum.) But anyway. I’ve written 16 major stories, totalling about 108,000 words, and an additional 6 ‘extra’ stories at 8000 words. There’s also 3 archived stories, either as dead-ends or bits that I never fleshed out fully so didn’t end up using. That’s not including the actual casefile writing that I’ve done for the game, either; I can’t be bothered to count the words but it’s 8 casefiles and 13+11+8+3+12+11+3+4 (so far) posts + 7 ‘odd’ gaming posts + 4 ‘odd story’ posts…so there’s quite a lot of words there too!

Looking back on it all, I’ve learned a lot. In terms of writing technique, I’ve practised action scenes, both for multiple people (no full-scale battles yet, but I did some fairly large fights) and individual fights. I’ve written from different viewpoints, both in perspective (so first and third person, with several variations on voice style) and in terms of writer’s distance. I’ve gone to different places and tried different styles; admittedly, I’m usually ‘me’ but it’s interesting to at least attempt different things!

In terms of personality, too, I’ve experimented. I’ve tried to write in several different characters; I’ve tried to get into the mind of someone who is, frankly, a complete bastard; I’ve written mafia dons, Sidhe, Malks, vampires, spiders, Fae Queens, friends and enemies…and my primary character has been changing a lot too over the course of the time, so she’s been interesting to follow. There’s always a temptation to make her nice, and it’s been fun (and painful) to force myself to make her change and to act against my idea of her. Recently she’s been a bit of a bitch, which has been fun to play with, and is interesting in terms of character struggles. She knows she’s changing, but sometimes it takes someone else to point it out to her…and if it’s the bastard who points it out, well, that’s a fun conversation. If you can call throwing fireballs a ‘conversation’.

And, most importantly, I’ve enjoyed it. I can see my writing changing over the year; I can see the changes in my characters, in my style, in my way of writing. It’s fascinating for me to re-read early stuff and see the influences going both ways, both from my earlier writing and the game, and then into my later writing. And it’s been really, really fun. I love this world and these characters; I love writing the more sensible Dini, trying her best to keep her integrity in the face of overwhelming pressure, eventually being forced to take a side and then struggling to maintain her own self against the pressures and temptations of her power. I love writing the bastard, with his snark and smirk and occasional flash of kindness, and his drive to keep his own humanity against the knowledge that he will, one day, become a monster. And I love the mix of supernatural and real-world, the unknown and the terrifying, the real and the dream. It’s been an amazing world to play and to write in.

We’ve got another few sessions in our current game (although I’m seriously doubting Swindon will survive, so maybe it’s a good thing we’re stopping after this casefile…) and I’m continuing the world with my own GM’d game, although it’s using a different aspect of it. I’m not losing the world completely, but I don’t think I’m going to be writing these characters any more; at the end of the campaign, I’m ready to finish with both sides of the world, finish the campaign and archive my stories. It’s bittersweet to have to do it, but hopefully in a few years I’ll pull them out and see how much my writing has changed – and be reminded of an old world.

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.