Writing a pre-written story…

25/05/2014 12:54

I’ve been involved in a Dresden Files role-play game (see my General Ramblings post for more details). As I’ve been playing a reporter, it’s sort of in-character to be scribbling notes, plus I like to do it so that I can keep track of everything (like names, or places, or who’s been murdered this time…). As I have been scribbling notes anyway, I figured I may as well use them to write up the sessions, which keeps a record of events for later and lets everyone catch up on what happened if they missed anything.

I’m not going to link to the website here – we’re trying to keep it fairly quiet, as it is personal – but here’s a snippet:

We’ve all been summoned – somehow – into Accorded Neutral Territory: the Sir Daniel Arms in Swindon. Hocus [a fox] is curled under the table, and I think she’s found some beans. Krasher and Tricky are staring suspiciously at the man sitting across the table. Smith’s negotiating with the barman for a steak, Salix is looking particularly uncomfortable at being in this rather empty pub, and [Detective] Everyman is propping up the bar on a break from his usual beat, trying to look as if he isn’t listening.

And I’m looking at a newspaper article that the man across the table has just laid down. It’s written by Scott D’arcy, a reporter from the Swindon Advertiser with a reputation for not checking his sources and getting the paper into trouble by printing the first thing he gets hold of. He’s impulsive, loves hearsay and rumours, and occasionally stumbles on something good. He keeps trying to steal my stories, so I keep a wary eye on him – and the favour’s returned. Reporting’s a friendly world.

There have been five murders; not unusual for Swindon, as Krasher points out with a laugh. Blunsdon, Stratton, Dorcan, Haydon Wick and Freshbrook, all within the last twenty-four hours: Darcy did well to get the story out so fast. There isn’t much information: the police are investigating, blah blah blah. But the man on the other side of the table is waving the paper at us. “They’re all linked. They’re all shapeshifters. And I want you to investigate.”


Writing a story that’s being pre-written for me is definitely interesting, and presents quite a challenge! I’m trying to take notes of anything interesting, but I know I do miss things – usually dialogue – and it’s part of the challenge to turn a half-hour conversation into its bare essentials. I have to pick out the major events and turn those into the bones of the post, while also putting in anything useful that was said, along with the really good bits of conversation and anything that I want to put in to further my character; after all, it is a personal account.

So…it’s a nice challenge, and very different from my usual writing. I’m enjoying it so far, although trying to catch the conversations during the meetings is annoying, but being able to craft a story out of an evening is definitely exciting.

One additional writing challenge that I may or may not get round to doing is writing up news-style articles for the various events that we’ve come across. I don’t write in different styles very often, although I did learn how to news-write at school, and so it would be something that I think would stretch me. But then it does require time, and I really should be doing other writing…so we will see!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. 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.