Coming to Close

Let’s rip the band-aid off: Emily and I are going to stop regularly making posts on this blog.

We’ve discussed it, and this blog has become more like a homework assignment rather than the fun blog it was when we started. We are becoming interested in starting newer projects that we will hopefully find are more fun.

For our few dedicated readers, we appreciate you coming along! Emily is going to start a new blog eventually called OneDrunkGoth where she will review horror subjects and pair them with beers!

I will be starting a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition content blog where I will create monsters and races. My first monster is currently in development and I’m going to try and start the blog this year.

There is a very, very good chance Emily and I will start a different blog involving flash fiction. We will write much shorter, improv stories rather than the almost-an-actual-short-story that Write Makes Right became.

I’m sure we’ll be uploading here when we get these up and running. Don’t kill your notifications for this blog just yet!

I’m sure Emily or I will also sporadically post here. The original purpose of the blog was to communicate with each other more after Emily moved away. We are closer as siblings, so I think the blog was a success.

Thanks for your laughs, thanks for your kind words, and thanks for reading!

—DTM & EMS

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Am I Actually Being Productive?

Emily—you said something to me a while back that I basically haven’t stopped thinking about. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of, “you keep starting new projects to ignore the fact that you don’t have a hobby.”  While I don’t remember it clearly, I do remember the questions it made me ask myself.

Do I start new projects to ignore the fact that I have no persistent, passionate hobbies?

Do I continue to start new projects to cover up the fact that I’m not finishing projects?

Am I actually being productive?

My friends like to give me crap because I’m basically always planning a new project: a new blog, a new RPG campaign, a book I want to write, rules for a new system; it’s all in good fun. They love to point out that I have no time left in my week. My partner loves to laugh with me every time I have a new idea I want to chase.

A big problem I face is that many of my projects don’t have designated end dates. This blog started and doesn’t exactly have a stopping point. When we started Write Makes Right, we didn’t really have an end point in mind. I want to start a third blog publishing DnD content, and that also won’t really have an end date in mind.

I don’t have a lot of free time anymore, so if I want to pursue these things I need to become a work horse, or I need to start cutting out more of my free time. Or the third option: I can be more productive with my time. I can make schedules and set deadlines.

But lets back up and revisit the questions before. I keep myself really busy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m being productive.

Do I trick myself into believing that doing anything is productive? Or should I cut the fat and find a few core projects to focus instead of trying to do everything? Right now, on a given week where I’m working a bunch of stuff, I work nearly every night. That means I’m quite busy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean productive.

So what is productivity then?

Productivity_Definition

Does it need to be defined by input and output? Does it need to be defined by the value of the work? I think the first thing I need to do is define productivity for myself.

I work on stuff as often as I do because I want to build experience and form creative habits. I would love to eventually be a writer and designer for games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder. But first I need to practice doing this on my own. The idea of a savant who is genius from the start is a lie, and I know that if I want to eventually pitch these things to companies, I need to have experience under my belt.

I take a lot of inspiration from the German Bauhaus school and it’s artistic movements. I learned about it in college and I was enamored with it. The original Bauhaus school was a bunch of designers and artists who had grown tired with the movements of the past, and came together to create a school and a collective. Just to push art forward and create new and interesting things based on newer, more modern ideologies. Many great designers were part of it back when it was still a thing. A lot of artists used the school to create great volumes of work that we still emulate today.

That’s the idea I am trying to encompass when I’m toiling away at the things I want to create. Maybe I shouldn’t bother wondering whether the thing I want to create is going to have value. I think I value the journey a lot more than the product.

Important Thing #1: I place more value in the journey, rather than the product I create.

But let’s back up. What if I stretch myself too thin and I botch the landing? If one spreads their attention between too many ideas, none of those topics get the attention it deserves. It’s cool and all that I have so many things I want to do, but instead of adding more to the workload, perhaps it would be better to form a list and then work on them one at a time.

I could also make the argument that a lot of things don’t get worked on. I have a list of things I want to create and accomplish, but they are always put off because I have something more important to work on—usually Rogue Trader prep or blog posts.

I have always known that I work better and more creatively when my deadline is close. It was probably the most important thing I learned in college: when under pressure, I perform better. This is still prevalent today, it’s the reason I keep trying to start projects and activities that have an inherent, “thing is needed on this day.” Seven Degrees of Smudde, Write Makes Right, and Rogue Trader all have deadlines I need to meet, and as that deadline looms I become far more productive.

There it was. I used the word productive candidly. So what can I learn about this?

Important Thing #2: I need to be completing things on a deadline.

That one makes a lot of sense. I wouldn’t be concerned with productivity if I wasn’t concerned with time, right?

We should also consider that a lot of my projects are things I would like to do, not have to do. No sense adding deadlines upon deadlines for each project I come up with. I’m sure I’d get a lot more done, but I’d also be a stressed out, anxious mess.

One of the above definitions of productivity is: “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.”

I already talked about how I don’t necessarily want to measure my productivity in an input to output ratio. But perhaps I can instead group my ideas by overarching categories and treat it as one large, spanning project. Then it will be easier to dissect everything into smaller steps that I can complete on deadlines. I can complete more pieces of larger wholes and still go on a longer journey while also having easy to accomplish goals.

Important Thing #3: Categorize individual ideas into larger wholes so that I can complete larger ideas by finishing smaller pieces.

I have tons of things I want to create for Dungeons and Dragons, Rogue Trader, and eventually my own RPG system. It only makes sense that I take all the elements that fit into one category and begin doing treating it as one whole. Instead of trying to contextualize wanting to create seven new player races, and dozens of new monsters, I can instead think of it as my “DnD Project” with the goal of completing one piece per month. Instead of trying to write chapters simultaneously, I can instead think of it as a book where I tackle smaller parts.

All of this probably seems really obvious to many—if not all of you. But I struggle to contain my wandering mind, so parsing all of this helps me slow down and find my stride. My mind wants to spend its time trying to manage my energy, when really I should instead try and manage the workflow so that my energy is spent more efficiently. Whenever I want to do something, for an example, create a new class in Dungeons and Dragons, my brain thinks, “Yeah, if I just buckle down and get to work I should be able to squeeze this in.” But that’s not really how anything works. It’s a romantic idea to believe that I am a content creating machine, but I’m just setting myself up for failure.

—DTM

 

 

 

Horror 101: Body Horror vs. Splatter Horror

Alright, I’ve had something on my mind for a while and I think I finally want to get it off my chest. Going to take this opportunity to get up on my soapbox, grab my megaphone, and scream gibberish about horror narratives at unsuspecting passerbys.

Brace yourself, Daniel, I’m about to get super nerdy.

Body horror is not the same thing as gore.

Let me say it again, body horror is not the same thing as gore.

Now say it with me, body horror is not the same thing as gore.

If I had to pick my favorite subgenre of horror, it would be body horror and it drives me nuts when I tell people this and I get a response like:

“Gross, I hate gory movies.”

“Gore in horror movies is just lazy writing.”

“Ew, you’re nasty and you need jesus.”

I’m not going to deny the fact that I do like gory horror films and that I am nasty and indeed need jesus. There is something so satisfying about sipping a beer and watching buckets upon buckets of fake blood splatter across the TV screen.

But that’s not body horror. Those types of films are called splatter horror, which is a subgenre that demonstrates a fascination with the vulnerability of the human body through graphic gore and violence.

Body horror on the other hand is a subgenre of horror that intentionally showcases disturbing violations of the human body, like mutilation, mutation, disease, stranger behavior, or graphic violence. Unlike splatter, this subgenre is more focused on making the audience question what is means to be human and their own autonomy.

I think this is where the confusion between splatter and body horror comes from. Yes, body horror can use gore to achieve its goal, but it’s so much more than just gross special effects and fake blood.

A classic example of body horror is John Carpenter’s The Thing, a movie about an alien infiltrating a research outpost in Antarctica by killing off people and then taking that person’s place. The movie does show people dying and some gross mutations, but it’s never needlessly violent or gory. It’s the perfect example of body horror without having to disembowel anyone.

Another example of body horror that doesn’t use violence is The Faculty, one of my personal favorites. This movie is about an alien that takes over the teachers in a high school and it’s up to a group of students to save the world from in invasion. Again, this movie is scary and disturbing without utilizing over-the-top gore.

Body horror done well does not have to be gory or super gross. Body horror does not necessarily equal buckets of viscera and bad writing. Stop acting like I’m nasty because it’s my favorite subgenre. There are so many other factual reasons to call me nasty. Educate yourself.

-EMS

Stop Banking on Curiosity

In the past couples months I’ve had some serious trouble finding a book that urge me to keep reading. I read the Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, and that book had me vibrating in my chair waiting until I was able to pick it back up. The first book in that series was a little slow and weirdly esoteric, but at a certain point I was hooked. This dude came into the river and noodled me like a catfish. The second and third books I willingly jumped into his boat and wished for him to whisk me away.

Now that I’ve finished that series—and I’m changed in deep, physical ways—I’ve been chewing through books trying to find the next person to enrapture me. But I’m having trouble. Many books I’ve been reading end up being a drudge, and for the first time in my life I actually put a book back without finishing it.

I keep seeing this trend in books where they structure and write their stories so that pieces of the puzzle are sprinkled throughout the book. That’s all well and good, but what you are doing is banking on my curiosity to take me to the end of your story. Curiosity is a cool element to stories, but more importantly I need to know what the book is about.

Stories are about problems that a protagonist must overcome. That is a very simple way of phrasing a complex idea. Curiosity is making me search for an answer. Purpose drives me to read until the conclusion.

Listen—I can look up your answers. If you write a book and the big thing that’s taking me to the end of the book is a black box, your book won’t hold my attention. I can go find the answer in your book and then put it away. I can look it up online to sate my curiosity. Why should I care about your black box?

This is what I keep finding in books. They don’t tell me what the protagonist’s deliberate purpose is; their stories use curiosity instead of purpose to drive the narrative. And since I don’t know what the protagonists are trying to do, I have no investment. Their actions, their successes, their failures, and their sacrifices mean nothing because I don’t know what it’s all for. I know what the writer is trying to go for, but by the time I know what the goal is I can no longer be so emotionally invested.

It can get confusing, because most books are pretty good about telling you what the protagonist is attempting to do, but there is a difference between telling me that a character needs to achieve something, instead of telling me what they are trying to achieve.

I just a read a book called The Stars are Legion by Kameron Huxley. I want to talk about the two protagonists. There is Jayd, a cunning woman seeking to save her world, and Zan, a woman who has cliche’d her memory but still has to fulfill her mission!

Spoilers inbound!

They two protagonists are… lovers? Who knows—book ain’t got time for this shit—the protagonists are separated by their duties as Jayd goes to a rival planet to negotiate peace and Zan is tossed down a recycling chute.

The book from there follows their stories: Jayd trying to protect the future of her people and her world by navigating a political nightmare, and Zan, who has to climb her way back up from the bottom of the world to the surface. But don’t worry! The two separated heroes have a plan.

They don’t tell you what the plan is up front. You have to keep reading to find out! Jayd just keeps saying things like, “It’ll all be better when we complete our plan and are back together!” and Zan has fuggin’ amnesia so even she has no idea.

For most of the book the reader doesn’t know what the end goal is. And I mean specifically. We know that Jayd and Zan have a plan to “save their dying world” but we don’t know what that plan involves. How are you going to do that? What specifically is your plan?

It is important for the inciting incident to not only kick the story into motion, but also set the stakes, or at least lay them out.

Zan’s story is one of survival, and she keeps having to face life threatening obstacles. I get a little stressed because I like Zan, I don’t want her to die, but when things don’t go as planned I have no idea what the consequences will be if she dies.

With Jayd, her two main goals were to retrieve a mysterious metal arm, steal a woman’s womb [sic], and get the hell off her rivals world. Cool! We know what she needs to achieve, but I have such a hard time being invested in her trials because I don’t know what the arm and the womb [sic] represent. What do these mean to the story? Keep reading to find out!

I had no real grasp on what the end game was until about two-thirds of the way into the book. I enjoyed reading it, but I was more enthralled with the world building than I was with the goals of the characters. The ending was a little anti-climactic because I had trouble being invested in a goal that was so nebulous.

Let’s contrast this.

Lord of the Goddamned Rings.

Frodo finds the One Ring and needs to take it to Mount Doom to destroy it at the place it was forged! Why do we need to do that? Oh, if Sauron regains the Ring, he will have power over all other races and will likely bring doom to Middle Earth!

The story can have it’s various acts, all of it’s action, and it’s exploration because we know this is moves towards the goal of getting Frodo and the Ring to Mount Doom. The Ring Wraiths feel threatening because they threaten that purpose. Without that purpose, the books plot is basically feckless. Nothing feels dangerous.

Harry Goddamned Potter.

Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, haplessly defeated Lord Voldemort, and as he matures into a fledgling wizard we learn that Voldemort is going to return. Harry needs to amass the allies and skills he needs to face down the Dark Lord.

Each book in Harry Potter has it’s own plot and driving force, with various levels of success, but the overarching threat of the book, Lord Voldemort, is established immediately. With that single looming villain, we have more context for what happens and the consequences of those events. Harry can’t die because he needs to defeat Voldemort. He needs to be strong enough to face him in the end.

The Goddamned Hunger Games

Katniss Evergeen is thrust into the heart of both survival and politics as she takes the place of her sister in a deadly publicized event known as the Hunger Games. She must literally fight to survive, and when she does, she becomes the figurehead of a movement to abolish the games and overthrow the capital and all of it’s tyranny.

Katniss’s story is an enthralling one because she is a reluctant protagonist that eventually turns into a driven one. She needs to survive her fellow competitors, and eventually becomes embroiled in a civil war that threatens all she knows.

The above mentioned books establish their books plots within the first act. They might not be the most complex books, but their strengths come from the fact that they lay out the problems for the protagonist—and me, the reader—and I can go on their journey with them. When you establish a strong premise, and a strong problem to overcome, readers are dying to know what happens next. Curiosity should follow purpose, but you definitely shouldn’t use curiosity as your driving force.

I enjoyed The Stars Are Legion enough to finish it. I’d even recommend it to you because the world it sets up is super unique. I would love a follow up book! But what it and many other books do that does not resonate with me is they keep the purpose behind everything—tucked away until I, the reader, am allowed to know.

As with all rules, there are plenty of times to break this rule, but I think it’s way more important to establish goals and expectations early in a book so that I can be engrossed in the journey instead of waiting to see what it was all for.

—DTM

 

 

 

 

 

Movie vs. Book: The Ritual

So, I am a little behind the times.

The Ritual, a movie about four college friends reuniting to hike through Sweden and coming across an ancient, bloodthirsty creature, came out in February of this year. I even watched it six months ago when it initially came out, but before I sat down and did a proper review I knew I wanted to read the novel. Well, this past month I finally bought a copy of The Ritual by Adam Neville, and now that I’ve read it, it’s finally time to share my thoughts.

Brace yourself. They’re not very positive.

The Film Adaptation

ritual movie posterWhen the film came out earlier this year, everyone started recommending it to me. Everyone who watched it said it was new and unique and amazing and that I just had to watch it. I would love it! Well, I’ve never been one to shy away from a horror film, so I cracked open a beer and queued it up.

If you’re not familiar with the film, I’ll give a brief synopsis. Four college friends reunite to go on a hike through the Swedish wilderness to honor their friend, Robert, who died a few months beforehand in a liquor store robbery. One of the friends, Luke, was in the store when it happened and did nothing so there’s some lingering resentment from the other three toward Luke. On the hike, they decide to take a shortcut and end up lost in a forest inhabited by an ancient god that is desperate for sacrifices and picks the men off one by one. Luke ends up stumbling across a small village of people in the forest who worship the entity, a bastard offspring of the Norse god, Loki, and manages to escape before they sacrifice him to the creature.

Even just writing that, the story sounds amazing. Lost in the forest with some creepy beast stealing your friends away and stringing them up in trees sounds like the recipe for an amazing horror story. Except, whoever the hell mixed up the ingredients for this movie put in way too much “men lost and complaining in the woods” and not enough “cool monster” and “creepy cult.”

The movie was incredibly unbalanced in my opinion. We spent way, way too much time following the four friends getting lost in the woods. It’s boring and overdone. I’ve already read that story, I’ve already watched that movie. Hell, I’ve fucking lived that story myself one time when I got too drunk on a camping trip.

Also, as a woman, I could not even remotely relate to the characters, Dom, Phil, Hutch, and Luke. All they seemed to focus on was being the most masculine and the conflict was completely based on miscommunication and toxic masculinity.

Boo. Boring and overdone.

ritualmonsterThe movie really got interested when the monster actually showed its face. I remember squealing when it came on screen, as if it were some cute kitten or baby bunny that had appeared. Amazing design. Loved the monster. Unfortunately, the monster was on screen for maybe a quarter of the movie. I was way more invested in it and the cult that worshiped it than I was in the four male characters and it barely got a part in the movie. I was thoroughly disappointed. A cool movie with so much potential that just didn’t follow through.

Reading the Novel

After I was disappointed by the movie, I found out it was based on a book!

Great, I thought to myself. The novel must spend more time focusing on the cult and the monster than the movie did. Movies more often than not cut out major scenes to keep the film short.  I need to buy it and read it so I can finally hear more about my sweet, baby monster.

The_Ritual_Adam_Nevill_cover

Nope, I was so very wrong .

The book was even more unbalanced than the movie was. In total, the book was a little over 400 pages and we only ever got small glimpses of the monster. Also, it wasn’t until around page 260 that the cult even came into the story.

Oh, and it wasn’t a cult. It was three metal-head teenagers with authority-issues looking to spill blood. Loki and Fenris, the two young men who made up the band Blood Frenzy, had heard stories about the beast living in the woods and came to worship it while at the same time desecrating ancient churches and other modern religious altars.

While that sounds interesting, Loki, Fenris, and their other friend, Surtr, were boring and one dimensional, basic metalhead stereotypes. They reminded me of the bad kids in an after school special about peer pressure and satanism.

I had issues with all three of these metalhead younglings, but my biggest issue with the book was with Surtr, one of only two women featured in the book.

Women in The Ritual

Let’s talk about Surtr.

In the novel, Surtr was, as far as I could tell, a groupie of Blood Frenzy and Loki’s psychotic girlfriend. Although her age was never stated, based on Luke’s pondering of whether these delinquents would even get tried as adults, I’d guess she was between 16 and 20 years old, which honestly makes the last third of the book creepy for an entirely different reason.

Surtr, whose number of speaking lines I can count on one hand, was described as a short, overweight woman with with black hair. Pretty vague, right? Well, thankfully, the author doesn’t stop there! We also get to hear all about how plump and pendulous her breasts are as she runs around the forest naked and how sebaceous and creamy her vagina smells while she pins Luke down.

That’s it, that’s all we get for physical characterization. And as for her personality, well all we know is that she’s incredibly violent, unstable, and wants to cut Luke’s toes off for no reason other than her sadistic streak. Surtr is basically a wild animal, thrown into the narrative for no good reason other than to provide an opportunity to use insults like “fat bitch” and “ugly cow.”

As a lover of horror and a grown ass woman, I have no issue with that type of language or misogyny. This isn’t kindergarten and I don’t expect authors to pull punches to spare my feelings, especially when they’re talking about a character in life or death situations. However, in The Ritual it was absolutely pointless because Surtr was absolutely pointless. The story started off very male-focused and I was fine with that, until the author brought in a female character and demonstrated how little he cared about her.

Surtr was my main issue with this section of the book, but after the author included a line describing the smell of her vagina, I started noticing other little things that just pissed me off. The old woman who lived in the house and was the descendent of the creature in the woods was one hundred percent a horror stereotype. Old women, living in the woods alone practicing ancient magic? Been there, done that.

However, that stereotype took on a whole new light when I read that description of Surtr. I remember thinking, “oh, he just doesn’t know how to write women at all. Awesome.”

And then, the old woman called the creature in the forest “moder,” which means mother.

So now even the monster is feminine, which means in the last twenty or so pages of the book, Luke is exclusively fighting against feminine entities. He’s fighting Surtr and the old woman and now the ancient mother of the forest.

As a woman reading this, I was even less thrilled than I was in the beginning. Obviously, the author has some issues with women that he unknowingly unloaded into this novel. I felt alienated reading it and only finished it because the hidden misogyny only started popping up when I was almost done. When I’m less than 200 pages away from finishing a book, it takes a lot for me to not finish it.

That, and I really wanted to write this post criticizing it and the only way I could be seen as a credible critic was to finish it.

My final thoughts: 0/10, boring, misogynistic, was rooting for the monster to win.

Steven Universe

First of all:

Emily, you done fucked up. This marks the first time that you not only missed a post, but here we are on Friday and you still haven’t posted.

I guess that means the blog is over. Thanks for the ride everyone. I hope you learned a lot about me and my inner workings. You’ll just have to wait until I start my next blog: Devon Degrees of Doody, now with a new writer!

Credits

Speaking of waiting, as of this week Laryssa and I are caught up on Steven Universe. We now join the frothing masses as we wait for the next series of episodes to be released on Cartoon Network.

Steven Universe (2013)

It’s a fantastic children’s show following a young boy named Steven Universe, and his adventures with the Crystal Gems: several powerful beings who are tasked with protecting the Earth. Steven himself is special: he is half Crystal Gem, and half human.

It starts off as a cheerful show about a young boy growing up and helping out around his home town of Beach City. Early episodes revolve around the town and the strange entities and magical items that cause problems.

As the show goes on, the viewers begin to learn more about who Steven and the Crystal Gems truly are, where they came from, and the trials that lay ahead of them.

With a premise like that, it sounds like this could be just another straightforward, formulaic children show about being a kid and growing up. But this show strives for so much more. There is a tight cast of characters, all completely unique and bereft of cliche. Every single character that appears on screen is deeply thought out and very developed. They all have personal and emotional arcs that are easy to get invested in.

The show is amazingly positive and teaches very complex issues ranging from simple topics like forgiving someone to much more complex issues like consent and emotionally abusive relationships.

The actual story line of the show is methodically thought out. I’m sure the shows creator, Rebecca Sugar, had the entire show plotted out before they even began writing the pilot. The larger story is slowly sprinkled in as the show moves forward, hinting at the massive scope of the world and the events of the past. And as you learn more and more, you realize that very important things were hinted at in the first episodes, and you never noticed.

This show is, at its core, a show about relationships between different people and different credos. Characters who seem easy to read at first become so much deeper as more about their histories and relationships are laid bare and explored. These are real relationships these characters have, and no two characters have similar dynamic. This gives the show a wide range of ideas to play with as two characters might go on an introspective romp through the town, while the other two take to the railroads to return to their birthplace. No single friendship is duplicated, and it is a beautiful way to explain to children that no two people are alike, and therefor no two friendships are alike.

Image result for steven universe crying

This show is one part Mr. Rogers, one part Dragonball, and one part Power Rangers. The episodes can change wildly. One episode might show a cartoon fight of epic proportions, and another might be an emotionally charged reveal where people contextual how they feel about difficult to understand topics. This show works so diligently to avoid cliche that there is nothing else like it. 

Fucking real talk: this show has changed the way I write, and it helps me deal with my anxiety.

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My new writing style

I could gush forever, but I recommend to any of my readers to go watch this show. Just watch a couple episodes and I think you’ll see what I mean. The episodes are short, somewhere around 11 minutes on average, and it’s quite easy to binge many of them in an evening. Steven Universe gets my absolute recommendation. I’m sad I didn’t watch it sooner, but I’m glad I’ve watched it now!

—DTM

Writing Strong Emotions

So Krivash’s prelude was kind of a bummer. I knew it was going to be, when I had developed Krivash for our Starfinder game, I had most of that mapped out in my head.

Problem is—it’s a bummer story. About halfway through writing it I suddenly had some doubts: what is the point of this story? Is it’s only point and purpose to be sad? I tried to add a positive spin on it; Krivash was going to try and become the diplomat that Ashraya and Lafid saw him as, and try and give their memory validation.

Since Rogue Trader started, I’ve ended up talking to a bunch of my players and their writing. Seems that our group getting back into RPG’s has kicked off a personal writing renaissance. A common theme I’ve seen among my friends is that the writing is usually a pattern of tragedies. It makes sense: a very common thread among calls to adventure are negative emotions. You don’t often see adventurers happy from the get-go. At least I don’t.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I want to write happier things, and some of the stories I have in my head definitely end happier, but I realized a couple things as I mused on it.

It’s easier to write sad things because everyone has experienced deep, profound sadness in some way, but not everyone has experienced deep, profound happiness. It’s interesting to think about how great happiness and great sadness manifest themselves in the same way emotionally.

Not many. I’ve been thinking about this because I’m crafting a narrative for Rogue Trader, and I don’t want everything to feel sad. I had a reunion between a player and her characters lost brother, and thinking about how to act that out I realized a bunch of these things.

When you think about someone dealing with loss, you see quiet, disbelief, usually accompanied by crying.

When you think about someone experiencing great happiness, you see disbelief, usually accompanied by crying.

Here’s the thing: 99% of books I’ve read end happy. The conflict is resolved, the protagonist gets the love interest, and they all live happily ever after. So why is it hard to write happiness in the shorter form, like me and my players usually write?

We lack the time and space to develop the investment needed to feel happy. Sadness is often a shortcut.We write sad things because we believe having an emotional reaction to writing makes it good writing. Sad things are caused by emotions everyone has felt before: heartbreak, betrayal, death, abandonment.

How many of us know the feeling of suddenly having our burdens relieved? How many of us have beaten cancer? Inherited a ton of money? Found a long lost loved one?

Stories have happy endings because there is enough time for the reader to understand the characters, parse the problems that they face, and most importantly, develop an investment in what happens. This is what I hope to achieve in my writing, and what I hope to achieve in Rogue Trader.

This probably wasn’t a ground breaking thought to a lot of people, but I need to move past the point where sad things is the point of my writing. It’s neat to evoke an emotional response, but I know that I can craft stories better than that. I need to write something longer, or at the very least explore other ideas in my short form writing.

—DTM