Runon Improvement Discussion


01-03-2008 14:45:05

Hey Tarentum,

So with the conclusion of the clan runon, I would like to open up discussion to everyone on both this runon and past runons and see if we can highlight what we think went wrong with them and hammer out some future policies and rules regarding it. I'm doing this for four reasons: a) so we can increase our enjoyment in future runons, B) to confront the complaints we've had regarding the past runons, c) improve our runon skills for future GJW runs and etc, and finally d) to be able to provide well coordinated runons in the future in an attempt to draw more participation.

Let's note at this point that nothing this discussion is based on regards the efforts our clansmen have put into providing these activities. We've all appreciated the effort people have put into providing these runons for us, and nothing to follow from this discussion should be seen as an attack on these individual. Rather its a healthy place to provide feedback for future organizers.


Anyways, to start off the conversation; my top suggestion for the runons is to develop a story line before the event. we don't need to figure out the entire story, but we need to be better organized to both avoid wasting posts and provide own members with the details to write a credible story. Leaving members with only a beginning is only asking for disastor as many of us can come up with our own endings to the story but the chaos of merging numerous endings in madness. Organizers should provide but the beginning details and a credible idea of where we want to do so members can fill in the gap. For example, leaving people with "John went to the store" can have all sorts of endings and outcomes: "John bought some gum, and returned home undistrubed." or "John was mugged on the way, and left for dead." or "John ran into an old friend and decided to skip the store and go to the pub for a drink." Sure it provides freedom, but if you want John to end up at the store to meet the pretty girl of his dreams you haven't provided the information for a linear story. Its alright to allow freedom for character development or twists and other ideas to come into play like "John ran into his ex and arranged to meet her tonight to see about getting back together, but then he met this girl of his dreams and is now faced with conflict".
Anyways, I know I've said this before but I just want to stress it again and have it in public view for next time. Please, feel free to post your own opinions (even against mine if your disagree). Once we have everyone's opinion we can work out solutions to the problems.

THanks for your time, and feedback.


01-03-2008 16:03:05

Some of the best run-ons this clan has done in the past had little to no thought to the plot of the story. They began with a beginning post and ran from there. The problems come when you get into people who want to do their own thing as a side story. At least get a few more people into the side story and make sure the side story is tied into the main plot.

The main plot also has problems moving along until someone takes the time to push it forward. As people more and more want to do their own side story it falls upon fewer and fewer to move the plot in any direction. It would be beneficial if people started to learn how to write about other members instead of just themselves. That kind of post offers more to the reader.

We should push for more cooperation and communication between members. Get them to band together to make posts rich in detail, plot movement, and some group character development.

Also, we need to read and retain what has been written. It does no good to have a bomb explode in an important building and nothing else said about it in later posts. Nor does it do any good to not read where a character is and post them someplace entirely different. I always encourage people to go back and read through the posts instead of skimming and picking what they want to see out of them.

That's all I've got for now.


01-03-2008 16:57:32

I think that both of you have very good points. Sometimes people may need a little guidance in terms of what to write, in a general sense, to give direction to a story. On the other hand, people that freely create something allows the randomness which can then generate an amazing storyline.

In freestyle roleplay I have created some amazing stories where stuck for something to write/say/create I added some elements into a storyline which I have then had to use my creativity to integrate into the story and pull together to make some kind of sense at the end. It is these unrelated elements which can spark off the creativity to then do something unique. When I have done this I have had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, but the challenge is then the integration.

I have also added weird elements just to see what happened and these lead off in interesting directions too.

Once you know where the story is going you will naturally think in that direction, sometimes to the exclusion of other possibly more interesting story lines. People need to avoid falling into that trap but I dont think it is something that is the fault of organisers, it is just human nature.

Perhaps one answer could be to include a general directive:

We need a large battle, two or more skirmishes, a hidden enemy revealed, a betrayal, the loss of someone dear, a sacrifice etc. DO NOT do the following: and then a list of what must absolutely not be done.

It could then be up to the writers to use creativity to integrate these elements into the story, to weave them in. Being free to pursue a side story would then be ok, since it could integrate these elements. Bringing this side story to the main plot would then need some creative thought too. The points could then be given in terms of how people use their writing skills to integrate the whole. Possibly deduct points for not following previous posts, as Telona says a lot of people dont read up on what happened from someone else's posts.

Perhaps we ought to use the DJB wiki a bit more. If we have a profile of our character there, including current starship/fighter craft owned or used, favourite weapons and tactics or other details that people need to know to integrate that personality into their own story, then we could reference that and use the information.


01-03-2008 21:50:24

I was almost tempted to kill my character in this last RO. While perhaps inappropriate for future ROs, it felt like what it needed. I decided to settle for paraplegizing (lol?) my character instead. Thank god for bionics.

At any rate I completely disagree with the idea that single person side-stories are bad ideas. I think we have a lot of good writers and a lot of not so good writers, unfortunately (but that's life, right?). At any rate I feel that doing stuff on your own is more fun and less risky. Lots of people are safe to rely on, some are not.

I've deleted this post 3 or 4 times before finally deciding to post it, I'm in a particularly belligerent mood, so I'll come back and disagree with myself later :).

I think the RP went well... a little too much god-moding and not listening going on, but that's to be expected.


02-03-2008 03:44:35

I can personally see the pros and cons of both sides of this mild debate. First off, I've been apart of run ons where you had the beguinning and everyone just started writing, like this one we've just done. I've also seen run-ons that had a pre determined start, mid-point, and end that had turned out very well.

The most common, however, is the freestyle if memory serves me well. But I have seen a lot of run-ons that had a seperate thread that housed the discussion for that particular run on. Members bouncing ideas off one another and everyone basicly trying to get on the same page. I think it really helps to make sure we are progressing right on time.

Now as far as side stories are concerned, thats tricky. If done properly the can actually add something to the story. If done poorly they can drag down the progression until its stagnant. It all depends on the skill of the writer. But how can you say who can and who cannot post? Everyone's view of other's writing is different. I could think Telona's writing is very well, but Raiju might think the opposite. Each person viewing each individual post will see and take away something different. So I don't think that we can really limit or control who does what. But that's a fact of life we all know.

Just my thoughts. :)


02-03-2008 11:35:04

I think the keys to a good runon are a combination of maturity and role responsibilities. I have suggested previously that we have "signups" for runons and work out general roles for the people who will be getting involved rather than make it a sort of participation melee where most of the lower ranked people have no idea what they should be doing.

In giving the lower ranked people roles I think it goes commensurately that we follow the military structure when it comes to "officers" and "enlisted". The elders of the clan function as "officers".. we are shot callers. We make the decisions. The lower ranked people are "enlisted"... they carry out our orders. Now I'm being terribly generic, as sometimes (rarely) journeymen make big decisions, and sometimes Elders get directly involved in the action, but I think this is generally the way it should be. This basically means that the Elders shouldn't hog all the action or the kills from the lowbies, and the lowbies shouldn't step on the toes of people who know how to run the story better.

If we have sensible and mature writers guiding the plot development and the lower ranked people participating in what the Elders "give them to work with", I think this would work out fantastically.

Plus pre-runon signups, as mentioned.

With this runon I had to ad-hoc a lot of it in terms of plot because, in my opinion, "oh, look, the poor and the miserable are rioting" doesn't have much room to work with. Effecting positive changes in population morale is boring, it takes a LOT of time, and it DEFINITELY doesn't take what we're best at doing - killing people and turning them into zombies, which tends to have the OPPOSITE desired effect on morale. So I decided to take the plot and make it something much more interesting or sinister. Like it or leave it, I did it, and we finished the runon, so you can't bitch all that much.

Doni Tzu


02-03-2008 13:05:47

Well Doni I thought you did a fantastic job this run on (except for the Vong ship thing you big jerk :D lol).

I love the idea of role signups, though I don't think elders are necessarily any better writers than journeymen. I'll happily throw down my writing ability with most elders here :P.

I think you're right about not stepping on toes but it works both ways. Journeymen are (at least in the case of Szordryn, Ronovi, Dralin, and myself ... I'm sure I'm missing someone) just as important and as excited in and about advancing the storyline as any of the elders.

In terms of roles I think we could formulate a qualification/application process for the more important roles. That would give newer members a chance to take the star spot in a run-on and might even be fun getting some real plot development in the new blood areas.

What do you think?


03-03-2008 13:14:57

Well, first off, I'm pleased with how this run-on turned out overall, especially when compared to previous attempts by the clan. Doni and I had talked about a general setting before the competition started, but even he threw me for a loop with the direction he took it. For example, I remember a person or two having trouble with Jason's post, but we were able to take it and turn it into something good for the overall story.

Were there mix ups? Sure; I even messed up a couple of times. But, we did have some overall guiding to the plot line, though we left it flexible enough for other things to happen. That was my overall goal, and I think it came out well.

Everyone definitely has a role to play, regardless of rank. And the journeymen who participated did very well. On the other hand, Doni brings up some good points, and some interesting ideas.

The clan will definitely do more run-ons, and they will be open to everyone. However, a bit of pre-planning for certain roles (ex: Huldrych is a sniper, and therefore is the go to guy for assassinations) might not be a bad idea.

However, in the vein of sign ups, I think for any major events like GJW run-ons, we'll have members sign up: members who are dedicated to the overall storyline. They don't even have to be the best writer in the world, so long as they're dedicated to the overall goal. There is no doubt in my mind that a better clan run-on would have greatly aided in the last GJW. And I would rather have a dedicated team to write a great run-on for the overall benefit of the clan.

Oh, and Raiju took this idea right out of my head. I was going to open a discussion about this very topic. After Kraval approves the medals, I will be sending out the competition results.


23-06-2008 16:43:02

The clan will definitely do more run-ons, and they will be open to everyone. However, a bit of pre-planning for certain roles (ex: Huldrych is a sniper, and therefore is the go to guy for assassinations) might not be a bad idea.

I think this point in particular is in the realm of "personal responsibility" both for authors and characters. It is your responsibility as the person who owns a character to make information about your character available (the wiki is the ideal place to do it) so that when someone else goes to include your character in their fiction, they don't have to just make it up on the fly. However, as an author in any kind of competition, it is your responsibility to go seek out the relevant information about any characters that you are going to use. If they don't have a good wiki article, you should probably shoot them an email or find them on IRC if you are unfamiliar with their character.

That being said, it could be useful to have someone who is very knowledgeable about the Clan (Oberst perhaps, since he's our Marshal) put together a summary article on the wiki about who in the Clan is a specialist for which situations, so if you're looking for someone to fill a role in your fiction and you don't want to search through dozens of wiki articles, you could find a suitable person easily. Once the initial article is created, we could all keep it up to date as their characters change, and as characters cycle in and out of the Clan.