Game Development Reference
people are natural geniuses and never need to do a second draft. Most people aren't.
If you have a good editor, or learn how to edit yourself well, you can greatly improve
the quality of writing you put out. This is why you need to prepare as much material
up front as you can. It gives you a chance to catch contradictions, improve voice and
style, and strengthen connections and clues.
However, there are some cases in ARGs where everything is moving so fast there's
no alternative but to write live. In particular, there are chat rooms, busy message
boards, and helping out actors who are “on stage” and need help with a line. In these
cases, you can't prepare everything up front, but you can do some things ahead of
time to make the job less crazymaking.
Writing in chat rooms. The anonymity of Internet chat rooms provides the
opportunity for any writer to play the part of any of their characters. It doesn't
matter that I'm a 30-something white woman. In an Internet chat room I can
be a child, a man, even an alien. I can even be these things more or less simulta-
neously, having conversations among characters. It takes some practice—and
I do recommend practicing this kind of stunt before trying it out on your ac-
tual audience—but a writer who really knows their characters should be able
to chat for them pretty convincingly. Here are some tips for making it work:
- Post your “talking points” above your monitor. Remember that this
is just another scene in your narrative, and every scene needs a purpose
and direction. Some of the chatting is there for the pure fun of it, but
the fun runs dry if there's no new clue or information conveyed to the
audience through this interaction. But it's easy to get sidetracked, so
taping a notecard with talking points to the top of your monitor can help
you remember to work those all-important clues into your conversation.
- Remember to stay in character no matter what. It's tempting to
try chatting in the public chat room in one character voice and at the
same time send private messages in your own voice to friends who know
your real identity. Resist that urge. If you're sitting in front of an open
chat or instant message window, communicating as a particular fictional
character, be entirely in that character's shoes. It's far too easy to literally
send the wrong message. So if someone tries communicating with you
out of character, put off the conversation and do so in the voice of the
character you're portraying. You're not being cute; you're preserving your
sanity and the quality of the experience for the entire audience.
- Consider using multiple machines with character photos attached.
I've never had a large enough team to indulge in letting one writer por-
tray only one character when writing live. It may seem like overkill, but
I find it really useful to use different computers when playing multi-
ple parts simultaneously. So when you're sitting at your desktop you're
writing for the aliens, and when you're using the laptop it's the head of