It was a dark and stormy night…
OK. Scratch that. It probably wasn’t. And even if it was, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. But – OK. Dark? Check. Stormy? Check. Night? Sure. Let’s say it was.
The company of heroes gathered. The enemy lay ahead, and a mighty foe it was indeed. Few there were who could best the evil, but this company was of the best, and its leader a mighty general. They would…
Actually, what they would do would be to shut up. And listen. And, mostly, do as they were told. One Cleric was going to wait till the enemy Torturer began to turn red, then he was going to cast ‘Abort Evil’. Since Abort Evil was an Area Affect spell, as soon as the Cleric did his thing, the Ice Mage was going to drop ‘Ice Sheet’ so that when the army of demons agro-ed, they couldn’t move very fast. The three warrior tanks were going to concentrate on the enemy Life-Stealers, so they couldn’t leech all the Raid group’s life-force and keep bringing anyone the group killed back to life. The Elementalist was going to call down Lightning, because Lightning’s a damn good interrupt and it would stop the enemy Necromancers from raising up massed zombies. See, massed zombies can ruin your whole day. Er – night.
Of course, that’s when Leroy did his thing. Because there’s always a Leroy. Leroy Jenkins. The guy who get’s bored listening to the plan, and runs like mad into the cave screaming his battle cry – ‘Leeeeeeeeroy Jenkiiiiiiiins!’ Mostly, that’s when everybody ends up dead.
The other night somebody told me I was Leroy . Or .
Hmmmm. Perhaps I should start again .
It’s there. On the front page:
“When I'm not writing (well, or editing my writing. Or re-writing. Or editing my re-writing. Or... Quite. You get the picture), I'm doing other things. Some of them are fun things, like online gaming (If you know Bard Elcano, you know me. If you know a grumpy old dragon called Sephiranoth, you know me. If you know a tall, dark, handsome but brooding vampire, charming witty and brilliant - we never met. That's someone else.)”
So, yes. Sometimes I’m a gamer. An online gamer. And, in online gaming, there are things called Raids. A Raid is when a big group of gamers get together to fight something really, really nasty that nobody can beat on their own. Normally because if the really, really big nasty thing dies, there’s some amazing piece of armour or weapon or magic ring or really, really good garlic sausage they might win. OK. Probably not the garlic sausage. Though I do like a good gar…
Anyway. The thing about Raids is – they only work when everybody follows The Plan. Which really means that someone has to know The Plan (mostly because they’ve done it before), everybody has to listen to The Plan – and everybody has to follow it. Do exactly what The Plan says they have to do, exactly when they have to do it. And if somebody doesn’t follow The Plan, if someone has to be Leroy – everybody dies.
Of course, it’s a game. And everybody lives again, and tries to do it again – without Leroy.
There are a lot of gamers who love Raids. Me? Meh.
Not everything in games is Raiding. A lot of gaming is doing things for the first time, when there is no Plan. Or wandering round without a large group at your back. Or front. And yes, you get to die a lot then as well. Even without Leroy. But nobody’s telling you what to do. When to do it. You sort of make it up as you go along. And you know what?
A lot of people who love Raids hate making it up as they go along .
So what’s that got to do with writing? Well, maybe nothing. But if I stretch a point – writers are a bit like that. In a way. Because some writers are what’s known as Plotters. Or Planners. Before they write one single word, they draw out their universe. They know how far apart the freckles are on the heroine’s mother’s best friend’s sister’s nose. Even though the nose never appears in the book. They know why John’s brother died in the war ten years ago, and how that caused Mary’s wine-gum addiction. And they really do know how many miles it is to Babylon, and whether it’s first left at Albuker… Albakirk… amber-dirk… er, they have a map. And then there’s the other type of writer. The Pantster. Before they type a word, they pretty much know where the keyboard is. Mostly. Well, best of five anyway. And they start typing. And…. ‘Leeeeeeeeroy Jenkiiiiiiiins!’
So maybe there is a link, after all. Maybe, if writers were gamers, Plotters would be Raiders. And Pantsters would boldly go where no typist has ever gone before, at least none that didn’t already have a Plan. And maybe the Plotters finish more books they actually get round to starting, and maybe Pantsters start more books than they get to finish. And maybe it’s better to arrive than to travel without purpose, and maybe it’s better to journey and smell each random encountered rose along the way, and when you get to Albukir… to toss a coin at every bend.
And maybe, just maybe – a bit of both.
So there you are. To paraphrase the Beard of Avon – ‘to Plan, or not to Plan. That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to be but Pants, or take keyboard ‘gainst a sea of words, and Plot them.’ The floor is open. Thoughts? Comments?