On my way back from Nerdly Beach Party VII1, I listened to the Gamer's Haven Podcast's recording of the seminar Robin Laws did at GenCon about Hamlet's Hit Points. I hope that explains what happened tonight.
I've been working on a short story for my friend Valerie's anthology My First Time. It's a Raymond Chandler pastiche, and I'm having a lot of fun writing it. The last pieces of fiction that I wrote were for Finis, back in 2006, so I'm a little rusty. The ending of this story keeps changing on me: every time I write a bit more, I realize that it shouldn't turn out the way have in mind, so I need to rejigger it. It's getting close now, but it's not quite there yet.
It was after one of these writing/wrestling sessions tonight that I decided to go for a jog, hoping that it would give me some clarity. Instead, about a half mile in, the specter of Robin Laws appeared before me, like the ghost of Hamlet's father. "Mark me," quoth he. "Use the beat analysis system from my book to flesh out your outline. See how the audience moves back and forth between hope and fear, and modulate the tension appropriately. Notice where you have reveals and forget not to lay pipe to set them up. Your story begins with a question; be sure to answer it in the closing beat." And then, as the morn grew nigh, he vanish'd from my sight.
Or at least that's how I remember it.
1 Which, according to our established naming scheme, should be called Wes Craven's New Nerdly Beach Party