BW as a Tool for Writers

If we can use BW to create in-depth epics with beliveable and interesting characters, then why not use it to create characters for books? Using BITs, one could easily create a structure for major novel characters and transfer this into character development and plot. Clearly BW is and excellent storytelling system, so why not use to write stories?

Does that make sense or am I sounding like a raving lunatic?

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You could use it, and I think good writers do have an idea of the BITs of their characters. But you’d just be using the soft bits of BW. Go ahead and do it, but it won’t revolutionize writing.

Thought revolutions are hard to come by, so I wasn’t expecting that. :stuck_out_tongue:

The major use would be to give yourself a jump through writer’s block or what-not and to simplify your character’s framework.

[Joke Disclaimer]
Just a thought…

No Fwends :frowning:

I think the best stories are about the themes the author deals with rather than the drama between characters. The difference between literature and a commercial novel I suppose. I’m reading Wizard of Earthsea for the first time right now and characters personalities are vehicles for larger themes Le Guin is exploring, I’m less interested in their exact personalites as such. TV soap operas deal a lot with characters and less with universal themes.

However, perhaps unexplored in literature is something that has been well explored in music. “Total Serialism” wherein the composer creates a matrix and formula that will dictate every aspect of what will take place in the composition before he even writes it (Boulez “Structures 1a” is a good example of this “pre-composed” music). John Cage and others also experimented with “chance” and aleotoric music where compositional choices were determined by the roll of a die.

So, yes, I suppose BW could play a role in an author willing to work using serial/aleotoric means.

Anything that helps you nail down your protagonist/antagonist realtonships (central to any genre).
As far as random acts/dice rolling/complications are concerned, if it makes for a better story-fantastic! If not, that’s what re-writing is for.
(May I one day have written more books than I have read books about writing :wink: )

You can’t have an overlapping theme if your characters are vegetables. The hope is that by helping to organize the creation of character concept the writer can then jump into the writing of his/her theme ASAP. The end result I hope for when writing is a meaning. The goal of all writers is to write a story that touches the hearts and minds of all and removes the need for writing with its ideas and words for a fraction of a second in history (before the thoughts of the world change again), as they cover anything that could be said at that moment and leave everyone speechless.

So we need characters to convey the messages, otherwise all that thought would go to waste.

And Larkin, that’s one for the bucket list. :slight_smile: I wish you luck in your writing endeavors.

I did this! Well, what I did was…I did character burns for characters in a story. I suddenly discovered that one of them had been a gravedigger and was therefore Bitter. Those neat little unexpected twists in character burning are a fantastic touch.

Haven’t finished the story, though.

Let us know where we can find your finished story (book?) and Good Luck!

Opcero, you don’t think that exploring Beliefs and exploring themes are the same thing?

Every writer I’m sure has their own way of creating characters in their stories. Tolkien used his son’s doll for Tom Bombadil and I’m sure stuff from ASoIaF came from Martin’s war gaming days. If a writer wants to roll 3d6 for strength through charisma or burn up a character more power to them.

The genius of BW isn’t that it helps make great stories, all RPG’s do that. D&D is (in)famous for doing that even though it’s a slightly modded war-game from the 1970’s adapted to 1:1 scale. The genius of BW is that it creates rules for role-playing. I don’t see how the tying of beliefs to die rolls would necessarily help an author more than any other system would. D&D characters can have plenty of beliefs, they’re just independent of the game rules. So unless the author is going to roll dice, either game should works just as well.

I didn’t say anything about rolling dice to make book characters. BITs don’t even require dice rolls. And I’ll say this again; this isn’t about turning books into an RPG script, its about organizing character creation and integration of themes into their thoughts.

but beliefs and instincts have nothing to do with Burning Wheel rules. You can give beliefs and instincts to d&d characters. I’m confused.

Listen I’m not trying to get into an argument with you. Will giving your novel’s character beliefs and instincts make him a more believable character? The answer is clearly yes. Characters in a novel should have those things.

Whatever works for the individual writers creative process is fine and totally up to their own discretion.
Each must walk their own path, even when their destination is the same.

So let’s talk about some cool things that using character burning and BW’s BIT dynamics can do for an author, since that’s really the point of this thread. :slight_smile:

One thing I enjoyed, when I burned characters, was the constraints of character burning forcing me to redefine my character concepts and make hard choices. I was working within a system that didn’t allow me to make exactly the character I wanted, and I think that benefitted my character creation heavily. Mandatory traits are massive character-shapers, and I have to decide how I’m going to deal with that. As an author, that’s actually pretty cool.

Not to mention varied, the lifepaths can take characters places that I wouldn’t have thought ofon my own. And having done up a few for in game use it has helped me to think up different sorts of characters for fiction. I believe I am at least a bit richer for the experience, character wise.
Even the one-off N.P.C.s benefit for and from the same reasons. Every character is in a storyline for two reasons: 1) Because the writer needs them to be there to fulfill a need in the story. 2) The character needs to fulfill their own need/want in that place or meet someone/something.
To have one without the other is to have a flat piecein the story.

Now all we need is to get CarpeGuitarrem’s book published.


You know what I’d really love, an annotated BWG where Luke talks about inspiration for things like life paths. I had no idea that “arcane devote” really meant an autodidact who taught themselves by pouring over old musty tombs. In this regard I would love perhaps a little fiction with each LP.

I always thought that it suggested someone who had devoted themselves to arcane studies (whether alone or with a mentor). I’ve used it for city born > arcane devotee > rogue wizard to represent a gifted orphan taken in by a court wizard turned adventuring mage. Now looking at that character as a work in fiction rather than a pc in burning wheel all sorts of ideas spring to mind. If fact, I think I may have to work on that one for a bit.

If your characters have BITs, then after every chapter or plot arc or whatever, you can stop and award them artha - not because they’ll be spending it, but because you can use it as a rough gauge of how much your characters are actually interacting with the themes you’ve given them. I don’t know for sure how useful that would be in practice, but it might be good feedback.
One might extend the concept by altering the artha awards to suit whatever particular sort of story you’re trying to write.