All Mad Here
By Brantwijn Serrah
Length of Book: Short story, under 10k
Genre: Fantasy erotic romance; Alice-in-Wonderland theme; NC17 for language and graphic sexual description
Finn expected a quiet birthday: a night off, touring the local bars with his sister Reagan. But his two princesses, Nineva and Nerissa, have already planned a big surprise. Before he knows it, Finn finds himself in a version of Wonderland, racing the Red and White Queens for his fondest birthday wish. Can he best the Red Knight, find the White Rabbit’s missing token, and outsmart the Chesire Cat, before he gets turned into a sheep?
And can Nina and Neri possibly know his true birthday wish…is them?
“You are almost free,” she said. “But alas, for riddle number three.”
Finn had no worries. The first answer had been tied to Spring and Autumn, the second to Winter. She had but one Court left to draw from.
Nineva swept up close to him. “What did my sister give you, which I now wish for you to give to me?”
“Wait, what?” he asked.
She seized him before he could react, pulling him to the grass with her, drawing him into another kiss. Finn flailed a moment, once more caught off-guard, but he planted his hands on either side of her, holding himself above her.
“Bloody hell, lass! Whatdo my Ladies mean by all this?”
“Finn,” she said. Her hand stole down, sneaking to his groin, where she teasingly caressed him.
“What did my sister give you, which I now wish for you to give to me?”
“Nina,” he whispered. “The rules of this game are…very unclear to me.”
“Ah, well…allow me to make them clearer,” she said.
How Gaming Fuels the Writing Process
Besides writing, one of my favorite past-times is video games and tabletop games. In fact, my gaming habit can often draw me away from writing for hours at a time…something that greatly annoys my editor and assistant!
But gaming also helps me, creatively. I’ve always encouraged writers to be readers as well, to expose themselves to as many new worlds and new plots as they can. Gaming can be like that, too.
Good, engaging games will pull you into a story and a setting, make you forget the things around you and enter a fantasy world, much like a book. It doesn’t even have to be a graphics-based game: one of the most creative worlds I ever entered was a text-based Multi-User Domain called Achaea, in which there were absolutely no in-game graphics at all. People underestimate the creative possibilities in a text-based game. I’m always encouraging folks to try them, alas, so many are bedazzled by the amazing novelty of modern graphics. Not that graphics-based games aren’t also good.
Table-top games include Dungeons & Dragons and other pen-and-paper role-play, or board games and deck-building games. Some of the new board games out there—Last Night On Earth, Elder Sign, and Super Dungeon Explorer, to name a few—and the new strategy-based deck builders—Fluxx, Munchkin, and Maistar, for example—have taken the ages-old family game night and given it a new, millennial sense of humor and aesthetic.
What is helpful and useful as a writer who spends a lot of time gaming, is the exercise in seeing, considering, and approaching scenarios from different angles. Believe it or not, the storylines in lots of the big-name games show an incredible depth and complexity…something writers can always learn from. Immersing yourself in the creative worlds of others opens your eyes to the ways in which storytelling techniques and elements of tone and mood affect the one enjoying the tale.
I’ve been told my descriptions are some of my strongest writing, and I credit an upbringing with deeply immersive, colorful worlds of books, film…and video games. Even romantic, sensual, and sexual elements in gameplay invoke the senses and imagination, creating potential inspiration for romance writers. Games like The Sims and Fable contain romantic sub-plots in which the player woos potential mates; you can even pursue same-sex relationships. Still waiting to get a polyamorous group going in The Sims, though…cheat codes can only carry me so far. There’s something very compelling about these romantic branches, though. Players love them. What better practice and inspiration for romance writers than orchestrating one or even many courtships within a world already designed to throw obstacles and favors in for you?
It probably goes without saying how pen-and-paper role-play games both satisfy the creative desires and exercise the creative juices of a writer. I wager many a writer started out in some version of a role-play world.
And even board games, with their pre-arranged rules and play scenarios, give writers a chance to relax the hard-working muse and at the same time nurture seeds of imaginative development. These games rely on thinking around corners and developing strategy, and the new generation of story-rich games provide players with rich setting and conflict.
Gaming is a playground for writers. We can indulge our favorite parts of the conceptualization process within an environment structured for exactly our kind of brain. It allows us to relax as well as interact and engage; we become more a part of the world and story. When it comes time to sit down at the computer and write again, our perspective and technique benefit from the exercise, and the elements of our gaming world which now serve as stimuli for the various ornament and embellishment which makes our worlds all that more colorful.
When she isn’t visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can’t handle coffee unless there’s enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours pencilling naughty, sexy illustrations in her secret notebooks.
Brantwijn has two romance series currently in-progress with Champagne Books. She’s also had short stories published in several small press anthologies. She has author pages on Goodreads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories and audio readings occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.