How Dungeons & Dragons Has Influenced Successful Writers

How Dungeons & Dragons Has Influenced Successful Writers


Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz attributes part of his success to D&D, as do a number of other writers.

The New York Times recently ran a piece highlighting how Dungeons & Dragons has influenced a generation of writers and storytellers. Stephen Colbert, George R. R. Martin, Robin Williams, Matt Groening, and Dan Harmon have all been D&D gamers at some point in their life - Harmon even dedicated two episodes of Community to showcasing the hobby.

But the Times article focuses on Junot Díaz, a literary author who teaches writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Díaz's first novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," was written "in honor of my gaming years."

"For nerds like us, D&D hit like an extra horizon," Díaz said. The game functioned as "a sort of storytelling apprenticeship." While he never became a fantasy writer, "early years profoundly embedded and invested in fantastic narratives" helped him along his path to becoming a writer. From D&D, he said, he "learned a lot of important essentials about storytelling, about giving the reader enough room to play." Díaz believes that D&D has "been a formative narrative media for all sorts of writers."

And he's not alone. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire said D&D"harkens back to an incredibly primitive mode of storytelling," one that was both "immersive and interactive." The Dungeon Master resembles "the tribal storyteller who gathers everyone around the fire to tell stories about heroes and gods and monsters," he said. "It's a live, communal event, where anything can happen in the moment." Lindsay-Abaire said planning D&D adventures was "some of the very first writing that I did," during which he learned about plot and character development.

As a writer, D&D certainly engaged me in a way that no game I played before it could. Have you been inspired by D&D to write? Do you think 5th Edition can help recapture the magic of your early tabletop days?

Source: The New York Times


One of the greatest compliments I've recieved on my writing was "Where did you nick this from?" - it was an introduction to the theme and city in an upcoming session. Pen & Paper roleplaying is an excellent tool to discover character development, motivation, wishes and perhaps most importantly: Flaws.
It's also an insight into yourself and the people you play with, as base urges and dreams come to the surface before you.

As great as it is though, there's no substitution for real life. Driving around in the US on the open road for two weeks, introduced me to far more "characters" than I've ever dreamed up in roleplaying. Life experience and the authenticity it brings to your work, is in my opinion absolutely vital for writers, whether you're a hobbyist or aspiring novelist.

As a writer, D&D certainly engaged me in a way that no game I played before it could. Have you been inspired by D&D to write? Do you think 5th Edition can help recapture the magic of your early tabletop days?

Pen & Paper did in part inspire me, to write as a hobby. The biggest reason was that I was forced to, to come up with scenarios, places, characters and settings in order to be a better Dungeon Master, not because it was an open ended world where anything could happen. If anything, that overwhelmed me and turned me off from hosting games, rather than "inspire" me.

I haven't looked much into 5th edition, but in my opinion the simpler the system, the better. I prefer a deck of playing cards to an overpriced system that turns roleplaying into diablo'esque hack'n'slashers with ability cards and whatnot. I have little faith in WoTC after 4th.

TTRPGs did inspire some writing on my part, but I doubt that 5th edition will help 'recapture the magic'. There's plenty of games built around forming all kinds of narratives with different levels of mechanical input that can create great stories; I doubt another edition of D&D will do anything that Dungeon World, the Warhammer Fantasy RPG, or Barbarians of Lemuria aren't already doing. There's nothing inherently special about D&D except it's market share (or maybe I've got it backwards: D&D has the market share because it is special.)

Interesting read but I am really curious as to what this is: image

Looks fascinating but given the setting is no doubt some sort of grand evil thing for reasons. XD


Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
Register for a free account here