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What Dungeons and Dragons has taught me about the importance of narrative in writing

Despite being unfairly depicted as the pinnacle of nerd culture for the best part of four decades, the number of people playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has increased massively over recent years.

D&D has been a hobby of mine for several years and has provided me with countless hours of entertainment. But it has also taught me key lessons when it comes to writing and storytelling.

Including a narrative in every piece of writing was one of the first things that I learned when I started at The Yardstick Agency. But what exactly is D&D, and why is it so important to include a narrative in your writing? Read on to find out.

Dungeons and Dragons is a narrative- and player-driven tabletop experience

D&D is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game. Players, usually in groups of between three and six, must create a character according to strict rules and guidelines.

One player is known as the “dungeon master” (DM), and they will essentially play the role of storyteller. The DM creates the universe in which these characters live, the story they follow, the people they interact with, and everything in between.

The difference between this and similar board or video games is that D&D is entirely focused on, and can be moulded around, the players and their choices. The DM can craft the game and the world it takes place in entirely according to their vision.

But how does this link to writing professional copy? The answer is that there is always a story waiting to be told.

A strong narrative helps to engage your audience

What makes D&D fun and engaging is that you grow to love your character and the world they inhabit. You like and dislike the characters you meet along the way and get immersed in the story that ties it all together.

Why would your D&D players want to play if it felt like no progress was being made? Why would your customers want to read your copy if they felt like there was no point? Simply put, they probably wouldn’t.

Weaving a narrative through any piece of writing is crucial. There should be a clear start and end point, with logical steps at every turn in between. This is something that you can implement in any piece of client-facing writing, be it a news piece, articles for a blog, or long-form guides.

There should always be a beginning, a middle, and an end to every piece you produce. The audience should also feel spoken to, as if you are inviting them to come on the journey with you.

In content writing, the beginning can be an introduction to the topic, or exploration of a concept. The middle could be what the topic means to the reader or why they should care. The end could be what the reader can do with the knowledge of the topic, or how this knowledge helps them.

Establishing a clear narrative can help you write your copy

When building a D&D world, one of the best places to start is the story. When you know what is going to happen, you can ask yourself questions about the possible events about to take place.

What political failures allowed a villain to rise to power? How have their rules affected different cities and the general population? What changes will occur to society when the villain commits each act?

The answers to questions like these help you to produce the sizzle around the sausage, the world around the story.

The same can be said for your copy. When approaching the writing process, a clear story can help you to plan and more easily write about the subject. Knowing where you want to start and where you want to end up can help the writing process, as you simply need to fill in the gaps.

With the basics of your narrative, you can then take the time to add in the extra detail by finding statistics, adding an anecdote, and diving into more detail.

If you’re unsure what else to put in, you can ask yourself questions. Why does this point matter? Who is going to care about this sentence? Do I need more information to support this point?

A clear, structured story creates an easy flow for your reader to follow

A clear, structured story helps your readers follow along more easily, since your copy won’t randomly jump from point to point.

At the end of the day, those are two of the most important factors of professional copy. You want your writing to be interesting and worthwhile to read.

Embodying your 200-year-old Dwarven scholar for a few hours on a Saturday may not directly help your writing ability. However, the life your character lives could certainly teach you something about the importance of a detailed and interesting story in anything you produce.

Get in touch

If you aren’t one for writing, or you simply don’t have the time for it, consider reaching out to help reduce your workload. We can produce engaging and informative copy to help expand your business and retain your existing customers.

Email or call 0115 8965 300 to find out what we can do for you.

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