This week in resources that I find helpful as a budding writer, allow me to geek out about GM Word of the Week.
Unscientific, totally anecdotal claim of the day: In the venn diagram of fantasy and sci-fi authors vs table-top role-playing game enthusiasts, the thin slivers are on the outside. Collaboratively or individually, a storyteller is a storyteller. GM Word of the Week is a weekly podcast which has run since 2015. For most of its history, it was written and researched by Scott Rehm of The Angry GM fame, and produced by Brian Casey aka Fiddleback, an independent game designer. In approximately January of 2020, Mr. Casey took over the whole show. It is a delightfully entertaining rambling deep-dive on one topic which usually marginally relates to the sorts of things you experience in role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons (or, my personal game of choice, Pathfinder). Topics range from gaming itself, to linguistics, to history, art, culture, mythology, and more.
How does this help you as a writer?
Say it with me: World. Building.
While ‘write what you know’ is complicated advice for writers of imaginary worlds (as the folks over at Writing Excuses say, ‘extrapolate from what you know’) which should come with three asterisks and a disclaimer, knowing some things certainly helps conceive more well-rounded settings. A 15-to-30 minute podcast is no substitute for research, but when you don’t know what you don’t know an informative narrator is invaluable. GMWOW sparks my imagination and helps me explore arcane topics from angles I would not have considered on my own. It is an entertaining, bite-sized springboard for further study.
If you’re intrigued, check out some of these curated suggestions –
Learn about ancient navigation with Dead Reckoning.
Check out Alchemy and the wacky origins of western science.
Explore the origins of the castle with Motte and Bailey.
Consider the history of mythology and fan fiction(!) with Amazons.
Break your misconceptions about chivalric code with Paladin.
Finally, if you’re feeling meta, check out the story of Stories.