The least fun part of the adventure writing process is submitting it to the editor. Offering the fruits of your imagination to the ruthless and cruel knife of the editor to be cut, chopped, and diced into a bland, unfulfilling fruit salad can be a fate worse than death to some authors. In reality, it does not have to be so bad or melodramatic. The editing process can be beneficial and augment your work.
How is this possible? Well, there are several things an author must do in order to have a much less stressful editing experience. First and foremost is to understand the world for which you are writing. Second, know what is expected and not expected to be in your adventure. Third, meet your deadlines. These three things, along with a spell checker, will go a long way in saving your work from the Slasher.
Understanding the world for which you are writing does not just mean knowing who the bad guys are or which castle would make a great setting. It also encompasses the manner in which it will be played and by whom it will be played. Most RPGA adventures need to be written so that they can be accomplished in a four hour time slot. That means that having seven combat encounters is just asking for the red pen. This also means that you need to be aware of what types of characters are being played in your adventure. Adventures requiring parties to have a certain kind of character to succeed will need to be rewritten.
The content of your adventure must also meet a set of guidelines for both content and style. The need to keep your writing PG-13 is quite obvious. Children play this game and while I know they get exposed to much worse stuff in a single hour of Law & Order that is not within our control – only the content of our adventures is. As for style, having a consistent style for adventures allows judges to quickly find information they need and makes the whole playing experience flow much more smoothly. A copy of both the content and style guidelines can be found in the Living Greyhawk Writer’s Guidelines. A new, updated version will be out shortly, but the old one will get you headed down the right path.
Nothing aggravates an editor (including me) more than getting an adventure the week before it is due to premiere at a convention. We really do not want to disappoint the gathered masses by telling them that the adventure will not be run, so we do the only thing we can. – we cut out all the grey areas. This results in a adventure that does not meet the author’s original intent. With some conversation and time to think about the areas in question, some, if not all could have been saved. Instead, the players get a much weaker adventure, and the author gets all the heat for it. Save yourself some grief as well as the everlasting ire of your editors, get the scenarios to them on time.
Of course, there is more to the editing process. Your editors will also be looking at things such as character development, continuity, accuracy, and a handful of other things. These things vary depending on the type and setting of the campaign so talk to the editor of your adventure about them. I would like to discuss this at more length, but I missed my own deadline, and this article still needs to be edited.