Can gaming make you a better writer?

The New York Times has a piece on the dozen or so serious writers who honed their chops not through writing short fiction or practicing journalism, but by playing Ambermush, an online, text-based RPG from the 90’s that lasted until 2009.

Consider the case of Jim Butcher, the author of the Dresden Files novels. Three of his novels have hit the top of the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list, including his most recent effort, Ghost Story

(Butcher) recalled the old writers’ adage that “you’ve got to write your million words” of bad prose “before you’re writing good stuff, and I once estimated that I was writing 5,000 words a day, mushing,” he said. “We were all practicing storytelling every day.

“He credits the game with honing his skills at using dialogue to reveal elements of the story and in developing characters who interact with others bizarrely – who even seem, to other players, psychotic – but are following an internal logic and personal code. He often struggled, he said, to make a character funny “without his just being a clown.”

For those of you looking for a well-timed Malcolm Gladwell “thousand-hour theory” reference, here it is.

Read the full story at the New York Times. This one’s definitely burning one of your free fifteen articles per month on.

-Drew Millard

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