If you’ve ever played a tabletop RPG, you’ve felt that golden moment—you’ve just made a quip or a clever move, you’ve turned the tables on a cunning adversary, you’ve committed the most hilarious mistake, and the room lights up. Friends laugh, or stare in horror. You’ve compelled.
This isn’t just a gamer thing, either. We—humans, I mean—started telling stories long before we committed them to so crude a medium as paper. That instant audience feedback is built into the rhythms of our conversation. This makes writing novels (which I spend most of my time doing) a little awkward, since for the most part the writer’s deprived of that experience. Yes, there are compensations—but you don’t get that great moment when you can swerve in a weird direction and double down on awesome precisely because you feel how much the audience is into your jam.