Starting Your Own Peaky Writing Weekend

If you have been inspired by Peaky, here are a few tips for starting your own freeform writing weekend…

Steve's tips

  • You need enough space for at least three groups to write their games, and space big enough to play.
  • Everyone will need a computer, and each group will need a printer. A connection to the internet is handy, but not essential.
  • You’ll want a central supply of paper, pens, envelopes, labels. Make sure you have plenty of flip-chart paper.
  • Spread the expertise around. Don’t put all the experts in the same group.
  • A writing team of 5 is a good number. So 16 people (three groups of five and someone to cater) is a great starting number for a first Peaky.
  • A writing team of 7 can be managed, with a strong group leader. But more than that and it’s starting to get unworkable.
  • Have a dedicated cook. The first couple of Peakies were catered for by the writers, which was okay, but it cut into writing time. So now we have a dedicated volunteer cook (who gets to play in all the games on the Sunday).
  • Work out a timeline for the weekend so that you know what your deadlines are.
  • Peaky is a great place to try out some really weird ideas. But I wouldn't try that until you know that Peaky itself works – it would be a shame if Peaky had failed because we’d been too ambitious and our games had been unworkable.

Graham's tips

  • Agree on who ‘owns’ the ‘intellectual property’ before you start writing – afterwards it’s an argument at best.
  • Agree when to stop and stick to it – we’ve had groups writing into the small hours of Saturday night/Sunday morning and have knackered themselves for Sunday playtests …. not good for anyone.
  • Do listen and make lots of notes at the end of the playtest – don’t try to justify what you did or why you did it….. just take notes……….. the feedback far is more important.
  • Writers to characters ratio should be about 2.2 characters per writer MAX - less is OK really.
  • The number of characters that’s right for your game is the number of characters that’s right for your game! – it is not determined by how many other people are at Peaky !! You can NPC the thinnest characters if you need more players or ask for volunteers to watch/skip/have a lie in – at least one of the other writers will be exhausted and happy to drop.
  • The number of refs needed to run a game is not the same as the number of writers. Or, the number of refs needed to run the game should be two …. anything else and your writing to much mechanics and not enough game.
  • No game survives contact with the players …… ever!!
  • The game will need polish ….. that’s for next weekend.
  • Take notes whilst your game is running.
  • Have one person in the group (who seriously understands tech) in charge of “Version Control” characters get updated, re-updated, tweaked and changed. Don’t loose an hour of work for 30 seconds of not thinking – this is all too easy to do.
  • Have fun and enjoy the whole experience.

Tony's tip

  • Don't make it a competition.

Heidi's tips

  • Aim for 2-hour-long games; they can always be expanded in both length and number of characters after Peaky.
  • Have someone who can project manage on each writing team - this may be the person who's written before but may just be a good organiser who can set deadlines and keep the group to them.
  • Agree on a format for writing within a group so you don't waste time switching styles and word processing document types as you edit each others' bits. At least agree on a structure of headings for what goes into a character sheet, so they're consistent, and leave the real formatting for after Peaky.
  • Bring memory sticks and/or link up computers within a group to a network.
  • Staplers, hole punches and a paper cutter are all useful. Extension cables also very handy.
  • Dropbox can be very useful for sharing files within a group if you have wifi.
  • Leave time for proof-reading, printing and envelope-stuffing.
  • Ensure adequate sources of caffeine and chocolate.
  • Try to build up time in your sleep-bank in the week leading up to Peaky.

Phil's tip

  • Don't be afraid to fail. Go into Peaky with the aim of getting a game together to run on the Sunday. We've found that most groups pull a game together in time - but it's OK for a game not to make it and it takes some of the pressure off.


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