“Mom, I want you and Dad to play a story-telling game I made up.”

Thus began a rollicking half hour with my almost 8-year-old son. V is currently into all things LEGO, Minecraft, Mario Bros., or some combination of the three. He’s also very much a player of games. (He gets that honest from his parents.) What I love about him is his ability to make up a game on the spot, usually with a plethora of rules that may not always be remembered–or followed. Especially by him.

Tonight, he pulled out two of his LEGO dice and told my husband and I that we were going to play a game in which we each would become a character. We would take turns telling parts of the story using only twenty words per turn. (I believe the twenty word rule was forgotten almost immediately.) Because it was to be a fantasy/adventure story, there would be monsters, and we would use the dice to fight the monsters. And that’s exactly what we did.

V brandished the first player torch and became a human dwarf (his words, his choice). My husband was next, and he decided upon the atypical character of a dragon. I chose my preferred race and class: Elven mage. We then took turns passing the dice and choosing the fate of our characters. Think Dungeons & Dragons without a dedicated DM (dungeon master). So, not only did we decide where we wanted our characters to go, we also decided what types of monsters we encountered and what type of loot we scored once the monsters were defeated. V did begin our journey in a particular setting: outside a temple in the middle of a very rocky desert. After that, it was all up to our individual imaginations.

By the end of “Chapter One: Going to the Temple and Saving the Village,” we had slain many monsters (while my husband also gained many dragon minions), and we all found a place to rest with our well-gotten treasure. My Elven mage was particularly ecstatic with her crystal ball, dragon scales, and book of enchantment. There was some randomness involved when we used the dice, and, sometimes, we were knocked out or dragged away by monsters. For the most part, though, the adventure went the way it should always go … with victory for the adventurers!

I relate this story, because after V exclaimed, “The end! And, tomorrow, we’ll start Chapter Two!”, I realized that I may have inadvertently passed on my writerly genes to my older son. He has ample opportunities to write at school due to his classroom’s integrated curriculum, and he has become a very good reader in the past year, both of which may be contributing to his sudden love of storytelling. In a way, though, I think my own passion for writing has rubbed off on him, particularly after I published The Golden Orb. He’s told me several times this summer that he wants to “publish” his games, and tonight, he informed us that there are a total of ten chapters in our game, which means nine more fun-filled evenings to play together and tell stories. I think he and I both agreed that we should sit down in the morning and write out our little adventure, so we remember what we did. And if he wants to “publish” our story, I’ll be thrilled to help him.

Because, while his generation is completely one with screens, there still have to be people to tell the stories to put on those screens. That may not be V’s fate. It’s all up to him. My hope, though, is that he never forgets the joy and fun of storytelling.

Thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a stay-at-home-mom and writer living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. When she’s not caring for her family or obsessing over punctuation, she can be found helping out at her sons' school, catching up on her Goodreads list, playing (and sometimes winning, but mostly losing) board games with her friends, crying over her favorite PBS programs, or sewing yet another costume for the local gaming/pop culture convention, where she’ll probably lose at even more board games.

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