Saturday, May 5, 2012

Authorial Voice

I'm not a big fan of "consensus".

I think, especially in creative endeavors, that following a single driving vision is preferable to having something designed by a committee. Some folks are going to like it, some folks aren't, and that's okay. It's the philosophy I followed with Castle of the Mad Archmage and Adventures Dark and Deep. I wrote those for myself, and if folks wanted to read it as well, that was great.

I noticed something the other day when going through some of my Greyhawk materials. In the late 1990's, they stopped having author credits. They had design teams instead. There were exceptions, of course, but on the whole the later materials lacked a certain verve. The prose was mechanical, and the product so homogenized as to be lacking in a certain rough charm that the earlier materials had. Compare, for example, the "gold box" Greyhawk set with the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Sure, it can be argued, that the LGG is much more comprehensive; there's no denying that. But personally, I find it somewhat soleless, and I think that's because it is lacking in a single authorial voice.

That's not to say that an author's words are inviolate, and shouldn't be touched by an editor or proofreader except in the most egregious of cases. But I do think that having a single author infuses a work with a certain personality that a design team just can't match.