April 30th, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
Leveling Up

You ever played D&D?  Then you know about experience points and leveling up.  It’s actually a neat system for advancing characters through bigger and better adventures.  When characters complete adventures, the Dungeon Master grants experience points.  In the games I’ve played experience points are generated based on the difficulty of monsters defeated, problems solved, and the quality of roleplaying.  For example, when I played a bard, I’d get points for actually composing songs and poems about our adventures.  I’m sure I still have copies of those somewhere…

Anyway, when you reach a certain number of accumulated experience points, your character advances to the next level.  Skill points are higher, fighting ability increases, ability to resist damage increases, and so on.  Usually, after that, the bad guys and monsters your character encounters are tougher.  It’s like that old saying, what’s the reward for a job well done?  A harder job.  (Now that I think of it, this may not be a bad way to think about advancing a character through an ongoing series. . .  Hm, must ponder.)

Some of my writer friends talk about “leveling up” in the business, and I like the metaphor.  You accomplish a bunch of things, tick off a bunch of goals, and you’re feeling pretty good — then you find yourself encountering a whole new slew of monsters you’ve never seen before.  I’ve been feeling this lately.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve accomplished a ton of great stuff, and on the one hand I feel like I have superpowers.  But on the other hand, holy cow look at those new monsters…

*straps on armor and hefts +2 red pencil of copyediting*

Just for fun, here’s a tumblr of Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor.

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3 comments to “Leveling Up”

  1. Diana Peterfreund
     · April 30th, 2012 at 12:00 pm · Link

    This is very relevant for me right now, and a much better way of thinking of it than I have, which is a series of hills and (eek) plateaus. I feel like I’m on a plateau right now, and it’s really frustrating.

  2. Carrie V.
     · April 30th, 2012 at 12:44 pm · Link

    One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is that there really isn’t an “end” to this gig. It’s always changing, and I’m always adapting.

    I hear you, about plateaus.

  3. Marie Andreas
     · April 30th, 2012 at 1:13 pm · Link

    I love this concept! While I never played D&D, I am a geek of a very high level, so I get it ;). And I like it!

    I too feel like I hit plateaus, and it’s important to realize that this is an ongoing process- we’re only finished when we’re dead.

    Thanks for a great post!

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