Telling your first story
Telling a story on Mote is not quite like any other experience, but with a little preparation and the right attitude, you’ll be on your way to telling your second. All you need is a few hours, a few friends, and this trusty guide.
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Learn the basics
To tell a story on Mote, you’ll need to get comfortable with emotes, the simple chat commands you use to express your persona’s actions and feelings. Before continuing, you should be comfortable creating two or three word emotes.
Chatting & emoting
The only way to get comfortable is to experiment and practice. Start a story just for you to try out different combinations of commands. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes.
Keep this in mind
Even expert Mote players make plenty of mistakes. The goal is not to stop making them, though you will make fewer over time, but rather to get used to the feeling.
You’re ready to tell a real story when you’ve gotten the hang of what makes a good emote. What words work well as the first word of the emote? Which words don’t? If you were pretending to be a character, how would you use an emote to describe what they do? How they feel?
Gather your friends
Now it’s time to bring together the group of friends you’re going to tell your first story with. You’re going to need a way for everyone to communicate outside of Mote to plan the story, whether it’s email, chat, or a video call. If you can use this communication method during the story as well, even better.
You can have up to 8 players in your story, including yourself, but 3-5 is the sweet spot. Two-player Mote is advanced.
Mote stories are real-time, so you’ll need to choose a time that works for everyone. Plan to spend about thirty minutes getting ready, and two hours telling the story on Mote. Once you’re on Mote, the time will go by quickly.
Plan the premise
Before you begin, it helps to have some idea of what story you’re telling. Each player in a Mote story has a character called a persona – they alone are responsible for telling what their persona character does, says, and feels throughout the story, and they read the story as prose written from their persona’s unique perspective. Mote stories put characters front and center, so before you begin, you and your friends should come to an agreement on who those characters will be.
Personas & pets
The premise of your story does not need to be a detailed plan of what will happen, but, in addition to defining what type of characters you will each pretend to be, it should also tell you what their immediate situation is when the story begins. Where are they? What are they doing? What might happen next?
Stumped? Here are some examples you might adapt to use with your friends:
Scientists on a space station studying an interstellar phenomenon; everything turns to goo
Spies in the court of an immortal king; they discover a hidden passage under the stairs
Siblings arrive home for the holidays; their parents are gone and no one remembers who they are
Brigands liberate a barrel of wine destined for the Duke’s castle; it’s poisoned
Alchemists at a colloquium; their rival claims to have discovered the elixir of life
Start the story
Once you have your premise, you’re ready to start telling. When you start the story, you are the host of that story. You will not be able to leave the story without ending the story for everyone.
Start a story
Give your story an appropriate title based on the premise you and your friends created together, and use your character as your persona. You won’t be able to change your persona once the story starts. Once you’re in the story, you can invite the friends you’re playing with, and they’ll choose their personas.
Invite friends to join your story
Think about how your favorite books and stories begin. When the story starts, something is already happening that sets the plot into motion. Think about creating an emote or chat that will kick off the initial situation you came up with as part of your premise.
Wait for it
When you join a story, the prose you read begins only with the events from just before you joined. So don’t get too deep into the action before all your friends have made it in.
Get in the flow
Playing Mote requires you to react to others in the moment, to read and respect the contributions of other players, and achieve a state of flow. There’s a lot going on: a lot to read, emote syntax to remember, and a new way of telling stories to wrap your head around.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
You’re going to make a mistake, and it’s going to feel like you’ve ruined the story. Relax! Soon your error will scroll off everyone’s screen and it will be like it never happened. Your friends are going to make mistakes, too. Ignore them.
Stay in character, anchored in the story.
Because of Mote’s prose rendering, out-of-character chats and emotes can feel especially jarring to fellow players. Avoid abbreviations and emoticons. Mote works best when you fully commit to the narrative playing out in real time in front of you.
Let others take the reigns.
The beauty of collaborative storytelling is that when everyone is contributing, you can (and sometimes should) sit back and just enjoy the creativity and skill of your fellow players.
Keep things moving
Sometimes, you just have to make things happen. If your group is getting a little stuck, or your story has stalled, it may be time to do just that. Changing the location, skipping ahead in time, or triggering an impending event are all ways to push your story forward, and they can all be accomplished by adding a chapter title.
Add a chapter title to your story
Your chapter title will be added to everyone’s story, and everything that happens after will be part of that new chapter.
Another way to pull your story along is for a new character to arrive with news that changes everything. Luckily, it’s easy to add new characters by simply summoning them as pets.
Summon a pet
Telling stories on Mote is a collaborative activity, not a competitive one. There is no way to “win” a story, or even for a story to be a “success” or a “failure.” Instead, Mote is about working together to have a fun experience.
Having a way to communicate outside of Mote, whether it’s chat, voice, or video, can help you do this, especially when you’re first starting. Use it to react out of character to the events of the story, to celebrate great storytelling, and to get input on what happens next.
To be continued
Maybe a big mystery is about to be revealed. Maybe you’ve just introduced a plot twist that makes your characters’ lives much more complicated. Maybe they’re finally setting off on that journey, uncertain of what lies ahead of them.
Well, if you’re approaching the two-hour mark, this is a great point to end the story at. Here’s why:
These are the points in your story when everyone is most excited about what’s coming. What better way to motivate you and your friends to get back together in a few days?
These are the points in your story that require the most creative energy to tell. Why not tackle them when you’re all fresh?
These are the points in your story that may benefit from a little more discussion. When better to have that discussion than the next time you gather?
Depending on your group, you may want to take some time after the story to talk about what happened, or take notes in a shared document. Don’t worry too much about forgetting details in between sessions. If everyone forgot it, it wasn’t that important. Think of it as an opportunity to make up something even better.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time between sessions working on your ongoing story. In fact, you don’t need to spend any extra time at all. Use the thirty minutes before your next session to regroup and get everyone on the same page. You can even use that time to agree to changes to what happened previously.
Mote stories are ephemeral. When the host ends the story, it's gone for good.
Have fun and play pretend
Your first story may not be great literature, but if you followed the advice in this guide, it was probably a fun and memorable experience you shared with your friends. The first of many more to come.