Idiomdrottning’s homepage

Re: Bullet Points vs Prose

Luke Gearing generously posted some side-by-side comparisons of bullet points vs prose.

Here’s one example. He’s written:

1) Entrance Hall
This wide room, the floor hidden beneath a mouldering bearskin, is dominated by a huge portrait of the late Lord Howard von Deiter. He appears domineering and batrachian, seated in an indeterminate void. Beneath the stairs, hidden behind inconspicuous doors, are five sets of coats with matching shoes. One set is made of much finer material, and cut to the style of the distant cities. Two are child-sized.

There are many more examples on his blog, so go check it out for the full effect.

I was just thinking other day how I should mellow out in my strong preference for bullet points, that a mix is appropriate, i.e. conceding that sometimes prose can be better and that they easily mix (you can easily add longer prose to a bullet or add a bullet list in the middle of prose) so you can, at any point, get whatever’s the best for you.

But these examples push me further back into the bullet point camp. These are meant to illustrate how prose is better, but I’d much rather run the game from the bullet points. He’s like “look how much better the prose is” and I’m like wow, those bullet points are awesome!

Is there a word, phrase, or trope for when something makes the opposite point of what it intended to do?

The prose is great, I’m not slagging the guy as a writer, it’s just that as game material I prefer the bullet points.

Bullet points tend to make me (slightly) less mistake prone than the prose, they make me more eager to pick up and place the module in the game world, they make me wanna run the game, I get stoked! My attention is immediately drawn to the bullet point version of that. I’d make small edits, like “one set nonlocal look and material”—the word “set” is often used as a verb so that sentence becomes clearer with “one set has non-local material and style”, tiny things.

Where I to go read this like a book, over breakfast or in bed, the prose is fine, but bullets work way better for me for something I’d wanna actually run.

It’s great that he did this because we almost never get to see extended examples of how the exact same location would look like with bullets or with prose.