It’s a negatively defined term that says more about what it doesn’t include than about what it does. Simply, it means any possible type of play that does not make the player engage in an activity resembling “creative writing.” In its more widespread manifestations, such as “Oracle”/”GM Emulator” driven play and journaling, solo roleplaying often involves gameplay that is not significantly different from writing creatively.
At this point, many people would be objecting to the word “writing” as they might not use writing as a medium, as opposed to audio, video, or even just keeping everything in the head. To do that is to miss the forest for the trees, however. “Creative Writing” (or the more exaggerated “Writing A Novel”) concept just seems to be the most accessible concept that people are able to grab when they are trying to explain what they find unsatisfying about the solo roleplaying they know about. I am doubtful that changing the medium of record and play from writing to something else would satisfy any significant number of people with this particular complaint. Hence, the term “non-authoring”, which is neutral in regards to the medium.
Still, the term “non-authoring” isn’t very clear on its own. People could be said to be authoring fiction when playing from the perspective of one’s PC’s (inner thoughts, words, actions), and when “playing the world” as the GM. But that just highlights the problem: some of us don’t want to be authoring both from the PC’s perspective and from the GM’s perspective. We don’t want to be “wearing both hats.” Yet, we may want the benefits that come when another person wears one of the hats.
Someone might suggest using GM Emulators/Oracles as a solution. However, these tools can’t author for you. If they create any content at all, it’s rather limited, and at best, you might end up with an outline. So these tools, as most of them exist now, are not useful for the type of experience this sub is searching for.
The Purpose of The Non-Authoring Subreddit
The purpose of this sub is to explore new ways of playing solo that do not require significant authoring from the perspective of both the Player and GM, yet allow us to enjoy similar benefits as when playing with other people, especially in regards to narrative and story.