First things first, I’m not an expert. I write some adventures that I think appeal to a small niche of Other World explorers. But nothing with any sort of mainstream success. Mainstream being more people than could fit on a school bus.
Here are some things I try to keep in mind when writing adventures.
- Don’t write stories, at least not for players. Write all the railroads you want for NPCs, give them something to do. The players will create stories as they interrupt the world.
- Try to avoid lots of lore. If players need to know complex backstories or world histories to engage then it’s probably not good game content. Lore snippets dropped here and there can be fun though! See #4 for exceptions.
- Interactivity over coherency. Sometimes I waffle on this but in general it’s better to make something fun than to make it make sense. Not having explanations can add a sense of mystery.
- Write what you want. Write for your table. What works for you will probably work for someone else. Terse and minimal is what I usually do and what many people recommend. But if you want to write heavily detailed dungeon rooms in the voice of an undead goblin archaeologist then go for it. Indulge yourself sometimes, let yourself write what only you can.
- MOST IMPORTANT TIP! A mediocre written paragraph is 100 times better than a perfect unwritten paragraph. Write something! Don’t think about writing something, actually do it. It can always get polished later. In my experience, no matter what medium, drawing, writing, music, sculpting, etc. You figure out what you’re doing as you do it. I don’t know anyone who writes fully formed adventures. JUST DO THE THING!