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How exactly do you start a manuscript for a VN? I’m trying to imagine how I’d write the script, but I can’t think about any efficient way to keep track of important choices, routes, endings, etc.
Does anybody have an idea of how to start?
Any help is appreciated lmao! Thanks!!
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Make an outline first, writing a summary of the story in chronological order to determine if your story doesn't have large gaps or won't work otherwise. For the routes, you could use some programs that are often recommended here for route-planning like twine or trello, but I usually just write the outline in word completely. If you can't keep track of all your routes in text and with headlines, you're probably planning more than you can actually produce as a project. Try to make the outline roughly 2-5% of the length of the story's eventual lenght: it should be long enough that you described every scene in a few sentences but not too long that you stop summarising.
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Twine is definitely my preferred method because of how you can visually see how everything branches out. Not only that, but because it's an interactive fiction tool of it's own, you can define variables and if statements. In other words, you can have an playable outline!
When I work with others, I find good ol Google Docs to be quite solid. I use bullet points with my outlines, meaning it's easy to use tab and create some sub bullets for choices.
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I use Word a lot with pseudo code. (Although sometimes I use real code, too, to make transferring faster.)
So I might write something like this:
a "Do you want to get a dog?"
"Do you want to get a dog?"
set flag for dog
b "I'd love a dog! They're so cute!"
b "No way! Dogs are slobbery and gross!"
a "That's a great choice!"
a "Moving on..."
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I find what works for me, is to ignore the fact that there's multiple routes. Using a plain text editor, I'll write a draft of sorts per chapter which includes where the story currently is, and where I need / want it to go.
After that, I will write the story as if it were one big story with no branching.
The next thing I do, is expand upon other routes in a new text document following the same style of writing.
Once all my planned routes are drafted, I'll make small changes to the 'main' route and other routes, to accommodate each other and compliment each other, possibly even intertwine.
I dislike choice menus, so where possible, I try to design my narrative to branch off based on different player actions. I typically decide these based on several factors, so leave it for until the story has been properly meshed and route branches have been established.
Warning: May contain trace amounts of gratuitous plot.
pro·gram·mer (noun) An organism capable of converting caffeine into code.
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Thanks Imperf3kt! I've been using post-it notes on the wall and taking it down as I go along... but your style sounds a lot more environmentally friendly.
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I'm not certain I can advise this method; however, this is what I do in a word document. Write the name of the scene, then write the full text of that scene underneath. I don't number anything so I can change the order if need be. In other words, I don't plan or write chronologically - I write scenes as I think of them. This might work better for slice of life, which is what I'm going for...in any case, here is an example.
Here is where I write what happens at the gym, dialogue, and so forth.
Here is where I write about an event in the park.
Here is where I write about dinner.
If later on I decide the park scene should come before the gym, I can change the ordering in the visual novel. I write like this because it's easy to quickly move an idea from my head to my computer. That's the primary struggle for me, so it helps to streamline/simplify that process.
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