Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

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Enigma
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Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#1 Post by Enigma » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:04 pm

Basicly, I'm asking for any kind of general tip from anyone. Right now my biggest concern is getting started. I don't want a "write this kind of story" prompt, just some kind of advice for getting a story started.

Still, don't limit yourself to answering that question. I need all the help I can get.

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#2 Post by MaiMai » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:07 pm

My suggestion is to make an entire outline of your plot from the beginning, everything in between, climax and resolution. But before even doing that you need to develop your characters. One of the problems I encountered while trying to work on my second project was that while some characters were fully developed, I didn't spend as much time developing the others who were just as essential. Well, do this if your plot is character driven of course.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#3 Post by Enigma » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:11 pm

I was actually considering reading "The art of inventing characters" by Geroges Polti, I'm already going to read "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations", then keeping what works and throwing out what dosen't. This way I can avoid makeing underdeveloped characters

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#4 Post by prezzey » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:04 pm

I like this list of worldbuilding questions if you want to set your VN in a fantasy world. (There used to be a nice printable version somewhere... this one is a bit inconvenient to navigate. But the list itself is great.)
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#5 Post by Blue Sky » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:13 pm

I would suggest that you type your script out in word first, instead of in Renpy. That way, you'll be able to completely focus on the story and not the programming.

Also, take your time with it. No one's forcing a deadline on you, so you can give it your all at a comfortable pace. :)

But do you want help with brainstorming, or with the actual format of VN writing?

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#6 Post by blankd » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:36 pm

Start off with a manageable project first and tackle bigger ones later. Its easy to dream big but its another to actually do it (some people can, most people can't).

And most importantly, STAY MOTIVATED!

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#7 Post by J. Datie » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:50 pm

If you're having trouble getting started, the Snowflake Method may be able to help. It basically involves taking a one-sentence summary of your story, expanding on it, and then expanding on that expansion, and so on and so forth, until you have a full story. This lets you ensure that your basic storyline makes sense before diving into the details of your work. I'm still partway through using it, so I can't say how well it works for the final product, but it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

In regards to software, I like using yWriter for both writing and planning. Labyrinth can plot out time lines and structure (i.e. relationship charts). There's also Celtx as an alternative to yWriter.

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#8 Post by Wintermoon » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:18 pm

J. Datie wrote:If you're having trouble getting started, the Snowflake Method may be able to help.
Great link. I like to use a similar method, but reading that article has given me some new insights to use on my next project.

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#9 Post by mugenjohncel » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:12 am

I have this unorthodox method of writing... I don't know if this would be of help but.

I first think of the Beginning and then followed by the end part and then I fill in the void...

Here's an example:
Beginning:
A large asteroid is about to hit earth.

Ending:
Everybody died.
So the challenge now is to fill the missing gap. You have your origins, you know what happened, now it's time to figure out why it happened...

But before you sit down and write something... I suggest you first go outside and take a walk or maybe browse the Internet while eating your favorite pizza or just do the laundry and stuff, get yourself drunk... anything as long as it's legal and gets you distracted long enough to get you distracted and write anything random that pops up in your brain...

In my case... I decided to browse the Internet randomly clicking links with no destination in mind... I jot down some of the things that popped in my brain...
Computer Failure
Government Spending
Election Campaigns
VN DRM
Piracy
Mangagamer
Missile
Low Orbit Ion Cannon
Sure, it was a random mix-mash that makes no sense... no let's try combining them and omit unnecessary ones shall we...
Beginning:
A large asteroid is about to hit earth.

What Happened:
So the Scientists alerted the government but nobody was home since every goddamn politician is busy campaigning for the upcoming elections so private companies stepped in. They volunteered to fund this big ass missile that will make this asteroid go BAM! and BOOM! but in return... there will be ad placements all over the place (like missile decals, tie-up events and so forth)...

So missile went up as expected but for some odd reason it failed to hit the target. After several hours of finger-pointing... it was found out that the reason is this software glitched caused by DRM BS accompanying the bonus disc by mangagamer that came bundled with the missile program.

So panic ensued... everyone clobbered one another for no apparent reason... BLAH-BLAH-BLAH and so forth... By the time they get back to their senses... the Asteroid hits... BAM!

Ending:
Everybody died.
Easy eh?... Hope this be useful...

"POOF" (Disappears)

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#10 Post by Jake » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:15 am

Enigma wrote: I'm already going to read "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations"
As it goes, I wouldn't expect that much from this book, if I were you - at least not in terms of writing help. It's more of a study of the fundamental elements that stories can be broken down into rather than advice on how to put them together - it goes in the wrong direction. From what I recall the 'meat' referred to in the title mostly consists of things like - quite literally - "hero is separated from his loved one and attempts to rejoin her" and then cites a set of examples from literature of this conflict appearing in plots.



Myself, I also use something pretty similar to the aforementioned 'Snowflake' method. One thing that I didn't get particularly strongly from that article - not to say that it wasn't there, just that it didn't seem to be the emphasis of the article - which I think is pretty important when writing stories is that when you're putting together your premise and expanding out your synopsis and so on is that for conventional storytelling, you should pretty much always be thinking in terms of conflict. Stories are driven by conflict - they are about conflict. Not always actual fighting, but a difference between what someone wants and what they have. Basically, this consideration should probably be the driver for any new significant element that you put into your story - the basic premise should introduce a conflict, the end of the story should resolve the main conflict of the preceeding story, each time you expand "hero travels from A to B and finds C" you should be introducing new conflicts, even if they're smaller and smaller as you go, because if you don't, it becomes harder to keep interested in the story and the characters. If there's no conflict, there's no drive for the characters to stay involved or to do anything in particular, so anything other than the status quo (which is dull) is less believeable.

(And this ties back to Polti's book, as well - from what I recall, pretty much what he describes are a variety of different kinds of overarching conflict.)

The obvious example which gets used all the time is Star Wars (because everyone's seen it, I guess): The overall story is a conflict between the Empire - which wants total domination of the galaxy - and the Rebel Alliance, which wants freedom from the Empire; this is demonstrated by a proxy conflict to destroy/protect the death star, which in turn is carried out over a series of conflicts between the Empire and Leia's corvette (attempting to prevent the escape of the plans), the Empire and the Millennium Falcon (trying to recapture the droids with the plans), the Death Star and the Millennium Falcon (trying to rescue Leia), the Death Star and the rebel base (trying to destroy the rebel base) and then finally the Death Star and the rebel fighters (trying directly to destroy the death star, using the benefits gained from the results of the previous conflicts).
On a character level, at the beginning, Luke is driven by the conflict between his desire to have an exciting life like his friends, and his adoptive guardian's desire to have a peaceful farming life. Then he's driven by the conflict between his desire to stay alive and the Empire's desire to get rid of anyone who might have seen the Death Star plans, and then by the conflict between his desire to rescue the pretty princess and be noble and the Empire, and then finally by the conflict between the rebels and the empire. Han Solo starts out being driven by the conflict between his desire to not be captured/tortured/killed by Jabba and Jabba's desire to get the money he thinks Solo owes him, then the conflict between his self-preservation and the Empire's desire to keep the Millennium Falcon and its crew silent, then the first desire again, then finally the conflict between his ego (telling him to take the money and run) and id (telling him to obey his conscience and go back and help Luke).
Individual scenes play out via conflicts as well. The outline might have read "Luke and Ben go into a bar and hire Han Solo to take them to Alderaan (which I've probably spelled wrong), but you break it down and it's built out the conflicts between Luke's farmboy naïvete and the bar's hard spacer clientele (the guys at the bar), the conflict between Solo's pennilessness and Jabba's debt, the conflict between Greedo's desire to cash in on Jabba's bounty and Solo's desire to not be dead, etc. (If I even remember exactly what happened in that scene.)
And so on.

I've rambled for too long trying to prove a point that probably doesn't need proving, but it's an important thing to remember when plotting out your story - every important decision or gripping moment in a story is generally based on a conflict between one thing and another, and often lines up with the overall conflict that the story is 'about' (again, Solo's debt to Jabba is another kind of fighting-for-freedom, similar to the overall rebels-versus-empire conflict). If minor parts of your story hinge on non-conflict-related motivations, then it's not terrible, but if major parts of your story don't hinge on conflict, then it can feel pretty inconsistent and lack resonance and meaning for the reader. If there's a spaceship battle, make sure there's a spaceship battle for a good reason driven by a conflict of interests between two parties, not just becasue spaceship battles are cool. Otherwise your reader will be sat there thinking "but the Maboki Empire was invading with a thousand starships an hour ago, and now that one cool scene is over, they've disappeared! And their ambassador is helping the protagonist despite the fact they were fighting in the previous scene! It was cool before, but now it doesn't make any sense so I'm going to stop reading".

And remember that conflicts can be put in retroactively, as well. If you want to have a spaceship battle because spaceship battles are cool, then try and work out a conflict behind it which doesn't disturb the rest of your story, and jam it in. If you want your hero to be helped by a passer-by, then come up with the conflict that passer-by is trying to win that causes him to be there and ready to help the hero.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#11 Post by tigerkidde » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:02 am

Love it!
mugenjohncel wrote:I have this unorthodox method of writing... I don't know if this would be of help but.

I first think of the Beginning and then followed by the end part and then I fill in the void...

Here's an example:
Beginning:
A large asteroid is about to hit earth.

Ending:
Everybody died.
So the challenge now is to fill the missing gap. You have your origins, you know what happened, now it's time to figure out why it happened...

But before you sit down and write something... I suggest you first go outside and take a walk or maybe browse the Internet while eating your favorite pizza or just do the laundry and stuff, get yourself drunk... anything as long as it's legal and gets you distracted long enough to get you distracted and write anything random that pops up in your brain...

In my case... I decided to browse the Internet randomly clicking links with no destination in mind... I jot down some of the things that popped in my brain...
Computer Failure
Government Spending
Election Campaigns
VN DRM
Piracy
Mangagamer
Missile
Low Orbit Ion Cannon
Sure, it was a random mix-mash that makes no sense... no let's try combining them and omit unnecessary ones shall we...
Beginning:
A large asteroid is about to hit earth.

What Happened:
So the Scientists alerted the government but nobody was home since every goddamn politician is busy campaigning for the upcoming elections so private companies stepped in. They volunteered to fund this big ass missile that will make this asteroid go BAM! and BOOM! but in return... there will be ad placements all over the place (like missile decals, tie-up events and so forth)...

So missile went up as expected but for some odd reason it failed to hit the target. After several hours of finger-pointing... it was found out that the reason is this software glitched caused by DRM BS accompanying the bonus disc by mangagamer that came bundled with the missile program.

So panic ensued... everyone clobbered one another for no apparent reason... BLAH-BLAH-BLAH and so forth... By the time they get back to their senses... the Asteroid hits... BAM!

Ending:
Everybody died.
Easy eh?... Hope this be useful...

"POOF" (Disappears)

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#12 Post by prezzey » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:28 pm

Also, TVTropes if you're worried about reinventing the wheel! (Warning: TVTropes eats your life.)
http://www.prezzey.net

"Manny, until now we scraped along the ground like rats, but from now on, we soar! Like eagles! Yeah! Like eagles... ON POGO STICKS!" - Grim Fandango

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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#13 Post by Jake » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:36 pm

prezzey wrote:Also, TVTropes if you're worried about reinventing the wheel!
Actually, there's a much easier answer: Never worry about reinventing the wheel, it's silly.

Everyone does it all the time, when they're writing; it's unavoidable, just don't blatantly rip anything off and there's no reason to be concerned by it.

Generally speaking, writing which tries too hard to be 'original', 'different' and/or 'avant-garde' mostly just succeeds in being 'crap'. And writing which tries to 'work' by sticking to formula too much doesn't fare much better.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#14 Post by chronoluminaire » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:04 pm

What Jake says is true. But nonetheless, TVTropes is an excellent resource for story creators: TropesAreNotBad, but some of them are generally indicative of BadWriting while others can help you find ways to write characters, series, and events well (and there are many more examples). They've also got a lot of pages on archetypal stories and suchlike that can help you see places where stories have been before that it's good to follow, as well as other examples of places where stories have been before that it's not so good to follow.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#15 Post by prezzey » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:24 pm

just don't blatantly rip anything off and there's no reason to be concerned by it.
For the record, I have been accused of blatantly ripping off a novel I've never even read (in a published short story). So it's better to make sure IMO. If you're not attempting to sell anything, it might not be as important, though.

But there are no "new" ideas (even in the Bible it says "there is nothing new under the sun" and that was a long time ago!) in the sense that every story has a combination of at least some tropes, only combined in a novel way, or with different characters, etc. and for that reason it's good to take a look at the tropes. Etc.
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