Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

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

#16 Post by Jake » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:23 pm

prezzey wrote: 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.
The only way to make sure you don't accidentally "rip off" someone else's work is to read and remember every story in existence; since this is patently impossible, it is a fool's errand to try. Don't hide from all forms of media, but going out of your way to find examples of works which are thematically, stylistically or superficially similar to yours is just going to make you more paranoid about your work being similar to other people's, and if there's one thing most writers suffer from too much already, it's being paranoid that their work is similar to other people's.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#17 Post by prezzey » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:49 pm

Don't hide from all forms of media, but going out of your way to find examples of works which are thematically, stylistically or superficially similar to yours is just going to make you more paranoid about your work being similar to other people's
I don't think a quick check on TVtropes would make anyone "paranoid", to me that seems like a strong choice of words...

I did not recommend "going out of your way" - I'm sorry if anyone got that impression, it's clearly not how I meant my original short comment -, but TVtropes is a good way to come across lists of media grouped by topics which might be relevant. If something is not on there then it does not have a huge fandom anyway. (You obviously can't read every little story. Especially if it's not available in the languages you speak.)

In any case it's always interesting to see how other people wrote about similar topics/characters/issues etc., if nothing else they might make for good reading since they are similar to the writer's interests. IMO. (I did come across a few anime titles to watch on TVtropes ;) )
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#18 Post by dstarsboy » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:58 pm

One thing that helped me was having specific software for this kind of thing. I highly recommend screenwriting software (ya know, that displays stuff like a screenplay). If you're using a Mac, I think Scrivner is one of the best and easiest to use and organize your stuff.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#19 Post by Jake » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:27 pm

prezzey wrote: I don't think a quick check on TVtropes would make anyone "paranoid", to me that seems like a strong choice of words...
Well, put it this way - if you're going off somewhere for the explicit reason of checking to see if anyone else has written anything similar, then you're already at least "worried" that your work might not be the most original thing ever. And it kind of suggests that you're willing to change your work in order to be less like other, existing works, for whatever reason - because otherwise you wouldn't have bothered trying to find out if there was a similar story out there already in the first place.

So what happens when you find one which is similar for the first two-thirds of the story, but goes a different way in the last third to yours? Is that too similar already? Do you need to make drastic unnecessary and hard-to-reconcile changes to your story just because it's a bit similar to something else? And then what happens when you think more about your conflict, your characters, karma and so on and realise that actually, it would be better if your story went in that direction in the last third as well? It seems to me that somebody already worried enough about it to have checked in the first place will - at this point - be strongly considering not doing what they've already realised is best for their story simply because somebody else has done it before. And on top of that, they'll be worrying that they only realised that would be a better ending because they had seen this other work. Thus, the paranoia sets in. In my opinion, if you spend any of your writing and plot-development time considering the similarity of your work to other works, it's already too much.

Personally, I've met a couple of people who basically never finish writing anything because they spend all their time reading other people's stories and then desperately trying to recapture the fascination those stories inspired in them (good) without touching anything the original story had gone near for fear of not writing something 'original' enough (bad).
prezzey wrote: I did not recommend "going out of your way"
If you're going to check when you previously wouldn't have visited the site at all, it's going out of your way. I didn't mean anything especially strong by it.
prezzey wrote: TVtropes is a good way to come across lists of media grouped by topics which might be relevant. If something is not on there then it does not have a huge fandom anyway.
I admittedly don't obsessively read the site, but it seems to me that TVTropes actually only covers a small slice of the media pie, mostly (although not exclusively, obviously) concerning itself with sci-fi and fantasy geek material. On the pages I've read there's been disproportionately large numbers of references to anime, manga/comics and TV series by Joss Whedon, and comparatively little reference to - say - classical literature, which is still something far more people are well acquainted with. If something is not on there, then it does not have a huge fandom amongst the kind of people who habitually edit TVTropes.

(Personally, I actually rather dislike the site - it seems to be deliberately obtusely self-referential, to the point that half the time you need to read fifteen other articles to work out what the first article you looked at was actually talking about, half of which in turn you will need to look up half the references in, which is why it wastes so much of your time: it's apparently-intentionally hard to stop reading, and feels pretty clique-ish. It's like a cult - when was the last time you saw someone cite a TVTropes trope name without linking back to the page on the TVTropes site?)

Now, I'm not saying TVTropes isn't interesting or worth reading, and it certainly has information that could be useful to writers - I'm just saying that I'm pretty certain that it's far healthier for a writer to ignore the existence of other works when he's writing, and not worry about telling stories that other people have told parts of before. You're never going to get around it, you're just going to destroy your story trying.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#20 Post by prezzey » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:40 pm

I think we simply come to this from different perspectives. If you are selling stories, then you need to make sure you don't infringe on anyone's copyrights, or risk a legal procedure. (Hopefully your editor will notice. But s/he might not. Or you might not have an editor, for example, if you make a commercial game yourself.) That's it and that's all of it. If no financial transaction is being made, it doesn't matter. I just assume eventually most people who write would like to see some money out of it. Maybe I'm wrong! :D

But if someone spends time on obsessing instead of writing, then maybe writing is not an activity suited to that particular person! Regardless of the subject of the obsession: worldbuilding, "proper grammar", marketability or "originality". I've certainly seen people obsess on each of these and more instead of just getting down to write. I confess I personally tend to obsess on worldbuilding at the expense of actually writing, and not (contrary to what you seem to be assuming) the "originality" of my works.

I also used to worry about my English, but I'm not a native speaker, so some of that could be expected. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!! ;) ) I think for me that was, and to some extent still is, the biggest issue altogether. (Not with respect to my actual language skills, but my self-confidence that I can also get published in English, not just in Hungarian... etc.)

I think at this point what I'm spending too much time on is "online forums" ;) :D
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#21 Post by Jake » Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:15 am

prezzey wrote: If you are selling stories, then you need to make sure you don't infringe on anyone's copyrights, or risk a legal procedure. (Hopefully your editor will notice. But s/he might not. Or you might not have an editor, for example, if you make a commercial game yourself.) That's it and that's all of it.
Sure. But the way that you make sure you don't infringe on other people's copyrights is to avoid copying text from other people's work. Copyright protects the words they wrote, not narrative structure or plot summary. Tolkein's estate would not be able to sue me for copyright infringement if I wrote a story about a guy who inherits a magical artefact of great power with bad side effects, and undertakes a quest to destroy it so that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. If I use names from Middle Earth they might get me on trademark infringement, if I take lines of text from LotR then it's copyright infringement, but narrative structure or plot plagiarism isn't generally illegal.

Copyright is a mechanism put in place to prevent people unfairly benefitting from the work of others - it's not there to stifle creativity or to give people monopolies over certain kinds of story. If you want to write a story in which X, Y and Z happens, then just write your damn story - don't worry whether anyone else has written one like it before, so long as you don't actually intentionally copy from anyone, you should be fine.

Example: Terry Pratchett ripped off the plot of Larry Niven's Ringworld almost completely when he wrote Strata, one of his earliest books. The overall story is copied, in some places it's a scene-by-scene re-writing of Niven's book, similar characters and everything. There's no way Pratchett's editor didn't notice, he was writing for a SciFi imprint and Ringworld is a pretty famous SciFi novel that I would expect any SciFi editor to have read... but they apparently didn't think it was a problem - because it isn't.

Of course, this won't protect you from the kooks and frauds who think you wrote a book about a boy wizard and earned a billion moneys and they wrote a book about a boy wizard before you and therefore deserve some of your moneys, but nothing will protect you against those people.

(And it won't protect you against problems like the US legal system's apparent encouragement of frivolous lawsuits, but again - it's not a problem with copyright law.)

If you completely accidentally write exactly the same words as someone else previously did for substantially long sections of your work, then you're just screwed, bad luck. But this is not something you'll easily find in a quick search on TVTropes!

prezzey wrote: If no financial transaction is being made, it doesn't matter.
This is definitely not true - intellectual property law applies the same regardless of whether you are selling your work or giving it away for free - it's more that if you give your stuff away for free, there's less chance of the copyright/trademark/whatever holder noticing and taking action.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#22 Post by prezzey » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:04 pm

And it won't protect you against problems like the US legal system's apparent encouragement of frivolous lawsuits
This is what I'm talking about. (Not only in the US FWIW, I'd say there is a trend toward this in the entire Western world.)
Copyright is a mechanism put in place to prevent people unfairly benefitting from the work of others - it's not there to stifle creativity or to give people monopolies over certain kinds of story.
I might start believing this when Steamboat Willie becomes public domain... :wink:
it's more that if you give your stuff away for free, there's less chance of the copyright/trademark/whatever holder noticing and taking action.
Which is exactly what I meant, not the status of legality or anything of the sort - simply that the original copyright holder doesn't bother enforcing it (as in the case of most fanfiction, etc.).
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#23 Post by Jake » Wed Mar 17, 2010 2:46 pm

prezzey wrote:
And it won't protect you against problems like the US legal system's apparent encouragement of frivolous lawsuits
This is what I'm talking about. (Not only in the US FWIW, I'd say there is a trend toward this in the entire Western world.)
As I understand it, in the UK at least it's the case that the loser pretty much always has to pay the winner's expenses as part of the award - so frivolous lawsuits tie up your time, but they won't bankrupt you - and in the US there is no such provision (at least not federally), meaning that it's possible to suffer very real damages and possibly bankruptcy from lawsuits that appear non-frivolous at first - such as accusations of plagiary - but are eventually found in your favour.

[EDIT: And actually, again - I strongly suspect that you're more likely to get sued like this by non-famous hopefuls, who... are far less likely to be listed places like TVTropes, or easy to find at all.]
prezzey wrote:
Copyright is a mechanism put in place to prevent people unfairly benefitting from the work of others - it's not there to stifle creativity or to give people monopolies over certain kinds of story.
I might start believing this when Steamboat Willie becomes public domain... :wink:
While I completely agree that copyright is being significantly perverted by corporations unwilling to play by the rules everyone else has to, I don't think copyright extension has much bearing on copyright application, and it's unlikely that copyright will ever be changed so significantly that plot fundamentals will be copyrightable. Plot fundamentals are an invention, and an invention is patented, not copyrighted... and for a patent to be valid, it has to be an original invention (not to mention that I believe to be patentable something has to have utility, as well).

Copyright was originally put in place for those reasons, and it largely serves those reasons now. Certainly it shouldn't be any reason at all to consider not publishing a story that you invented and wrote yourself with no reference to other works.
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#24 Post by Enigma » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:50 pm

Thank you for all the suggestions, I finally got struck by a good idea (I hope it's a good idea) and have decided to apply the snowflake method, with my Idea. I'll see how it plays out.

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

#25 Post by IceD » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:12 am

Instead of chit-chat, Only one thing comes to my mind: http://hollylisle.com/. Go and read the Workshops and Writing Life. You won't regret it. I found this sites one the best help I could get.

Going through TV Tropes is also good, but don't get too concerned with them.

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

#26 Post by curry nochi rice » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:06 pm

anything that comes into your mind first, right it down then when other thing puff out, right them too...then you try and combine it, then add some details

- that's my approach...
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#27 Post by Enigma » Thu May 13, 2010 7:58 pm

Well, I'm finally back, I tried everything posted here. I found Tvtropes to be helpful, I hate most traditional literary elements, like foreshadowing, but I found ways to make it painless. I also rewrote an outline of the story using every method listed, until I got the story hammered into my memory. I also decided to get some of my friends involved as co-authors to help. Thank you every one.

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

#28 Post by Jake » Fri May 14, 2010 3:47 am

Enigma wrote: I hate most traditional literary elements, like foreshadowing, but I found ways to make it painless.
I think you'll probably find that what you mean is that you hate badly-done and obvious foreshadowing, and other cheesy and poorly-executed versions of traditional literary elements...

A significant proportion of bad writing is the result of inexperienced writers just copying the superficial elements of stories they like without thinking about why those elements are there or how they tie to the rest of the story and the flow and pacing and so on, which often results in the cheesy and poorly-executed kind of foreshadowing, and so on.
But an equally-significant proportion comes from writers thinking to themselves "Everyone does it this way, I'm going to be different, because by being different I'll get noticed", and failing to consider that perhaps, everyone does it that way for a very good reason and they'll mostly get noticed for apparently not having a clue how to tell a story. ;-)
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Re: Any general suggestion for a first time VN writer?

#29 Post by Enigma » Sat May 15, 2010 7:55 pm

Jake wrote:
Enigma wrote: I hate most traditional literary elements, like foreshadowing, but I found ways to make it painless.
I think you'll probably find that what you mean is that you hate badly-done and obvious foreshadowing, and other cheesy and poorly-executed versions of traditional literary elements...

A significant proportion of bad writing is the result of inexperienced writers just copying the superficial elements of stories they like without thinking about why those elements are there or how they tie to the rest of the story and the flow and pacing and so on, which often results in the cheesy and poorly-executed kind of foreshadowing, and so on.
But an equally-significant proportion comes from writers thinking to themselves "Everyone does it this way, I'm going to be different, because by being different I'll get noticed", and failing to consider that perhaps, everyone does it that way for a very good reason and they'll mostly get noticed for apparently not having a clue how to tell a story. ;-)
I'm not being different to get noticed, I'm being different because I both dislike, and am usually unable to use foreshadowing, though even I find a place where I need it at time. I say I hate foreshadowing because of Tale of Two Cities, and Lord of the Flies, in both I guessed the endings less than half way through.

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

#30 Post by cloudyssky » Tue May 18, 2010 11:11 am

Personally I hand write things out, including my scrpit. While doing it on a computer could be faster, I find writing it out gives me more time to think about what I'm actually writing. It's also more relaxing for me. But I find that when you can concentrate on what you're writing, and think ahead before you write it, then obviously you're story will come out much more enjoyable. Plus, I can't have my computer with me everywhere, so having my notebook with me to continue writing out the script makes progress go by much faster then it would on a computer.
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