How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

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Mikatiana
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How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#1 Post by Mikatiana » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:54 am

Hello everyone, I am complete beginner to making visual novels but I would like to learn how to make one but I don't know how to begin doing it and planning it out.Do you have any suggestions on how to plan it and useful tools and knowledge that would help? Thanks a lot!

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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#2 Post by parttimestorier » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:54 am

If you want to learn how to use RenPy for your programming, you could start by reading the Quickstart part of the online documentation. That explains the basics. If you have questions that it doesn't answer, you could search through the rest of the documentation on the website or ask in the RenPy Questions and Announcements section. If you're also asking about planning out a branching story, you could look through some other threads around here where people have discussed that before, like this one. But if you're just getting started out and you don't have any programming experience, it might be better to start with a really simple short story that doesn't get too complicated with its routes and options. I also recommend checking out the Creative Commons section to find some nice art assets you could use for free when you're starting out.
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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#3 Post by Mikatiana » Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:42 am

parttimestorier wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:54 am
If you want to learn how to use RenPy for your programming, you could start by reading the Quickstart part of the online documentation. That explains the basics. If you have questions that it doesn't answer, you could search through the rest of the documentation on the website or ask in the RenPy Questions and Announcements section. If you're also asking about planning out a branching story, you could look through some other threads around here where people have discussed that before, like this one. But if you're just getting started out and you don't have any programming experience, it might be better to start with a really simple short story that doesn't get too complicated with its routes and options. I also recommend checking out the Creative Commons section to find some nice art assets you could use for free when you're starting out.
Thanks a lot for your advice! I'll check these resources out right away. They seem helpful. :)

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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#4 Post by Akumation » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:18 am

With the way you put the post, I'll be assuming that you're also a beginner at writing. Please excuse me if this is false.

If you're having some trouble with story, there's definitely a bunch of methods to get your ideas onto paper, but a thing I often do when starting is to work in paragraphs.
Instead of trying to write your story head on, put sequences of events into little paragraphs and just put down the general idea of what you want to happen. You can then start fleshing it out with dialogue and such afterwords.

One other thing would be after you think you've finished writing a part of your story, read it from the perspective of the characters, fix up any inconsistencies if they have a particular way they act/speak. Do that for each character in the scene and after that, read it from the perspective of the audience and make sure its interesting to react to. (Sometimes, the way you come up with ideas and how they turn out on paper can have a real jarring difference). Yes, it takes a while and it does get boring reading the same pages of text 3 or 4 times but if you can make that into a habit, it's gonna help at least a bit.

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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#5 Post by Katy133 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:19 am

I gave a talk at 2018's VN Conference about plotting out visual novels using a story grid:
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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#6 Post by Bill_Ames » Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:58 pm

You have hundreds of examples of a visual story on TV. Every cartoon (anime) is really just an animated VN. A VN might be considered just a storyboard in powerpoint where you can have sound and choices. So, create your story, make a storyboard, make it into a VN. It does not matter how good or bad, it is just a first step. You also need to figure out what you are best at. If you can draw but programming is hard (or just the opposite) find others to work with you. You can also look on the web for tips on writing a screenplay, that will be very educational.
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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#7 Post by Katy133 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:01 pm

Bill_Ames wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:58 pm
You have hundreds of examples of a visual story on TV. Every cartoon (anime) is really just an animated VN. A VN might be considered just a storyboard in powerpoint where you can have sound and choices. So, create your story, make a storyboard, make it into a VN. It does not matter how good or bad, it is just a first step. You also need to figure out what you are best at. If you can draw but programming is hard (or just the opposite) find others to work with you. You can also look on the web for tips on writing a screenplay, that will be very educational.
With the greatest respect, I disagree that VNs are storyboards. Visual novels and animated series are two different mediums. They have overlaps and similarities, certainly, but they are two different forms of storytelling.

There are some things that visual novels can do that storyboard animatics can not:
  • Visual novels tend to contain text. That meant that you can Paint the Medium by changing the text's font for certain characters, changing the text's colour, or adding hyperlinks and clickable footnotes. Animated series can have subtitles, but subtitles use a universal formatting for accessibility purposes.
  • Visual novels have a Saving and Loading mechanic. VNs like DDLC, [redacted] Life, and Save the Date use this mechanic as a plot device. The closest animated series equivalent I can compare it to is a story about time travel, but time travel stories tend to focus on or explore the paradoxes that time travel creates--rather than using it as a problem-solving and exploration tool, like how the VNs I mentioned above use it.
  • Animation and storyboard animatics have a set pacing. Visual novels do not. Visual novels are more comparable to comic books in some ways because it's up to the player to click to advance in the story. This is huge, especially with thriller or horror VNs because the suspense being built up can make it feel unpleasant for players to choose to advance. It's not the VN advancing the story (like in an animated series), it's the player doing it as an active action. It's one of the reasons why the baptism scene in Bioshock Infinite was so controversial: It wasn't a passive cutscene, it was an active action that the player was required to activate in order for it to occur.
So, yeah. That's my two-cents as a visual novel developer who has a professional background in television animation.
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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#8 Post by Bill_Ames » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:28 pm

Thank you Katy133 for enlightening me about the workings of VNs. You did use terms at points I have not encountered, I will research to expand my knowledge base. My reply to Mikatiana was to simply compare the ability to show a story and therefore planing a story would likely have many common features. Right now I am trying to figure out how I will use the VN software to deliver an enjoyable experience for me. All things I do creatively I do for me. I am not an artist, but I do fairly well designing scenes and a lot of the art for a story I am doing was designed by me and commissioned. Someday I may use the art as part of a VN, if I can make Ren'Py jump through the proper hoops. It looks as if it has potential and I will be a very persistent taskmaster. I am also looking to find others to share my creative efforts, you can see that from my other posts.
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Re: How do you plan out your Visual Novel?

#9 Post by Mutive » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:13 pm

To add to Katy133, VNs can (but don't always) involve choices.

This can be a Big Deal as novels, shows, movies, and comic books don't have choices (so writers don't have to write them/anticipate them). This means that VN scripts often aren't especially linear. (This is even more true for VNs that allow large numbers of choices. To accommodate this, the scripts often have to branch then reconnect, set user variables to 'remember' user decisions, etc.)

A novel plot might go:

Prince decides to rescue princess kidnapped by dragon --> Prince gathers trusty companions --> Prince defeats dragon -->Happily ever after with princess

A VN plot might go:

Prince decides to rescue princess (or doesn't - so game over or maybe redirects prince to defeating the dragon for another reason) --> prince gathers any combination of companions A, B, C and/or D --> Depending on companion choice/efforts to train in dragon slaying/collection of magical items, prince either defeats dragon or dies --> Prince decides to live happily ever with princess or returns to marry his childhood love or maybe marries one of his companions
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