Minimizing extra writing

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
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Minimizing extra writing

#1 Post by Fluxx » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:02 pm

I've been tightening up the outline to the common route of my VN and I noticed something. When I had started out I had a section of choices that would give you points for a particular route and love interest but the characters hadn't been introduced in the route yet. They would be introduced after you made the choice. Luckily, I realized that would be a problem. Since if you didn't pick a choice that leads to a certain character but the next time you did, an introduction sequence would have to be made for every choice, along with the variables thereof—lest you end up with something that makes no sense. You could end up confusing the player as the MC acts familiar with a LI they haven't talked to before.

It seems the only way to stop this from happening is to introduce all characters before there are choices that lead to distributing their route points.

What other things help you guys mitigate a lot of redundant and unnecessary writing?
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Re: Minimizing extra writing

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:58 pm

Proper planning is key.

What I usually do is write a draft. This is usually a half jotted half drafted jumble of thoughts. I build upon this until I have a rough plot, then I break it apart.

Each "part" has a clear beginning and clear objective but the content is not created yet.

In this way, I know what comes when and exactly where it ends up, before I even begin writing.

Here's an example.
I want to make a story about a man baking a cake.

The rough draft says:

Go to shop
Buy ingredients
Go home
Bake cake
the cake is a lie
Eat cake

This is already segmented. From here, I'd add a few things and some challenges along the way to fill it out a bit, then break the entire thing back into these clear points of interest and treat each like a chapter.

Warning: May contain trace amounts of gratuitous plot.

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Re: Minimizing extra writing

#3 Post by Katy133 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:29 pm

I've begun using a story grid to plot out my visual novels.

Basically, you divide different characters/arcs/plot points into different columns, and divide each chapter or scene in rows. The link above uses one of JK Rowling's story grids as an example.

It's useful because you have to take every event and look at how it effects the story as a whole. You can remove, change, or rearrange any element more easily because it's all laid out in front of you in a visual way.

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Re: Minimizing extra writing

#4 Post by ArcialIntegra » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:51 pm

So, what you want to do is make it so that points are added only after a character is introduced, yes? In which case, why not set the appearance of a character as a variable and limit/prevent the number of points earned based on if that variable is True/False?

Code: Select all

if AnneMet = True:
	$ annepoints += 1
if AnneMet = False: ## "else:" should work also.
	if annepoints <= 3:
		$ annepoints += 1
OR, if you want to make it so you can't gain points with her...

Code: Select all

if AnneMet = True:
	$ annepoints += 1
else: ## "if AnneMet = False:" should work also.
That is the answer I would give you for that issue. This will result in you having to add quite a bit of code (or you can make the "Add Point" function be its own label that you just call as needed, saving you about 3-4 lines of text with each "activation" of the sequence).

As for your question about what I do to preserve the amount of text written... I don't. I look at it this way: All things can serve a purpose. I divide my writing into 3 parts:

Plot is what everybody thinks of at first. In Danganronpa, the plot points are the points involving Monokuma, the 16 Ultimates/SHSLs being trapped in Hope's Peak, and the Killing Game/Murders/Class Trials. That's the plot: attempting to escape and learning the truths about their imprisonment.
Characterization is the next thing people think of: How can I make these characters have more depth to them? What can I do to make them stand out from one another, while still being able to fit into their group and this world I have made? Danganronpa does this with the Free Time Events. By talking to a character, you get to spend time with them and learn about their past, their hardships, and what they've been through... but this is all showing you their past and aspects of their character (not to mention the fact they could be lying, which happens... quite a bit, actually...)
Finally, we have Humanization... which is a lost art people have stopped looking at because they erroneously place it in the same category as filler. If you watch the video I linked a moment ago, it'll show you some good examples of this and talk about why this is important. In short, humanization matters because, without it, the characters will never really feel like much more than characters. When you see a villain just relaxing, enjoying a meal beneath a tree, it makes him seem more like a real person and not just like some guy who goes around kicking puppies. When you see a couple kids having a food fight, you're seeing them act like kids and not just like short adults who only have one task they're trying to accomplish. It adds a further layer of depth making them go from 1 Dimensional (merely filling a stock role), to 2 Dimensional (filling a stock role, but then having their own characteristics and traits), to 3 Dimensional (filling a stock role, building upon it with additional traits, then using those traits in different environments beyond just what the plot demands). We've become so focused on the plot, that we forget we're trying to make interesting characters and expand our world so the reader can feel like they're a part of that world... but if all we saw of Luffy was how he was trying to become king of the pirates, we'd never have the satisfaction of seeing him goof around, devouring tables worth of food, or seeing how he and the others really interact with one another in casual environments. We usually just pass up these moments saying "it's just comedy..." or "it's just filler..." "...and there's no reason to include it in a serious work," but imagine if you saw Dio (JoJo's Bizzare Adventure) doing more normal things. He wouldn't feel like just an evil b******. He'd feel like a person who does bad things. It'd make him more likable and it'd make us more invested in him coming back later on in the story. (I'm going based off of the Part 1 anime for JoJo's... I haven't read the manga, yet.)

Just about everything falls in one of these categories. The trick is then determining how best to sort them and to use each aspect. Of course, you need plot through the majority of the story (assuming it's a plot-focused story). Characterization should be the next most used (assuming it is a plot-focused story... if it's a character-focused story, swap characterization and plot), and Humanization should be the least used (simply to avoid over-doing it and avoid creating actual filler). If you have too much humanization, turn some of it into characterization or plot. That's the beauty of this... it's easy to turn humanization into characterization and characterization into plot, so, if you have too much of the "lower level" writing, you can easily "level" it up. If you have far too much of things, you can just trim the fat and save the excess in a separate file. This gives you material to work with if you ever want to expand the story.
I know someone who's making a ren'ai/shin'ai (it technically can count as both from how I understand it) visual novel that has 5 girls and a guy as the main cast, and the entire plot is just making it through to graduation and enrolling at a good college. You can build relationships and date all 6 characters, but the entire concept is based around being a realistic relationship (of all forms) simulator. You have to take care of yourself, your studies, and your relationships. The amount of character text is supposed to be (who knows if they'll pull it off) expansive enough that you can play through 3 times focusing on the same character's common route and still not learning all there is to know about them... but with that much text per character, that's going to seem like an awful lot of characterization for something that doesn't have much of a story. But that's fine. If they want to add in an actual story, they said all they'd do is reduce the amount of characterization in the "base game" and make "character pack dlc" which would expand the information you learn about the character throughout the game if you're interested enough to get it. In a story-driven game, this would come across as additional side-quests and a split story branch focusing on that character/focusing on them in a new way. In a character-driven game, it'd expand the information pool a character can select from to talk with you about or expand to the stories they are already telling you about themselves.

Sorry if this seemed too wordy. I'm a bit distracted, so I kept losing focus.

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