How is writing for a visual novel different?

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Amy
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How is writing for a visual novel different?

#1 Post by Amy » Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:58 am

There are already lots of visible differences, such as the near-complete absence of "X said", with the exception of some NVLs.

I was wondering about it, so...

To begin with, there'd be less need for visual and auditory descriptions, right? I guess they'd only be necessary to show the narrator's opinions or fill in what the art doesn't show or what there aren't sound effects available for.
The usual atmosphere-building effect of descriptions is mostly taken over by the background and music, plus to some extent other visual effects and sometimes sound effects.
Does that basically mean that writing for VNs should be a lot more concise? I've noticed the complete opposite happening a lot of the time, though.

Since the text is displayed line by line (or at your preferred spacing), should VNs have shorter sentences? Longer? Since the clicks to display text add another factor that influences the flow of reading, does that mean that less punctuation should be used? Less variety? Should VN writers consider a comma-with-click and a comma-without-click to serve different functions as punctuation?

There are loads of text effects (bold/italics/colour/size/kerning/spacing/display speed... Did I miss any?) available as well, which increase the flexibility of expression and can be used to convey/emphasise tone even without voice acting.
(Had a lot of fun with those in my first visual novel ^^; I'm surprised nobody thought they were overused... Well, they might be more suited to extremely text-centred VNs?)
How can these effects best be exploited? Do they tend to contribute to the text? Detract from it? Is it possible to design your writing to take these effects into account? How would the resulting writing be different?

Ah, that was rather... long. >.>;; Sorry about that.

What do you think?
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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#2 Post by nyaatrap » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:30 am

It's very different. The first thing is their mind - a VN writer is writing for artists and other departments unlike novel writers. A VN writer should think other departments first, and write for them.
The second is description. If you're VN writer, you need to implement almost descriptions as #comments. They're jobs for artists and corders to visualize your description. You shouldn't take their job from them.
The third is length and GUI design. VN writing is always depending on the GUI design. The length of sentence should match to the GUI.
And some minor things... I'm lazy to list up all so I'll skip others today.

About text effects... they're important, but they're mostly corder's work. You should keep simple before GUI is finished, and better to ask a corder on the effects rather than do it your own. (I think writers tend to use them overused. They're good, but should be followed the playability)

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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#3 Post by Amy » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:04 am

nyaatrap wrote:About text effects... they're important, but they're mostly corder's work. You should keep simple before GUI is finished, and better to ask a corder on the effects rather than do it your own. (I think writers tend to use them overused. They're good, but should be followed the playability)
Yeah, that's what I was wondering about ^^; Would text effects seem less overused and more natural if the text was written to have effects, rather than if there was text and then effects were added to it?
(...It's that integration thing, huh. VNs have such a disparate bunch of components - and disparate people involved in them - that making everything into a coherent whole is a monumental task. I think that was why Mahoyo took so long...)

It seems like generally speaking, VN writing should leave room for all the other components to perform their role?
...Hmm. That probably implies that the ratios of the importance of writing, visuals, sound and special effects vary between games and fluctuate within games.
...Does that mean there's a golden ratio of some sort? Would it vary depending on genre?
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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#4 Post by nyaatrap » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:17 am

Amy wrote:Yeah, that's what I was wondering about ^^; Would text effects seem less overused and more natural if the text was written to have effects, rather than if there was text and then effects were added to it?
The first, don't use any colors. It'll limit GUI and Visual effects, and pisses off some users. Slowing text is also annoysome. Keep it faster possible. Size is depending on GUI, so there's no best answer.
...Does that mean there's a golden ratio of some sort? Would it vary depending on genre?
It depends. I personally like games whose writing is just a connective filler of other all assets, so I value writing lower. But it's my personal preference. I'm a programmer, a writer, and an artist. And first thing I define is Visuals.

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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#5 Post by Amy » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:47 am

nyaatrap wrote:
Amy wrote:Yeah, that's what I was wondering about ^^; Would text effects seem less overused and more natural if the text was written to have effects, rather than if there was text and then effects were added to it?
The first, don't use any colors. It'll limit GUI and Visual effects, and pisses off some users. Slowing text is also annoysome. Keep it faster possible. Size is depending on GUI, so there's no best answer.
...Does that mean there's a golden ratio of some sort? Would it vary depending on genre?
It depends. I personally like games whose writing is just a connective filler of other all assets, so I value writing lower. But it's my personal preference. I'm a programmer, a writer, and an artist. And first thing I define is Visuals.
Augh, now I'm suddenly tempted to try making a VN that's centred on the colour of the text just to see what happens and if there's any way to actually make it work... ^^; It sounds interesting, doesn't it? It might be a complete failure, but a fun experiment nonetheless.
Some writers complain that their readers read too quickly to capture the atmosphere they want to create, so I suppose that enforced text speed would allow them to prevent that. It would cause a lot of complaints, but if the writing was worthwhile, then there will be people who appreciate it... Oh no, not another experiment ._.

Yes, it seems like it depends heavily on preference, hmm? Since VNs are called VNs, then the visuals would naturally seem the most important. Higurashi was called a "sound novel" because the music was polished and the visuals were quite basic. It seems awfully misleading to call a text-centred VN a "text novel", though... Well, the text is already represented by the word "novel".
...Ah, that's right. Maybe VN genres can be defined differently from usual fiction genres, simply by considering which components are the main focus. Perhaps those focused on gameplay, with tons of branching, can be called "game novels" and stand on the opposite end of the spectrum to kinetic novels.

Anyway, I'm functioning as an artist as well, but for some reason I tend to treat the writing as the centrepiece. Wonder what leads to these biases...
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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#6 Post by nyaatrap » Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:47 am

I played your game and understand why you say it so. I like your tone of story telling :D
Text effects work well on that GUI and BG choice. It's no problem if other assets are organized for it. (There are many games whose assets are mismatching, so I said it severely)
Amy wrote: Some writers complain that their readers read too quickly to capture the atmosphere they want to create, so I suppose that enforced text speed would allow them to prevent that. It would cause a lot of complaints, but if the writing was worthwhile, then there will be people who appreciate it... Oh no, not another experiment ._.
It's a major thought, though I'm a bit twisted have an opposite opinion on this matter.
I'll enforce users the fastest reading in the default first. They may think it's too fast and need to slow down, then they'll change the text setting and attitude of reading speed. If they think it's worth to read, they'll read carefully. If not, they'll skip. Either way works, since I'm designing my game for both ways.
I think selecting reading speed is one of the best game play on Novels. Slow reading and Fast reading are complete different play on reading. So I'll provide both of this game play for them.

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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#7 Post by Amy » Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:37 pm

nyaatrap wrote:I played your game and understand why you say it so. I like your tone of story telling :D
Text effects work well on that GUI and BG choice. It's no problem if other assets are organized for it. (There are many games whose assets are mismatching, so I said it severely)
...
I'll enforce users the fastest reading in the default first. They may think it's too fast and need to slow down, then they'll change the text setting and attitude of reading speed. If they think it's worth to read, they'll read carefully. If not, they'll skip. Either way works, since I'm designing my game for both ways.
I think selecting reading speed is one of the best game play on Novels. Slow reading and Fast reading are complete different play on reading. So I'll provide this game play for them.
Thanks! :3
I suppose that coordination is the make-or-break for most VNs if their individual assets are good enough, hmm.
(My VN is kind of unusual, so it's not the best example >.>;; )

That's an interesting concept. It makes sense to give the freedom to the players, and having a fast default speed is more effective for this because readers who get impatient are likely to just take up double-clicking or something. OK, I think I get it.
(Augh and I find myself speaking like a VN character during exposition ^^; )
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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#8 Post by gekiganwing » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:50 pm

There's an interesting article on creating VNs... unfortunately, it's on TVTropes, which can be rather addicting. If you're okay with the site, then read on.

I don't think you need to use a script format in making a VN. For instance, the person who created Knifepoint Horror did not. I'm not sure if this was a deliberate design choice, or if the person intended to convert the writing into script format later.

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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#9 Post by MarineScripter » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:53 pm

Since novels mostly leave the visuals up to the individual, visual novels have to cut down heavily on the graphics descriptions that are obvious, such as hair color, and personality descriptions, since these are all things the player can see for themselves in due time.
Depending on what kind of perspective you are writing, the first-person type narration may have to take precedence over general in order to give a more personal feel to the story. Let's not forget having to writing branching routes and stories for each flag and choice.
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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#10 Post by Funnyguts » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:56 am

This is just a hunch of mine, but I wonder if learning how to write for puppet shows would help a bit with writing for visual novels. When I first saw a VN where static characters moved from left to right along the screen, I imagined them as little cardboard cutouts with popsicle sticks glued to their backs, and someone below my screen would wave them around to give them the illusion of motion. I don't know a single thing about writing puppet shows, but I imagine learning from the style can't hurt.
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Re: How is writing for a visual novel different?

#11 Post by RunicV » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:41 am

While I have no useful advice to give on this topic, I remembered a topic somewhere that was vaguely related/might be of use to this.

http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... w=previous

^A bit of useful advice is given here, and some writing critiques, too.
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