Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
User avatar
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:08 pm
Completed: Palinurus, Fare Thee Well - Watercress Studios
Projects: Avitus, Numerous League of Legends Fanfiction Stories
Organization: Watercress Studios
Location: In The Dark

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#16 Post by Nephalos » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:26 pm

As I'm used to writing short stories and novels, I usually write the first draft in novel-esque format and then convert it to ren'py script in subsequent drafts.

Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:49 am
Completed: Lifted Dreams
Projects: ----
Skype: Josou

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#17 Post by Yolo400 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:05 am

I don't think form is of the utmost importance, so long as it is understandable.
Working on project "Lightning Cat" - Writing
music for sale
|| Thank you ||

Caveat Lector
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 680
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:02 am
Completed: Colette and Becca
Projects: Rainbow Love (HIATUS), The Haunting of Blackbird School, Cry of the Roses [TBA]
Organization: Velveteen Rabbit Productions
Deviantart: Velveteen-Rabbit-CL
itch: caveat_lector
Location: My chair

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#18 Post by Caveat Lector » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:18 pm

For me personally, I prefer to write my projects out as a novel first, then work at transferring it into Renpy through later drafts. The one downside is, reformatting the text so it fits in Renpy is a HUGE time consumer, and the least fun part of making the actual VN. But I'm just not a screenplay person--the style isn't my cup of tea, and anytime I try to write this way, my mind and fingers rebel. Which is too bad, because it would make the "transfer story into Renpy" process a LOT easier. :lol:

(Of course, it may be a bit different if I end up creating a VN with choices and branches, but that's for the far-off future)

There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, so I'd recommend experimenting with both and see what fits your style the best.
Reader Beware!

The Haunting of Blackbird School: In Progress

Colette and Becca: Complete

User avatar
Fox Lee
Posts: 213
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:46 am
Completed: Where Ages Go [NaNo2015]
Projects: Swan x Swan [YuriJam/NaNo16], ♥ON, Guilded Age
Organization: Invincible Ink
Deviantart: foxlee
Location: Australia

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#19 Post by Fox Lee » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:00 pm

I just write it straight into Ren'Py files ^_^; That would get problematic for a long piece, I guess, but it works well for me because I prefer to avoid most narration, and adjusting sprites while I'm writing helps me do a better job. If I was writing for a group project, I'd have to try something else I guess! ^^;

I've tried converting my prose to Ren'Py before, but I didn't really care for the result. Even using NVL mode or a hybrid NVL narrative/ADV dialogue style, I didn't enjoy the exercise at all - I'm the type to obsess over every little detail that gets lost in transition. I've come to the conclusion that with my own writing, whatever format I create something in will almost certainly be the best format to present it in, so now I avoid writing in a "mode" I don't plan to use for the final product.

Conceptually, I definitely think of it more like a screenplay, so if pressed I would be very likely to treat it like a script (not quite a screenplay, but a bit more reader-friendly). Being as it's basically entirely dialogue, with actions implied rather than written out, I guess that's nearly a Shakespearean approach :p
Fox Lee: The Girl Your Mother Warned You About

User avatar
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:51 pm
Completed: SC2VN
Projects: Don't Forget Our eSports Dream

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#20 Post by Vogue » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:58 am

rough drafts start in google docs. i write line by line as i expect them to display in-game with notes/comments about important sfx/art changes if i want to show something instead of tell it (for example, an expression change meant to hint at something despite it not being acknowledged in dialog/narration. i tend to do later drafts in my renpy script files because i find it important to see what's going on on-screen while drafting.


i also don't plan out my routes in advance/sketch them at all, though that may be because i tend to write much less interactivity than the norm

User avatar
Posts: 181
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:26 pm
Projects: viewtopic.php?f=43&t=47586
Organization: First Step Cinematics

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#21 Post by JBShields » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:56 pm

Screenplay for me. However, some light description is nice and adds to the story. Especially characters reactions/responses.

For screenplay writing, there is a "Save the Cat" book for screenplays. I recommend it if you need help with plot or structure for writing in that story format.

I do enjoy playing VNs though that have a novel base as well.

If you choose to write prose (novel style), I recommend to write more like a short story versus novel. TOO much description is not good for the VN format. If the player has to make 10 clicks before someone says something, gameplay slows down.

User avatar
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:18 pm
Completed: Shine (RPG Maker), Heroes (RPG Maker), Lantern Bearer (RPG Maker), Loop the Loop (Unity), Other Stars (Unreal), Sky Eye (RPG Maker), WIN Delivery & Fateful (Ren'Py)
Projects: Weird Is Normal (Ren'Py)
Location: Germany

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#22 Post by MoonByte » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:09 am

It's a mixture of screenplay, code and "Twine".
The text is usually a lot like screenplay since narration and dialogue naturally end up becoming this (with the only difference being that the final audience can SEE the narration instead of it being displayed/played out). Code is of course...kinda logical, but I also invest a lot of time working with # notes whenever I am still missing assets (especially sounds) and during my first write through I regulary have a lot more scripts than in the end when I overwork it and tone it down.
And finally, I enjoy to work with the principle of "Twine" (either in twine itself or with a mindmap) when planning out branching paths. I am a total BITCH for elaborate branching paths, no matter if they lead back to a main story or result in a million different endings. While Mindmaps visualize it well, Twine allows me to test-play it (roughly, I am not making myself the work to make the whole game in twine first).

What I can't relate to is a actual novel. The stories often have a lot in common with novels in that they rarely involve big movements and such (which is what makes theater interesting) and instead are more about dialogue and elaborated narration. But while I have played VNs and feeling like they are a novel, MAKING one feels a lot more like screenplay.
But that is a thing regarding games in general, I once wrote a whole essay about the whole topic of wether games resemble movies or theater more and theater ALWAYS wins in the end, even with very cinematic games. Games just have a lot in common with it, no matter if in written or animated form.

User avatar
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:32 pm
Projects: 【Pitch Black Serenade】
Organization: 97Circle
itch: 97circle

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#23 Post by pastelciel » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:51 am

There are a lot of different VN styles as far as I could see so far. Talking about big company titles I played Lamento or Sweet Pools from Nitro Chiral that are really similar to a novel: you have a whole lot of narration and also dialogues occurs as often as you would find them in a narrative book. They're also written in third person, so it feels a lot like a novel. Other vns are only dialogues (like Amnesia), others are a mixture (hero/heroine tells what happens while talking to other characters). After reading a bit of vns I found a style I would feel confortable with. I know that Persona 2 isn't a vn but it was the one that pushed me to turn my little novel into a graphic adventure, and it happened because I kind of fell in love with dialogue style and the way story is told through characters.
So I first had the story written in the form of a novel, then I divided it into shorter chapters and turned it into dialogues. So maybe I'm writing it in the form of a screenplay but I guess it's useful for me to have the novel as well. I won't write in the form of a novel because I find that it wouldn't fit the story well but theoretically it's possible to do it as well. Personally I feel more confident in writing dialogues and also I was inspired by works that go by this style.
Both are valid, I think it depends on the writer to decide which best suits the vn. I can't think of Sweet Pool in first person dialogues to say one.

Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:24 pm

Re: Do you write a VN like a novel or a screenplay?

#24 Post by Devilzk » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:49 am

As someone who is new, not to writing, but to writing for a visual novel-type project this is a problem I've explored quite a bit. It's basically procrastination central when you realise you have so many options and ways to write it out. I've experimented with a lot of different options, even trying a note-taking system (workflowy - which is actually very nice for jotting ideas down) to plan.

I don't think there is a good way to write for a VN, everyone is going to have their own specific preference when it comes down to it. To me personally, writing it as a script, which is ultimately what my project will display the story as, I find is the most fitting way to write it; it allows me to visualise what the reader will be seeing and reading, giving me the opportunity to create what I want people to see then and there. I would imagine translating novel to visual novel means cutting a lot of detail and changing others as you no longer need many of what you've wrote due to the visual (and auditory) additions.

If anybody is going the screenplay route, I'd actually recommend Amazon's storywriter (which is free to use), I only messed with it myself, and found I'd prefer to stick to my current set-up, but it's quite nifty and automated. I use Google Docs to write at the moment.

Here's snippets of how I write mine (it's an old version, I'm not looking for feedback in regards to writing):


I use the bright red scene titles for including background information too, such as the image and sound. If either of them change for more than a couple of lines, I write it as a new scene, otherwise I write the change underneath the said dialogue, still in red, but smaller. The italics indicate a new dialogue that is descriptive of what's happening rather than characters speaking, and the bold indicates a new dialogue that is an action.

Whatever way you choose to write your story out though, you should remember to flesh your character(s) out, for you personally, so you're able to write for them fluidly. I've written some really short novels for my character in different situations so I'm able to get a feel for them.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users