What's the best way to write a VN Story?

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FrostedChase
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What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#1 Post by FrostedChase » Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:12 pm

So I recently began developing my own VN, but I've been really stuck on how to write out the story for it. So far I've written out a portion of the story in a script format that includes visual queues, dialogue, and the like. Essentially an outline for the actual in-engine script. (Example)

There are definitely some flaws in doing it this way, but I wasn't entirely sure how else to write if my VN is going to have a bunch of dialogue/action choices in it and possibly some branching paths. Lately I'm thinking that this process may be a bit tough later down the line with writing multiple branching paths simultaneously and having them meet back to one focused path at some point. My worry about just writing in a novel format is that If I write the full story, then write out different paths later, it'll seem like there's a 'correct' choice out of all of the choices. Would people really notice?

Maybe it's just me over analyzing, but I'd really like some tips/opinions/examples on this.

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#2 Post by Northern » Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:10 pm

Imo...

Let the characters tell the story and don't stress out too much on the rest. The different choices/branches are simply there to make it more interactive for the players. Different paths mean different actions/trains of thought, sometimes leading to different results/consequences, and thus different reactions/character growths. Some choices simply have better results than others so it -will- feel like there are more correct decisions/branches compared to others.

Points that tie all those branches together is simply a shared result in a sense. You can tweak bits of dialogue here and there to accommodate or point out the different paths, if it doesn't feel right still.

If you're worried if the players won't feel the same spectrum of emotion in each path, that's probably because the reactions to each branch likely -will- be different. They're not the same after all. (Celebrate the differences! They represent replay value?) The question of connection is largely up to the audience anyway.

But in the end, it's your story. Tell it how you want to, dont stress out too much about it. 'Supposed to be fun! :P

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#3 Post by Zelan » Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:38 pm

For one thing, if there really is a branch that is the "true" story, you might be better off making a kinetic novel instead of a visual novel. Starlit Flowers started out as a visual novel, but when the creators realized mid-development that there was only one story that they really wanted to tell, they switched gears and created (what I thought was) a great piece.

If you definitely want to write something with branching paths, consider making an outline if you haven't already done so. That way, the plot(s) will be finished and mostly finalized before the writing.

Of course, depending on the story you're writing, having only one "right" path isn't necessarily a bad thing. Say you're writing a murder mystery. There's only one guilty party. It would be perfectly feasible that accusing the wrong person could end in a bad end and for the only good end to be successfully putting the true culprit behind bars.

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#4 Post by RotGtIE » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:31 pm

I strongly recommend writing your story as a novel before you turn it into a screenplay.

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#5 Post by sharkmittens » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:36 pm

i recommend making an outline first.

cloudnovel.net has a fantastic organization tool for writers
that need their plot ducks in a row.

originally, i let the characters tell their stories first; this was,
in the long run, a complete mistake. i'd get stumped and end
up with a lot of round-about needs to check previous routes,
make sure there wasn't clashing information, seeing how plausible
something is at that point in the story and, of course, figuring out
the 'beginning' 'middle' 'end' vs the routes can be complicated
if you don't have anything figured out at first.

i prefer to let the characters do the talking, but sometimes there's
only so much they can tell you before it starts clashing. don't
be afraid to get organized.

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#6 Post by Ark » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:35 am

RotGtIE wrote:I strongly recommend writing your story as a novel before you turn it into a screenplay.
I agree a lot with this. The descriptions you write will also help with turning it into a VN and realizing what resources you actually need.

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#7 Post by camisteja » Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:59 am

RotGtIE wrote:I strongly recommend writing your story as a novel before you turn it into a screenplay.
How do you write it as a novel but still keep branching choices?

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#8 Post by Mammon » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:46 am

On the Original topic:
FrostedChase wrote:So I recently began developing my own VN, but I've been really stuck on how to write out the story for it. So far I've written out a portion of the story in a script format that includes visual queues, dialogue, and the like. Essentially an outline for the actual in-engine script. (Example)
There are definitely some flaws in doing it this way, but I wasn't entirely sure how else to write if my VN is going to have a bunch of dialogue/action choices in it and possibly some branching paths. Lately I'm thinking that this process may be a bit tough later down the line with writing multiple branching paths simultaneously and having them meet back to one focused path at some point. My worry about just writing in a novel format is that If I write the full story, then write out different paths later, it'll seem like there's a 'correct' choice out of all of the choices. Would people really notice?
Regarding the best way to know how to work with the in-engine script, make a little mock story and throw it into .rpy files. Play around with it until you know how labels and persistents work and you'll be good to go. For example I know what persistents can and cannot do because I tried them out, now I know how to properly add 'scene ... with fade' or 'if something =< 1' when I'm writing the script.

Regarding a 'correct route', that's a tricky question as it can differ between people. When I wrote my story I had no trouble putting just as much enthousiasm is the other routes after writing the first one, but I can see this being different when the routes are split real early, if they're very similar or if it's a romance route choice. However, if there's a canon route that seems to be the more important one or a route that has more effort in it than the others it's usually not a big deal. Unless the other routes are really flimsy and thrown together with minimal effort compared to this one route.

On the new topic:
camisteja wrote:How do you write it as a novel but still keep branching choices?
You write it as a novel, but you place several choices in it somewhere. In most VN these choices just need a few paragraphs of different dialogue, and eventually a few different paragraphs around the 'important' part where the routes start to split, and then you completely split the routes. Each route is a completely new story from the others sprouting from this branching point.

It may not be a very popular thing in VN and fans will say they'd rather not see it, but if you're a new developer and haven't got a lot of experience you'll want to use the easiest version of the above and some 'kinetic points'. So for your first project when you're not yet too organised in your writing ways, keep the choices and their effects at just a few simple paragraphs that differ. And for all the big differences of an entire scene being different from the others you either just write something completely new for this one when you're near the end of your story, or implement kinetic points. Kinetic points: Regardless of the choices you made and their results, the stories unbranch again into one point that's the same for all routes. It continues kinetically for a few scenes and then branches again.
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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#9 Post by RotGtIE » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:37 pm

camisteja wrote:How do you write it as a novel but still keep branching choices?
You should use a flowchart to organize the branching progression of your story. Each stop on the chart should represent a scene, a chapter, or even an entire arc. Split your prose into separate documents and match each document to a position on the flowchart.

The Katawa Shoujo flowchart provides a fairly digestible example of how to correctly organize your branching story, including the use of flag and point based systems as well as standard choices.

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Re: What's the best way to write a VN Story?

#10 Post by Parataxis » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:39 pm

I actually do not recommend writing it as a novel first, since there's a ton of things that are incredibly easy to describe in prose that's nigh impossible to translate to the limited visuals/motion of the VN format. You don't really want to be catching those late in the process and then having to figure out a replacement action. It can be messy hard and frustrating. (Also potentially expensive)

I do however highly recommending outlining the branching paths first. Once the structural shape of the story is apparent, filling in the scenes in script formate with some visual notations becomes a fairly straightforward proceeding. A flow chart is an excellent way to keep track of choices and alternate versions of scenes.

Edit: I think maybe I misunderstood the phrase "write like a novel"-- if this means write in order for a single arc to make sure it has a solid beginning/middle/end I become more open to the idea. Depending on the story your telling writing it that way can work out quite well, even if it's not how I do it personally. If it means write in prose as though it literally were a novel my objection holds. Either way I recommend outlining the choice structure first to give you a barebones idea of how you plan to go about this.

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