Writing long visual novels/Avoiding "Mary Sues"

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Writing long visual novels/Avoiding "Mary Sues"

#1 Post by Sonomi » Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:02 am

I was wondering how I should go about writing a visual novel of significant length. What is your process for writing longer stories? By "long" I mean that my goal is to have around 100,000+ words (Clannad or Katawa Shoujo, maybe even Fate/Stay Night). I ask because I've come across many resources regarding shorter novels (the SVN), but not many addressing extensive pieces specifically.

Edit:
Updated the title to also address Mary Sue characters
Last edited by Sonomi on Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#2 Post by TheJerminator15 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:16 am

A lot more planning is required if you want to keep it coherent and consistently paced from my experience. Let's look at Fate/Stay Night for example. It was planned and structured in a way which led to details being fed to the audience throughout each route which made evenually made the audience's understanding of the world in Heavens Feel enough to increase the impact of the events. Especially in regards to characters such as Saber, since we all know what happens to her in HF.

That said, you need to decde on what kind of structure you are going to use. Are you going with the traditional structure where it splits off into routes, or one more akin to Fate/Stay Night for example? After that, it really just comes to the same planning as a regular story but with extra work to help keep that consistency. That's how it is from my experience anyway.
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Re: Writing long visual novels

#3 Post by NialGrenville » Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:41 am

Yes, the constant juggle of esthetic and consistency is the hardest part of making a large VN. On the bright side in a game like Katawa Shoujo, most of the work is the art and writing. Writing long VNs should be just as easy as short ones. If you do not plan it out though, you will find difficulty keeping consistency, and esthetic. Take just some time to think with me:

Katawa Shoujo's story line goes like this:

Code: Select all

                       |------------ Emi/Rin
                       |
                       |
                       |
Start-------- | ----------- Misha/Deaf-chick-I've-forgot-her-name
                       |
                       |
                       |
                       |------------ Lilly/Hanako
It's actually a fairly simple tree. All branching from 3 decisions! I can literally draw the whole map WITH selections. What makes it magic is not code; it is the art, writing, and interface.
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Re: Writing long visual novels

#4 Post by RotGtIE » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:56 pm

NialGrenville wrote:Katawa Shoujo's story line goes like this:

Code: Select all

                       |------------ Emi/Rin
                       |
                       |
                       |
Start-------- | ----------- Misha/Deaf-chick-I've-forgot-her-name
                       |
                       |
                       |
                       |------------ Lilly/Hanako
It's actually a fairly simple tree. All branching from 3 decisions! I can literally draw the whole map WITH selections. What makes it magic is not code; it is the art, writing, and interface.
This is more than a little pedantic of me, but there's a bit more to it than that.

No argument against your main point, though. Spot on.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#5 Post by NialGrenville » Sat Oct 29, 2016 2:18 pm

Oh yes. I know it is more. I just did a synopsis on the whole branching.

I've drawn a whole chart just like that. I, of course, did only the story lines I wanted to get (Emi, Hanako, and Shizune).

Thanks for finding that though. I missed the days when I played this. Thanks as well for agreeing with the main point. I can see we have stupendous taste.

To be honest I am underselling it, but a game just like it can be constructed from a little bit of Python with a bunch of regular Ren
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Re: Writing long visual novels

#6 Post by Mammon » Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:21 pm

I've recently wrote a story of 100.000-120.000 words myself, but considering it's just that one I'm not too sure if the advice I'm about to give is very good. However, considering this is your very first post as well, suggesting you don't have much experience with VN either, I'm going to give you all the advice I would tell the me from before the project.

1) Start with a smaller VN first(, unless the art and coding will be done by more experienced teammates). Even if you never intend to release it and skim over the writing part, it's important to go through all the processes of art and coding of ren'py with a scrap-able project so you'll know what to do. Starting a large project while learning the ropes can result in you making a big mistake, and it will take much more time to fix it. Not to mention, the smaller VN (if released) could attract the attention of people willing to work with you or who'll be interrested in the big project once it's finished.

2) Write a synopsis of the plot before starting on the story itself. The most important part of the summary is to make sure you have an idea of what will happen in the story and in what order. (Not a summary of specific scenes, highlights and one-liners you plan to use, but a scene by scene short version of the story.) The story in your head might seem clear, but you'll find the chronology, choice system and 'filler' scenes to be much vaguer than you thought. The last thing you want is finding out that you've hit writer's block and can't finish the story when you're already 50.000 words in. A more realistic event would be that you want to rearrange the course of events, which is also much easier in the synopsis. (And it's also a good way to remember other stories you come up with that you might want to write later.)

3) Be sure you want to write the story. Even if you might feel excited to write it now, the enthousiasm might drain from you over time. I lucked out with P&Y and kept the passion, but I was also planning on two even larger projects only to look back at them months later and wondering why I would ever want to write those. I don't actually suggest waiting for months, but do wait a week or so to see if the story remains interesting to you.

4) Make the art while writing the story (if you make the art yourself), having an image with the characters can help you bring life to their personality.

5) Don't be afraid to write out of order, as long as this is not to write scenes you're looking forward to writing (like the finale or a mayor plot twist). Rather, try to write scenes you know will be tough whenever you feel like you can write them.

6) Don't rewrite the story too much while still in it's first draft, finish it first and then rewrite it as a whole. Unless what you've got now simply won't do and rewriting it is the only option, you'll have to keep yourself from doing this and keep going.

7) Once it is done, rewrite is as much as you want. While you do that, also keep an eye on the pacing. This is very difficult to do for a writer while they're writing the scene or reading it back, but a scene can be too fast- or slow-paced in it's first draft.This is because the writing of a column that will take only 1 minute to read can take 30 minutes to write. To you, the pacing was incredibly short, yet to the reader it's rapid fast. But it can also be the exact opposite. You won't see this yourself unless you wait a few days at least before reading it, when you're reading it more as a reader than the writer.

8 ) Write every day if possible. The creative juices can drain away over time and be very hard to regain if you don't write for a few days.

9) Keep multiple versions of your story, creating a new one every time you start a mayor rewrite. You'll want those back-ups. And back-up your project somewhere too, off course.
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Re: Writing long visual novels

#7 Post by Sonomi » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:36 pm

I appreciate your advice everyone. I really can't thank you enough.

@TheJerminator15
I see. After much thought, I feel the traditional structure is probably more appropriate for me. I like the way branching was handled in Katawa Shoujo because each choice had reasonable consequences unique to each character's personality. This is one of the many things I admire about that VN in particular.

@NialGrenville
I'd like to maintain consistency as much as possible. Someone on the forums mentioned the "Snowflake Method" and I can't even describe how much it's helping me when I literally don't know what to do next. I think this is how I'm going to plan my stories from now on.

@Mammon
This is incredibly helpful. First off, congrats on your project (I noticed it earlier when I was perusing the forums). You are right in that this is my first actual visual novel.

1) Indeed, I have already made a short demo game (entirely unrelated to the VN I want to write) to somewhat familiarize myself with basic Ren'Py syntax. Python feels natural for me because it was my first programming language, so there's certainly no issue there. Knowing me, motivation is the main reason why it would be beneficial for me to now begin working on a full-length VN. :)

2-9) I'll definitely reference these points on a regular basis.

I suppose the best thing I can do for now is begin fleshing out my outline somehow. I hope this turns out well. :lol: Who knows. Maybe someone somewhere will read it someday.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#8 Post by Kominara » Sun Oct 30, 2016 11:13 am

The best advice I can give for making branching paths in longer novels is putting choices where you think the player would like to make a choice; if you can't tell, then try to get someone else to read the script for you.

Something to keep in mind is that F/SN and Clannad are at the extreme high end of the spectrum, both being 50+ hours long and >1M words long. While Katawa Shoujo is significantly shorter, (around 450,000 words,) it still required multiple writers and infamously took half a decade to produce. 100,000 words is actually at the low end of the spectrum, roughly the length of an short branching game.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#9 Post by Parataxis » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:36 pm

The advice above is all good advice, certainly things I try to do whenever I can. But you asked for my process so here it is.

I am currently in the very first stages of writing my first quite ambitious project--an urban fantasy mystery likely to be between 100k-130k when I am done. Here are the steps I have taken to help ensure that this is a thing that gets done:

1) Early on I divided the story into chapters that each have a narrative arc but could be viewed as their own self contained episode of a connected story. By doing this I was able to break up the work into smaller 8k-10k sections which gives me achievable mid goals. Think of these as episodes in a TV season--by being able to focus on plotting/writing/polishing an individual episode apart from the whole story I should be able to make steady progress without getting too overwhelmed. (It also makes an easy break for a demo, Chapter 1 for an alpha demo, then chapters 1-2 for an extended kickstarter Demo if I decide to do one.)

2) I wrote a 15-page plot summary which includes the entire story of the Visual Novel split into its various chapters including the different routes and chapter variations. At the end of each chapter summary I have an information block that looks like this:
Characters Introduced:
World Building Concepts:
Clues to the Murder:
Other Plot Movement:
Flags introduced:
Flags Referenced:
This allows me to keep careful track of how much work each chapter is doing and how connected it is to the remainder of the story.

3) I am writing with a small team, (me and two friends) so I took some time to lay out some basic reference documents to make sure my understanding of the world and characters was well communicated. This turned out to help me quite a bit as I had to pin things down to exactly how they worked. The most important of these documents were the world-building reference document--which outlined how magic worked and where the various characters fell in the magical hierarchy--and the character relationship web--which detailed each character's personality type (Meyer's Briggs), their personal relationship philosophy and how they feel about every other character who they have an established relationship with. While neither of these documents is complete, everything I have written for them, especially the personal relationship philosophies, has been a boon for getting things sorted out in my head. Having these documents will also be helpful later on, closer to the end of the writing process, where I begin looking for other artists to fill in the gaps in my expertise. If I general reference document on feel and themes exists then it is easy enough to send it to a musician, or a GUI artist.

Now, these are not all necessary, and it's pretty important to realize that this idea was pretty far along in the headspace by the time I did any of this. You may find that these are distractions that just prevent you from working on the story instead. It all depends. Ultimately, my best advice is to find some one you know and trust to bounce ideas off of. I know that without my co-writers my story wouldn't be nearly as good as it is, and having some one willing to engage with you about the story has always been super paramount to keeping me invested in an idea long term. Good luck~!

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#10 Post by Sonomi » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:00 pm

Kominara wrote:The best advice I can give for making branching paths in longer novels is putting choices where you think the player would like to make a choice; if you can't tell, then try to get someone else to read the script for you.

Something to keep in mind is that F/SN and Clannad are at the extreme high end of the spectrum, both being 50+ hours long and >1M words long. While Katawa Shoujo is significantly shorter, (around 450,000 words,) it still required multiple writers and infamously took half a decade to produce. 100,000 words is actually at the low end of the spectrum, roughly the length of an short branching game.
Ok. I think I'll only include a few choices at most like Katawa Shoujo at key points, eliminating smaller or insignificant ones that won't affect the story too much.

About that. Yes, yes, I know. :wink: I've read Katawa Shoujo and F/SN entirely, and the reason why I like them is because they're so long that I can read for a while, leave, and return to the story as if I'm continuing an anime series. But that's the experience that I'd like to give my readers...because that's the experience that I personally seek when I read a VN. They say that you can only become truly enthusiastic about something that you will personally enjoy.

As far as the length of time, that's quite interesting! I never knew they spend that much time on it. It's probably good to take into account the fact that they all likely had other things going on in their personal lives that prevented them from working on it full time. Not to say that I don't but...let's face it, I don't really have anything else to sink my time into. :( Even if it takes a while, I don't mind. At least I'll have something to do that isn't mundane.

I know it'll be a long journey, but hopefully I can garner some support along the way and create something as highly acclaimed as the works we've mentioned. If I don't think in grander terms, I know myself well enough to understand that this will never see the light of day. I may well end up with 50K words, but I need to strive toward a seemingly unreachable goal to get even that far.

Admittedly, my favorite visual novel is actually Steins;Gate, and I'm drawing a lot of inspiration from the interesting approach that they took to branching the narrative and executing the various endings. I've read quite a few indie SVNs as well. I wonder if it's a good idea to take actual notes on the reasons why I like (or dislike) certain VNs so that I can reflect upon them when I do get started on the first draft of my own.

The thing that concerns me the most with making a visual novel is indeed the writing. My background is in programming, and I've done art and music enough to be comfortable creating assets (though they aren't masterpieces honestly, so I won't pretend).

If you'll stick with me for a few more moments, I want to share a few thoughts on the matter of writing. These are primarily observations of what I tend to see in many stories, regardless of genre.

That one scene that happens on a regular basis

It seems that in a lot of VNs there is one central recurring event. Something that happens every day. Even though the overall tone of the event is the same, there is a little progression: often where the MC learns more about the other characters or the events in the world.

Katawa Shoujo:
In Lilly/Hanako's route, there was the recurring tea room scene. And of course, school in general tends to happen on a daily basis. Emi's route had the track running each morning. So when you don't meet them or can't run, it's clear that something is wrong.
F/SN:
I don't think this is a spoiler, but assuming it is...Emiya has that cooking scene religiously. Though the degree to which this might actually annoy the readers may vary, it serves as a break from the darker points in the narrative.
No matter what it may be, the recurring event makes the reader feel grounded and safe, so that when there is a break from that norm it's obvious that there's been a significant turning point in the story. Or that something is going to happen soon.

MC who wants to live a more eventful life

This is the common (usually male) anime protagonist who is bored of his life and seeks a break from the mundane by involving himself the the story in some way. E.g. Tomoya of Clannad.

MC with a tragic past

This is the MC who had a life-changing event happen in his/her life. I typically see this used in one of two ways: with the MC either A) mentioning it in passing or B) dwelling on it. Whether or not they overcome it depends on the story.

Type A:
Ex Astris
Type B:
F/SN
Childhood friend, love interest or no

I also see the childhood friend quite a bit. Usually, it's of the patient childhood love interest type (Lucid9, or instance) but not always.

Please correct me if I'm wrong on any point! I'm here to learn after all. And sorry for the long-winded reply.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#11 Post by Sonomi » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:20 pm

Parataxis wrote:The advice above is all good advice, certainly things I try to do whenever I can. But you asked for my process so here it is.
...
This. Thanks so much for sharing your process with me. It looks like you have a good workflow here, far better than my initial organizational attempts. I hope you won't mind if I borrow some of your principles. I don't know why I didn't consider chapters as "episodes" before, but it's certainly less daunting to think of it that way. I appreciate your insight!

3) After trying to keep track of all my character bios in a text document, I decided to summarize key points about each character in a simple spreadsheet. Am I going about this the wrong way? Even if I'm working on this VN by myself, it might be better to have a more detailed reference file.

Sidenote: I wish you and your team the best of luck in finishing! Let's both do our best. Funny story, I don't play video games as often as I used to because I realized something...that I was only playing them for the story. Notably, FFX. So in the past couple of years I discovered something called a "visual novel" and was simply blown away by the fact that this is exactly what I'd been searching for all this time. A game that is entirely story based, with any gameplay coming second to the character development and plot. I never knew there was such a community dedicated to this medium.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#12 Post by Parataxis » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:29 pm

Sonomi wrote:This. Thanks so much for sharing your process with me. It looks like you have a good workflow here, far better than my initial organizational attempts. I hope you won't mind if I borrow some of your principles. I don't know why I didn't consider chapters as "episodes" before, but it's certainly less daunting to think of it that way. I appreciate your insight!

3) After trying to keep track of all my character bios in a text document, I decided to summarize key points about each character in a simple spreadsheet. Am I going about this the wrong way? Even if I'm working on this VN by myself, it might be better to have a more detailed reference file.
Of course not, anything that helps. I am sort of of the opinion that there are just no wrong ways of planning in general, just ways that work or don't work for you. If keeping track of character details on a spreadsheet keeps it straight in your head than that's the right way for you to plan. I have a similar character information document which I made right when I started. That said, ultimately, it's the references where I have to communicate something of essence or feel beyond facts and figures that have really been the most helpful to me in the long run--that crystallizing something of my more complex and subtle impressions and feelings of the world and characters has really helped them stand out in my head. So for instance, here is the first paragraph of the world-building document:
The Cosmos of Shadow City looks like this: On one side, you have Reality, full of people and countries and animals and the laws of physics; on the other side, there is the Beyond. For our purposes (it is never visited) the Beyond is the collective beliefs, myths, and dreams of all humans throughout all time and space. On the border of these two worlds, there is a liminal dimension called Shadow, which affects, and is affected by, both worlds.
This sort of dual nature or Shadow, the secret magical world visited in the story was something I had always known but in writing it out I realized that, among other things, the incredible sturdiness and flexibility of this idea. Shadow is almost a manifestation of culture itself, and could act as a setting and a lens for stories well beyond the Noir Mystery it was created for. Furthermore, it gave a logical foundation for the magical weirdness of Shadow. Every time a choice is made about Shadow's visual style or inhabitants, I can come back to this grounding idea that everything in Shadow is fundamentally affected by what people think about it, but also grounded in a way by a physicality of the real world its overlapping.

On the other side, for character documents, I of course have a document that keeps track of demographics and other useful details for my 8-12 major characters. (Full name, age, race, any magical powers, family details, etc) But I also have this relationship philosophy paragraph where I try to get at the heart of who the character is and how they view the people around them. These paragraphs are some of the hardest character things I have ever written because they are really about capturing the feel of a character in a very short space. I don't think I could have even attempted a document like this at all for the first 6 months of planning. It still gives me a lot of trouble for some of the more complex characters, but can be really rewarding. Consider Phoebe, a major character related to the MC's past:
Phoebe values People more than relationships. She will not hesitate burn her bridges with other people if she feels like it will be for their own good. Most of her relationships are task oriented: negative if someone is obstruction, positive if they are an ally—but very much focused on the task at hand. She has few to no relationships outside work or other organized activities. Furthermore, Phoebe has a special category of relationship with people she feels responsible for. She considers herself personally responsible for the emotional wellbeing of every member of her team to the point where it is her job to foresee problems and intervene. Not preventing problems before they start is a personal failing.
Phoebe can be described as a "Hardass Captain with underlying vulnerability who cares for her team"-- that's certainly the stereotype she started out as. But as I worked on how exactly her relationship with the main character fell apart and what caused the tension between them I got to know Phoebe better and this unrelenting aspect of "I do what is best for this person even if it makes them hate me" really started to rise to the surface as her really interesting character trait. Writing this summary really crystallized for me why she is the way she is, and why some of her relationships are successful while others are not and especially what changed between her and the MC that made their relationship explode so spectacularly. Having this sort of information for the characters is something that I have had to work really hard for, but has ultimately given me something slightly more useful than just a collection of details. It's possible that you might find such a summary totally useless, or even that it's something that you'll feel the need to make 6-8 months down the line, who knows. It really just depends on what sort of writer you are, how many characters you are juggling and what sort of story you are trying to tell. My story is about characters emotional journeys and relationships as much as it is about solving a mystery, so this document ends up being a vital tool for me. But for other stories, different information might end up having heavier weight. It all depends.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Writing long visual novels

#13 Post by Mammon » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:13 am

Sonomi wrote: As far as the length of time, that's quite interesting! I never knew they spend that much time on it. It's probably good to take into account the fact that they all likely had other things going on in their personal lives that prevented them from working on it full time. Not to say that I don't but...let's face it, I don't really have anything else to sink my time into. :( Even if it takes a while, I don't mind. At least I'll have something to do that isn't mundane.

I know it'll be a long journey, but hopefully I can garner some support along the way and create something as highly acclaimed as the works we've mentioned. If I don't think in grander terms, I know myself well enough to understand that this will never see the light of day. I may well end up with 50K words, but I need to strive toward a seemingly unreachable goal to get even that far.
Don't think writing will be any faster than art and coding. Take the time you needed for a piece of art and then ask people how long they thought it took, the difference between that is even greater with writing. I can sometimes sink an entire hour just into one post of Lemmasoft, so a real story that actually needs to be well-written? If I remember clearly, sorry but I didn't keep an agenda of the project, the first draft of my project took about 3-4 months to complete and you can add at least another two months for the rewrites. And I too had a lot of time to sink into it, I sometimes made 8 hour workdays just writing and spent each free hour from days I did have something else to do writing as well.
After trying to keep track of all my character bios in a text document, I decided to summarize key points about each character in a simple spreadsheet. Am I going about this the wrong way? Even if I'm working on this VN by myself, it might be better to have a more detailed reference file.
You should never try to force yourself to the format of someone else, try to summarise your story as you think it'll be best. If you think you need to organise this or that, do it. If you feel like the format is asking you things you don't want to write out yet, then don't. And most of all, don't let a 'maximum size' hold you back. If you need more than one spreadsheet, use more. Just try to keep yourself from writing too much in summary form, I personally try to keep a max. lenght 5% of the eventual story as a rule of thumb.

Early on I divided the story into chapters that each have a narrative arc but could be viewed as their own self contained episode of a connected story. By doing this I was able to break up the work into smaller 8k-10k sections which gives me achievable mid goals. Think of these as episodes in a TV season--by being able to focus on plotting/writing/polishing an individual episode apart from the whole story I should be able to make steady progress without getting too overwhelmed. (It also makes an easy break for a demo, Chapter 1 for an alpha demo, then chapters 1-2 for an extended kickstarter Demo if I decide to do one.)
Smart plan. Are you planning to release them all separately, that is a good way to get people involved. Once the story is complete, it can still be beloved and played, but stories in progress tend to build up a bigger fanbase over time. Just look at those 100+ anime. Not to mention it becomes much easier to actually release a big project.
I am writing with a small team, (me and two friends) so I took some time to lay out some basic reference documents to make sure my understanding of the world and characters was well communicated. This turned out to help me quite a bit as I had to pin things down to exactly how they worked. The most important of these documents were the world-building reference document--which outlined how magic worked and where the various characters fell in the magical hierarchy--and the character relationship web--which detailed each character's personality type (Meyer's Briggs), their personal relationship philosophy and how they feel about every other character who they have an established relationship with. While neither of these documents is complete, everything I have written for them, especially the personal relationship philosophies, has been a boon for getting things sorted out in my head. Having these documents will also be helpful later on, closer to the end of the writing process, where I begin looking for other artists to fill in the gaps in my expertise. If I general reference document on feel and themes exists then it is easy enough to send it to a musician, or a GUI artist.
Very smart plan, ideas in one's head can seem much clearer and more organised than they really are. Although from what I can tell from Phoebe's character you might be wary of 'Mary Sue' syndrome, she doesn't seem to have any flaws. If you can actually make the character a hard-ass captain with a soft side (the Original tsundere) whose self-sacrificial side is graduately introduced, it won't be a problem but if she's actually as perfect as she seems it might have the undesired effect of being too unrelatable.
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Re: Writing long visual novels

#14 Post by Parataxis » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:03 am

Mammon wrote:Very smart plan, ideas in one's head can seem much clearer and more organised than they really are. Although from what I can tell from Phoebe's character you might be wary of 'Mary Sue' syndrome, she doesn't seem to have any flaws. If you can actually make the character a hard-ass captain with a soft side (the Original tsundere) whose self-sacrificial side is graduately introduced, it won't be a problem but if she's actually as perfect as she seems it might have the undesired effect of being too unrelatable.
Hahahaha.... sorry. I don't want to get into it too much because it's a bit derailing, but let's just say I highly doubt Phoebe will come off as to perfect in the story, I am more worried about coming off as petty and unlikable. See, Phoebe actually acts mostly as an antagonist to the main character in the first part of the story. You are, in fact, not really supposed to like her narratively--she's a very abrasive character, especially to the protagonist whom she grabs by the shirt collars and threatens in her first appearance. She is there to accuse the character of being delusional and reckless and while she's basically correct one of those she's wrong about the other, which should, if anything, make her more infuriating to the player if they identify with the protagonist. Phoebe's "sympathetic side" is basically not explored at all unless you end up on her character route. (Though her character does receive some closure with the protagonist regardless)

I have always been a fan of the "does this character cause conflict" method of Mary Sue prevention. (But perhaps that's for another thread.)

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Sonomi
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Re: Writing long visual novels

#15 Post by Sonomi » Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:11 pm

Mammon wrote:Don't think writing will be any faster than art and coding. Take the time you needed for a piece of art and then ask people how long they thought it took, the difference between that is even greater with writing. I can sometimes sink an entire hour just into one post of Lemmasoft, so a real story that actually needs to be well-written? If I remember clearly, sorry but I didn't keep an agenda of the project, the first draft of my project took about 3-4 months to complete and you can add at least another two months for the rewrites. And I too had a lot of time to sink into it, I sometimes made 8 hour workdays just writing and spent each free hour from days I did have something else to do writing as well.
I agree with you whole-heartedly that good art takes time to create. Last night, I easily spent upwards of 7 hours on just ONE character portrait of the MC (may as well work if I'm not going to sleep). On every project I've ever worked on, the time I spend coding is minuscule compared to the time it takes to make graphics for the app in question.

Fun fact: I've already composed 80+ tracks over the past 5 months in preparation for this VN. :oops: 40 of which did make it to the music folder, and I anticipate removing most of what remains. Taking into account the fact that it usually takes me somewhere between 12 and 18 hours to compose one song, I can't begin to count the hours I've already directed toward this project of mine. I'm not a fantastic composer, so I took the iterative approach to improving my abilities even a little. Though I've wasted so many hours on songs that I'll never use in the hopes of salvaging something of the lot, I'm almost happy with about 3 of them.

So long story short, I certainly understand your words on time. More than anything (this post took approx. 1.2 hours to write).
Parataxis wrote:I have always been a fan of the "does this character cause conflict" method of Mary Sue prevention. (But perhaps that's for another thread.)
Not at all. What is this method that you speak of? I don't think I've heard of it before, but if I interpret your words correctly it may be another good rule of thumb for me. I take it that you mean if a character does not cause some sort of conflict in the story, then he or she is in danger of being categorized as a "Mary Sue"? A synonym for flaw is "shortcoming", so it would have to cause a struggle somewhere down the line if it truly is a weakness of the character in question. Otherwise, if no one is affected by it, then it would not be viewed as a flaw at all. That is my interpretation, though I could easily be wrong about this.

I'm very early in the works of character development. I feel it's at that point where you know how your characters would behave and react in a given situation but you're now working out the "whys" behind each of their traits to round them out.

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