Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

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Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#1 Post by PeterKmiecik » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:38 pm

Hey I am looking for advice in writing VN's based on other plot types than "hero journey" aka "holy grail" aka "quest" aka "most popular story structure ever?"
sth like: Comedy, metamorphosis or manhunt.
There's plenty of "quest" helpers in net but not many for else types. Especially in realm of VN's and branching narratives. Any ideas? Some of You tried to write these?

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Re: Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#2 Post by Katy133 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:54 pm

Red on an episode of Trope Talks did a great video on the Hero's Journey, and discussed why it's important to know about this structure, but why it's not good to use it to brainstorm the first draft of your story.

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Re: Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#3 Post by phoenix-onyx » Fri Feb 15, 2019 3:50 am

TV Tropes Master Plots outlines 20 different types of story structures. Generally speaking, the basic template for any story involves a rising action, climax, and falling action.

My interpretation is as follows:

1. Rising Action - This is where you introduce the characters, their problems if any, what they are going to do, and the overall build up toward a conclusion

2. Climax - In the moment of truth, the problem is solved or not solved, the characters succeed in doing something or they fail, and this is otherwise a turning point in the story where something significant changes e.g. point of no return

3. Falling Action - Show what occurs after the main plot has unfolded, how the characters react to what happened, what they are planning to do next, close any lingering plot holes and explain anything that has not been covered already

You do not necessarily need to use those three elements at all, in truth. It is just something you could consider if you want to give your story a set structure while also changing what it is actually about.

In other words, you can write a slice of life student deciding which club she should join, a young man trying to begin a career in comedy, a struggling relationship finding its footing again, a woman discovering love in an unexpected way, the chosen one gathering all of the crystals to seal away a great evil, a person escaping from a pursuer, and so forth with the same underlying elements.

29 Plot Templates may also be of use.

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Re: Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#4 Post by Mammon » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:34 am

In the first book of the Wheel of Time they do the hero's journey without the hero's journey. The 'hero' doesn't leave the village because they're going to find a holy grail, but because they're hunted by powerful evil beings and have to flee. The hero's journey is all about reaching a save haven while trying to avoid the beyond-beatable foes and as many of the beatable foes that they will encounter along the way. That story contrary to others similar to this also add things like the hero not wanting to do any of this and distrusting their companions, considering going to other regions than the destination altogether, and there being three rather than one 'prophesised one' so there's no telling who's truly the one of destiny.

A hero's journey can be circumvented in a lot of ways, including there not being a specific end-goal until halfway through the story, the hero not journey'ing, there being different heroes along the way taking over the torch etc. etc. There are too many possibilities, but none that is a safe way around the trope. That's something you'll have to cherry-pick amongst the options for your story to take.
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Re: Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#5 Post by arty » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:19 am

I've been very enthralled with Stuart Horwitz's book "Book Architecture", which proposes a completely different approach to creating plots. Instead of a formula with the "classic" arcs and plot points and whatnot, it relies on "series". The theory is basically, you don't need any particular structure or template, as long as you have consistency and repeating concepts. Instead of filling out a laundry list of pre-defined story sections and checking off mandatory events, you make a big grid and try to create logical progressions of themes that interweave.

I really recommend giving the book a read, and then maybe a second read. I needed two readthroughs and some time to reflect on the concepts, because it's just so different from what everyone else preaches. And once I figured out how to use it for my own purposes, it really helped me. If you feel restricted and bored by the classic structures, it may just be what you're looking for.

Feel free to PM me about this topic, I'd be happy to give you a more in-depth description of the concept and examples.

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Re: Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#6 Post by Holland » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:38 am

arty wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:19 am
I've been very enthralled with Stuart Horwitz's book "Book Architecture", which proposes a completely different approach to creating plots. Instead of a formula with the "classic" arcs and plot points and whatnot, it relies on "series". The theory is basically, you don't need any particular structure or template, as long as you have consistency and repeating concepts. Instead of filling out a laundry list of pre-defined story sections and checking off mandatory events, you make a big grid and try to create logical progressions of themes that interweave.
This ^^^^
The series approach isn't anything new, but Horwitz is one of the first people to study and present it proper. His book is incredibly well written.

Traditional storytelling structures can also be combined with the series approach. Nothing is stopping a series from having its own story arcs or being used to organize smaller sections of an overarching plot. The book discusses this a bit while deconstructing existing books/movies.

Series / series arcs / series grids are great tools to have at your disposal while planning things out.

Edit: Another "open structure" system OP might want to look into is the Snowflake Method. It doesn't work for my purposes, but the logic behind it is solid. (It'll need some modifications to suit the branching nature of VNs.) There's also fractal writing / fractal drafting, which is a simpler ancestor of the Snowflake Method. You just increase the detail of the writing itself draft-by-draft. i.e.: start with a one line description of the premise, then write a few sentences (each summarizing a main branch of the story), then write a few more sentences about each branch, etc... It's a pantser's outline, basically. It's fun to use this after mapping out the basic scenes with the series approach.
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Re: Writing VN's with story structure different than "hero journey"

#7 Post by Sadiesins » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:14 pm

I would discard trying to 'avoid' the hero's journey, and instead focus on what you actually want. There is a reason the hero's journey is referenced so much in story telling, and it's mostly because of the archetypes that are being reflected again and again that we as humans respond to because of our tribal roots. When conflict comes, we must leave the every day, grow out in the world, and bring solutions back. That could be as simple as getting a new job, or studying with a new student to solve a puzzle, or have an internal breakthrough of why you blew up in anger, but it still has those elements of the hero's journey because of the parallels of a character pushing from their familiar routine, getting uncomfortable, and growing as a result. Everything else is just pointless structure thrown on top of human archetypes.

I do a lot of serial writing where things are broken down into episodes or events even though it is, as a whole, a super long story. You can keep any length of story going this way because you're ensuring that an event has a beginning, middle, and end (the end either being a full end of all conflict, aka, a true end to the entire series or story arc,) or a small end of conflict while other conflict pushes the story along. Television serials are a quick, easy study in this technique. Look for series where the plot grows and pushes characters towards an inevitable event, while smaller events urge the plot forward or seem to divert only to bring things back with more information. You don't even need that plotted inevitable event at the end of it all, but just a bigger event. Think like having mini boss fights in a game before you hit that mid boss, and eventually end boss. Conflicts will feel more satisfying if they're connected to the main story, but it's not a requirement. It's just a level of what's more entertaining. I think a connected story is far more entertaining because it allows for character growth and engages intellectual curiosity, but that's me.

Study tension and the questions your have in your story, and notice when/if those questions are answered, when/if new questions are posed, and how long these questions work to keep the tension going. Amazing story telling is about knowing what your reader is wondering about, and leaving them little bread crumbs to keep them going while events naturally impede getting to the big answer to all their questions. As long as the reader is wondering a truth that has to do with your plot or characters, they will be driven to discover it along with the characters. But if you don't have questions for them, a reader isn't going to hang around. Tension is just an engagement of curiosity combined with emotional investment in the characters and/or world that's conveyed. You can certainly create tension without the same old story structure, just so long as you're aware what drives a reader to hang around and see what happens.

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